Travel Like a Pro – dealing with the Luggage Quandary.

Traveling like a Pro – dealing with the Luggage Quandary.

As the Bush Pilot was arranging, and loading our gear into the ski equipped Cessna, he mentioned, “Pros use duffels,” when they travel.  That comment started me thinking, “What did he mean?”  As I frequently do, I did not ask him, what he meant, so I was left to wonder?  As I examined and looked at our gear, I noticed it contained a number of boxes, which we had taped shut, a suitcase, several expedition backpacks, Skis and poles, and some other odds and ends; it looked like it was working fine.

Later, as I learned more about traveling, I understood his comment, “Pros use Duffels.”  Actually, it would be better said, “Pro’s use soft luggage.”  People, who travel very much, quickly learn that hard items, like suitcases, boxes and such, do not conform to the places, we end up putting our gear in.

Boxes, suitcases, and such, are ridged and solid.
  Consequently, they do not bend, or twist, and cannot be reshaped to fit the available trunk space, or storage compartment of the different places and vehicles they end up in, while traveling.

This is especially true if we travel outside of the USA.  The many modes of transportation and storage change dramatically.  A person ends up storing their gear in everything from rickshaws, to buses, even on porter’s backs, and onto yaks to be herded, behind you or in front of you, as we walk or hike along.

Adaptability and flexibility.

Consequently, one of the first things, or key principles to traveling with luggage is, adaptability and flexibility.  If our gear is going to be stored in a variety of compartment shapes and sizes, it is important that it conform to these spaces.  Otherwise, there is wasted “dead” space; or spaces, which serve no other purpose than to store “dead air.”

Another important quality is durability.  That makes sense and should be considered; but getting the durability you need is another thing all together.  Fabrics like ®Cordura provide great abrasion resistance, but even ®Cordura cannot hold up to “anvil effect.”  Anvil effect is like laying a strong nylon rope on an anvil, and smashing it with a hammer.  This is what is meant when someone says they are caught between a hard place and a rock.

Well, by understanding this principle, we can arrange to prevent it from occurring.  This anvil effect occurs in luggage and packs, when a soft item, like ®Cordura, is caught between a hard item in your luggage, and a wall, rock, the road or sides of a trunk or compartment.  This causes the two hard items to crush, or wear-out the soft item(s) between them.  To prevent this, you need to pack things so, the soft items are closest to the outside parts of your duffel or pack; and put the hard or rigid items on the center or inside.  Sometimes I will roll my coat or shirt around my tripod or cooking pot.  It also help protect them.

Space is a commodity worth a lot
Space is a commodity worth a lot in this case,
so little things like tightly rolling clothes, makes a big difference.  To do this, first fold them in a logical, low wrinkle or fold shape; then tightly roll them up into a roll shape.  Mine are usually about 12” long, and a variety of thicknesses.  Size and shape is up to you and your circumstances.  Then I use one large rubber band (like the ones the U.S Postal Service uses to bundle and sort letters with) to prevent them from unrolling.  In most cases, all you need is one large rubber band.  Rolled clothing, tarps, and such, take much less space, and actually, they do not wrinkle things, as much as you would think.

Another word about Duffels; there are many sizes and shapes, so you get to find the one(s) which fit your needs.  I have a ditty bag, which is about 18” wide by 12” x 12”.   It is full zippered pockets, seven to be exact.  I use this one for my ditties, toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, shampoo, razor, foot powder, medicines, bandages, small repair kits, etc.  I often add small, brightly colored, pieces of parachute type cord to the ends of the zippers.  This makes finding the zippers much easier, and it makes it easier to open and close them as well.

As far as organization goes, it seems to be a hit and miss thing, until you get your situation wired.  Using see through mesh bags to keep like things, together, and makes it easier to find the items when hunting season opens.  That is just a funny way of making a point.  Sometimes, finding things, especially small things, and be quite a hunting expedition in itself.  I can use ®Ziploc bags to organize everything from food to make up, or health essentials.  They have heavy duty one, which range in sizes from pill bag size, to multi-gallon size.

Location is based on

Location is based on how often, and when, or what time of the day, when I need to access various items.  For example, a sleeping bag is usually only needed at the end of the day; so it is pushed to the very bottom or back of the bag or pack.  Many times, I do away with the stuff bags they come in, because they prevent them from fitting, tightly in the container.

I put things like sunglasses, ®Chapstick, sunscreen, pill bottles, headlamps, Epi-pens, reading glasses, etc. in a large ®Ziploc bag, or a see through mesh bag, and store them in the top compartments, where they are handy.  I often carry a trash bag, either in the top part of my pack or strapped to the top, outside of it.

In places like Denali National Park, we drag our “business” bag (tow bags, or double thickness for good luck) behind us on a 15 foot cord.  This works well on snow, but in areas where that won’t work, we draw straws, and make sure it is well tied shut, and triple plus thick.  This idea may sound strange, but in high use areas, like Denali (Mt. McKinley) National Park it is a must.

On one of my early expeditions to Denali, I remember, quite graphically, looking up the ridge a few yards, at the Swiss Climber’s wind wall.  One of the blocks had a nice brown “terd” frozen in it.  Back then, brown bombs, were very common.  Nowadays, “we” deal with it, by carrying out our, “business;” or use an open air toilet at different points along the climbing routes.

In addition, it helps me keep the breakables away from my butt.  That way, when I stop, I can sit on the lower part of my pack.  The area where my extra clothes are, and where my sleeping bag is. While in the military, I met a mercenary who used to say, “Why stand when you can sit?  Why sit when you can lay? Why lay when you ca
n sleep?” 

It made good sense, because in his case, or ours, saving energy is of key importance.  By the way, watch for my upcoming article or post, on, “why ski poles or a staff makes a big difference.”  I know some may say, “I would chuck them to the side of the trail after the first half mile.”  Well, I remember a hard core back packer saying that to my son, when he told him we were going to take ski poles on a 50 to 100 mile hike, we had planned.  They really do save a ton of energy, plus they push the two-for idea to an extreme.

A saying which I came up with, to help me stay focused on the goal is, “Maximum efficiency and simplicity, with a minimum of effort and equipment, while maintaining a low risk exposure.” By the way, that is a good saying to live life by as well.

Well, in a nutshell, that is packing and traveling with gear “101.”  If you like what I have to say, and feel it has value, please do contribute to my efforts, by purchasing a ad on this or one of my other websites.  Yes, I do put them out there for free, but they are not free.  I am hoping the value you see is enough to get you to purchase an ad on this site, or one of my other sites, or buy a PDF copy of any of my books.  Some of my books are available on, or you can get a PDF copy, directly from me, at or   Or call me at 719-285-5733 or 385-414-9294.  Any way you can support my efforts is greatly appreciated.  THANKS!!!

Sunburn/Sunshine, an objective danger

Sunburn/Sunshine, an objective danger

sunburn Sunshine Summit July- Aug 83 pg 2 web

Sunburn is a serious concern for most anyone, especially mountaineers, due to the fact that there is less atmosphere to protect us from the harmful UV rays

Most mountaineers, as well as outdoor enthusiasts, understand the UV rays from the sun can do more than give a person that golden tan many like.   A growing few are actually opting for no sun and the pure white complexion.   Regardless of your ideas and choices, understanding some about the sun and its rays can avoid leather skin, and possible skin cancer, even potential melanoma. The effects of the sun are cumulative, like a savings account you are continually depositing money in, eventually it adds up to quite a bit of sunshine.  Personally, I used to feel it cool to come home with raccoon eyes.

