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4 season tent for Sierra winter use

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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby paul » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:59 pm

It may be tough to schedule a shakedown trip, but in my opinion it would be the most important thing you could do to prepare. I would consider it essential. I'm sure you can snow camp closer to home, and do some ski-packing, but it's not the Sierra and the conditions will be different from what you will encounter in the Sierra

When I said guide services, I didn't mean packers, I was thinking of mountain guides such as:
http://www.sierramountaincenter.com/
http://sierramtnguides.com/

Ski bindings - If you are going with an AT setup , then Dynafit is the way to go from what I hear. The lightest, and no durability problems. But I don't go that way, I use 3-pin bindings.

Length - in each ski there's a correct length for your weight - but it varies from one ski to another. Flotation is not much of an issue in the spring as a rule since the snow is fairly firm.

My opinion on ski crampons is that you need to be a better skier than I am to use them. I don't use them, since I feel that any slope I would need them on (steep and frozen hard) is a slope I would not be able to ski down safely. So I carry regular crampons instead, and I'll walk up or down if it's that bad.



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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby fishmonger » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:22 am

paul wrote:My opinion on ski crampons is that you need to be a better skier than I am to use them. I don't use them, since I feel that any slope I would need them on (steep and frozen hard) is a slope I would not be able to ski down safely. So I carry regular crampons instead, and I'll walk up or down if it's that bad.


On the Muir Trail trip, I won't ever ski down what I ski/walk up on that trip, but firm snow and my lack of skill in the ski department probably means that more often than not, I'd be taking off the ski and putting on the regular crampons anyway. Saves weight for sure if I don't have to haul them. I figured that when the snow is hard enough to require ski crampons, I would probably be safer not to be on ski anyway. It's just when the snow surface is hard while below the crust is a soft base when those come in handy I guess. Probably not a common condition in April.

got it about the mountain guides - never thought of that. That may really solve the resupply in the long southern strtch at Taboose. Going south, I would probably be able to make it there from Reds/Mammoth without resupply. Going north, the supply box would be rather heavy...

April is still many months off and I know I'll have enough cabin fever by then that I may just head out for a 10 day or so gear test conditions and get familiar with gear. By then I'll have a few refresher runs down the local ski hills behind me, plus some off trail gear testing around our 1300 foot "mountains" :)
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby fishmonger » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:53 am

Anyone have any experience with the Nemo Tenshi or the Rab Summit Extreme tents?

These appear to be the ideal low-weight breathable bomber tents out there that will be plenty big for a solo trip in foul weather. I'm leaning to go earlier than later so the tent needs to be able to withstand multi-day snow storms and be spacious enough to remain sane while waiting out the conditions.

a rather convincing Tenshi video (it's the one with the vestibule):

specs - 3000 grams (6.7 pounds), single wall, made of something very similar to eVent fabric with superior breathability. Also has as "condensation curtain" to keep most of the tent condensation free.

drawback - expensive. Can't find many retailers who still have it and those who do stock it want almost $600
http://www.amazon.com/Nemo-Equipment-2- ... B0018CR60Q


The Rab shelters are made of the same highly breathable material, but since they are meant for summit push on major mountains, they are very small with low ceilings (39" in the largest one, 27.5" on the "bivi" version) and don't come with a vestibule. Price is better, but still no bargain

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/rab/summit-extreme/
2100grams - probably big enough for a solo trip, but cooking is going ot be an outdoor affair without a vestibule


Both tents are easy to set up from the inside (lay it out, get the poles stuffed inside the corners, throw your stuff inside, finish the pitch inside and then get the guy lines tight while your gear is in a dry place), both are getting very positive reviews regarding condensation control, and both are significantly lighter than traditional 4-season 2-person tents like the MHW Trango or TNF Mountain 25.
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby ERIC » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:25 pm

Here's an older thread on the same subject in case you're interested: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3581
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby Hetchy » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:40 pm

