Arrive at Trail's End Without Any Food: A Worthy Goal?

1:35 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Over the years I have heard some advocate taking exactly enough food, and no more, for a planned trip. Having just seen an article uplifting the goal of arriving at the end of a trip with not a speck or ounce of any food at all left over, I was curious what you all think. I have definite thoughts on the matter, but would like to hear other's two cents.

 

2:04 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Might work for some folks.  I still have way too much to learn.  Not to mention, that only accounts for a specific, pre-conceived plan which could change in a moment's notice.  I keep a day's extra rations that could easily be spaced across 3-4 days if all I was doing was hunkering down, and I always try and keep 500ml of water in my bladder.  Peace of mind, at least.

2:33 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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WHAT IF?  - That is a fundamental question that is part of Planning and Preparation, the first principal of Leave No Trace and just plain common sense.

What if:

1. You get delayed due to an accident (someone sprains an ankle or worse), a trail washed out, bad weather, running across another party in trouble, or, the unreasonably unexpected, an asteroid strike or a dinosaur attack?

2. You are enjoying the trek so much that you want to hang out for a few more days?

3. You decide to add a side trip or two to bag another peak, do more fishing since you are catching your limit each day (ok, that adds to your food supply), or you want to get just exactly the right photograph and a couple more days would allow that?

4., 5., 6. .......


dino.jpg

There are a lot of good reasons and a lot of possible problems that would necessitate extra time on a backcountry trip. The reasoning for arriving with no food (or fuel, or other consumables) left over is so that you are not carrying any extra weight. Sounds good, except how much does that extra day or two of food weight (canonical answer - 2 pounds per person per day).

Hey, I have an even better idea - everybody plan on staying healthy and not having any twisted ankles, cuts, scrapes, broken bones! Then we wouldn't have to take any first aid supplies, not even blister tape! And let's all memorize the map ahead of time, and we won't have to carry a map! Since we know how to tell which way is North, we don't need a compass. We won't fall into a stream and don't worry about our B.O., so no change of clothes is needed. Hardy souls that we are, we don't need any sleeping bag or pad. A little rain or snow never hurt anyone, so no need for a tent or a tarp. Which means no need for a pack. We know how to gather berries and nuts, and even catch fish with bare hands, so no need for food at all. Since we know how to make a fire by friction or striking rocks together, no stove or fuel needed.

Maybe I am being a bit facetious (as usual). But whoever came up with this is either O/C and sticks to a rigid schedule, or maybe has never been out in the wilderness at all. And they must live in an area that has no natural disasters - no heavy snows, no heavy rains, no hurricanes, no tornados, no earthquakes, no tsunamis, no landslides ....

7:24 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Well here's my opinion on the subject, and it's not meant to tell anyone here how to do things, but I do have strong feelings about some of the things people do to go hyper-light.

I think some people work (their mental process) in theory, supposition, or ideology that they have developed or adopted, to a fault. I have done this myself to be perfectly honest, and I have learned to be more conscientious and thorough, I hope.

You know, the whole theory vs. practice thing.

I see this a lot on various forums where someone comes up with an idea that sounds good and before you know it everyone gets all excited and jumps on the bandwagon. People start posting about how it can be done even better, or where to get raw materials to make something with, all before this idea has actually been put to the test.

That's okay to a point, but when your safety is potentially at stake it can be foolish. For example, to just head out in the middle of winter with a shelter you made, because your convinced you did a great job. I actually know of someone who did just that.

At some point you have to test your ideas by putting them to practical use, right? But maybe start by heeding advise offered by those with more experience or have a back up plan in case you encounter difficulty you hadn't considered.

The desire to develop the lightest products or fastest technique to travel in the back country has its merits, but it must be balanced with  making sure you have the capability to be self reliant, and being  prepared for the possibility that things may not go as planned, or that you have an accident.

In my opinion arriving at your destination with no food in reserve does not accomplish that. You might do that a thousand times and get away with it, but you cant make an intelligent argument that you were prepared for the unexpected.

What are you going to say? "I can go for a day or two with no food, it'll be fine"?

I understand that hiking on the AT or such is different than solo bushwhacking in remote areas, and there is maybe less need for some precautions, but being able to fuel your body is still important.

Personally I carry at least one extra meal for day hikes, and an extra days food on backpacking trips.

I think that makes sense, helps me to be prepared, and demonstrates just as much planning ability as arriving with no food left.

 

 

 

 

8:07 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm going to make this simple. DUMB! You might make it, but why take the chance.

8:53 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm going to make this simple. DUMB! You might make it, but why take the chance.

Haha, you did sum it up quickly!

9:31 p.m. on March 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I want extra food just in case.  Plus the extra weight means a little more work and a few more calories burned.  Think of it as a bonus work out!

12:11 a.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I just over pack for extra days. Whatever I have left by the time the trip is over I just eat. Its all about being fat and happy. Seriously though, my viewpoint is this. Its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

1:51 a.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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The "experts" that advocate this practice probably have ultra light brains too.

Carrying just enough food to cover ideal circumstances is great idea...

When you don't mind fasting without advanced preparation (who fasts on a hike anyhow?)

As great as taking just enough TP to cover your average personal needs.

Or bringing a bear canister only when you know the bears will visit your camp.

Or bringing rain protection only when it's going to rain.

Or bringing the means to render first aid only when you know you'll hurt yourself.

Or tanking up with just enough gas to last until the plane touches back down, or the car coasts into the next filling station.

Or buying auto and home insurance only when you think you need it(!)

Or using birth control only when you feel fertile(!!)

Or bringing only enough whiskey and smokes for yourself.

Ed

8:54 a.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the responses!

I'm sure it is obvious, but I was astonished when I saw the article I mentioned in my initial post. It made me curious to see how others (you guys) would respond, and figured it would make for some lively conversation :)

I can't see how it could be intelligently rationalized that planning to arrive at the end of the trail with zero food is being responsibly prepared for contingencies- expected or unforseen.  All it takes is a little bad weather, meeting some folks that need help, getting sick, a minor injury, etc., etc., etc., and you would be completely SOL.