Now, I am experiencing the consequences, I have had a number of small cancerous sections of skin removed.  I have changed my song and dance some, I now strive to use sunscreen anytime I plan to be in the sun for any extended time.  Another little trick helps me protect my skin, I buy ®Chapstick, or my favorite ®Natural Ice with a SPF (sun protection factor) in it.  The important part is the SPF of about 15+, and applying it regularly.   What I like about this is I can use it for more than lips.  I use it on my face, hands and arms because it convenient.  It fits comfortably in a pocket, along with my lighter with tape wrapped around it (for blisters, repairs, or whatever).

sunburn - Sunshine Summit July- Aug 83 cover, web

Sunburn article, July-Aug 83 in Summit Magazine

My regular sunscreen is in my pack and I have to take my pack off, dig around in my mesh ditty bag to get it.  Then put it on, and put it back, and then shoulder my pack again.  Wow, just writing about it repels me.  Point being, I can be walking along the trail, reach in my pocket, and get my SPF lip balm, put it on my lips, nose, cheeks, chin, neck, or wherever and then stick it back in my pocket.

The sun is easy to ignore or postpone applying sunscreen, and then realize you have a nice sunburn.  The convenience of having a tube of SPF in my pocket, it well worth it for me.  Don’t wait, put it on anytime you plan to spend time in the sun.  Having a tube of lip balm, with SPF in  your pocket, is something which saves me from a sunburns because I tend to procrastinate things a little.  The following article still has some good information in it, but like many things, other than principles, they change and usually improve with time, so a web search will get you more information.  My advice, use sunscreen, the rewards seem to be well worth it.

Sunburn – Sunshine, an objective danger

Sunburn / Sunshine article, Summit July- Aug 83 pg 2

Sunburn / Sunshine article, Summit July- Aug 83 pg 2

Sunburn - Sunshine Article, Sunshine Summit July- Aug 83 pg 3

Sunburn – Sunshine Article, Sunshine Summit July- Aug 83 pg 3

Sunburn - Sunshine Article, Sunshine Summit July- Aug 83 pg 4

Sunburn – Sunshine Article, Sunshine Summit July- Aug 83 pg 4

Sunburn / Sunshine article, Summit July- Aug 83 pg 5 web

Sunburn / Sunshine article, Summit July- Aug 83 pg 5 web

(C) Copyright Douglas S. Hansen)

Change your Socks – which is the left sock?

Change your Socks – which is the left sock?

Everest-Team-picture-web That may sound like a crazy question, but did you know some sock manufacturers are actually labeling them left or right?  It has been my experience that socks do have, or should have; a left and right, as well as size weaved into them or written on them, maybe even your name!

Well, if you have been on an expedition or similar adventure you will appreciate these ideas.  On expeditions clothing, and all sorts of gear, get mixed up as you deal with the weather, transportation, and tent or cabin life. Having your name on you jackets, socks, pants, etc. can make a difference, since good gear often looks the same no matter who is wearing it.  Like our Everest Expedition, Gore-Tex suits.

Also, like what a good friend and climbing partner used to say, “If it is good you better buy two, because they are going to quit making it.”   I be darned, he was correct.  It seems good equipment stops being made.  I am guessing the big bucks are in the life time guaranteed things, which have a big enough price margin, so as to allow them to replace the few that actually get returned on warrantee.

There are a number of factors which make high priced, low cost, gear worth every penny and more. More than once, I have received frowns, when I have bought gear with a high price on it.  I am guessing that either the person had a cramp in their face, or they did not know the difference between “cost and price.”  Price is what you pay up front.  Cost is what you end up paying, down the road, when you factor in all the things like life, function, performance, fit, etc.  Any one of those items can be worth paying a higher price up front.  In fact, price can actually end up killing people, if they are not careful.

Think about it, you scrimp and save, plan and pack, just for these get a ways.  Then . . . any of a number of things can occur which can ruin the entire trip.  Vacation time is valuable; personally, I like to make the most of it.  Consider a pair of boots which do not fit well.

socks webThey hurt you while you are on the trail, at night while in the tent, dealing with the blisters and burses, and then at home, when you notice your wallet that happens to be just enough fatter to remind you that you, should have . . .

I’ll bet you are wondering about the socks on the left foot or right foot.  Here’s the dope, as you look at the two socks in the picture notice the shape of the left foot and the right foot; they are different.  Even if they were the same shape, and you were to pull the sock off of the left foot, and slide it on the right foot, you would find it to be stretched out and baggy where the little toes are, and tight where the big toe is.

On expeditions we can spend several months on the mountain, in jungles, or where ever.  Laundry services are rather limited, so we want to get the most out of our clothing.  Silly things like, camp socks, can make both a physiological difference, and a tangible performance difference.  Feet and legs are problem areas.  Circulation is poor, and there is lots of moisture creating a warm damp environment, perfect for funguses and other problems.

At night take your socks off.  Turn them inside out and shake some, to create more fluff.  Now put you night socks on.  This allows the foot to dry well, which is critical if you are using Vapor barriers.  In the morning put them back on, with the left sock on the left foot,

Prioritizing is next in line behind training or knowledge.  Function is of key importance on an expedition.  Poor fit of socks or boots can literally cost someone their life!  These stretch points can fold, and cause blisters.  If you put your socks on the wrong foot repeatedly, you end up with a small wool sack which you are sliding on your feet, which creates other kinds of problems.  These can cause you to walk poorly, not place the correct pressure on a hold, or crampon point, or focus you    on the pain and cause you to trip, stumble, or other things.  Any of which can be very serious, consequently, performance is likely the most important thing

Those are just a few thoughts about a subject which has more to it than may appear.


Wilderness Hazards – risk evaluation

Wilderness Hazards – risk evaluation

 or staying in the low risk category

risk evaluation cobra-coral

Risk evaluation “Red on yellow kill a fellow, red on black venom lack.” Yep, a Corral Snake, but what are the “real” Risks?

Fact is, we are surrounded by risks, things around the house, while driving to work, while at work, and while at play, there are risks.  Learning risk evaluate skills adds to the enjoyment, and reduces the actual risks, in life in general, and in the wilderness.

The wilderness, or back country, along with the out of doors in general, has its own unique risks or hazards.  Our understanding and awareness to these hazards is a key to our safety, and enjoyment.  In the following paragraphs I will mention a few hazards and ways to deal with them, but the main point of this post or article is about hazards and safety in general.  These skills are part of our everyday lives, including the out of doors.  The following is a suggested strategy to assist us in noticing and avoiding or controlling hazards, or basically, learning how to evaluate risks.

First thing I would like to point out is, “there is no such thing as safe,” only situations with more or less risk.   Due to this fact I have been developing and refining a new way of looking at safety in general.   As near as I can tell, there are two parts to a hazard or safety situation, and the product of these two tells us the risks we are exposed to, or “Risk Exposure (RE)”

Risk Potential (RP), or the possibility of the event happening.  If it does not happen, then there is no danger or hazard.

Risk Factor (RF), or how serious or damaging it will be if it does happen.  This is like risk potential in that, if there is no injury or damage, then there is no hazard or danger.

The importance of this fact is that if we eliminate either one of the above two things, there is not a hazard or danger.  I have found that as humans, it is easy to look at either risk potential, or risk factor, all alone.   Since both deal with fear, which is a negative, and consequently very powerful, it can suck us into “feeling” something is worse than it really is.

An example of this fact is shown when you consider laying a 12 inch wide by 15 feet long plank on the ground.   Now, step on to it and walk back and forth, the full length of it.  No problem.

Now, lay that same plank across a gap between two buildings which are thirty feet above the ground.   Now, walk the plank to the other building’s roof top?

