Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:09 pm

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby mtnjim » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:31 pm

As everyone says, USE SKIS. It'll make the trip out so much faster and easier. My buddy was a hot shot skier but I'm not particularly impressive and kept the skins on for the trip out. It worked well for me and if it hadn't been for some sled problems, we would have made it back from 17k to Talkeetna in one day.

Almost everyone brings a PVC setup to add a little control to the sled that you'll pick from the big pile at Talkeetna base. My partner rigged ours up but a broken elbow is what slowed us on the way out.

If you go with the Inverno-overboot combo you'll still want to bring the gaiters since you won't be using the overboots most of the time, maybe just on summit day or above 14k, maybe not at all. I took Millet Everests since I all ready owned them but Cal took Invernos and had no problem.. The Millets were really overkill but that's only because we had great weather for our late May 2004 trip. You won't be using the overboots and gaiters at the same time. It'll be one or the other.

Don't worry too much about a little extra weight. Everybody takes too much stuff, too many clothes and too much gas and food since you have to do some worst-case planning. There were lots of folks at 14k trying to get rid of food so they wouldn't have to lug it out. And you'll mostly be towing it, not carrying it so a couple kilos extra won't matter.

JimS

User avatar
Posts: 790
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: The High Country

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby RoanMtnMan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:30 pm

mtnjim wrote:As everyone says, USE SKIS. It'll make the trip out so much faster and easier. My buddy was a hot shot skier but I'm not particularly impressive and kept the skins on for the trip out. It worked well for me and if it hadn't been for some sled problems, we would have made it back from 17k to Talkeetna in one day.


Skis are certainly a safety item on that route in my book. In all seriousness, if I left my gaiters, sled, and overboots in Talkeetna, I would be less concerned than if I left my skis. Faster retreats and more surface area to keep one out of the massive crevasses. You don't have to be a very good skier to get from 14k to base camp on the west butt. And that is the bulk of where one spends time on that trip.
Always follow the 7 P's. Proper Planning & Preparation, Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

"An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.” --Marco Polo

www.CalebWrayPhotography.com

Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:01 pm

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby kevinsoawesome » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:08 pm

I will buy the overboots (and high altitude liners) for my scarpas, and use them when needed as well as the gaiters separately.

I am going with a guided group for the expedition, as all my others have been that way.

I can't find any Denali expedition using skiis though (maybe I'm not understanding or reading correctly).

Are skis standard on Denali? Do you take them all the way the top, or do you stop at some point to use crampons (or snowshoes) and leave your skis behind to pick up later?

Also, I'm looking into getting a split board because I prefer to snowboard. Is a splitboard a good alternative to ski pulking?


Thanks for all the great help here guys!

Kevin

Posts: 271
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 3:44 pm

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby viejo » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:16 pm

shearmodulus wrote:They were perfect on a -20 day earlier in January, so I'm guessing they will do me well for my May summit on McKinley.


Don't forget the impact of high altitude on staying warm, especially with respect to the extremities. A -20 summit day in May on Denali is not unlikely. Generating sufficient heat above 20K feet does not necessarily correlate to a 14K walk here. For the time and expense involved, definitely err on the side of caution.

User avatar
Posts: 790
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: The High Country

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby RoanMtnMan » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:06 am

kevinsoawesome wrote:
Are skis standard on Denali?


Not by any means. Skis will be in the majority for the approach of the west butt at some point though.

I would guess about 20% of folks use them now. Snowshoes work just fine but they have a lot of drawbacks over skis. Skis have their drawbacks as well, but not nearly as many as the shoes in my opinion. It surprises me that there are not more guided ski approach trips up Denali. The need for crampons doesn't really come into play until above 14k. There have been a lot of, perhaps not so confident skiers, that have kept themselves a little safer and moved a little faster to and from 14k camp on skis, and ditched the skis for crampons before for a summit bid. It is a good strategy in my opinion.

The question makes me think about the logistics of a rope team with a combination of snowshoes and skis. I wonder how that would work?

