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Tech Tip: Answered Winter Canyoneering Stuff

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Darn! Seems like we are going to have a winter here this year. So let's talk about it, because I know many people are keen on it. The last couple of non-winter winters may have removed people's caution... so let's put it back in.

    There are many different aspects of this. Perhaps the "pros" could pipe in with their favorite aspect. Like many things in our stupid sport, it is all about RISK MANAGEMENT. Of course it is riskier to go out in Winter, so how can we manage and mitigate the risks involved?

    Open thread - >

    :moses:
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  2. Terry LeBlanc

    Terry LeBlanc

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    Nothing useful to contribute... Cold here is when it gets below 60...<g>
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Winter Survival Kit

    In summer, if you get stuck overnight, you'll survive the night most likely, unless it rains. You'll be cold, uncomfortable, etc. But, when the sun comes up, you'll warm up (YMMV, some exceptions apply).

    Not necessarily so in winter. Especially if you are wet, or have gotten wet. Sometimes there is firewood around, but often not. I am mostly concerned about what happens if someone gets injured to the point of being unable to move. In this case, WFR-level First Aid is very useful, but if still immobilized, the injured person ("victim") will be stuck there. In most cases, it is also a good idea to leave ONE caretaker there. Rescue/support before the next day is very unlikely. It would be very nice if the victim and their caretaker survived the night.

    In some circumstances, I have started carrying a KIT for that, which consists of:

    Imlay Fleece Balaclava - about the best warmth per weight available.
    Bivy Sac - about 10 oz
    NeoAir blow-up pad.
    32 deg Sleeping Bag - 1 lb fancy down sleeping bag (not enough to be warm, but that's not the point)
    Down Jacket -> should be one that fits the largest person in the group, so all can wear it.

    To me, the idea is the victim gets the neoair and sleeping bag, maybe the balaclava. The caretaker gets the down jacket and the bivy sac. Scrounging warm clothing from other people in the group is a good idea.

    Basic Winter Kit.

    That's about the same weight as a 200' pull cord, but a lot more bulk. Be sure to bring a big drybag to get everything in.

    In a bigger group, longer canyon, more serious conditions, I would also add some food and a small light stove to this mix - another 16 ozs. Not enough food to be full, but enough to help keep warm. Obviously, scrounging food from others in the group will help.

    Advanced Winter Kit.

    My vision is that the best medical person will act as caretaker, and the rest of the group will finish the canyon and get rescue going. Which kinda means the smallest viable group size is 4 people.

    For the shorter canyons in North Wash, we can probably organize a rescue group to go in and bring sleeping bags, pads and food, and possibly extricate the victim (or at least help with the technical rescue when the SAR team arrives). Would I take this through Shenanigans? Nope, nor Middle Lep, nor... well, a lot of canyons. If a team can easily reach and injured party in a couple hours, then do that. But... Black Hole? Yeah, bring this, maybe more. Since we have a big group, we could bring a substantial kit - although the people carrying the stuff are sometimes in the front (oops).

    How often do I do this? Not often enough.

    Tom :moses:
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  4. Terry LeBlanc

    Terry LeBlanc

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    Pretty good list, Tom. Your basic kit matches what I usually include in my "cold pack" for hiking, would work for canyoneering. The only other items I include in my cold pack is a lightweight synthetic base layer (top & bottom) to wear against my skin to keep me warm from ankles to neck.

    I like the SnugPak bags (British), best I've used, have had mine for 15 years (used heavily for 12), have a lightweight Softie 3 Merlin (5C, 900g) and a midweight Softie 9 Hawk (-5C, 1500g), both in protective compression sacks, plus a good silk liner (adds 15F comfort & easy to clean). I have a good 3/4 Thermarest pad, last a long time if used with care with a good, tough ground cloth. I bought my bags one at a time, summer bag (Merlin) first for here in South Florida, winter bag (Hawk) second. I use combinations, as needed, on short trips, flexible.

    If I had it to do over again, I'd probably buy the military version, which has the zipper up the middle, rather than the side (left side preference for me). I don't have a heavy bag...not needed where we usually camp here in the SE, including the Appalachians in western VA.
  5. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I'm with Terry, cold is what happens in other places, so I don't have much to contribute. Lightweight reflective material (space blanket) and a candle can make for a quick and effective heat tent. I've been thankful for it on a few occasion.

    A quick glance on Ready.gov regarding cold preparedness was enlightening... in the Don't Do section, canyoneering in winter pretty much violates everything single thing on their list.:cold:

    Although this little tidbit could come in handy (would certainly help keep the blood flowing):
    • If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.
  6. Terry LeBlanc

    Terry LeBlanc

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    Good point, Kuenn. I have one of the UCO candle lanterns always in my backpack, with a couple of spare candles. Great little lantern, enclosed behind glass, slides shut to a compact, protected package. Highly recommended. You get the heat, with no open flame exposed, with a bail to hang it from. I also have the removable reflector for it. Big fan...used it many times when I didn't have anything else (before LED bulbs made batteries last so long).
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  7. AW~

    AW~

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    A standard geek-out mitigation list from the pros can be found at
    http://www.conovers.org/ftp/SAR-Gear.pdf

    On the other side of the spectrum and totally reliant on adaptation, is your vision/spirit quest and special forces/martial arts training....