Everything is the same as when it was on the ground, other than the “fear” involved.   The majority of people would never walk across the plank, under those conditions.  Some may crawl along it.   The point I am making is, the only thing which has tangibly changed is fear.   By all rights, we should be able to walk the plank, just as easily as we did while it was on the ground, but . . .

I hope I have communicated the fact that in hazard evaluation, and safety in general, it is easy to look at either Risk Potential (the possibility of it happening) or Risk Factor (how serious it will be if it does happen), and consider something to be either safe or dangerous solely on one or the other.

Another example might be: I know of a person who is so deathly scared of getting a mosquito bite and getting one of the deceases associated with mosquitoes.  Consequently, he will NOT go into the back country at all.

He is so scared of the RISK FACTOR that it controls his life, although he does not think twice about driving to work in the morning?   Chances of him being hurt or killed in an automobile accident are way higher than being bit by a mosquito and getting lime decease, or some other decease.

To get a true picture of the “real” risks involved, or “Risk Exposure (RE)” we need to look at both the Risk Potential and the Risk Factor.   RE is the thing we need to be concerned with.  I have found a close correlation between RP and RF, thus I have developed a system which takes into account both sides of the equation.  RP x RF = RE, the diagram below explains it much better than words.

A person may ask, “WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT to me?”    Well, it is NOT important to everybody, but it is important to those who are involved in activities which are associated with RISKS.

In order to judge or determine how close you are to the invisible line between serious injury or damage, and a positive outcome, one must be able to weigh things out, determining a positive outcome, verses a negative one.

Is this a good system?  Well, I use my many decades of experience, training, skill, knowledge, and study of the subject as a foundation.  Over the last fifty years, or five decades, I have be actively involve is high risk and safety.   I carefully say, we have been fortunate enough to have never had a serious accident.

Considering the variety of situations we have operated in, and the many high risk scenarios we have experienced, I believe it is something to seriously consider.   If after studying the system well, you consider otherwise, then I would very much like to hear your thoughts, and at the least, you have had an opportunity to look at a different view point.   At the best, you have learned a new skill that very well may save your life, and the lives of others.

*Below is a diagram of the correlation of the various parts of risk evaluation. Refer back to this as you complete the quiz.  When you have completed the quiz you should have a basic understanding of how to determine how close you are to that fine line between, injury and damage, and an enjoyable and successful adventure.

Risk Exposure Diagram web Douglas S. Hansen

Risk Evaluation –

Risk Potential is 0 -10

Risk Factor is 0 -10

Risk Exposure is   RP x RF = Risk Exposure (RE)

My experience has shown products of

0 – 24 is reasonably low risk

25 – 50  is high risk, but acceptable under certain conditions

50- 100 Questionably High Risk.  Since we do not live in a black and white world, this area is questionable, but not necessarily unreasonable.  Each situation is different so I feel it is not possible to give a black and white determination.


Examples seem to be the best way to communicate things, so via a quiz I will use some examples.   Here’s a quiz to assist in learning and understanding risk evaluation.

(Still building the quiz, but you can take part of it now, and come back later.)

*Risk evaluation is NOT an exact science.  Consequently, the reader must assume all and any risks associated with the adventure, event, or operation.   One key part of maintaining a low risk situation is study and get good training, carry the proper equipment and know how to use it; and exercise good judgement.

Risk Evaluation Skills Training Quiz

The purpose of the quiz is to assist in communicating a new concept to maintaining a low risk operation or outing.

Red Rock Sport Climbing Area

*Red Rock Sport Climbing Area, Draper, UT

Red Rock, Draper, UT,52_6858 webJust South of Salt Lake City, Utah is Draper, UT, on a ridge formed by Lake Bonneville is a chunk of red Quartzite, there is a great little sports climbing area.  It seems pretty stable, and it has a number of bolted routes to the top and some top rope anchors.

They even have the route’s name attached to the rock.  I have my own opinions about a number of things, as you may have noticed.  Bolted climbing routes, in the natural environment is one of them.    Some may feel bolts should stay in the gyms, but I figure it is probably reasonable to have a few of them in places, in the outdoors; especially in more densely populated areas.

Red Rock, Draper, UT, 4_6858 web

Climbing on the Red Rock Buttress

One thing I noticed when climbing in Europe, Switzerland, France, and those places, is there is very little trash in the mountains and in the wilderness areas; although, real wild wilderness is rare.  They do take good care of the trails.  They have a hut system where you don’t have to bring you tent and the heavy camping gear.  You pay the hut keeper a small fee, and you get a warm hut style bed for the night, and tea and or breakfast in the morning.

This Red Rock Sport Climbing Area, where the Bonneville Shore Line Trail intersects with the trail up to the Red Rock Sport Climbing Area.  It kind or reminded me of some of the trails in Europe.  The Bonneville Shore line trail traverses the of the Wasatch Front Area around Salt Lake City, and Utah Valley.

Maple, Rocky Mountain_6824

Rocky Mountain Maple, usually found in shaded areas Notice the lobs like the Big Tooth Maple, but the Rocky Mountain Maple has little teeth around the outside

*Of course, be sure to seek quality climbing instruction before doing these things.  One can learn climbing on their own, but the risks are much higher, and one progresses slower.   This will serve at the “I told you so section,” just joking, but safety is worth paying attention to it.

Fremont Indians – Nine Mile Canyon

Nine Mile Canyon – a journey back in time

Nine Mile Canyon Sign webAs I looked along the valley floor it was easy to see why the Fremont Indians liked this area. Deer everywhere I looked, water for growing crops, and a climate that was not terribly extreme.

It was fun to imagine sitting along side the canyon and building arrows, for deer hunting. Actually, a dead fall trap may have been a better approach because the bow and arrows they could make were not terribly lethal.

Fremont Indian Writing, Family, webFor me, it was great to enjoy the BLM area, it was winter anbut the temperature was nice for hiking.   I have a book on the Indian writing, written by an Indian, who says rock art, is communication, not just pictures.  As you look at the different panels, it is easy to imagine they were trying to tell a story, much like photographers do as they take pictures.

This canyon holds some of the most spectacular rock art in Utah. It is found in Nine Mile Canyon northeast of Price. Access is via Wellington, or you can actually come in from the north via Myton, along US 40.

Fremont, Grain storage, webThe canyon is actually 40 miles long; do not let the name deceive you. Nine Mile Canyon is remote, hostile, unblemished and roughly beautiful. Called “the world’s longest art gallery” it is home to numerous rock art panels, including the famous “Hunter Panel”. Most of the rock art was created by the Fremont Indians who occupied this area some 1,000 years ago.

They too had to be concerned about others who would rob and steal their food. If you look high in the cliffs, you may find some of their hides. Where they would store grain, and such, this picture is one I found. It can be seen from the road if you are watching carefully.

Indian deer hunting we b Balanced rock, Nine Mile Canyon web  Deer, Nine Mile Canyon

In memory web, Nine MileAnother thing I thought was really cool, was a monument of sorts, which was paying honor to another great human being, named Clifford Rayl. We all have gifts to share, and this gentleman loved showing people around Nine Mile Canyon. People really are the “Spice of Life!”

Apparently, he is buried near a public pavilion, which has tables, rest rooms and all.

If you are looking for a great day trip, or more, this is a great adventure for you and your family.




Trail Gaiters: This is like my first pair of really good ones.

Trail Gaiters:  Are by no means a new idea, but a long proven one which has been over looked.  When I first started using them, I found many advantages, some of which I have listed below.   If you have really long pants, you may get by without them, sort-of, but even then I wear them.

