Denali Testin’ — Hilliberg Tents and Satphone Blogging

Post by blogger | March 1, 2010      

Did a winter campout a few nights ago with four of our Denali crew. Mainly testing our Hilliberg tentage. Looks like we’ll be using three Hilleberg shelters. Saivo is a nicely sized but still wind-friendly dome that Jordan and Caleb, being taller folks, like because it fits them better. Louie and I are in the Nammatj 3, while Caleb, Colby and Joe will bunk in the Keron 3 GT with its commodious vestibules at each end for their gear pile.

The other big test was my completed satphone blogging system. Everyone present took a turn at the computer to file a brief post via the Iridium birds. Crazy, just sitting in our kitchen snow-trench with a netbook on our laps, sending photos and text. Nice to have this working, now I can move on to refining our winter camping systems:

Satphone blogging.

This photo was sent over our satphone system in just over a minute, while sitting in our snowcamp kitchen. Nice hat there Colby. This and other tests I've been running indicate we'll be good to go for getting photos from the Kahiltna to WildSnow. Only unknown is how well the system will do in deep cold. Tricks for that include pre-warming gear before using and that sort of thing. So we'll see.

Jordan: Mac n cheese times three. Psyched to be out with the Denali crew. We need more gear dialing, but I feel like for the most part our crew will be physically fit.

Joe: Sitting here with the legend having a brew thinking of great turns past.

Colby: Sitting out here on McClure Pass after a dinner of mac and cheese. Jordan, Joe, Tyler and I got out earlier this morning to set up camp and get some skiing in. Lou met us out for dinner and a night out with the boys. Should be a good evening!

Tyler: Enjoying some PBR’s with Lou up on Huntington Ridge. Just finished a nice mac and cheese dinner. Nothing like playing with laptops and sat phones in the snow.

Lou: Indeed, sitting here with the Denali boys above McClure Pass, learning how to be high tech mountaineers!


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16 Responses to “Denali Testin’ — Hilliberg Tents and Satphone Blogging”

  1. Tyler March 1st, 2010 10:08 am

    Fun weekend, once again. Great to get out there with the crew. 91 more days!

  2. Colby March 1st, 2010 1:35 pm

    Nice short trip guys, Lou i just wanted to correct you that it will most likely by Ty, Joe and I in the Keron 3 GT rather than Caleb.

  3. Lou March 1st, 2010 1:54 pm

    Colby, yep, I knew that. I just get all you jokers confused :angel:

  4. Sam Reese March 1st, 2010 2:30 pm

    What is your plan for keeping the netbook charged? Solio, or Brunton solar system? Battery hybrid, or direct USB/xformer charging of the netbook and Iridium device?

    Also, on a point of nerditude, Iridium satelites (due to their ginormous parabolic magnesium antennae) give flashes of light that are visible in full sunlight, because of their very regular orbits, you (or a website) can calculate their visibility, see the horribly laid out heavens-above website and mess around some to see when their odd flashes are coming to a lat and longitude near you. The funniest part about this is that you have probably seen a thousand or more of these in your life, but you filter them out because, hey, the sky doesn’t have random flashes of light… does it?

  5. Joe March 1st, 2010 5:04 pm

    Fun outing guys. It must be tough having that playground 30 mins from the abode. After testing the Saivo and Keron 3 GT, I am feeling pretty confident in our sleeping system. By alternating head to toe across the Keron, I dont think I even noticed Caleb next to me. Oh, wait, that was Colby…:biggrin:

    By the way Colby, I didn’t notice you had a raccoon on your head when we were blogging. It all makes sense now :silly:

  6. Rick March 2nd, 2010 11:50 am

    I heard good things about the Hilleberg tent.

    Ben Saunders used the Nammatj 2 for his polar expeditions.

  7. Lou March 3rd, 2010 2:22 pm

    HELP, Denali maps for my Garmin CSX60. Anyone know what’s best? Garmin website is lame, can’t even tell what National Park map Denali is on, for example. As always, I’m stunned at how difficult the GPS industry makes things.

  8. Thomas B March 3rd, 2010 6:19 pm

    Lou, you can leave your GPS at home. The route is well travelled and wanded…unless you are planning on doing alot of whiteout travel….

  9. Lou March 3rd, 2010 6:29 pm

    Thomas, perhaps whiteout travel, marking caches on the map, finding top of Messner couloir from the top, curiosity about surrounding peaks, giving a heli exact GPS cords for a rescue, something to fiddle with while storm bound, all that and more…

  10. Thomas B March 4th, 2010 2:15 am

    my comment karma probably entails me following you and your GPS down the Messner in a whiteout while hoping for a rescue….

  11. John Schwieder March 8th, 2010 2:25 pm

    Lou, I live in Alaska. I use Garmin BaseCamp on my Garmin GPS. I also have NG Topo. It’s a better mapping program but won’t work on the Garmin GPS units. BaseCamp will show you contours, peak and glacier names etc. I believe the scale is 100k. That’s not the finest detail but definately a better user experience than the basemap the Garmins come with.

  12. Mike Carr April 2nd, 2010 4:01 pm

    Lou – like Sam asked above, have you tested any solar chargers yet? Esp for the phone but also for the computer and cameras?

  13. Lou April 3rd, 2010 6:12 pm

    I’ve got two Brunton Solaris 26 flexible solar panels, which deploy on a carbon fiber frame. They’ll give me enough power to keep the computer and satphone running, as well as charging some other stuff. For backup, I made a 12v AA battery power pack that runs on AA lithium cells. As a group we’ll bring a good amount of AA cells.

    I’m planning on blogging the whole system, but only after I’m on the mountain and have it actually working in Alaska.

    If all else fails, backup plan is of course ye olde satphone verbal dispatches typed in to the blog by our ground person. But that’s so 1990s.

    Louie and I are of course using our Canon A720s that run on lithium AA cells. We see no reason to use anything else (see most of my photos on this blog and you’ll see what I mean). So we don’t need a charging system for our two cameras, though we do need it for the couple of guys lugging their SLRs.

  14. Billy April 5th, 2011 3:05 pm

    Hi Lou, I found this old post as I am looking into solar chargers for a trip I am taking to the Waddington Range this spring. I plan on taking a Canon SLR and am looking into solar chargers for it. I was wondering if you had any recommendations on chargers. This will be almost strictly for charging the SLR and maybe Ipods. Not looking to break the bank either, and am open to other charging suggestions.

  15. Lou April 5th, 2011 7:28 pm

    Consider just bringing charged camera batteries and a charger that uses AA lithium cells for the Ipods… solar is expensive and takes a lot of energy and time while in camp… If you aren’t addicted to your LCD on the camera the batteries will last a long time. Also, as I’d tell anyone, be ruthless about whether you really need that cinder block camera or not.

    If you do go with solar, rig a system that holds the panels on a frame you can re-orient easily through the day. I made a frame out of carbon fiber tubing that deployed like tent poles. You’ll also need some sort of charge regulator, perhaps an intervening battery pack. For the Canon batteries you’ll need a car charger, which converts voltage, and makes the system inefficient.


  16. Lou April 5th, 2011 7:31 pm

    Please change this conversation about solar over to here:


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