I have a tent suggestion. The tent I have used is a Choiunard Pyramid. It is a floorless, foor sided pyramid shaped tarp that uses a single pole. Mine is over 15 years old and is urethane coated nylon. It has survived 70 mph winds and 1 foot of snow in the sierra in late may. One of the great assets of the pyramid shape is that it sheds wind from every direction. Also the edges can be pinned down with logs and rocks or even buried with snow to create an absolute bomb shelter.
I also liked not having a floor so that when i had to go potty in a massive snow storm i simply dug a cat hole opposite to where i was sleeping.
Mine is an ancient version of this venerable design and weighs well over 3 lbs.
Modern versions are:
Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid 9X9 feet 24 ounces
ImageAlso there is a Bug tent availible at 8.5 ounces for the pyramid shelters although it does not sound like you will encounter too many bugs in April:
Image
Mountain Laurel Designs is run by Ron Bell. He hand makes his gear right here in USA. Shelters are availiable in Silnylon, Spinnaker, and Cuben Fiber. MLD gear is bomber! He ain't fast, and they ain't cheap, but the gear he makes is as high quality as it gets.
If I were in the market to replace my Choiunard Pyramid and wanted the reliability to be top notch, to the point I risk my life, I would use Mountain Laurel Designs gear.
At any rate I use ultra light tents for summer time long distance hikes.. but for the Sierra in April or May when heavy weather can happen i would use my Pyramid tent. Sheds wind, rain and snow. One simple pole used in compression. Reduced wind profile by design..Floorless design sets up on uneven ground.. Maybe them Egyptians were on to something after all.
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby fishmonger » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:00 pm

Hetchy wrote:I have a tent suggestion. The tent I have used is a Choiunard Pyramid. It is a floorless, foor sided pyramid shaped tarp that uses a single pole. Mine is over 15 years old and is urethane coated nylon. It has survived 70 mph winds and 1 foot of snow in the sierra in late may.


would you camp with this on Mt Whitney in mid March?

I was looking at the MSR Twin Sisters - a two pole pyramid tent meant for winter and it still is on my shortlist. This tent looks similar, but more fragile. Maybe it's just the color that reminds me of the ultra light stuff these days that would shred in a real storm
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby fishmonger » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:21 pm

ERIC wrote:Here's an older thread on the same subject in case you're interested: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3581


sounds like the same questions I am asking - condensation, space, weight

So far, the Nemo Tenshi seems to be the one tent I can find that attempts to tackle the condensation issue aggressively. The idea to separate air space in the tent with a "curtain" to contain breath in a small space and protect the rest of the tent is something I haven't seen anywhere else.

Image

add to that fabric that is more breathable than gore tex and condensation should at least be less than in single wall tents that don't employ these strategies (MHW EV2 for example)
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby Hetchy » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:04 pm

Quote from a review for this tent:"Condensation–normally the bane of single-walls like this–was not eliminated, but was significantly reduced. Plus, a webbing transfer system allows you to anchor yourself without snow or water getting inside–a key feature if you're camped on an exposed ledge. "From short climbs to long ridge traverses, we were able to customize this tent to suit our trip," says our tester. (Cool add-on for $125: an insulated floor so you don't have to pack that extra closed-cell foam pad.) At 28 square feet, living space is tight and headroom just adequate for sub-six-footers, but testers called it a fair trade for a tent you can pare down to four pounds. The Tenshi is brick-wall sturdy in a squall thanks to six guy-out points. Downside: the price. $650; 6 lbs. 9 oz.; nemoequipment.com"


Key stats:
6lbs 9oz for 28 square feet at $650 bucks.


The Pyramid Design is still used on Mt. Everest. In fact it is the only shelter I would trust to survive high winds. All the force of the wind is directed downward onto a large diameter aluminum pole in compression.
As for fabric strength of UL tents, Cuben Fiber is used in wind surfing sails, spinnaker drives America's Cup Yachts, Ripstop nylon is exactly the same fabric used in goretex tents without the membrane.
As for a goretex tent I would really question why goretex would be beneficial under the conditions you will find on Whitney in March.
For any breatheable fabric to transport moisture the vapor particles must be smaller than the pores in the fabric. The heat of a persons body turns the moisture into vapor which then passes through the breatheable fabric until it cools and reaches the dew point. Sometimes this happens within the article of "breatheable" clothing itself depending on temperature.
Lets assume you are in the Sierra in mid march at 14,494 feet in your goretex tent and the air temperature outside is 10 degrees F. How far is the vapor exhaled in your breath going to travel before it condenses and freezes?
I would seriously question any claims made by gear manufacturers regarding "moisture management" when it comes to tents. Particularly under the cold conditions you would encounter atop Whitney in March.
I suppose the curtain would restrict some of the exhaled moisture to that part of the tent. I would just question the expense and weight versus the value of reducing condensation that would more likely than not simply end up frozen to the outer shell anyways.
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby fishmonger » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:37 am

