[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [pct-l] advice and more,...

hey p.cat!
you're going back to the flatlands?!?!?!
Back to which part?
i'll be heading back there in january for a few days to see the family again
and get some final work done on my teeth so i hopefully won't have any
problems on the trail next summer.
Are you going back for good work? I hope it pays well. let me know when
you're going and where to, address phone, etc. will you still be on AOL? with
same address?

anyway, we here in seattle just got finished getting dumped on up here with
thousands of buckets of snow and more is on the way tonight. i skied to work
today. that was cool!

Also, i told you i'd help you with any gear questions, and now you asked, so
here goes,...

ice axes.
the grivel air tech racing is the best lightweight and UIAA approved general
mountaineering axe made. period. It weighs a whopping ounce more than the
lowe and cassin but they're not approved. but what does approved mean? well,
the idea of an ice axe is not only to arrest yourself, but also the heavy
pack on your back, and maybe others on your rope team. all axes under certain
loads, will break. as with everything in life, some things are better than
others. They test the shaft strength of axes by burying them halfway and
putting measured amounts of force on them until they snap or bend. most snap.
and then you're blind in one eye and careening down the hillside saying oh
shit, look what good that axe did! Granted you won't be on a rope team doing
any technical mountaineering for next summer, but you may in the future. So
why not have it? It has a beautifullly sculpted adze and pick, curved in the
classic style, and great for digging potty holes! 
what matters is your height, your arm length, your footwear, and how you want
to use it. For general mountaineering, here's the test. Hold the head of the
axe in your hand, relaxed between your middle and ring fingers and let it
hang. Standing straight, with shoulders straight/or back, swing the axe
gently. the spike at the bottom of the axe should not touch the ground, but
almost graze it. most people prefer it to be as high as the ankle bone. For
me, my general (heavy) axe is 70cm, and i'm 5' 7" the axe i'll use for the
trail will be the grivel, at 66cm. it feels uncomfortably short at first but
you get used to it. the shorter you go, the lighter, but also the less
leverage you get for the actual self arrest. If you want to hike with it and
use it as a staff, then go long. but even at my height i wouldn't go over 70
cm. My black diamond alpamayo weighs a whopping 2 pounds, but i could arrest
a whole rope team of cows over a cliff with it, as long as i could hang on!
Some people don't like using the lightweight axes because it feels like
there's nothing there to arrest with. you can't put your weight behind them
as well and some people bounce a bit. but that's why it helps to practice.
you just want it long enough to where you can arrest with it comfortably.
hold the pick end above your shoulder, near your head, and the spiked end at
your opposite side, preferably above your hips, so you can get enough
I don't know what the retail is, but it's worth it. Before you leave san
fran, check the used boards at the berkeley REI and other gear oriented
places. You definitely have a better chance of finding that axe or similar
out there  than in the flatlands. as always, feel free to ask me anything
anytime. in fact, it might not hurt to ask some employees there if they are
selling any of that kind of gear, even trekking poles. When you work in the
retail world long enough you eventually get everything you want, and more. so
someone is always getting rid of something, even good stuff.
blah blah, i know.
same thing brick said. use schaffer guides and have and know how to use a
compass. rand-mcnally road atlases offer nice overview of each state. it
reminds you of other places you've travelled and where other friends live.
it's also fun to see how off they are on marking the PCT on the map! :-)
I'll proabably just use the schaffer book's maps.
Trekking poles:
I think I'm using them.
I've owned the Leki Super Makalus for a year now and have used them mostly
for climbing and some day hikes and a few backpack trips. They are awesome.
you move more efficiently, get in a good rhythm, and work your arm muscles,
too. and of course they save the knees and the back when heavily loaded.
Balance is probably the best attribute, especially when crossing streams. 4
legs work better than 2 or 3.
If you do use poles, than your axe can be shorter, since you won't rely on it