Ed, you always provide a good chuckle while gettting to the point :)

Or bringing only enough whiskey and smokes for yourself.

I think I need to meet up with you on the trail someday ;)

9:48 a.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I have been in situations twice where a flash flood came up the day before my trip was to end. Lucky, the water levels receded enough that I could make my crossing safely the next day. However, I may have been stuck for another day. Extra food is something I plan into my trip. Better safe than sorry. I have run out of whiskey before, I try not to let that happen.

11:17 a.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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While my goal will never be to arrive at the end of the trial with no food left, I have gotten done and had way more food than I needed, and am trying to judge better how much I will need to eat and bring some extra for emergencies.

12:48 p.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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It's already been said above, but I wouldn't aim to finish with nothing left over.

My spouse is better about weighing and measuring every ounce of food beforehand (though allowing for some extra). However, if anything I tend to be a little bit of an overpacker where food and water are concerned, even on a simple day hike.

Partly it's because I often have my kids with me too. Generally I'm the cautious type and tend to overprepare.

I think it's good to be realistic and know how much you really need and not overdo it though.

Care to share a link to the original article, gonzan?

1:20 p.m. on March 23, 2011 (EDT)
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Personally, I don't mind sharing where I saw the article I mentioned. My hesitation is in consideration of a thread here a few weeks ago, and didn't want to step on any toes, as my intent is not to criticize another group, but to see if others had the same reaction to the idea that I did.

The article is subscription content on B-P-L, under the "Techniques and Best Practices" category. So I can't actually link to the article, or paste any of it here (ya know, copyright and all that ;) 

However, from the article abstract:

"My goal is to be perfectly satisfied during my time in the backcountry, but to walk out of the mountains with absolutely ZERO food"

So I am going to go over here in the corner and hide behind something now, before people start throwing things ;)

12:30 a.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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If and how much extra food I take depends on the trip.  If I am going out for anywhere from a weekend to a week and I am hiking along trails where there tend to be lots of people (JMT for example) I only take what I need for the planned trip.  I have bail out options, can mooch, etc.  Seems almost no risk and I get a lighter pack in return.

If I am doing a x-country trek, or a winter hike, I'll carry extra since I am most likely going to have to rely on me and maybe a hiking partner only.  In this case the risk is greater and I'll carry some insurance.

Same concept on raingear.  I always carry some, but it I am out for a weekend and the forecast is no rain then I carry a large trash bag that I can fashion into a make shift poncho and a ground cloth to sleep on that I can hang as a tarp in a pinch.  If I am out for a longer period and the extended forecast is good I'll add a full size poncho.  And if I know it is going to rain I'll bring the rain jacket and a tent.

I just make a judgement call each trip on what exactly to bring.  The more risk, the more insurance.

4:09 a.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Bump bump

4:16 a.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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If and how much extra food I take depends on the trip.  If I am going out for anywhere from a weekend to a week and I am hiking along trails where there tend to be lots of people (JMT for example) I only take what I need for the planned trip.  I have bail out options, can mooch, etc.  Seems almost no risk and I get a lighter pack in return...

Steve:

Do not underestimate even "low risk" venues such as the JMT.  Two days from the nearest road head is a long way, even in summer, when dealing with contingencies.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those guys who packs a first aid kit that rivals the Mayo Clinic, so I too do not believe in preparing for every scenario one may encounter, no matter how unlikely.  But something in the theme of your post doesn’t resonate with me.  I can’t place my finger on it, perhaps it is the notion of relying on outside entities (i.e. mooching) to get through an emergency which seems self serving, if not irresponsible. 

If everyone practiced this credo, no one would have food to spare, unless they were willing to go hungry themselves.  In turn you wouldn’t be of much assistance to anyone else unless you were willing to endure a similar hardship.  That may only result in some tummy aches, but one only need be caught on the wrong side of a stream for a sustained rain to extend your trip on the JMT by several days, while you wait until it is safe to cross.  Been there, done that.  In this case "just enough" food turns into an exhausting ordeal, and may require an extraction.  It happens more often than you think.

Perhaps instead your sentiments of relying on others chafe, because they fly in the face of an old tradition.  There is an old credo mountaineers once owned, but seems to be falling out of practice, now that everyone has cellulars, and help always seems to be just a few steps away in the next camp.  This ethic: “We rescue our own.”  The embodiment of this credo is a group who has the necessary skills and gear to get itself out of a fix without imposing on others.  In practice this includes adequate shelter, clothing, and food to deal with situations one can expect to face, though they may be unusual for the season.  And since it may snow any time in the Sierras, every trip should include enough provisioning to get you through some freakish weather, be it along the JMT in July or the Sierra Haute Route in April.  A trash bag as your go-to rain gear does not meet this criterion.  It is better to be the one who rescues than the one calling out for help.  I have been on Mt Hood, Denali, and Mt St Elias when unexpectedly bad weather (well actually bad weather is always expected on St Elias, but I digress) traped several groups who eventually required rescue extractions to get off the mountains, due to depleting their food provisions.  We managed to avoid this fate, in part by purposeful over provisioning.  As such we were asked to assist with two of these extractions, something we could not have done if we too were forced to get by on one power bar/day for four days.  Four pounds of extra food per week has yet to kill anyone.  This is a no brainer.

Ed

8:29 a.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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If and how much extra food I take depends on the trip.  If I am going out for anywhere from a weekend to a week and I am hiking along trails where there tend to be lots of people (JMT for example) I only take what I need for the planned trip.  I have bail out options, can mooch, etc.  Seems almost no risk and I get a lighter pack in return.


That is selfish, I have looked at ultra lighters, and wondered what if? I pack extra just in case, maybe my FA kit is a bit larger, but that comes from my background as a Paramedic.

I would share food, water and other supplies no matter, but to have someone I have never met, have a back up plan to mooch even before they start, thinks only of themselves, and is narcissistic enough not to care in the slightest.

Jeff

9:09 a.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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I almost never mind helping people I meet on the trail who need help. Some didn't plan well, were a little green, and others just had things go wrong. Heck, I think we've all been there at some point.  Maybe it's just the way I was raised, but I personally want to always be prepared for the unexpected, and well enough to not only take care of myself but others as well if needed.