They are especially  good when you have short pants.  I found the most useful was part was keeping the twigs, pebbles, and dirt out of my boots.  I really fought with it.  I would get a little stick or pebble in my boot any I would try to avoid the inevitable stop, sitting in the often heat of the sun, undoing my boot, cleaning it out, and putting my boots back on.   Now Days I use hiking gaiter almost always, especially in the summer.

gaiter, spatsgaiter,spats,navyGaiter,spat,militaryThe concept is not a new one, you may have heard of “Spats.”  They were used by Gentleman, and a more rugged version was used by the military.

Funny thing though, I have been sold on using them for many years, but I vacillated between wearing them and not.  The reason?  Well, a really good one, “I didn’t want to look silly.”  I know, but it is amazing how pier pressure, even if it really isn’t there, effects what we do.  Instead of doing what we know makes sense, it is easy to doubt ourselves and go along with the crowd.

Here’s a strange thought: Did you know over two thousand years ago they knew the world was round?   They knew that we were not the center of the universe, and medically, they were really quite advanced.  But somewhere in between, people for fear, greed, or power, etc wiped out that information.  I figure part of it is like me, not wearing my trail gaiters.  Some of the time, I didn’t have the confidence to follow that inner prompting or knowing.  Also, had we not destroyed all that knowledge and built upon it, we very well could have that world of abundance, for everyone.   Carl Sagan gave us one of his gifts, and it can be seen on You Tube.  People want to control the internet, well, really they want to control you, just like has happened in years gone by.   Knowledge, freedom, and love (I know it sounds cheesy) are the way we “all” grow, progress, and live abundantly.  Well, back to gaiters.

Trail Gaiters are becoming more and more common; and for good reason.  They  do a number of things, besides making the wearer look cool.

  • They keep pebbles, sand, dirt, twigs, leafs and other misc. items which do not belong in side your boots, out.
  • Improve comfort, and save time, because you don’t have to stop and clean out the garbage by untying, dumping, taking you sock off and shaking it out, then put it back on, then the boot, and finally tie it; and for comfort, well I don’t know of anyone who enjoys walking with garbage in their boots.
  • When it rains, or if you are walking through dew soaked bushes and such, they keep the water on the outside of the boot.
  • Reduces the chances of getting ticks. Tucking you pant bottoms into the top of the gaiter, effectively closes the doorway to the subway to you groin area, a favorite place for ticks. Add insect repellant to that area and even reduce the chances more.
  • Prevent bugs and snags from sage brush and other small branches, to your pant bottoms. Like the tick idea, tuck them in the top of your gaiter, they also keep out spiders, and other crawlies.
  • And in the snow, they help out as well.
  • I prefer breathable ones, to help keep the moisture and temperature down.  If you are going in a hot climate, white would be a good idea.  Replace

Outdoor Research is one of my favorite manufactures.  They hable under straps are good as well.

Gaiter,high,line drawingKnee high gaiter:   These shine in the winter, or high altitudes.  Unlike trail gaiters, there are many styles and prices.   Even Kevlar ones, so your crampons do not tear up you pants.  Semi snug fit avoids crampon holes.    Breathable Goretex is good here.   Along with a durable neoprene understrap and front lace hook.

Over boot or Super Gaiters.   They come with insulation in them, and the overboot types come with insulation on the bottom.  These would be used with crampons, because using them directly would be slippery and they would wear out sooner..  In the overboot catagory you have NEOs  I think that is the name.  They are an over boot with a durable sole on them, so you can wear your boot or even a tennis shoe in the, and they come in waterproof models.  I have even waded across streams with them, and had no leakage problem

Well, in a nut shell, there is gaiters.  If you like this let me know.  Thanks for stopping by………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Winter Blues . . . Lift Your Spirits!

For some reason, fixing and repairing things leaves me feeling a little better. There are always little things around the house that annoy us, but we are not quite sure the best way to fix them. Well, here are a few ideas to deal with those things.

♣Sagging towel rack or wobbly toilet tissue holder. This is one of the most common, “little” molly bolt 1problems around a house. They are fairly easy to fix, for good. Just unscrew them holder. You may have to use a small hex wrench to undo a set screw on the under side. They use them so you don’t see the screws holding them into the wall. Frequently, you will see simple drywall screws used. It does not take much pressure to pull them loose.

molly bolt 2The best choice, and just about as easy, is a Molly bolt. Molly bolts are my favorite because they are so easy and quite strong. All you do is undo or pull out the old screw or plastic expansion plug. Chance are the hole is already big enough. I like the molly bolts with the sharp end they push right in, then all you need to do is tighten them down until it gets hard to turn. At that point it has expanded and is solid. Now just use those screws to attach you towel rack, tissue hold, or what ever. You won’t be bother by sagging racks anymore!

Graphite♣Squeaky door and cupboard hinges. This can be eliminated by squirting a little powdered graphite alongside the pin where the hinge turns or in the little openings where they come together. If the door sticks, you may want to check the hinge plates and make sure the screws are tight. If they are you can plane off a bit of the wood, then touch up the paint so the surgery is not noticeable.

Sqeak no more♣Creaky floor boards. There are two way to deal with these. One is to use some talcum powder into the seam where floorboards meet — the talcum acts as a lubricant to quiet boards that rub against each other. This will last for a while, a more permanent solution is an anti-squeak repair kits, such as Squeeeeek No More ($23), feature specially designed screws that are easy to conceal.

♣Loose handles or hinges on furniture, cabinets, and doors. You can probably fix these with a few quick turns of a screwdriver. But if a screw just spins in place, try making the hole fit the screw better by stuffing in a toothpick coated with glue, or switching to a blister paintlarger screw.

♣Blistered paint on shower ceilings. This area gets a lot of heat and moisture that stresses paint finishes. Scrape off old paint and re-coat, using a high-quality exterior-grade paint. Also, be sure everyone uses the bathroom vent when showering to help get rid of excess moisture.

dryer vent♣Clothes dryer vent.  This is a cause of many house fires.  If the dryer fails to vent properly the heating coils or the heat transfer elements over heat and turn red hot, starting fires.  Depending on house well you vent works, you may need to clean this every year, maybe sooner.  To do this pull the dryer out from the wall, disconnect the power, disconnect the vent pipe from the wall and dry, and vacuum lint out of the pipe, the wall vent and the dryer vent area.  Also, wipe lint off your exterior dryer vent so the flap opens and closes easily. (You’ll need to go outside for that, but it’s quick.)   If you are in video of how to, here is a URL:

♣Exhaust filter for the kitchen stove. By washing it to remove grease, you’ll increase the efficiency of your exhaust vent; plus, if a kitchen stove top fire breaks out, this will help keep the flames from spreading.

Stop in at Allred’s and talk to their pros about little details you are working with.

Allreds Ace Hardware

Allreds Ace Ad November 15 V 1




Winter Hiking, Snowshoeing, and X-C Skiing

Winter Hiking, Snowshoeing, X-C Skiing

X-C skiing breaking trail

Winter hiking is slightly different than summer

With wintertime fun, one must negotiate new methods for getting from point A to point B, and back. Below I have listed the primary methods of travel when there is snow on the ground. For short distances, a person can jump out of the vehicle and take a picture, or whatever, you can get by with just minor trail breaking, or making your own path. If someone chooses to do anything more, then the picture takes on an entirely new look; a look or process nothing like summertime travel.

