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Re: [pct-l] Winter thruhike

I contemplated the idea for awhile.  Then I did a 1 week ski
mountaineering trip in the Uinta mountains in '81 two years after my PCT
attempt. It had been planned as a 2 week trip but condtions became too
horrendous and dangerous at the halfway point so we skied down out of
the mountains (3' depth hoar, snowfields settling with a gut clenching
"whump," and fracture lines shooting out to the sides).  I'd been living
in Park City, UT and had skied at least 100 days that season before the
trip.  I was able to ski all the back bowls at Park City with my
telemark gear but wasn't always pretty. While I was far from PCT
physical condition, I was in decent shape (probably about 40 minute 10k
shape).  The ski trip was great but it was tough.  I was a better than
average skier but I can't even count how many face plants I did.  The
face plants were all the more gruelling with a 50 lb pack grinding your
face into windpack or trying to drown you in powder.  My friend and I
did 0 - 15 miles per day depending on conditions.  Even with all that,
it was a great and memorable trip.  I spent 2 winters after that in the
Sierras and found the conditions generally easier related to ski
mountaineering  So should you try a winter PCT trip?

Sure, BUT first spend a winter in the mountains (preferably near the
PCT) and

1. Learn to ski well.  Buy a season pass at a ski resort and use
whatever type of backcountry gear you're going to use.  That's the only
way you'll get enough downhill time to really learn your technique.  But
don't neglect backcountry time - the ungroomed snow will keep you

2.  Take an avalanche class and practice what you learned all season

3.  Hone your snow camping techniques with several trips and at least
one week long trip.  Investigate ultralight techniques - I remember
there was a ski mountaineer at that time who didn't carry a tent but
rather became an expert at quickly constructing snow caves.  I dug
several snow caves  but those cold, wet experiences convinced me to
carry a tent.

For inspiration, you might want to check out a book I just picked up.
Title - "A Night on the Ground A Day in the Open" by Doug Robinson.
Several of the adventures in the book involve long Sierra ski tours.
Inspirational passages in there might keep your dream bright when dark
doubts cloud your plans.
         Jeff Jones

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