That doesn't mean I carry enough food for five people to live for a week.  I always carry at least an extra days food, even if its just a day hike, as well as electrolytes and at least one extra energy bar in my emergency kit. (of course what constitutes a days food varies enormously: from the wildlife park near my home, to the middle of the Shoshone NF, to the side of Denali)  There have been numerous occasions where I have thus been able to help people in tough spots: whether its with a little extra water, sharing some gorp, lending a poncho, sharing a stove, or a tarp, etc. All of the above I have done over the years. One person didn't test their stove before heading out on the trip; another had never used their tent or seam sealed it, resulting a needing some additional means of staying dry. When I go on day hike with a group that will likely include a few "less-prepared" individuals, I will bring a couple extra trash bags, which nearly always get handed out because they didn't bring jackets.

I feel that most of the time the lack of preparedness was honest, meaning they just didn't know what they didn't know. In those instances, the assistance is appreciated, and helps them begin learning what they need to know and that they need to be prepared.  The only times when I have been annoyed, and loath to help, are when the person(s) clearly should have known better, or seem entitled to being helped, etc.

9:57 a.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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So you miss a meal or three.  BFD! 

Of course I always have extra food with me too, but is it really a big deal if you miss a meal or a whole day of eating?  I don't get anxious if I miscalculate and it turns out that I will have to suffer lean rations for a day.  Unless you will be out over 20 days I think that death by starvation is really off the list of reasonable risks.   Of course hunger blows, hard, but really, how many people who get lost or delayed die of starvation?  This is America, most of us (me anyway) could do with a day or two off from the fridge. 

Its good to know that Ed is always a good source for extra liquor on the trail!  

10:47 a.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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So you miss a meal or three.  BFD! 

.... Unless you will be out over 20 days I think that death by starvation is really off the list of reasonable risks.   Of course hunger blows, hard, but really, how many people who get lost or delayed die of starvation?  This is America, most of us (me anyway) could do with a day or two off from the fridge.

 

While I agree, in normal day-to-day, going without a couple meals might actually be good for a lot of people, myself included. Doing so while in the backcountry is a horrible idea. It isn't about starvation, but providing enough energy that you are able to function well- mentally, physically, and psychologically. In mountainous and difficult terrain, wet/cold/winter conditions, or just a long trip, operating without enough nutrition can mean the difference between a tough slog and dire emergency.

    I am overweight, though in strong condition, and can out-hike many people. But in tough terrain, especially on a long trip, my legs get pretty tired and fatigued towards the end of the day, even when eating well. Any person is at high risk of foot and leg injury when they are in that physical state of fatigue. Going even one or two meals without food will quickly put most people in a dangerous state- robbing them of strength, energy, coordination, and clear judgment. Choosing outdoors habits that are likely, if not assured, to put you in such a situation is at the least not smart, and likely quite irresponsible.

2:56 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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The UL philosophy, if it could be "properly" practiced, might be summarized as such:

1.) Take good notes on what works/doesn't work for you in the field, and on what you use/don't use.

2.) Develop an understanding of what you "need" and "don't need" for a given trip, at least partially based upon knowing what personal risks one feels comfortable assuming.

3.) Keep said crap you don't need from appearing on your gear list despite all the "what if" situations OGBO described above.

(4.) Condition one's body and mind to not need.)

Not to insinuate that the article Gonzan referred to is from BPL, but I think the prevailing attitude at BPL is that when one is educated regarding weather pattern and inclinations, terrain, potential natural disasters, things that could eat/bite/sting you, et. al., one is able to more often answer a common, important question during any packing routine: "should I bring this?"--which is often loosely translated as "By how much are the chances increased that I'll die, be severely injured, or have an absolutely miserable time if I don't bring this?" If fear and uncertainty leads to packing more stuff "just in case," then being educated helps reduce pack weight, no? That's not dumb, that's smart.

Yes, these techniques allow one to ultimately carry a smaller and lighter pack, but ideally this is not because one is purposely leaving stuff at home to assume unreasonably dangerous safety risks.

With that being, I always like having a little extra food in my pack.

Oh, and Gonzan: Going a couple of days without food only puts me in a different state than if I had eaten. You attribute it to be dangerous. I say it is more contextual; for instance, if I'm hiking a well-marked trail I've walked a few times before, and, in attempting to complete the trail in a given time period, I fall behind pace, I'll have to make a choice. Of the many options I have, I choose to continue to my waiting car at the end of the trail rather than call someone for a pickup. Knowing that I'll run out of food, I continue on, run out of food, and spend the last two days drinking water and snacking on wild edibles.

Now, have I done something dangerous? "Danger" is so subjective! Though being in that altered state most certainly led to a different perception of the world than I would have had being fully satiated, actually being in that state, in the conditions described, could certainly be quite beneficial to one's own, and others, well-being when such a situation presents itself again, under less "controlled" conditions.

In fact, in light of the spectrum of hunger, might it not be beneficial to condition oneself to perform tasks while severely malnourished, under somewhat tame conditions, to thus be able to perform better when faced with really trying situations? I'd bet Anatoli Boukreev would agree with that...

 

4:12 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Certainly, taking advantage of the types of scenario you mention is not necessarily a negative or "dangerous" thing. But that would fall more under the category of intentional or planned condition/training.  That hypothetical also assumes that forageable food is available, and that there are no other complicating factors, known or unknown. Your example would be the exception, not the average.  I don't think the conversation in this thread was particularly addressing that context.

 Likewise, I agree that what is irresponsible or dangerous is completely contextual. The concept of applying the specific idea in question in a global manner is what I think was being discussed. Of course, we can attempt to parse out the infinite vagaries of situational conditions and what would be wise or not, but that would just be wearisome and circuitous. Most of us aren't capable of the level of situational awareness and inspection to make such an exercise viable or productive.

The perceived level of control of conditions and circumstances that would allow for responsibly operating, on most or all trips, for most individuals, with the goal of arriving at trails end with zero food, is an illusion.  That level of control doesn't exist.

