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Re: Winter Camping at Lassen

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Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 07:48AM
Hi Everyone,

Per everyone's advice about wondering off into the Sierra winter with no experience, I just finished a two trip training series with the Sierra Club. I'm very grateful for the advice. I would never have guessed how quickly things can go bad. Breaking trail with huge snowshoes and a 40 lb pack in blinding snow was some of the hardest work I've ever done, and certainly shatters any notion of going the kind of distances I would've planned for. And thank god the trip leaders were tracking where we were going. I was lost 300 yards out of the parking lot. No visibility, no landmarks, no trail. It would take a split second to lose even a large group of people. I was with 18. Even the trip leaders had a hard time finding the way, and they've been to this spot before. GPS weather all the way, otherwise set up camp and wait it out. Crazy, but in the end, a blast. Snow kitchens, good food, hot buttered rum, and the realization that with as bad as the weather was, we could survive pretty easily, and once that fear is gone, you suddenly begin to open up to the incredible winter wonderland all around you. I posted some of them on picasa. http://picasaweb.google.com/rolandruby/LassenTrip#

Anyway, to the point. I gave up my snow trench to a couple whose snow cave collapsed due to all the snow. For some reason they didn't bring a back-up shelter. I slept in my 3 season Seedhouse SL1. Dug it out numerous times, but it seemed to hold up rather well. However; it is 3 season, and though I don't have the money for a $500-700 4 season tent, I have been looking at tarp/tents specifically marketed for 4 season. I've looked at the MSR Twin Sisters, golite Shangi La, OR's Nighthaven, and the Betamid. i'm leaning towards the Twin sisters, but it's also the most expensive. This would only be used for snow camping since I really like the SL1.

Thanks again for the sound advice. I signed up for the sierra Club trip out to Yosemite. Camping at Crocker Point.

Oh, one other thing. any advice on a decent winter gps device. I've read that the Garmins don't take lithium batteries, and alkalines don't work well in the cold.



Post Edited (02-25-09 08:12)
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 08:01AM
>Garmins don't take lithium batteries

???
Garmin eTrex with National Parks Maps (routeable trails).
They take Lithium... that is what I use... last about 30 hours or so.
The eTrex is about the lightest that you will find out there.
With either the NP West Maps or the California Topo you have all
of Yosemite and SEKI and Lassen with 7.5 detail and all the trails
that you can "route".
The Oregon is very very pricey... and not worth it IMO.

I'd recommend getting the NP Maps since you can download only
the maps you need and also have the maps on the computer.
With the Cali Topo you buy an SD card and it can be dirt slow
b/c it is 2GB and has ALL of Cal/Nev/Wash/Oregon.

Congrats on the Lassen trip.... You will Love Crocker Pt.!
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 08:56AM
from_mars wrote:

> No visibility, no landmarks, no trail.

Repeat after me: "WHITEOUTS ARE FUN!!!"
(Keep repeating until you believe it. As you have discovered, it's all dependent on your mental attitude.)

Actually, the real reason for this post is to remind you to check out eBay for equipment. Currently there is a Twin Sisters listed (claims to have been used only once; auction ends 1 March).
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 08:56AM
If you ever get a chance to see the Nature video titled "Christmas in Yellowstone" it has a segment on photographer Tom Murphy camping in winter with some amazingly simple equipment.

What exactly was the Sierra Club course? Available to others?





The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 10:37AM
Hi Frank,

The Sierra Club training series is described at this website http://sanfranciscobay.sierraclub.org/snowcamping/training_intro.asp. It describes the course; which consists essentially of a 1 day orientation followed by a 2 day and than a 3 day trip. They do encourage simplicity in the form of snow trenches/caves, and really insist on the compass and map work. Everyone contributes to the dinner menu. Lunch and Breakfast on you. Everyone shares anyway. As it turns out, there are almost as many leaders and assistant leaders as students, so a lot of good pointers to go around. It's open to anyone with some previous backpacking experience, and in reasonablly good shape. They don't provide any of the equipment except for shovels (I had my own), wagbags and mutt mitts for packing out waste. The cost $103.

Hope that helps
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 12:04PM
from_mars wrote:
> Anyway, to the point. I gave up my snow trench to a couple
> whose snow cave collapsed due to all the snow. For some reason
> they didn't bring a back-up shelter. I slept in my 3 season
> Seedhouse SL1. Dug it out numerous times, but it seemed to hold
> up rather well. However; it is 3 season, and though I don't
> have the money for a $500-700 4 season tent, I have been
> looking at tarp/tents specifically marketed for 4 season. I've
> looked at the MSR Twin Sisters, golite Shangi La, OR's
> Nighthaven, and the Betamid. i'm leaning towards the Twin
> sisters, but it's also the most expensive. This would only be
> used for snow camping since I really like the SL1.