I am not going to address the best boots for preventing heat loss, which is an article all by itself. Please check out my new book, “How to Stay Warm,” due for release in the next week or so. The follow information is a basic look at the tools and the methods of traveling in the wintertime.

post holing for winter hiking

Post holing a form of winter hiking

One of the most common, is Post holing. It is great fun, for about two steps. After that, it becomes very tiring, and if the snow is very deep, you won’t be going very far.   If you must use this method, and there is two or more of you, trading leads is the best thing to do.   Taking turns at breaking trail shares the load, and even if you are wearing snowshoes or X-C Skis, trading leading is part of the game.   If you have not guessed yet, “post holing” refers to the hole you make in the snow each time you step into a new area of fresh snow. If the snow is a 0.3 meters (1 foot) deep it is not a real big deal, although if you traveling a long distance it requires a lot more energy, than simple trail walking.

The real fun begins when you post hole, in thigh deep snow. A good pair of gaiters will keep the snow out of you pant leg.   Another treat is even more fun, it is when you are able to posthole, when there is a breakable crust. One, which just almost holds your weight, as you are stepping up onto to it, then it breaks through. If you plan to go very far, you are in for a real treat, lots of hard work.  I would recommend snowshoes or X-C Skis, unless you have masochistic tendencies.

sole, Vibram for winter hiking

You must have sole for winter hiking

Traveling in foot packed areas and trails, these areas are frequented by many people and everybody, sort-of, ends up packing down the area of snow, so you can walk on it. It becomes a compressed snow trail. If it is fresh snow or warm snow, then all you need is a good ®Vibram type, lug sole on your shoes. It bites into the snow good, and catches ridges or irregularities in the snow surface, so you don’t slip around as much. A flat smooth type sole is only good for frustration, and falling on your butt. Even in soft snow, a smooth sole is very slippery.

When the temperature drops, and the snow freezes, there are two situations, which are common. 1. The irregularities, edges, or ridges, which formed while the snow was soft and warm, freeze. When that occurs, these ridges and a good lug sole can be good. 2. If the area is a high use area, those little ridges, and edges in the snow are trampled down, and it becomes smooth and icy. The only choice is to chop steps with your ice axe (which is a pain) or to put on a pair of ice cleats made for icy surfaces, or wear a pair of crampons.   Crampons are kind of like using a 12 gauge shot gun, to swat flies. They are over-kill, are more difficult to walk with, easy to catch a pant leg with, or even spike yourself; they are best for serious ice climbing. For basic trails, ice cleats do the job fine

ice cleats, trail for winter hiking

Chaining up for winter hiking

Ice Cleats are miniature spikes, or shrunken crampons, which fit on your shoes. These work well on icy trails, the spikes are not so long as to stab yourself, or catch on clothing as you walk. They are easy to take off and put on. One difficulty occurs if there happens to be an inch or so of snow over the icy trail, these miniature crampons, may not poke through the snow and bite into the ice below. Shuffling your feet as you walk may help.   It helps clear the snow out from under your cleats.

ice, cleats on boot for winter hiking

chains applied to make winter hiking more fun

A past relative of these is called hobnailed boots. Mountaineers, from days gone by, used hobnail boots for serious climbing. They were the same thing as miniature spikes, except, they were permanently attached to the boot, which made it a problem for the kitchen floor. They eventually gave way to crampons. Crampons are the mini cleats big brother on steroids. They have approximately 12 points, which are roughly 2 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) long, with one or more of the spikes facing forward, for vertical ice climbing.

As you guessed, these are made for serious ice climbing and glaciers where you may have an inch or two of snow on an icy layer below. Even with these longer spikes, the snow on ice can be a problem; again shuffling your feet may help.  Another problem is when the snow sticks to your crampons. Silicone and plastic type out soles can help. Another trick is to do the ice axe, crampon jig, where with each step you pop, or hit the sole of your boot/crampon with the shaft of your ice axe. That usually knocks the snow out, and you get a fresh bite on the next step.

Snowshoe,MSR_Ascent_snow for winter hiking

High Tech Snow Shoes the more broad approach to winter hiking

   Snowshoes help you stay on top of the snow, and come in small to very large sizes. The smaller ones are for hard crusts or shallow snow. In addition, the small ones are used for competitive running on packed slopes, or harder crusts. Nowadays, most of snowshoes have spikes on them, so they do not slide around on icy surfaces. Older versions did not have spikes, and the bindings were not as stable as the newer bindings. If you plan to carry a big pack, in (hopefully on) deep snow, then the longer, wider versions work better.   A pair of ski poles can be quite useful for balance, and can help distribute the weight so you don’t break through the crusts as easily.   They also save energy.

I recommend them for backpacking in the summer as well. There are a number of reasons for using them in the summer too.   When used for hiking they are nice, save some energy. If you have a big, heavy pack on, they are essential. Something to note is, even when you are standing still, your body is busy using muscles to keep you upright. Poles help you relax those muscles, thus saving lots of energy.   This small amount actually adds up to a large amount, during a long day of backpacking or mountaineering.

X-C Skis, or Alpine Touring skis are my favorite. They are about three times more efficient in snow when traveling uphill or horizontally, than snowshoes are.   If you are skier, skiing back down is about ten times more efficient than snowshoes! In both cases, taking turns when breaking trail makes good sense, is good ethics, and saves energy. One of my favorite things to do is, find a good slope or fresh snow. Then cut a low angle trail up to the top of it, and spend the day cutting the slope up with telemark turns in the fresh powder.

fish scales for winter hiking

X-C Skis are the best choice for winter hiking

For travel, there are several ways to prevent the ski from slipping backwards.   “Fish scales” or “staircase” type bottoms give the ski grip or bite the snow. The slide forward, but the edge prevents them from sliding backwards.   In fresh lite snow, they don’t work very well, but are much better than nothing. X-C skis have what is called a double camber so that when your weight is on both skis, the fish scales do not touch the snow. That way you can glide much more easily.

double camber for winter hiking

Like summer hiking, but maybe more so, the way we wait or foot makes for a better winter hiking experience

There are also waxes; you put on the base of the ski. When you stand on the wax, the snow crystal imprints on the wax and it actual sticks to the snow. With the correct wax, which is dependent on the temperature of the snow, you can climb up quite steep slopes, without sliding backwards. Learning to weight, the ski, to make the wax grip better, is important.   When you kick, it grips. When you glide on the wax, it wipes the crystals off and you slide down hill or forward quite easily.  Of course, it you have the incorrect wax, you can ice up, and carry a considerable amount of snow on the base of the skis.

climbing skins on ski for winter hiking

Ski need a boost for winter hiking

The last choice is skins. They stick, or strap to the bottom of your ski. Mohair, or synthetic skins, have little tiny directional hairs on them.   You can slide forward, but when you start to slide backwards, the hairs stand up and stop you. With a good pair of skins, you can climb a packed ski slope of almost forty-five degrees. Of course, powder slopes make that angle difficult to achieve, although the generally climb better than waxes or fish scale skis.

The real advantage of skis is they slide, so you do not have to pick your foot up each time.  You put the inclined plane to work for you. Going down is much easier, if you are a good skier; it is faster and saves energy. If not, the energy wasted by falling down and getting back up will be tremendous. One thing nice though, about having a beginner along with you is, you can send them down the slope first, to “body charge” the slope, and make sure it won’t avalanche on anyone else . . .

Avalanche awareness is another subject in itself. You can find some articles I have done for Summit magazine, or Emergency, the journal of emergency medicine, or maybe some others if you do a search on   Be smart though, avalanche kill quite a few people every year.

In a nutshell, this is an introduction to travel in the winter. If you are interested learning more, I facilitate a Wilderness Citizenship Program where you can learn many of these skills in pursuit of your “Wilderness Citizenship.”   What is a wilderness citizenship? “When you have learned the skills required to travel into the wilderness, day or night, winter or summer, good weather or bad, and be “at home,” you will have attained or reached your Wilderness Citizenship.”