I love to challenge myself, and condition my mental and physical person for situations that many don't think about. I imagine we are similar in that regard. I do, however, think that elevating and propagating the idea in question as something to achieve, for most people and situations, is irresponsible.  

6:07 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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It does not surprise me that the article you refer to comes from BPL. In my opinion, the whole ultra-light thing can be as annoying and dangerous as religion. I like to travel lite, and will spend big bucks in some areas to do so. I also combine the clothing I bring into a system to sleep in so I can carry a lighter sleeping bag. But, I dont skimp. I have too much experience with (and was almost sucked into) the lite weight mania to no realize that leaving out all the "what-ifs" is , in  a word, stupid.  Ultra-lite can be carried too far. Safety is paramount.  No need to try and survive like Bear Grylls if you dont need to. A few ounces of food can add comfort that makes the difference in keeping ones head in a real emergency.

7:03 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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So you miss a meal or three.  BFD! ...

 

No one ever starved missing meals, but many have perished due to exposure exasperated by lack of caloric intake.

I am surprised at your response, as a resident of the PNW who states he is also a mountaineer.   Every year there are accounts of folks perishing or sustaining serious frost injuries on Rainier, Shasta, Hood, Baker, Adams, and other regional venues due to bad weather strandings, compounded by poor preparation.  Yea none starved, but a reading of the Accidents in North American Mountaineering achieves will reveal exhausted food supplies are believed to have played a crucial role in many alpine incidents.  The same goes for the more sundry hike gone awry.  Disasters usually are the result of a chain of unfortunate events compounded by poor judgment calls.  Lack of food exasperates the effects of exposure, as does getting wetting wet, due to poor gear choices.  Add a protracted storm into the mix and SHIZAM!  Your goose is cooked - I mean frozen...

You don’t have to be scaling some remote gonzo Alaskan peak; lack of food regularly factors in to death due to exposure in the San Gabriel Mountains, skirting Los Angeles.  The typical scenario is hiker travels five or six miles, a storm closes in, hiker is stranded due to high water in creeks, has inadequate shelter and no food - SHIZAM!  And these are trails almost no one would consider foreboding, let alone potentially deadly. You don’t even need snow, just cold evenings and some dampness will suffice.  In fact exposure is most likely above freezing, as water in its liquid form saturates clothing worse than snow.  That and the perception above freezing weather is less dangerous than sub freezing weather (often not the case) temps some to bring less protection.

Perhaps you are an expert, or can control the weather, I don’t really know.  But Just because you are willing to play the odds does not make it wise advise and encourage others to do likewise. I have read trip journals of certain ultra lighters who did the JMT with little more than a cap, sweatshirt, poncho, blankie, and tarp to keep them warm and dry, meanwhile relying on gel packs for their main source of calories.  Sure you can do this, but unless you are the consummate survivalist this practice will eventually catch up with you, and when you come out of your hypothermic delirium, you’ll find yourself spooning in my bag with me cozy against your backside. (I know you’d rather die, but we didn’t give you that option!).  SHIZAM!

Ed

7:11 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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My best planning over a 10 day unsupported trip with wife across the Sierra was to end up at the very end of the trip with only 4 squares of TP left.

:)

7:47 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Geez.  Never thought I'd finding myself agreenig with Pilow and differing with Ed.  Maybe it was the spooning comment.  Well, whatever it takes to get at his hip flask!

8:34 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Geez.  Never thought I'd finding myself agreenig with Pilow and differing with Ed.  Maybe it was the spooning comment.  Well, whatever it takes to get at his hip flask!

 Sorry, I had to drink it all to get up the courage to share my bag with you!

Ed

8:36 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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So you miss a meal or three.  BFD! 

Of course I always have extra food with me too, but is it really a big deal if you miss a meal or a whole day of eating?  I don't get anxious if I miscalculate and it turns out that I will have to suffer lean rations for a day.  Unless you will be out over 20 days I think that death by starvation is really off the list of reasonable risks.   Of course hunger blows, hard, but really, how many people who get lost or delayed die of starvation?  This is America, most of us (me anyway) could do with a day or two off from the fridge. 

Its good to know that Ed is always a good source for extra liquor on the trail!  

* I do note you said you always carry extra food with you SagetoSnow, so this question is not directed at you necessarily, but I wonder.....

This is theory....or practice?

I wonder how long it takes to just pass out and hit your head on a rock, or fall off a ledge, or become disoriented, when you are weary from hunger burning 4000-5000 calories a day exerting yourself, and being exposed to the elements at the same time?

Or you could try to cross a swollen creek and give out in the swift current halfway across (turning back is no help), this has caused many deaths whether due to drunkenness, fatigue (missing a few meals),  or just a "hey y'all watch this" moment.

I don't understand why anyone would risk putting them self in that kind of predicament when carrying a little extra food could (arguably) make the difference. You don't have to actually starve to death to perish due to lack of food.

 

9:44 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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The UL philosophy, if it could be "properly" practiced...

..Oh, and Gonzan: Going a couple of days without food only puts me in a different state than if I had eaten... .

..In fact, in light of the spectrum of hunger, might it not be beneficial to condition oneself to perform tasks while severely malnourished, under somewhat tame conditions, to thus be able to perform better when faced with really trying situations? I'd bet Anatoli Boukreev would agree with that...

 

..IF it could be properly practiced - that's a big IF. 

Yea missing a few days of food does put you in a different state: uncoordinated, apathetic, dull witted and one’s body temperature control impaired, each amplified as the air temperature rises or dips beyond a fairly narrow range.  Having personally suffered though a couple of hairy unscheduled fasts in the backcountry, I can attest little wisdom is gained from this experience, other than promising one’s self to avoid it at all cost in the future. 

