[pct-l] Mountain Education participant's report

J M evilempress2003 at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 9 23:07:30 CST 2011

This is a note I just sent to Lisa on the list who is also planning on attending 
the class: 

Let me start by saying The Snow Skills Class was great albeit incredibly 
physically challenging for me. The fact that 2 1/2 months prior to last weekend 
I was a couch potato that smoked up to a pack a day was my undoing. Add to that 
it was at 8000 feet of elevation and on snowshoes just sealed the deal. The 
issue I had was with my own cardio fitness. I have to say that the crew at 
Mountain Education and the group I was with was awesome. I hit a wall about a 
1/2 a mile from camp and they accommodated how long it took me to make it that 
last bit. 

The distance is not bad - about 8 miles round trip. You just have to prepare 
winter 'recess' which means snow shoes, boots, 3 season tent, warm sleeping 
snow pants, shell, appropriate glasses / goggles, ski gloves (+extra pairs), 
long underwear and other thermals. Last weekend was pretty warm  during the day 
but we were interacting with the snow most of the time so - yeah - cold weather 
everything. ( I have a video of me learning how to self arrest, to give you an 
idea) Your feet will be in the snow the whole trip so whatever will work for 
to keep your feet warm and dry. I have Lowe Gortex boots I used and they were 
awesome until the last few hours of the last day. 

The conditions in March will be different and I would check with Ned but you 
taking a Snow Skills Course so my assumption would be to plan to spend a 
in the snow. Snow  = colder, brighter, wetter. I ended up renting a 3 season 
tent to take because my tent is a Contrail Tarptent and not suitable for snow 
camping. I definitely packed differently for this trip than I will for my hike 
but I did take a bunch of my gear for a test run. One of the things I found is 
that my sleeping bag will need to be replaced. It did an OK job keeping me warm 
but that is just not going to be good enough for me on the trail. The first 
night the temperature dropped to about 20 the 2nd night it was warmer (about 
but we had high winds that caused the tents to be a bit more interactive than 
wanted. None of the tents failed but mine would periodically hit me in the face 
and wake me up. 

I probably carried an additional 15 lbs of gear I will not be carrying on most 
of the PCT. I also had an ice axe and shovel. I was excited to learn how to use 
the ice axe for self arrest and I wanted to build the snow cave to sleep in on 
Saturday night. We did complete one but there was only enough room for one 
person. (It's very cool - btw). 

I have snow camped before so the gear was not a surprise to me. Doing this 
within the context of planning for the PCT was a great experience and was very 
informative. It reminded me to start slow and how important regulating body 
temperature is on the trail. It's easy to forget how miserable it is to spend a 
night just this side of warm. 

I highly recommend the class. Ned was a fantastic teacher and I learned a ton 
from him. He is a self proclaimed 'camper' as opposed to an ultralight hiker so 
his course is about safety, snow skills and navigation not how to go as fast 
light as possible. His goal is to impart the necessary skills for people enjoy 
nature in all seasons. I learned a ton. 

Plan to play in the snow and have a great time! 
"Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning." 

From: Tortoise <Tortoise73 at charter.net>
To: PCT List <pct-l at backcountry.net>
Sent: Wed, February 9, 2011 8:43:02 PM
Subject: [pct-l] Mountain Education participant's report

I seem to recall someone wrote a report on a recent weekend course but I 
can't find it.  Anyone have the message to forward to me?

<> Because truth matters.  <>
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