Well, now you get to enjoy the out-of-doors, and feel good about it too, because it gives you good exercise, and it provides re-“creation,” both are essential to living a balanced and healthy life.   Dynamic Living, is all about identifying the good things in your life, and making them better; and ignoring or minimizing the negative things. If you are interested in learning more about dynamic living, you can go to

The Martial Arts – Karate the “Art” of Empty Hand Fighting.

The Martial Arts – Karate the “Art” of Empty Hand Fighting.


Buddhist Monks or Priests are often touted as being quite good at the martial arts.

This is probably one of the most curious topics out there.  Anyone who has spent much time looking at the martial arts, has likely seen the videos of the early masters of karate jumping walls of great height and all but flying over trees and armies of people.  It seems unbelievable, and of course, it is.  This aura is part of the big picture, which has been around since people first started banging heads (fighting).  Have you ever wondered why warriors of old, dressed up in funny looking masks,  and painted faces to go to war.  They even wore heads and skins of wolfs, bears, and other mean and strong animals.

These people knew there was psychological part to fighting.  “They knew their very lives depended on the outcome.”   They understood there was two parts to fighting or defending themselves.  One was preparing themselves psychologically, so they would be at their best.  Two was breaking down the psychic or mental part of the aggressor.    The wolf head and cape served both.  It made them think they had the power of the wolf, and it scared the aggressors.   History seems to repeat itself, you often find people who just want to live their own lives, but they are forced to defend themselves, thus war happens.

[i]Muhammad Ali, previously known as, “Cassius Clay,” is an American former professional boxer, generally considered among the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport.  He owed a fair amount success to his physiological game and pregame tactics.  In interviews, you would hear his catchphrases like, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee“.    He is one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years, crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.


A picture of a samurai, notice the psychological things, the big horns, etc. meant to scare their opponent. The saying translated is, “Keep close to your friends, but still closer to your enemies.”

The psychological part plays as big of a role as does the physical part.  Consequently, when it came to the fighting “arts” these people spent a tremendous amount of time worrying about it, training, and preparing for war.   The martial arts are no different; these fighting arts were used to defend their families, friends and other loved ones.  If you happen to see incredible things like jumping very high walls, or ninjas flying over groups of people, realize, those were the rumors they spread, which many believed, about the elite warriors.  It was their efforts to seize a psychological advantage.

I have always been one to avoid a fight.  It just did not make any sense to me, although I have been surprised when I have had to fight.  Afterwards, it seemed these people who wanted to kick my ass, now wanted to become my friend?  It appears there are people who may lack self confidence; and feel they have to prove to others and themselves that they are tough.  They do this by choosing a target they feel they can whip, and go about whipping them.

When they find out these targets are willing to stand up to them, they readjust their thoughts or have a paradigm shift and decided to be friends instead of fighting.  I am guessing this happens out of respect for the target, or a desire to make amends for doing something silly.  They are like the rest of us, we enjoy a good friendship, but sometimes we make mistakes in the way we handle life.  Any fighting is a strange thing to me.  It seems we are stuck on this little planet, and instead of fighting we should be learning to work together, making life better for us all.  In reality, we are in a delicate position on planet earth.  If we manage things correctly, we “all” will do well; if we mess it up, well, we won’t be very happy.

Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu’s picture and a quote from his writings.

The orient spent many centuries at war, during which time [ii]Sun Tzu, a great Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and Eastern philosophy. Aside from his legacy as the author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and Asian culture as a legendary historical figure.  In his famous work called “The Art of War,” he points out that war is a terrible thing, and should be avoided at almost all costs.  Saying people should do serious meditation before entering into it.  I realize, as surely he did, there are times when we as people have a tyrant at the helm, or another type of situation, which requires people to take action.  This action can prevent such things as the Holocaust and other types of human tragedies.

Here’s another aspect you have likely heard of.  Martial Artists used to “draw lines in the sand,” suggesting their master had developed the best style of karate.  While the other group felt as though their style was the best.  Both were rout in ignorance.   The best concept I have discovered and agree with is first you do what you can to avoid the fight.  Then at that point there are not styles, rules, or such, it is simply one person trying to hurt another, and another person defending themselves.   Do what works, and gets the job done.  Surely it makes sense to not hurt the other person badly if you don’t have to, but you must survive to live another day.

When it comes to defending your life, the philosophy Bruce Lee taught seems to be a good sytle.  For the need of a name he called it “Jeet Kune Do.”  Bruce would say the name should be stricken if it were to imply, it was this way, or that way.   He frequently pointed out that, “When your life is on the line, you should do whatever works for you.”  You are defending yourself or protecting your life.  He studied boxing, fencing, and all kinds of other skills and “styles” just to learn what worked best for him.  One of his favorite teaching concepts he would talk about was, “flow like water my friend, flow like water.”

I used to consider Bruce Lee to be a good actor and that was all.  After reading his books and such, I realize he was an exceptional Master of the Martial Arts, and as is usually the case with any true master, they are very aware of other skills, possibly even masters of many different skills.  He was confident, he knew he was exceptional.  He did not flaunt it, but he was not embarrassed to show his skills either.

A key point when learning the martial arts is to find a Sensei or instructor.  Find one who is a good communicator, makes it interesting, and sparks an interest in you.   One who can communicate the principles behind the techniques they are teaching you.   Like all things, you find instructors of various skill levels, with different understandings of the art.  Some teach what is called a “hard” style, others styles are more soft and flowing.   Well, be open, because what may seem strange at first may turn out to be exceptional.  If after a while if you are not having a good experience, and not be learning, don’t be afraid to negotiate an exit agreement.  In fact, it would be good to talk about an exit agreement before you begin.   Many places are happy to allow you to experience it for free, for the first few times.

The real martial arts masters are confident, yet friendly, and have nothing to prove.  They often go as far as to appear the lesser in a possible fight, because fighting is dangerous, to both parties.  The martial arts can be a great confidence builder, and the neat thing about it is, the real masters teach people confidence, which translates into an aura to prevent fights.   Most programs I would recommend are based on a natural progression of learning skills, gaining strength and self confidence, learning some of the philosophy’s, and having a good experience; as well as learning how to defend yourself.

Here’s a concept I like, it is called the Covered Fist.  There are two parts to the covered fist, the hand of the scholar and the fist of the warrior.  The fist is covered by the hand of the scholar, so as not to provoke a fight.  The hand symbolizes a scholar who is smart in a life sense, as well as in a fighting sense.   The scholar understands the pros and cons of confrontation, thus they strive to avoid it.  The fist of the warrior symbolizes someone who is strong and capable, and able to fight, if the need be.”

A covered fist is often used when two Martial artists pay respect to one another.  They do it by covering their fist of the warrior, with the hand of the scholar, and bow to each other.  The bow is not a subservient type of a bow, but rather one which shows respect to each other’s heritage, and life efforts.  This is a creed, which will be different depending on the style or school you attend.

covered fist “I stand here with karate, my empty hands and a covered fist.

 I have no weapons, nor do I desire confrontation.

I do have the confidence, which comes with training, practice, and hard work. 

If need be, I have the skills to defend myself,

But I believe you will agree, it is much better to be friends.

“Karate, the “ART” of Empty Hand Fighting.”

If you are interested in learning karate, or know someone who is, you are welcome to give me a call, I can point you towards a good Sensei.  Just dial 719-285-5733, and ask for Doug.



Avalanche Awareness . . . are you beeping?

Avalanche Awareness can make the difference between life and death.   Did you know that  almost always, Avalanche victims are the cause of the avalanche which catches them.  If you are buried for 30 minutes you have about a 50% chance of surviving, if you are buried for 60 minutes it drops to about 20%, after that is goes down quickly.