Regarding your scenario on a familiar trail: accidents do not discriminate between familiar trails and those new to us.  As for your turn back or mush on options, you left out a third possibility: turn back and hitch a ride to your car, no one is put out, no one is in jeopardy.  Wisdom dictates you should avoid combining questionable judgment calls with unfavorable advents.  You are at Strike Two when you decide to push on, gambling you’ll continue to hit foul balls or better.  But this ain’t baseball, sports fans.  Tragedy is usually the result of a cascade of bad circumstances and poor decisions.  In any case I am sure your loved ones would rather be inconvenienced every time, than chance the remote possibility you running out of food then continuing on results in an unfortunate chain of events.  Your decision to push on could end in a SAR episode, because poor judgment coerced you to drag on in extreme fatigue rather than rest, resulting in a stumble off the trail and tumble down a ravine.  Strike Three...

Anatoli Boukreev: you mean that guy who push the envelope in all manner conceivable, this Anatoli, the dude who lost it climbing Annapurna without oxygen in the middle of winter?  He may have been a hero on Everest, but Anatoli’s personal flair for pushing the envelope makes him the unlikely poster child for rational calculated risk taking.  While his demise had nothing to do with provisioning, it was a direct result of flouting conventional wisdom.  I would look for other less apocalyptic role models.

Ed

8:25 p.m. on March 27, 2011 (EDT)
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If and how much extra food I take depends on the trip.  If I am going out for anywhere from a weekend to a week and I am hiking along trails where there tend to be lots of people (JMT for example) I only take what I need for the planned trip.  I have bail out options, can mooch, etc.  Seems almost no risk and I get a lighter pack in return.

 

That is selfish, I have looked at ultra lighters, and wondered what if? I pack extra just in case, maybe my FA kit is a bit larger, but that comes from my background as a Paramedic.

I would share food, water and other supplies no matter, but to have someone I have never met, have a back up plan to mooch even before they start, thinks only of themselves, and is narcissistic enough not to care in the slightest.

Jeff

 

I guess I missed in making the intended point...I plan each trip specific to how I perceive the risks of that trip.  Along a well traveled trail there is little to no risk and I pack accordingly. 

That said I carry enough that I am able to share by cutting my rations, share a dry spot under my tarp, offer 1st aid, repair anothers pack, (all of which I have) etc.  I don't see planning it lean to be narcissitic, rather I try to be smart in what I take. 

I am not planning mooching as my back up plan, I'd first cut my rations down to spread them out over a larger number of days, but would (as probably most of us would) mooch if I thought I was in a life or death situation.

1:41 p.m. on March 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed:

Your right, that is a big IF!!! Let's just abandon our efforts at all things difficult. Who need idealists anyways, right?

Also, is that your assesment of Anatoli, that he "lost it"? I ask because you are parrotting Krakauer's (and thus, the mis-informed public's) opinion. Perhaps you are merely ignorant of the fact that Boukreev has written a couple of books, in English. I suppose if they were only available in Russian I could excuse your offense; please, educate yourself so that you stop embarrasing yourself and de-valuing this community. Have you read Anatoli's book "Above the Clouds"? I have read Anatoli's books and Jon's books, and the opinion I offered above was in light of Boukreev's distinctly "Russian" mountaineering philosophy, which, as I understand it, was nearly exactly as I outlined above: train yourself to operate past what you perceive to be your limits so that you might be able to perform extraordinary feats when the opportunity arrises.

"...flouting conventional wisdom..."--Ha!!

Now, Alex Lowe practiced nearly the exact same philosophy; in fact, I think a good argument could be made that Boukreev's and Lowe's philosophy is conventional wisdom amongst Alpinists; you seem to champion the views of the sightseeing tourist who doesn't quite understand that mountains are places where one can learn things innaccesible in the rest of the world. Therefore, the good student of Alpinism should seek these lessons. So please, disrespect American Mountaineering icons as you have the Russian, then try to explain to me that you're not xenophobic. Or perhaps you're just not in a place where you're not able to appreciate these lessons, or don't care to.

Yes, curiosity did kill the cat, but that cat saw some pretty cool stuff, and learned a lot about life. I suppose I just don't understand why anyone would want to live forever...

4:48 p.m. on March 28, 2011 (EDT)
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To add to conversation, I always carry a back up of high energy protein bars-they are light, do not take up space and meet the nutritional and energy levels in a survival situation. If you run out of food-you are in survival mode.

11:31 p.m. on March 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Ahem, Before this gets out of hand, a reminder that Trailspace prides itself on civil discourse. Personal attacks on other members, even if you think they are warranted, are not welcome.  We (meaning Dave and Alicia, often at the suggestion of the moderators) have banned people in the past for letting discussion devolve into the kind of argument I see starting to happen here.

Disagreements are welcome, flame wars, for lack of a better term are not. 

I'm not taking sides on the merits since I have no idea who Bookreev is and really don't care what he did on Everest or Annapurna. Having said that, people get killed mountaineering for all kinds of reasons, so I'm not sure how applicable anything they do is relevant to the average backpacker.

12:09 a.m. on March 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Ahem, Before this gets out of hand, a reminder that Trailspace prides itself on civil discourse. Personal attacks on other members, even if you think they are warranted, are not welcome.  We (meaning Dave and Alicia, often at the suggestion of the moderators) have banned people in the past for letting discussion devolve into the kind of argument I see starting to happen here.

Disagreements are welcome, flame wars, for lack of a better term are not. 

I'm not taking sides on the merits since I have no idea who Bookreev is and really don't care what he did on Everest or Annapurna. Having said that, people get killed mountaineering for all kinds of reasons, so I'm not sure how applicable anything they do is relevant to the average backpacker.

Tom D- Truly I am not seeing it as a flame war or not..I am seeing it as members I highly respect and their opionions as well as your opinion and observation.makeing their points..Pillowthread is in my opinion one of the most educated individuals in the Ultralight field that has helped educate myself in the philosiphy and techniques..Gonzan is a student like myself of varying theory and is just seeking opinions like myself. I have read the article and personally with my build and metabolism Just look at my picture. Many years of running and endurance sports means I crave and eat 3000 calories a day..Hence I miss a meal too many rain drops would soak me.LOL Pillow thread brought forward his observation of American Alpinists and is quit right in his definition of Alex Lowe..And I have also reead the exploits of Bookreev..The point I am makeing is that backpacking has changed in the last 20 yrs and will still be changeing when were gone. How many if us now are carying a 25 pd pack because that makes more sense? Are we correct to assume that running your food stores at the end of a trail is wrong? No I have heard this same statement by many backpackers not just from ultralight hikers..thats not towards you Tom D by the way...I have thought thru this process for myself on my trip..It's not new and just happened today.It's been on the mind of many hikers and will in the days to come.I think everyone is just evaluateing their personal observations and opinions.. Thanks for the reminder tho Tom D...

