Monday, May 7, 2012

Training Hike and Gear Test 5-5-12

Getting ready for the summer and several summits I've been planning, so decided to hit the Marys Peak North Ridge trail on Saturday. From the Woods Creek Rd. parking area, its about 5.5 miles to the parking lot at the end of the main Marys Peak road, and 6.14 all the way to the radio towers at the summit. I recently picked up a Black Diamond Epic45 pack and had been working my gear toward my Alpine Climbing list, so I loaded up with everything (plus some) that I would take on a single day alpine solo summit. My pack weighed in at 30lbs, which included 3L of water, trekking poles, plus ice axe and crampons. I even brought my stove, a large fuel canister and my GSI cup, which I probably wouldn't bring for a day trip, and hopefully will swap out soon for a JetBoil Zip. The drive up once you're on Woods Creek Rd. is only paved for a few miles, but it wasn't bad, and the little car zipped right on up to the trailhead.

It was noon when I headed out, layered for cooler temps since the freezing levels had been down around 3500' that night. After a few miles I ditched the t-shirt, going with an OXT long sleeve and a fleece vest. Fairly close to ideal, but I sweat no matter what, especially trying to push the pace. The pack carries so nice, the ergoActiv hip belt and SwingArm shoulder straps are a nice feature, especially with all the blow down trees I had to crawl over or under! The pack moves with you, and once I had everything adjusted, it felt like less of a load than my old 40L pack with less weight in it. Including a few short stops and one sit break along the way, I did the uphill leg in 2:45, keeping within my 2-2.5mph pace goal. Once up on the summit, I broke out the stove, some Mountain House chicken and rice, and layered up for the cool breeze.

Had a nice visit with a couple that took the short hike from the upper parking lot to the top to have lunch, talking about the area as well as some of the other mountains of the Cascades. Around 3:30 I headed back down, covering the distance in 1:45. 3 liters of water was perfect for the hike, I ran out of water about a quarter mile from my car and didn't dress down from my summit layering so I was sweating fairly heavy by the time I was halfway down. I decided to leave layers on for somewhat of a  worst case scenario rapid descent. I threw some tape on my right heel before I headed up, and wore my Lowa Renegades. No hot spots this time, which was a nice bonus. For a training hike I was very happy with my performance, considering that if I was on a solo one day, I wouldn't be carrying as much, or on a multi day trip, the weight would only bump up 10 pounds and I wouldn't be pushing as hard. Happy with my layering plan, happy with the new pack, and very happy with my physical performance.

Coming up..... Hopefully a few classes with Timberline Mountain Guides for general mountaineering plus snow anchors and belay before taking their two day glacier travel and crevasse rescue course. Between those, I'm taking a 5 day Rope Rescue Technician 1&2 class with CMC over in Bend. Trying to get as many short courses in before I end up back in school full time for Summer term. I also recently attended my first meeting with Corvallis Mountain Rescue to get an idea of what level of training they're looking for in volunteers. Great people and great feedback for which direction to head from here as far as mountaineering goes. We'll see how things pan out in the long run!
Pack fully loaded with just about everything for a multi-day alpine trip, weighed in around 40lbs. for testing.


  1. You still have a small backpack of stuff :) You should see me, when packing for a day out :)

    Holiday Rentals Saas Fee

  2. Trying to work into the realm of ultralight, for years I've carried way to much gear in relation to my activity. Years past, I've gone on overnight trips carrying 60+lbs of gear.