    Suffice it to say, if you are given bad route information you can always turn back. But you cant depend reliably on backing out of internet winter prep at 3 am in the morning. No one is going to be asking if at least once someone has actually put their horrible advice to the test....because as you know the disclaimer is in the back pocket.
  8. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    AW~
    I am a (retired) pro mountain guide and that is an 'over the top' list for winter canyoneering (standard for what?)
    Reminds me of Monty Python's hair dresser expedition to Everest.
    Think Alpine Mountaineering: ya got to count every match stick.
    Tom's list is a good one me thinks :twothumbs:
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  9. AW~

    AW~

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    A robust list is just line items to consider. Some people bring too little, so that list might spark interest in what the objective of a particular item is. Some people are drawn to bring too much, so they can bring less like you said. I guess I shouldnt care that much since its Halloween everyday now.

    I dont consider it over the top because these lists are built on many factual overnighters by SAR....the same people rescuing someone who forgot or didnt know about something that could have mitigated an error. IMO, there is a lesson here that domination is not always achievable. Even to someone drawn to bring the whole tool chest, they usually start seeing the value in adapting. Vice versa too.

    If it worked for Tom, then thats for Tom...I barely got through a planned Yellowstone overnighter with my list(no tent) LOL. If you dont believe me, bring Toms' list to a Yellowstone overnighter when it snows and let me know how it worked out. A bit humourous because the conditions/predictions by the rangers couldnt have been more wrong. There was no forecast for snow(or rain) and no snow on the trail...supposedly. Where I slept was a peaceful mostly green designated camping spot...where I woke up had no green anywhere. Very nice having to get back through horrible weather the next day too on saturated ground. Testing of the overflow revealed a ph of 2-3...beautiful. Huggeee bypass through dense forest bushwack and got back past the time limit. In my car less than 5 minutes and a ranger shows up...'bear time...get out of here you lucky dude(for not writing a ticket). Q: Can I rest for like 30 minutes? A: {chuckle}...sure...I can call a tow truck and you can rest in the car until they get to the tow yard...xoxo to you too mr. rules are rules ranger'

    In case anyone is wondering where that Halloween statement came from, here is the entire quote ""God, that shit freaks me out," says Chris "Crash" Carson. "It's fucking Halloween every day for some of these kooks. Bleached hair, puka shell necklaces — that shit is weird.""
    For example people may have seen the Carhartt commercial
    Seems to me to Carhartt is changing to be marketed towards more wannabees to think they can just buy a jacket and head outdoors in those conditions to be a badass.
  10. spinesnaper

    spinesnaper

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  11. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Also be mindful of your exit. Steep exits can be very dangerous if icy, North facing?

    I've had to find alternate routes winter canyoneering. And they can add hours to your trip. That is, if you are lucky and you find an alternate.
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  12. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Tom's list is not designed to spend a COMFY winter night(s) (it is probably too minimal for that), but to SURVIVE one or two while avoiding hypothermia and frostbite.
    A list like Tom's comes from his many years of experimentation with bivouac gear and techniques, in all types of conditions :moses:.
    I highly recommend trying at LEAST one "emergency" overnight, in the woods (a few hundred feet from your car) with just what you carry in your pack
    in the worst winter conditions you can find.
    :D
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  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Thank you Todd. I was hoping to get more discussion like Mountaineers - taken from those with experience in canyoneering in winter (ie, ACTUAL winter), rather than a general discussion of what should be in your 80 lb pack.

    VERY important. Snow on slickrock can take something that was an easy stroll in summer and make it impossible in winter. Even just the lichen being wet can make things super-hazardous.

    As a community, we have had at least one serious accident (thankfully, little permanent damage) and one other rescue called out (these people were smarter, no damage, night out around a fire, pissed off sheriff the biggest casualty) because exits were dusted with snow and impassable. Often hard to tell these details before you get there. Alternatives that are easy in summer may be more difficult in winter, or impossible. Another good reason to only do canyons you have done before, so you understand how a little bit of snow or ice will effect the day.

    Tom
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  14. Terry LeBlanc

    Terry LeBlanc

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    Need a couple of Sherpas for the SAR Gear list...<g> Good to peruse, may find useful nuggets, things I wouldn't otherwise consider.

    Getting cooler here...finally...high of 81 today...should be down in the 70s by Christmas...gorgeous weather for us golfers...
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  15. SARguru

    SARguru

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    Have a peek at Blizard hypothermia blankets, these UK made device are in use by many gov sar teams. They are a basically a super space blanket, but have 2 layers with a honeycomb in middle. Until my truck got broken into and my pack was stolen i carried the Blizard blanket, it is about the size of a grapefruit. The Blizard bag is the size of a VHS tape (i assume most on here will know what that is!!). Thats the size factory shrink sealed, once opened they are a bit bigger packed.

    Super light stuff, not to $$ (both under $50) can get wet etc... The bag, is just like a sleeping bag with releasable double sided tape, the blanket is blanket.

    Nic


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  16. John Diener

    John Diener

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    +1 on all of the above. Scouting exits recommended if there is any question. Know the canyons and anchor possibilities beforehand, as options may be more limited (e.g. sand frozen making sandtrap unusable). Plan more time margin.
    -john
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  17. Terry LeBlanc

    Terry LeBlanc

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    Is this the blanket? $75 on Amazon...very small package until first use, includes 4 oxygen-activated heating pads, hope they're sealed individually inside the vacuum bag. Maybe that's why this one is $75.<g>
    http://www.amazon.com/Blizzard-Heat...49763542&sr=8-2&keywords=blizzard hypothermia.

    I've got the SOL Escape bivvy, plus the Black Diamond footprint that I now include as an emergency shelter, courtesy of this forum.
  18. SARguru

    SARguru

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    Terry, thats the right company different product, appears to have some heat element


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  19. Terry LeBlanc

    Terry LeBlanc

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    Will look further... Thanks!
  20. SARguru

    SARguru

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