1:34 a.m. on March 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for the check Tom. Gonzan's original post references a "trip" on a "trail," posted in the "backcountry" forum. I went with mountaineering because Ed referenced it initially.

Ed's one of the only people here that I know is comfortable enough in his views to debate with in a sporting manner. I get spirited because he appreciates spirit.

Gonzan: I just re-read your most recent response to my post, and I wholeheartedly agree with your last statement.

Perhaps John Muir said it best: Society speaks and all men listen; mountains speak and wise men listen.

9:28 a.m. on March 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Ultralight people remind me of concept cars.  They might have an idea or two we mortals can use once in a while but who wants to use ALL of those ideas at once?

Homer-Simpson-car-21638.jpgStill, though I usually man-up and just carry the extra food, especially since I have kids with me, I don't lie up at night worrying about starvation in the mtns.  I have fasted enough to know that there is more to life than food. 

10:04 a.m. on March 30, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed:

Your right, that is a big IF!!! Let's just abandon our efforts at all things difficult. Who need idealists anyways, right?

Also, is that your assesment of Anatoli, that he "lost it"? I ask because you are parrotting Krakauer's (and thus, the mis-informed public's) opinion. Perhaps you are merely ignorant of the fact that Boukreev has written a couple of books, in English. I suppose if they were only available in Russian I could excuse your offense; please, educate yourself so that you stop embarrasing yourself and de-valuing this community. Have you read Anatoli's book "Above the Clouds"? I have read Anatoli's books and Jon's books, and the opinion I offered above was in light of Boukreev's distinctly "Russian" mountaineering philosophy, which, as I understand it, was nearly exactly as I outlined above: train yourself to operate past what you perceive to be your limits so that you might be able to perform extraordinary feats when the opportunity arrises.

"...flouting conventional wisdom..."--Ha!!

Now, Alex Lowe practiced nearly the exact same philosophy; in fact, I think a good argument could be made that Boukreev's and Lowe's philosophy is conventional wisdom amongst Alpinists; you seem to champion the views of the sightseeing tourist who doesn't quite understand that mountains are places where one can learn things innaccesible in the rest of the world. Therefore, the good student of Alpinism should seek these lessons. So please, disrespect American Mountaineering icons as you have the Russian, then try to explain to me that you're not xenophobic. Or perhaps you're just not in a place where you're not able to appreciate these lessons, or don't care to.

Yes, curiosity did kill the cat, but that cat saw some pretty cool stuff, and learned a lot about life. I suppose I just don't understand why anyone would want to live forever...

 

Vince:

Yes, I enjoy a debate, but I hardly feel embarassed…

Idealists – in this context, that is someone who ideally intends to make it back home from his journey, ideally under their own power, ideally with all of their digits.  One does not have to press their luck to the point that objective risk predominates to find a difficult challenge.

My comment regarding Anatoli Boukreev loosing it refers to him loosing his life.  That is a fact.  I was not critical because of his nationality or Russian Mountaineering credo.  My comment had nothing to do with what happened in 96 on Everest, or because of what Krakauer wrote in the aftermath.  And my remarks definitely were not borne out of ignorance.  The main difference between the Russian (and Poles), vs the rest of the community is they are more willing to accept high objective risk, especially pertaining to the cold.  In my opinion that is a test of luck, not skill or durability.  Climbing 8K meter peaks with no oxygen is something more in line with the showboating antics of the “hey look at me” red neck braggadocio types, than the conduct of a sage mountaineer, regardless of where they were born.  And this is definitely not conventional practice among the vast majority of alpinists.  You have been reading too many super hero books.  Damn few people are capable of pulling off such stunts – fewer still are even willing to attempt.  Nevertheless my comments were not ingtended to critique Anatoli's climbing or safety ethics.  Instead I intend you construe my comment as an opinion on what passes as prudent role models.  Surely most folks who desire a fair chance at surviving their weekend with most of their bones intact would not consider Evel Kanievel a role model to emulate.  Furthermore, at least Evel didn’t buy the farm on his steed.  Thus referencing Boukreev as the poster child for what is possible in the context of going ultra light and taking calculated risks strikes me as a rather reckless suggestion for others on this forum to follow.  Anatoli is not here today because he played the long odds and it caught up with him.

Now if I may contrast our views more starkly, I checked out your bio page.  I don’t list my accomplishments in my profile, mainly because today I AM the epitome of the sight seeing tourist, a label you cast with seeming dispersion, but one I am totally comfortable with, given my age.  You seem to fit this label too, yet talk like you have shared bivouacs with Anatoli and Alex.  For what its worth I climbed Denali twice, once to 17K, once to summit; summited St Elias; and summited Cordillera Blanca (Peru) – all before age thirty.  (May I add I did some fun stuff out your way too, while preparing for these trips.)  Yea I did some sight seeing in my time.  My scrap book has post cards from other exotic perches too, having done the gonzo crap until age forty (marriage and children usually slows the responsible types down).  Don’t get me wrong, Vince, I wasn’t always Mr. Safety.  I did some pretty silly things, including attempting a 6K meter peak or two in mid winter (no I am not Russian).  I know what pushing my limits entails; purposeful under provisioning is not a test of personal limits; it is an invitation to unnecessary risk.  The mountains provide enough risk without doing them wearing only a speedo in winter or taking only three power bars as provisions for a weekend.  You need only be present when someone gets in serious trouble to realize taking risks like carrying insufficient warmth or under provisioning can set the stage for some pretty serious sh- - to happen.  And you don’t need to be on some gonzo expedition to get in trouble, it happens to people in the mountains above LA all the time, just two hours from their vehicles.  At some point it dawns on the wise that certain risks are not worth the gamble.  I agree, Vince, no one wants to live forever, but Anatoli didn’t even live to see his fortieth birthday.  You don’t get bragging rights if you come home on someone's back, or missing body parts, or don’t make it back at all.