for a staff. the down side is weight, cumbersomeness when not needed, and
dependency. if you've used them a long time and then you lose them, or one,
or it breaks or whatever, you kind of freak. you soon realize how much you
relied on them.
other bonuses: they help clear away brush, of which may be wet with dew,
snow, full of ticks, poison oak (your favorite!) etc. it pushes away branches
that might wap someone behind you so you hold it in place and let them squrm
through. it won't matter much on the trail but you can adjust them to
different heights, long for downhill and short for up, and long for stream
crossings, etc. they can be addirtional tent stakes, especially in snow, and
can also help set up a tarp for quick shelter and just telescope them up
after the tarp is staked out and it can get nice and taut. cool, huh? oh,
yeah, they're funner to hit things with like bad dogs and people and stuff
and easier to wield than an ice axe. he he he.
you can also change the baskets on them. they come with a small trekking
basket, about 2" in diameter, and you can get a snowflake and deep powder
baskets separately. those are most advantagous for snowshoeing and cross
country skiing, and even down hill. they're not as strong as ski poles in
those conditions but they still work well. The anti-chock feature is really
nice, too. It partially helps in relieving shock to your arms when landing on
hard rocks, but more importantly, when you get in a good rhythm, the shock
helps propel you along, after you've planted the pole. The spring actually
keeps you moving ahead. One last thing, the carbide tip works excellent for
picking up trash on the trail!
god i talk too much!
ok, boots.
check out again, what REI has to offer. i look for a few things in
particular. good tread-some nikes have a "regrind' sole of recycled materials
which tends to wear down faster than normal rubber, but i also saw some last
a thousand miles this summer, so what do it know!? Vibram and skywalk soles
are great, but heavier than what most lightweight boots offer. A square heel
is good, for 'plunge stepping' in snow. When looking at a boot from it's
side, like when advertised on a shelf, look at the angle of the bottom of the
sole to the back edge of it, below the heel. it should be roughly 90 degrees.
the pattern of the heel tread should be defined enough to give you some bite
on irregular terrain. On the bottom, at the inner part of the heel tread,
closer to the middle third of the boot, there should be a good edge, kind of
like high heels, with the big heel, then the rest of the shoe slanting from
above towards the toes. this edge gives good tracting while coming down hill,
especially off trail or in mucky condtions. that clearance, also, gives you
enough room for a strap or cord for gaiters, without it getting thrashed with
every step. For ankle support, just becasue it's a high top doesn't mean
it'll offer any stability. check overall lateral flex of the boot. twist it
every which way. after doing that with a few brands and varieties you'll
start seeing tremendous differences. also check heel support (do this in
low-running shoes, too) Squeeze the part of the shoe that'll brace your heel.
if it's soft and sloppy ignore it. you need that stiffness to keep your foot
and ankle upright when it comes down weird. and last but not least, for ankle
support, check out the material that stretches from the top hooks for the
laces in front, and down toward the back of the heel. if your boot has extra
leather there following that angle, that's a good sign. some boots just have
cushioning up there, and that's all it is. it won't help keep your leg
upright when twisted, it'll just soften th impact on your flesh as you're
falling and about to scream in pain. oh, yeah, one more thing. i like boots
with a few hooks near the top, that allows you to have more versatility with
lacing techniques when our feet start going funky with pains here and there.
god if that ain't enough. don't get black shoes. you're feet will go through
enough hell, why let them cook in the the california sun?

after writing this long blurb i realized that there's a bunch of info in here
that's good for anyone with similar q's, so i'm sending it out on the pct
list. Hope you all enjoy and i welcome any feedback, good or bad.
Thanks again everyone for keeping the trail spirit alive
-----------------------------------------------< http://www.hack.net/lists >--
This message is from the Pacific Crest Trail Mailing List             [PCT-L]
To unsubscribe email pct-l-request@saffron.hack.net with a message containing
the word UNSUBSCRIBE in the body.   List admin can be reached at ryan@inc.net