WildSnow Weekend — Birds In The Privy

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 17, 2014      
They like snuggling up with an issue of Ski Journal as much as we do.

These chicks like snuggling up with Ski Journal as much as we do.

This spring we found a nest of eggs in WildSnow HQ’s privy. We shut the door to let them hatch. After the little birds flew the coop, the privy underwent a thorough cleaning. Then Lou moved it closer to HQ, making it more accessible on those cold winter nights when snow drifts are meters deep.

After the birds flew the coop, we cleaned out the privy.  Lou moved it closer to HQ.  His Blogness likes the new throne.

His Blogness likes the new throne.

A few months ago, Mindshift sent us a cleverly designed camera bag, Rotation 180 Panorama , that quickly became my go to pack for spring ski mountaineering and summer hiking. Recently they sent their larger model, Rotation 180 Professional. It’s loaded with features that will work for backcountry skiers. We are in the process of field testing it now. In the meantime, here’s a quick look:

The rotating belt pack is the feature we like best.

Rotation 180 Professional and Rotation 180 Panorama. The rotating belt pack is the feature we like best.

Rotation 180 Professional 37.5L, MSRP $390

Rotation 180 Panorama 22L, MSRP $200

The belt pack of the Professional is larger than the Panorama.  In addition to stowing camera gear, I've found it a handy place for other stuff like snacks, sunscreen and sunglasses.

The belt pack of the Professional is larger than the Panorama. In addition to stowing camera gear, I’ve found it a handy place for small take-alongs like snacks, sunscreen, mini binoculars, GPS and sunglasses.

With Mindshift, I can take photos without getting too far behind.

Trekking through the alpine. With Mindshift, I could take photos without getting too far behind.

The wildflowers in Colorado's Elk Mountain are stunning.

Wildflowers in Colorado’s Elk Mountain are legendary.

New bouquets around every corner.

Stunning new bouquets appear every corner of the path.

Here’s a recap of last week’s posts:

WildSnow Girl Fun at Summer OR 2014 Mrs. WildSnow’s pick list for backcountry ski touring gear at Summer Outdoor Retailer 2014.

Meet the New Black Diamond, Winter Product Count Reduced — CEO Metcalf to Step Down Strategic changes at Black Diamond Equipment will affect the backcountry skiing gear they offer.

Endless Winter — South America 2014 Louie and friends travel south for a few weeks of ski mountaineering in Chile and Argentina.

Avalanche Safety Quiz Avalanche risk self evaluation quiz is a learning tool and also fun. The idea is to stimulate thought and improvements in how we go about staying alive in avalanche country.

Backcountry.com Headquarters: Brick and Mortar’s Big Brother Joe Risi explores the belly of the beast: tour of backcountry.com facilities in Salt Lake City, warehouse of mountaineering and ski gear.


8 Responses to “WildSnow Weekend — Birds In The Privy”

  1. Greg August 18th, 2014 10:12 am

    Lou, how does that outhouse “work?” Where does the waste “go?” Is there a hole under there? My interest is not purely scatological. I manage a yurt up in the Uinta mountains. We have a similar looking privy, sitting over a hole. When the hole fils, we have to dig a new one, which is sort of hard work. So, I am interested in other solutions that work in the high country in winter.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 August 18th, 2014 12:00 pm

    We use a groover system, like on the river, and carry out the waste or incinerate it. It’s quite simple, works best for smaller groups. For larger groups I’d probably put a small chemical toilet in there, or something like that. The system we use is actually less smelly and cleaner than a pit, it works better than I expected. In my experiences over the years I’ve seen a lot of these sorts of systems, all the way to the most basic (a barrel full of poo) to the expensive wilderness “wag bags” you can buy in the camping department. We just use trash bags. The tricky part is you have to learn not to pee in the poo bag (grin). We also use some deodorant cat litter as an absorbent, and to keep it totally legal we sprinkle a little septic system enzyme in there as well, so it’s the same idea as the powder in the store-bought wag bags. All that said, incineration is the best method of all. A nice big slash fire works great for that (grin)!

    With the years of river groovers and wilderness wag bags the outdoor recreation population has been exposed to, I’ve found people have no big issue with using our setup.

    At Friends Hut they use a two-hole pit privy system, and move the outhouse back and forth every few years. I was involved in that quite a few times so I know what you’re talking about. It’s the only thing that works there as they have no road access for pumping out a vault toilet, and too many people for a pack-out system to be reliable. In my opinion, the best system is just a vault that gets pumped out (that’s usually what 10th Mountain Huts uses), but our land use code doesn’t allow vaults in our area any more, nor pits, due to our being in a special water district. So we’re left with either carrying out, incinerating, or building a full-on plumbing and leach field system. I’m not sure why a poorly built and undersized septic system (pretty much the norm around here) is any better than a nicely made pit privy, but that’s what they seem to be saying. Don’t ask me my opinion of that kind of regulatory garbage (grin).

    I should also mention that until we start a real building project at Field HQ, all structures have to be “temporary” so having the outhouse “privacy shelter” up on cribbing like that makes it totally obvious it’s portable and temporary, just as the tiny house on wheels and my small tool shed that sits on timber skids. If we need more storage or “camping” space I’ll just put another trailer up there for the time being, tastefully, of course (grin).


  3. Rob S. August 18th, 2014 7:29 pm

    Sorry not to continue the outhouse discussion here, but….I’m curious about the weight distribution of the Rotation pack. I’ve been using a Clik-It chest harness for my DSLR for several years now, and I’m a huge believer in having the camera readily available. I’ve gotten hundreds if not thousands of pictures of fellow skiers because I can get to the camera so quickly. But the other thing I’ve noticed is that having the weight of the camera on my chest helps to balance the weight of the backpack. How does the rotation fair? Does having the extra weight of the camera in the back cause any concern? (Obviously, it’s no worse than having it in the pack,but in my mind that’s a useless place for a camera!)

  4. Lou Dawson 2 August 18th, 2014 7:33 pm

    Oh man, I was looking forward to discussing waste disposal (grin).

    Lisa? Weight distribution of the camera pack?

  5. Lisa Dawson August 18th, 2014 8:05 pm

    Rob S.,
    I find having the weight of the camera at the bottom of the pack works very well. It’s comfortable and solid. A curved back panel with an aluminum stay in the backpack frame keeps the pack stable and it’s amazing how smoothly the beltpack swings around. I encourage you to try it. Let us know what you think.

  6. Rob S. August 18th, 2014 8:12 pm

    Thanks…very tempted to give this a try, even though the price is a bit steep. Will be interested to hear if the larger pack is sufficient for a multi-day hut trip. As much as I like the convenience of the chest harness, there are definitely times in ski mountaineering when you want to see your feet! :-)

  7. Greg August 19th, 2014 1:46 pm

    Thanks Lou. Our situation is no road access and too many users to make a pack-out system work. So, maybe digging a hole every 5 years is the best solution.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 August 19th, 2014 2:04 pm

    I think the basic pit privy is super effective. Have checked out literally hundreds all over the world. It’s too bad they’re not allowed in so many places, as they work and save huge amounts of energy and water. Typical of our archaic and weirded out land use regulations all over the U.S. Pit privy can be optimized a couple of ways. I have one friend who burns all paper instead of throwing it in, thus reducing volume and all the cellulose that would otherwise have to deteriorate along with the organic waste, which if kept moist breaks down pretty fast. Lou

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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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