Ed

5:28 a.m. on March 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes, I enjoy a debate...

More thought:

This practice called ultra light isn’t all that new in mountaineering.,  The esthetics involving light alpine ascents of big mountains actually owe much to folks like Bradford Washburn, Bob Bates, and others who explored the mountains comprising the Alaskian frontier.  The long approaches to Alaskian trophy peaks, compounded by funding issues required a light and fast style of trekking.  The weights these men carried would hardly be called ultra light by today’s standards, but that was due to the technology of the day rather than, sentiments regarding traditional equipping practices.  These light traveling techniques were refined in the sixties by Alex Lowe, John Harlin II and others, who aspirations included solo attempts upon big mountains, and quick assaults on targets such as Eiger, where safe climbing was limited to small windows of time, hence speed was of the utmost importance.

What differentiates today’s ultra light trekkers from the days of yore is the forbearers looked to trimming weight as a means to increase safety, cut costs, and to open up routes not feasible utilizing siege tactics.    Considerable research often accompanied the planning stages of these project to mitigate risk.  Washburn was famous for his aerial photo studies, while Harlan spent several seasons observing weather patterns, prior to his attempted Eiger direct.  There are responsible proponents of UL techniques; none of the ones I have conversed with would suggest planning just enough food to put you back at the road head with an empty larder.  Unfortunately the typical UL mountaineer or trekker often seems preoccupied with lightness for its own sake, to the point of being a religion, attracted to its cult like fixation on once shaving techniques, in a manner similar to how gadget freaks are drawn to fly fishing.  Other ULers use it as a means to cover more ground for the sake of covering more ground, kind of a one-up-man-ship or PR thing .  And then there are those who just want to see what they can get away with - a dare with Mother Nature if you wish.  In essence contemporary ultra light mountaineering is mainly about getting up the same peaks, only faster, or via routes and methods that have more inherent objective risk, or trading off suffering fewer miles under a heavy pack for suffering many miles under a lighter kit.  Unfortunately the safety margins once considered nominal have been excused under the pretence that one can get on and off the mountain faster than the time it takes for a crisis to brew.  Therein lays the fulcrum of this debate: Contemporary ultra lighters believe they can cut their margins more closely, while trad old schoolers believe ultra light does little to mitigate the margins required for contingencies, such as being stormed in or evacuating a broken leg.

Lastly you may be distorting the message of your role models.  It is true many of the great mountaineers pitted themselves purposefully against extreme conditions as a manner of training.  But training was typically conducted in a setting with more control, such as ice bath emersions at home, not miles from shelter.  And I do not recall anyone ever fasting on a trek or intentionally short rationing as a part of a training regimen.  They conducted back yard tests of equipment and limited in field experiments to within eye shot of the parking lot to the extent possible.  The fringe elite subjected themselves to extremes as an inescapable part of some of their challenges, but otherwise sought to reduce exposure to the extremes and risk.  If they monkeyed with food weight, it was a judicious attempt to balance between too much and not enough, usually calculating on having some extra by design.  If you read Anatoli as suggesting we pedestrian trekkers should go out and risk life and limb merely to discover and extend our limits, I suspect you have been reading more into his words than he intended to convey.  I also suspect he would scoff at foresaking nominal margins of safety in the name of having a lighter kit for the JMT.  I suspect he’d advise you condition yourself to a heavier load rather than venturing out with a kit that jeopardizes exposure or other safety considerations.  And if he actually did mean to compel folks to set off equipped with threadbare margins, well I will join those who say he lost it (sane thinking) and group him with those who row across the Atlantic in float tubes and kayak over Niagara Falls.

Ed

12:00 p.m. on March 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Some comments (which I hesitate to make) -

First, I agree with Tom D that some of the posts are getting pretty close to (maybe over) the bounds of the Trailspace rules of etiquette.

But, to a bit of history - light and ultralight backpacking and mountaineering certainly is not new. When I got my first Kelty external frame backpack (which weighs 2.5 pounds, by the way, not the 7 or 8 that some posts in this thread are claiming, and yes I still have it and just weighed it to be sure), Dick Kelty included a flyer giving a suggested gear list for the Muir Trail (Kelty was based in Glendale, California, close to where I was going to undergrad, so the JMT was an obvious candidate - I bought the pack from him in his garage, where he ran the business at the time). The total weight for the base pack is 15 pounds. Food wasn't as light, since freeze-dry technology was still in the early stages (one of my summer jobs in college was at Food Machinery and Chemical, FMC, working with a group developing freeze-dry for the military). That pack, by the way, can carry 60-70 pounds in moderate comfort (as comfortable as 60-70 pounds ever is) - I have carried that much on it when taking climbing gear into the backcountry.

Ray Jardine, the original guru of ultralight and inventor of Friends (cams for climbing), had published his first book about the same time as a guide to hiking in the Sierra, with his later book concentrating on ultralight coming a couple years later. Ray took a lot of ideas from Walt Wheelock's classic "Going Light with Backpack and Burro", published in the 1950s. Yeah, yeah, Jardine is considered "old school" and current ultralighters are much more extreme. Still, Ray, in the "RayWay", advocated tarps, quilts instead of sleeping bags, and soft packs (GoLite licensed several of his designs and still makes some of them, which continue to be big sellers among the UL crowd). (Last time I ran into Ray was in Jan 2007 in Antarctica, when he and his wife did the Hercules Inlet to the South Pole unsupported - Antarctic UL is a bit heavier than AT or PCT UL, and they did not plan on arriving at the pole with an empty larder).