Regardless, it has also been done by thousands on solely snowshoes. So prep well and go have a great experience. Bring some entertainment, there is a lot of downtime. My wife had to read the same book 3 times in a storm at 14k during a long storm. She needed a better guide I think :-D .
Always follow the 7 P's. Proper Planning & Preparation, Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

"An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.” --Marco Polo

www.CalebWrayPhotography.com

User avatar
Posts: 163
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:54 am
Location: Boulder

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby Kevo » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:39 am

If at all possible, use skis instead of snowshoes. It is so nice to slide past teams on the lower Kahiltna trudging through the night. It can save many hours to ski down instead of snowshoe, and you might just get the last plane out before a storm while snowshoers end up stuck for days because they didn't make it down in time.

You can cache your skis/ski boots at 11k or 14k. You don't gain much efficiency skiing above 11k (if there is ice above 11k -happens in low snow years- it's better to crampon from 11k anyway), but there are some great ski lines above 14k for when you acclimate.

I had Dynafit Titans with intuition liners that I cached at 11k and Spantiks with upgraded intuition liners that I took to the summit with overboots. My feet were never cold, but I'm glad I had overboots for summit day when there was windchill at or below -40.

No need to bring your own sled, just know how to stabilize a sled and load it. Keep the contents of the sled balanced, and as low as possible. Use a durable duffle bag to hold everything in the sled. This duffle bag will be your cache bag up high. Inspect sleds available at base camp and chose something good with no cracks on the bottom or sides.

For going uphill- use shock cord backed up by cordallette. However your were planning on attaching the sled to yourself- do it first with shock cord, then back up the system with slightly longer cordallette. Attach this system to the waist belt of your pack, not your harness, and tie the sled into your rope with prusiks. Make it so that when you pull, you get some stored energy in the shock cord to get the sled moving. It is such a nice system and really saves your hips from jarring. Attach plastic chain (available at hardware stores) to the back of the sled, so that if the sled rolls backwards it will run over the chain and stop itself from moving.

For going downhill- The person at the back of the rope team doesn't have a sled anywhere near them. In a two person team, attach both sleds about 10 feet behind the front skier. Prusik both the front and rear of each sled to your rope. The person in front skis normally and the person in the rears job is to keep the rope reasonably tight. By doing this, the sleds will track and follow the front skier. For steeper sections, tie some plastic chain to the front of the sled. When it gets steep, drop the chain in front of the sled as a brake. It provides enough friction that it will keep the sled nice and steady.

This system for going downhill worked so well that even while skiing pretty fast, we only tipped our sleds over one or maybe two times the entire way back to basecamp. If you do it wrong, you might dump your sleds dozens of times.

More info here- http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=10119&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

User avatar
Posts: 790
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: The High Country

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby RoanMtnMan » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:56 pm

The only issue with the non rigid stay prussik attached chain dragging sled, besides being a complicated junk show, is when you are breaking a trench through fresh snow, you will end up flipping the sled fairly often, stopping, flipping it back up right, and then yelling at your rope mate because you are so frustrated. I have been up there with both systems. Rigid stays attached to the pack are far better. On the downhill it also doesn't pull the rope attached to the guy behind you.

The point was good about getting a flight faster with skis. We had summited, were sitting at 14k, and news came in that a huge storm was approaching. None of the snowshoe groups thought they could get out faster than the storm came in and waited it out at 14k. Meanwhile we zipped down on skis as the storm moved in. After 5 days of waiting at base camp, a few planes were finally able to sneak in, we were first in line out of 160 people waiting.

Not sure how you want to get back to a warm meal after a long carry but this looks good to me.

Image
Always follow the 7 P's. Proper Planning & Preparation, Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

"An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.” --Marco Polo

www.CalebWrayPhotography.com

Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:01 pm

Re: Mt McKinley Gear (Snowshoes, sled pulk, boots)

Postby kevinsoawesome » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:07 pm

Wow. Thanks for the replies guys. This is awesome information. Planning for Denali is a complicated process.

I still have a lot to learn, so I'm sure I'll be back to 14ers.com to learn more about mountaineering.

Thanks again!


Kevin

Previous

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: coneydogron, DoctorBreaks, Doug Shaw, Husketeer, jrs1965, Trotter, Yury and 19 guests