They all look like floorless shelters. The Twin Sisters seem a bit odd since you need two hiking poles for setup; wouldn't they make it difficult to maneuver? In snow, would they have difficulties getting planted or maybe sinking? I saw some floors available for those shelters, but that bumps up the price and weight.

There are some solo 4 season tents that are more than your apparent price range. There's the Sierra Designs Assailant 1. I'm not sure why they need one pole that sits in a sleeve surrounding the door.

http://www.sierradesigns.com/tents.display.php?id=780



Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 02:20PM
From pictures I've seen of the Twin Sisters shelter on a couple of forums, it looks pretty stable, and they swear by them in high winds. But of course it isn't a fully enclosed tent which provides the max. amount of protection. Even the manufacturers state that considering this there may be a requirement for a warmer sleeping system if using one of the floorless shelters. The floorless shelters are lighter though, Twin sisters < 2 lbs, and the Golite Shangri La 2 even lighter, and as I've mentioned substantially cheaper. I'm just curious if anyone on this forum, and presumably those hiking yosemite in the winter have any thoughts on what's adequate to the task.

I checked the Assailant I tent at the Sierra Designs website that you listed. Definitely cheaper than many of the others. i'll probably investigate that one a little more; as well as the 4 season tarptent by Thomas Shires, http://www.tarptent.com/scarp1.html. At $295 this is also an alternative to the bombproof tents intended for Mt Everest.

Thanks for the feedback.
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 05:45PM
from_mars wrote:

> I checked the Assailant I tent at the Sierra Designs website
> that you listed. Definitely cheaper than many of the others.
> i'll probably investigate that one a little more; as well as
> the 4 season tarptent by Thomas Shires,
> http://www.tarptent.com/scarp1.html. At $295 this is also an
> alternative to the bombproof tents intended for Mt Everest.

Here's another possibility. I wasn't sure if you two-person might be too big. This one costs little bit less, but it's almost 8 lbs.

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___23896

4 season tents seem to be really pricey. I saw quite a few more, but they start reaching the $400+ range. The SD one I referenced earlier is quite a bit lighter and quite a bit less.

Winter in a floorless tent?
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 04:51PM
bill-e-g and I have used this tent for a couple of years now and have had no complaints. It is a threee season tent and will stand up to some snow fall. I'm 6'4" and fit ok.

http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/product_pages/View_Catalog_Page.asp?mi=2329

Billy may have something to say.





Old Dude
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 06:58PM
Mars,
I'd stick with the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 you have for Yosemite.
It should be just fine for Yosemite. The pitch and floor looks fine on it.
The poles are 3 season so you have to keep huge amounts of snow off
of it...
The GoLite ShangriLa 1/2 say they are 4 season and that is just due
to the pitch which it looks like you have already in the SL1 and that you
use hiking poles for support. You
are not going to save alot of weight going to a floorless shelter compared
to your SL1... and with floorless then you'll end up using a ground sheet
and end up pushing snow on yourself or whatnot...
I def. would not go floorless in winter / camping on snow in the sierra.
The temp can go up and you could end up in slush.
For wind... In Yose it is act. pretty hard to get completely exposed
with NO trees around. So, if it is windy you want to seek out some
tree breaks...
I act. have the ShangriLa 1 and floor and I only use them 3 season..
much prefer freestanding in winter and a floor...
Anyway, that is my couple of cents.
Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 25, 2009 10:03PM
Bill,

Do you use the Eureka tent that Mike suggested for winter? The price is certainly right.
avatar Re: Winter Camping at Lassen
February 26, 2009 06:37AM
>Do you use the Eureka tent that Mike suggested for winter?

I kinda have too many tents...

I picked up a Moss Outland Solo many years ago that is bombproof
4 season that I have used. It's freestanding but pretty heavy.
Been in snow with a number of other 3 season tents... and since I wake up
alot during the night I just shove the accumulation off the tent...
Modified the Eureka above to make the "window" completely open to
give more ventilation since condensation is almost always an issue in
single walls...

If you want to pick up a single wall tent this is our current favorite
solo free-standing tent...
If you are only looking for 4 season then I'd stick with the one you have...

btw... love Eureka tents... they are reasonably priced and VERY well made..
I have not had any failure w/them... still have one that is 12+ years old...
Current Favorite for use with the wife is Pinnacle Pass 2XTA.
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