Hut Trip Gear Notes

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From this past week’s four day hut trip:

Skis/bindings – Dynafit of course, without brakes as this trip was about covering distance so I went as light as possible. Skis were a tough decision. I almost chose my skinny lightweight Atomic MX09, but knowing it was April (variable conditions) I opted for my wide but still short 177 cm Atomic Kongur with BD Glidelite skins. Turned out that was a good choice as the MX09 would have been dicey on the breakable.

Grip – I found myself removing and replacing skins many times during our longest day. A block of paraffin for skin waxing came in handy, and I even dug out my secret stash of nordic wax and used it for one section of the route. We all could have used ski crampons several times, but hey, how much junk can you carry?

Pack – My Granite Gear Alpine Vapor pack was the perfect rig for this sort of trip. I swapped in a lighter weight hip belt from another GG pack, removed a few extra straps, and ended up with a super lightweight sack that still had some volume for easy packing.

Boots – The Garmont Mega Rides I’ve been working with all winter fit the bill, but I hadn’t done a good enough job of fitting and got a few blisters. I also noticed just how hot and miserable Thermoflex liners are during a cooker day (part of the reason for the blisters). I’ve heard at least one boot company is working on making lightweight but truly breathable liners — the day those become available will be a time for thanks.

Sleeping – The Friends Hut and Braun Huts are well insulated and stay warm long after the stove dies out. Thus, a “summer” rated bag is totally adequate. I carried a Marmot Atomic that weighs a pound (800 fill down). This is the perfect bachelor’s (half zipper) hut bag and highly recommended. Just remember one thing: most “hut” bags would be totally inadequate for an emergency bivvy. But then, if you use a thick bag at the hut, you might need a medivac for dehydration — so perhaps it’s a wash.

Other notes – Several guys had the latest telemark bindings with randonnee pivot. While this is a welcome improvement (I’m tired of watching friends suffer on the uphill), I was amused to notice them fiddling around with the pivot latch and thus doing a “transition” of nearly equal complexity to randonnee gear. Now telemark gear is heavier than rando and has just as many things to mess with during a changeover. Interesting.

As always I’m stunned at just how good backcountry skiing equipment has become, and truly enjoyed using my state-of-art gear. Along with that, I was totally impressed with the condition of our huts. Warm, spacious and aesthetic, the Braun Huts and Friends Hut are truly amazing. The Friends Hut, however, wins the prize for character and has the best ski terrain (with the Tagert running a close second for nearby skiing).

Comments

7 Responses to “Hut Trip Gear Notes”

  1. Andy April 14th, 2006 11:00 am

    I bought a set of Alpina Cross Terrains this season with hut trips specifically in mind. Almost all huts have a lot of rolling terrain and gentle climbs on the ski in, right? I hate messing with skins all day. I put a set of 404′s on them (hey, it’s what I had).

    I didn’t get to use them until our last trip of the season, to Francie’s. Ended up being a good test: I forgot my skins at home and had to borrow some from a friend in Breck, but they didn’t fit over the Alpina’s fat tips. The route up was super icy. The Cross Terrains did OK at first, then gave up the ghost. In all fairness, once I started, hiking my boots were slipping too.

    After that initial steep pitch, though, they did fine. And we got some fresh the next day that really helped their performance — I think they might have made the climb in if the snow had been better.

    Touring around the hut and the ski out were both great, although at 170 long and 100 wide at the tips, they’re not powder boards.
    Still, I think they’re a good choice as a hut ski.

  2. Nick Davies April 14th, 2006 10:00 pm

    Lou, I’ve always been leery of using kick wax if I’ve been putting skins on subsequently. Do you find it works OK?

  3. Tim April 15th, 2006 9:17 am

    Lou, How did you like your new camera??

    Why did you choose the 620 over the 610?

    Did the batteies last the whole trip?

    Any other impressions?

    best,

    Tim

  4. Mark Soot April 15th, 2006 11:34 am

    I was interested to hear the comments on the rando pivot of the new tele-bindings. I use the Silvretta tele tour adapater and would highly recommend these. Bomber construction, ease of use, and a true no fuss ski pole activated heel lift.

  5. Lou April 15th, 2006 7:09 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Nick, kickwax can indeed mess up your skin glue. My approach is to use a fairly thin layer. When put over alpine wax it seems to scour off really quickly. If there is much left on, I scrape as much as I can then buff with my hand. I’m sure my skins get a bit on them, but it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Also, sometimes it’s so worth using kick wax that I’m happy to take the risk of having to send my skins away for a $25 re-glue after a while. For what it’s worth, nearly all my photos in this winter’s blogs were takend with the A620.

    Tim, The A620 is 7 Megapixel instead of 5, I believe that’s the only difference. The battery life is amazing. I’ve only used three sets of lithium AA batteries this whole winter. I’m very happy with the A620, though I wish it had a bigger LCD (of course, that means less battery life), and I wish it had a sports/auto shooting mode and a more robust manual focus system. The fold-out LCD is incredibly useful.

  6. David Aldous April 15th, 2006 7:43 pm

    I’ve been looking at the Alpine Vapor as both a backpacking and alpine climbing pack. I know I’d be spending more and carrying a little more weight than if I just got the normal Vapor Trail. It just seems like the Vapor would be more durable and versatile than the Trail. I’m curious if you think this is a good idea or if I should stick with a Vapor Trail?
    Dave

  7. Lou April 17th, 2006 7:49 am

    Hi David, as far as I can tell the Alpine Vapor does use slightly more durable fabric in wear areas. The Vapor Trail will wear quickly if do things like falling backwards on a scree slope, or sitting on a granite boulder and leaning back into the rock with the pack on. Super lightweight packs such as the Vapor require a different style of care. It can be worth it for the weight saved, but it’s not for everyone. The Alpine Vapor is a good compromise. To save a little weight you can remove the crampon patch on the Alpine Vapor if you won’t be carrying crampons.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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