I was more concerned about the wind resistance than the membrane perfomance in really cold conditions. During a March/April muir Trail trip, you're bound to run into much warmer and higher humidity conditions as well.

Thing is, a tent is just much more versatile in where it can be pitched, how fast you can pitch it (at least the Tenshi sets up in 2 minutes) and how warm it is even without digging a snow pit for it, etc. but it come with that nasty price tag and is heavier.

I found some video of a tarp tent in a storm - got me thinking tarp again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeqAsQWy-2A

good thing is that I have until Mid March this year to think this over. Given the price difference, the tarp tent still has the upper hand for this year's short warmup trip. It also is lighter, which matters a lot more than the ease of setup on a longer trip with food and fuel for over a week.
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby fishmonger » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:14 pm

MSR updated the Twin Sisters for 2011 - it now has two entrances for better ventilation when needed - may just be good enough - price keeps going up...

http://cascadedesigns.com/msr/tents/ess ... rs/product
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby fishmonger » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:29 pm

Well, turns out a lot of the lighter winter tents are too short for me. Tenshi is for midgets only...

So I bought a Mountain Hardware EV 3 based on a very detailed long term review thread I found on a German language fourm.

I'm still thinking of getting the MSR Twin sisters for solo trips, but not this spring. The EV 3 sets up fast, is strong enough for Everest and Denali, and most importantly, I got a smoking deal on it on ebay :unibrow:. It's free standing, sets up in minutes from the outside, is large enough for two plus gear, but is significantly ligher than some of the comparable double wall tents like the TNF VE-25. It is the first tent in the above youtube video in the snow storm at Mt. Elias.

if you understand German - here's what sold me on it:
http://www.outdoorseiten.net/forum/show ... dwear-EV-3
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Re: 4 season tent for Sierra winter use

Postby SPeacock » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:34 am

Considering the Sierra winter in April, you probably are not going to need a tent that would be appropriate at 22,000' on some long term assault that may include a week holed up from a storm.

I've been in very heavy snow and wind in a friend's 3R Stephenson Warmlite (.com). It is a three person tent with considerable floor space. The usable space is somewhat reduced with the internal stabilizers which even in that blow was over kill. For very deep snow you can buy a center 3rd pole (hoop). You can spend a bundle on a fully tricked out 3R. The 2R is more in line with what you would need.

I've been in several typical winter storms at 10,000'+ in February in the Sierra and a bit higher in a Colorado March storm in the same company's 2R with two people. It required a few forays out in the middle of the night to shovel blown/drifted snow away from the tent. There was enough snow that we had to re site the tent...then decided to cut the trip short when it cleared. There was just too much avalanche danger.

The 2R does well in very strong wind if properly staked down. The tent can be kept taut from inside which is handy considering you don't have to go outside and get wet or cold. Very little flapping noise.

The weight and packed size are about right for a two person trip. I use it solo all the time as it is only just a little heavier than my bivy. It comes unsealed and with no footprint or stakes so you can add what you need for your use. Sealing takes an hour or so and is fairly straight forward - you have control over how much weight you are going to add. I made my footprint out of sylnylon. My packed weight is around 2.5 pounds and fits in a sack about the size of two wine bottles punt to cork.

A convenience is that the 2R only takes three stakes to get set up. 4 more if you need them to hold it down. It has two support poles that slip into tunnels. It can be set up to provide good shelter in under 5 minutes. Double that if you need to secure it in snow or against expected heavier weather. The 3r takes 4 stakes to set up because it has a front and back door.
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