Monday, February 27, 2012

Team Exped winter outing in Mt. Rainier National Park

This past weekend we had a bit of a company outing in Mt. Rainier National Park, which is in the back yard of the North American Exped team. The forecast called for some snow and a bit of wind here and there, but we got more than our fair share of both. It was a great chance to use the winter gear we have a hand in making as well as test some new gear that is being worked on for upcoming seasons.

We took four all-season tents along:

  • Pegasus (4 person)
  • Andromeda (2 person tunnel style)
  • Polaris (2 person mountaineering tent)
  • Venus III (3 person)
We also used Exped packs of various styles, sleeping bags, DownMat 7 and DownMat UL 7 (with Schnozzel Pumpbag!), MultiMat, trekking poles and various packsacks. We used our home-built sleds to haul the bulk of the gear.

Weather data from the parking lot in Paradise (5,400 ft.) shows that the early Saturday morning increase in wind velocity wasn't simply a dream. At about 5am the peak wind speeds increased, with the max recorded gust at 60 mph (96 km/hr). As you can see from the video above, we got the full force of those winds right through our little camp. Adventure = Outcome Unknown!

The tents did great in these conditions. Even the Venus III, which we don't consider a full-blown winter mountaineering tent like the others, did admirably well. When the wind gusts were in the 20's and 30's it held up well (all tents were fully staked out), but it's limit was found when the wind gusts hit mid to upper 40's. The Pegasus was an amazing bomb shelter as was the Polaris. Both of these tents were designed for big mountain use and they showed their strength. The Andromeda II was also well equipped to handle these conditions.
It's tunnel design has been well proven in many difficult conditions like what we encountered.

When we returned to the cars we had to dig them out of snow drifts and wait for the road to be opened so we could get to our favorite Italian restaurant for a post-trip debrief. There really is nothing like working with the same people we adventure with...