Avalanche, Beacon Sign

Avalanche Warningi found on a Forest Service Informational Sign

Good to know information.  This is a great approach.  Instead of some silly sign telling us it is against the law to go into avalanche country, this sign suggests we should have the sense to “know what we don’t know.”   Then with this information it reminds us of the hazard so we can get instruction, or take other measures to stay safe.  With this in mind here are a few pointers and suggestions:

Even in high risk times a person can safely go into the back country, IF, they are skilled.  I often hear things like, “they were experienced back country skiers,” or “make sure those you go with are really experienced so it will be safe.”  There seems to be some kind of thing that suggests time in grade equals knowledge and skill.   How about making sure we are skilled, and have good experience as well.   Learning from those who have these skills, and are able to communicate them effectively.    People gain experience by doing.  The problem with experience is it often requires mistakes, and near misses to let us know how close we are to the line.  Unfortunately, these mistakes may cost us our life.  Remember, “School teaches us the rules, experience teaches us the exceptions to the rules.”

For example:  Some snow boarders headed into the backcountry to carve a few turns.   How might a person or group make sure they are prepared?  Probably the best way is to contact the Forest Service, National Park Service or other agency who manage the area you plan to go into.  They may have good information they will gladly share with you.  Also they have a number of brochures and other informational papers you can get for free.  If you can go with a skilled outdoorsman it will be worth a lot.  They can help you learn so you will eventually be the “skilled” person leading the group.   Go online, read books.  Take a recon trip, check out the area, and make some plans.  Mountaineering, the freedom of the hills, is in has more than 8  editions.   It is the bible in this regard, but as always, YOU must use your current information and knowledge to make a good choice, regardless of whether or not a book, or a person tells you this or that.  “IT IS OUR RESPONSIBLITY TO STAY CONSCIOUS AND MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

Formal Instruction Verses Learning from a Friend, Father, Aunt,, Uncle?  Well if they are skilled in both communication and avalanche knowledge you have a good combination.  The only thing lacking is: A, B, C. D. E. F . . . and so on, or a well developed, flowing course so you can grasp the concepts.   One of the first schools I went to was a ten day course in the Tetons.  We talked about everything from “Tidal Effect, to sublimation, to well a lot of things.  Back then formal avalanche training was fairly young, and one of two things happened in the course I attended: 1. Either I was to green to grasp much, or it was presented in such a way that it failed to communicate these principles and concepts in a way I could understand them and remember them; or maybe a little of both?   Just someone who know avalanches is not good enough by it self.  There is an art to teaching as well.   A good instructor keeps your interested and teaches you as well.  Some of us can learn by just listening, but usually it is better to have it explained, then see demonstrations, do hands on, and ultimately you teach someone else.   NO ONE learns more than the instructor . . .   Any pre study you can do will pay you dividends.  There are lots of videos, books, articles, etc. that will be well worth the time spent.

For more information on Avalanches click one of the below links:

Natural Hazards: Avalanche . . .Training, Consultation, Forecasting, and Mitigation

Avalanche!!! . . . an article authored by Hansen on Emergency Rescue in Avalanche Country

With a friend or someone else teaching you, rather than learning from a well develop school or person: you will learn, and maybe a lot of good things, BUT all too often parts are left our, or it looks like this: A, B, E, C, A, R, T, C . then is it time to go skiing.   You may learn some but they are there for the skiing, not necessarily to teaching you, all day, or week, using their teaching aids, course outlines, handouts, pretests, practical exercises, and so on.

Unfortunately, these snow boarders over looked some of these ideas.  They climbed up a large chute, couloir, or gulley (Learn to read the mountains: What created the gulley?  Water mostly, what does avalanche debris flow like?   Where would a gulley take a snow avalanche?) on a North Facing slope, in mid winter, while it was snowing.  Well, unfortunately, it wasn’t long before they gained some experience. Three were buried, a few got lucky and ran for help.  The SAR team found one body, but had to wait until spring to find the other two.    Here are some thoughts and ideas.  For more information give me a call and we can share some ideas about classes, presentations, and more.  719-285-5733 or email me at:


First, be in good health.  If you are feeling well you will perform better and think more clearly.  Eat and drink plenty.

Call the avalanche forecast center:  888-999-4019 before you go and after you return.  They have a program where they collect information from people who are out and about, so they can share what they are seeing.

Along with good winter attire

You will want an avalanche beacon for each person.  Make sure they are on the same frequency, with fresh batteries, but that is not good enough if you would like to stack the deck in your favor.  Check the batteries, with a battery tester, to make sure they have a good charge on them,  and lastly, do a beacon check as your group leave the parking area.

Beacon check:  Separate by a good distance, maybe 15 to 20 meters.   If your not able to hear or transmit more than fifteen to twenty meters, your beacon has a problem that could cost you dearly.   Now: One person turns their beacon to transmit, everyone else listens to make sure the hear that beacon.  Now one by one, the person who transmitted first turns their beacon to receive and listens, while the next person turn theirs to transmit.  Repeat this until everyone knows their beacons are receiving well at a distance, and transmitting well, at a distance.

An avalanche probe for everyone, Practice mock searches with the beacons, mock rescues before you go on a trip.  Make them as life like as possible.

An avalanche / snow shovel.  How big and what quality?  What do you want your partner using when they are digging for you?

Next watch for the combination to come together.  This is what is required for an avalanche to occur:Avalanche, Slope, and layers

1.  A snow load  figure how deep the snow is and multiply it by the size of the slope.  It can get pretty big quite fast.  four to six inches plus is where it starts to get serious, depending on the run-out area.

2. An angle of roughly 25 degrees to 60 degrees, with 38 being the prime angle that create the most frequent and largest sized one.

3. A running surface.  If there are tons of trees, boulders, and other things that could anchor the snow, it will have a harder time to get going.

4. A lubricating layer  Typically, you have a layer (slab) about a foot deep (load), sitting on TG Snow (lubricating), which is sitting on an old snow layer (running surface).

Gulleys and Chutes are a particular hazard.  It does not take much snow to bury you if you are in a Gulley.

Dig a snow pit on a representative slope in a safe place.

Heavy snow fall builds faster than it can Settle and bond.  An inch or more per hour is considered Red Flag time.

About 80% of the avalanches occur during or shortly after a snow storm.

Winds transport snow from one point to another and create slabs.  Are you on a Lee or windward slope?

Whumping is the collapsing of the TG layer  By the way, if you don’t know what TG is, you should keep studying more.  There is much more to learn.    Private instruction, private group instruction, or presentations are available.

Look for terrain clues: Missing trees or broken branches on the up hill sides of trees.  , and the trees, paths made down the mountain side from prior activity.

Cross one at a time if on a suspect slope.  Have a check list of what to do in an emergency.  We have some available if you contact us.

South facing slopes avalanche less in early to mid winter, but avalanche more in the spring.  North North-East slopes avalanche more in the early winter to mid winter, and are fairly stable in spring time.

Avalanche awareness suggests cross slopes as high as possible, then have an escape route in mind, so if one happens you can go for it.

Watch the history and type of things going on, on the slopes you intend to ski, beginning with the first snow and through to the end of the season.   Are crusts building, surface hoar, depth hoar, temperature gradients, and more.

I hope this is of value to you, and helps prevent the tragedy of even one death.  Every year there seems to be a half a dozen or so people in each state.  Learn by reading about what happened.  Then program those things into you mind, so where these condition are there you subconsciouss will alert you.   Check out Mental Training For Mountaineering for more on programming you mind.

Winter Principles or Techniques, you choose?

Winter Principles or  Techniques, you choose?


High Altitude training for Mt. Everest. The same principles apply when trying to stay warm at low altitude.

I will explain the difference. When I was young, people would teach me things. I would feel like I knew what they taught me.   The next day, or the next week, I would try to do use what I thought I had learned, but I could not.

Puzzled by the fact I could not remember these things, I started studying and trying to figure out why. I tried different ideas related to the thing, I had been taught and eventually, I learned it, and at that point I could easily recall the technique or skill I had been taught. That made me wonder why I was it, that when taught I could not make it skill better so I could use it later?

This is what I learned, “people were teaching me techniques, or ways of doing something.” This worked, when everything was exactly as it was when they taught me, but if conditions were different, it often did not work. I learned that, “Ways, Methods, Techniques, and Means Change.”

With time, I learned the “principle” behind the technique. The best way I can teach or share this idea is to tell a story. This story, which I experienced, explains the difference between working from a principle-based standpoint, verses working from a technique or technician based standpoint.

A technique for keeping your feet warm is to put on an extra pair, or two, of socks, better yet, good wool socks. An Uncle who went deer hunting with me did just that.

This story is full of novice mistakes made by both of us. These are the kinds of mistakes, which can turn a situation of concern, into a serious emergency. As I retell the story, put yourself in our shoes, and see what you think, or what you might have done at various points in the story.

It was late October, and we were in pursuit of our trophy bucks. We were near the top of the mountain, covered with patches of snow. While sitting on a point, watching for deer, my uncle approached me and told me his feet were cold.   I did not think much about it because I was younger than he was, and he had more deer hunting experience than I had.

I noticed him trying to start a fire and again did not think too much about it. Instead, I just “assumed?” all was OK. I simply continued to watch for a big buck. As I did, I noticed how he was trying to start a fire; he was having problems getting it going.     I should have, consciously noted it was not working well, and given him a hand, but I did not.

I will give myself a break, I was only 16 or 17 and he was in his 20’s. Ultimately, he was unable to get a fire going. He had used a small amount of paper, and damp kindling, which did not work well at all.

Fire,survivalA short time later, he approached me again about his cold feet. It was obvious his feet were seriously cold, so I kicked into more of an active role to help.   We had two choices: 1. take off his boots and put his feet on my stomach, or in my armpits to get them warm and prevent frostbite; or 2. build a fire.

We elected for number two, build a fire, but we did not have a fire starter. This is before I started carrying a five-minute fusee. They make great fire starters—even in the wind and rain.

We did not have any paper, and all the natural kindling quite damp, we were in kind of a mess. We did a quick inventory of our resources, and then began solution finding.   First, we needed some type of fire starter, the question was, “What did we have that would burn well?” We had our clothes, which may not burn all that well. We had the wooden stocks on our rifles, which we could have shaved with our pocketknives, to create kindling, and we had gunpowder, which was inside of the 30-06 rifle cartridges.

We figured burning our clothes as a fire starter did not make sense, and turning the stocks of the rifles into fuss or flakes with our pocketknives did not sound very good either. Our other choice was to use the gunpowder inside of the cartridges; but the problem with that was, getting the gunpowder out of the casings. We came up with the idea of sticking the bullet in the end of the rifle barrel and cranking it side to side.

It worked well; we were able to lift the bullet out of the casing with ease, but I knew enough about fire starting, especially in an emergency, to think of the first rule of any emergency “do it correctly the first time.” Therefore, we gathered plenty of small damp kindling, then slightly bigger kindling, and so on, until we had a basketball size or pile of kindling.

Then we gathered slightly bigger kindling and then bigger branches, and wood, and so on. We also made sure that we had enough and wood branches to get it burning well and to keep it going, while we gather more wood. Once we had prepared things well, we found a dry patch of ground and poured the gunpowder, from a dozen cartridges, in a nice pile on the ground. Then we put the kindling on the gunpowder, and lit it. It worked great; we had a good fire going in hardly any time at all, and his feet were warm in short order.

A quick note, if you do this with black powder it will all but explodes.   FFFFG type black powder burns very fast, and even the lesser burn rates (FG, FFG, etc.) burn very fast, too! The new smokeless rifle powder in 30-06 rifle cartridges burns much slower.

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Later I realized what had happened; even though he was wearing big rubber pack boots, with several pair of wool socks on his feet, he had violated a principle. He only addressed the technique, and either did not understand the principles involved, or had over looked them. A principle-based approach is best it always works.   Principles are the foundation of the technique.

“Ways, Means, Methods, and Techniques Change, Principles Never do.”

I will explain the difference. One of the key principles which, was part of this situation, was maintaining good circulation from your core or torso, to your extremities, your hands and feet.   Assuming your torso (head, neck, and body) is working well, then we need two things to keep your feet warm. Open pathways for the warm blood to travel to your hands and or feet. In addition, you need insulation, to prevent the blood from cooling down while it travels to the extremities. Then, of course, insulating your feet, to prevent the loss of heat, i.e.: socks, boots, and over-boots, etc., to keep you feet warm.

Another part of the equation is having the proper level, or amount, of fluid in your circulatory system, which is about five liters (6 quarts). Interesting fact is we need about 5 to 6 liters (Quarts) per day. We need to have water in the radiator (cooling system) of your car, or it will not carry the heat from the engine, to the heater core and warm your car. The same is true with your body, fluid is responsible for transporting heat.

The head, neck, and torso account for about 80 to 90% of the body’s heat production, and the head and neck account for about 50 to 75 percent of the body’s heat loss. So, “when your feet are cold, put on a hat.” It also transports oxygen and nutrients to help produce heat. This fluid is also responsible for cooling our bodies during the warm season as well.


How the body reacts to temperature change.

Another process or principle, which affects whether you have warm hands and feet, is a natural process. This process occurs when the head, neck, and torso as the body regulates its internal 98.6 core temperature. In this case, the body naturally shunts, or slows down blood going to the skin and the extremities to prevent heat loss. This is our natural climate control system, which works to maintain that all important inner core temperature.

98.6 F. is a critical number to life in general.   If your temperature rises around 109 F, the grim reaper will be stalking you. If it drops below about 80 F again, you are likely to have him knocking of your door as well. Temperature control for your body’s core is critical.   At first temperature, change is minor. In the winter, you will notice the skin turning white and maybe it will look a little waxy because the blood vessels have almost closed.

You notice an exact opposite effect in the summer. The skin turns red, due to the flood of blood going to the skin and the extremities to keep the head, neck, and torso cool.


In this three cold men diagram, you will get a better picture of how this process (principle) works.Cold man, normal

The diagram above shows a person with a core temperature of 98.6. There is an average flow of blood to the skin and the extremities.

cold man, 96If the head, neck, and torso temperature starts to drop below the 98.6 F level, say to maybe 96 or 95 F +/- the body shuts down the blood flood to most of the skin and starts to slow the flow to the hands and feet. This helps to maintain that important 98.6 F core temperature.

cold man, 93As your core, temperature continues to drop down around 94 F +/-, the blood to the skin shuts way down, and the body begins to shut the blood flow to the fingers and toes as well.

An interesting thing is that people do not freeze to death; they die long before 32° F. If the core temperature drops to around 80° F or less, chances are the grim reaper is going come knocking your door.

The point I am trying to make is these are the principles we need to work with. The techniques are the tools we use to deal with, or control, these things.

This is why you buy my books, and why I strive to provide top-notch content, so you can enjoy your activities more, reaching a higher level of knowledge, while maintaining a greater degree of safety.

Thanks for reading my content, I hope it is of value to you.