But if you want to truly go ultralight, it is pretty hard to beat John Muir himself. According to his books and plenty of contemporary reports, Muir used to set off for days with no pack, just the clothes he was wearing, and "a crust of bread" in the pocket of his wool jacket. He refers to Mt Hoffman in Yosemite as "a pleasant day trip" from Yosemite Valley - it is about 30 miles each way from the Valley floor! [edited to correct the distance - it is 11 miles each way with 7000 ft total climb, so 22 miles round trip, and 7000 ft of gain, certainly possible as a fast and strenuous day hike] And remember, he used to climb up into tall pine trees during storms, just to get the real feel of Nature. By comparison, current UL and thruhikers are a bunch of wimps.

Last comment - my "What If" comments were grossly misinterpreted as advocating carrying a huge amount of food. Sorry, no - the point was to plan and prepare so that you take only what you really need for the trip you are undertaking, with a reasonable margin for the "unexpected". You certainly can not plan for all eventualities (like dinosaur attacks and meteorite strikes). But the trek that goes exactly according to plan is rare. Delays are common on long hikes. This spring in the Sierra will see a lot of swollen streams - delays in stream crossings, and passes that have huge amounts of snow, slowing passage. It is possible to do the entire JMT (abt 220 miles, including the Whitney to Whitney Portal hike, which is not part of the official JMT) in a week (it is done by several hikers every year). Most people count on 3 weeks. There are a lot of high passes and streams to cross.

12:32 p.m. on March 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes, I enjoy a debate...

...In essence contemporary ultra light mountaineering is mainly about getting up the same peaks, only faster, or via routes and methods that have more inherent objective risk, or trading off suffering fewer miles under a heavy pack for suffering many miles under a lighter kit. 

Actually, Ed, replace "same peaks" with "peaks," and you've just described mountaineering in general, not "ultra light mountaineering." Every single Alpinist practices these things you've listed, as a method of learning and building their skill-set. As OGBO points out, what is and isn't UL changes over time.

My original comment on Anatoli was meant to invoke an opinion about the clients he guided, an opinion that the Russian expressed many times. I should have extrapolated my point further initially.

I read your bio as well Ed, and I can see why you suggest that it is futile to debate you...

 

 

12:46 p.m. on March 31, 2011 (EDT)
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@ Bill S and Ed I would like to know more about Mountaneers final push to summits.Sorry but everything I have read only talks about the oxygen and mental fight one has.I really want to know on the Final summit assault do they eat and what? I am asking because you both have vast experiance's I do not.For me to truly understand your reasoning and opinions it would be helpful to me...

Bill S I know what I am about to write will get people in a dander but so be it..Do you think maybe John Muir took journalistic license and embellished his tales to reach his objective of protecting nature? I am asking because Bill S yourself as an Academic and Scientist have to look at alternative views..I am not supporting he did or did not just making an observation.

2:03 p.m. on March 31, 2011 (EDT)
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denis -

You have to remember that Muir was a man of the 19th Century (1838-1914) and wrote in the style of outdoorsmen of that era. While maybe (hard to tell, since I wasn't there) he took some artistic license (I prefer to view it as "writing with passion", as did most authors of that era), his contemporaries confirm what he wrote. I knew a few people who knew him and hiked with him. Plus there is a fellow around here, Lee Stetson, who does re-enactments, based on a lot of study and discussions with people who knew him personally (ok, old folks maybe have colored images and memories). On a number of things he describes, I have been there and retraced Muir's steps. No, I have not (and would not) climb a pine in a storm (I fear lightning, and there are hundreds of "lightning trees" all through the Sierra. But I have climbed Hoffman many times, though never as a "day hike" round trip from Yosemite Valley. I need to correct my statement of the distance, since I just remeasured it on the map. On reasonably good trails with a short distance off trail from May Lakes to the summit, it is 11 miles and 7000 ft altitude gain, so 22 miles round trip, about the same as Half Dome via the cables from Happy Isles. Many people do the Half Dome round trip in a day hike every year.I'm not sure where I got the 30 miles one-way number, though I hear it repeated by many people.


hoffman.gif
This is Hoffman from just above May Lakes, though you can't see the summit - it is behind the ridge line to the left.


hoftop.gif
This is the view from the summit of Hoffman, looking toward Tuolumne Meadows. The ascent route is down the slope on the right side of the image.

I have done the hike from the Valley floor to the summit of Hoffman and back down to May Lakes trailhead at the Tioga Road, leaving early morning on a summer day, getting to my pickup at the Tioga Road. Having done many hikes of up to 35 miles in a day, I would say it is certainly possible to do it as a day hike round trip, though not an "easy day trip" for most people.

I will let others comment on the "summit push" before I respond to that one, although I will say that the "summit push" usually involves "getting into The Zone", like any physical endeavor.

 

5:58 a.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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I read your bio as well Ed, and I can see why you suggest that it is futile to debate you...

 Oh but I disagree!

9:29 a.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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@ Bill S and Ed I would like to know more about Mountaneers final push to summits.Sorry but everything I have read only talks about the oxygen and mental fight one has.I really want to know on the Final summit assault do they eat and what? ...

I think I got carried away here... 

The climbs I’ve been on we opted for diets above 17K to consist almost entirely of simple carbohydrates.  It is kind of hard to eat higher up, as you lose your appetite for some reason.  Higher still, digestion ceases altogether, making eating a dubious proposition IMO.  I have climbed to a little over 22K feet, so I cannot relate what those who scale 8K meter peaks experience.  While that seems a relative small height gain, those final 4 6 thousand feet are orders of magnitude more difficult.

The mental challenge for me in pushing on at high elevation is similar to attempting to drive after being without sleep for four days.  It is a Herculean effort to focus.  You get in some pretty weird mindscapes; for example you can be so mentally fatigued you catch yourself lapsing back and forth between reality and a sub reality/almost dream state.  You sense danger but are not afraid.  For example imagine stepping up a 30° slope of ice with lots of hazard below.  You intellectually acknowledge how dangerous this is, especially given your clumsy state, shortness of breath, and general feeling of weakness.  But this realization is dulled, and lacks the visceral fear component, because quite frankly you are stupefied from exertion and lack of oxygen.  The impression is similar to pinching a numbed limb – you sense it at some level, but there is no pain or inclination to react.  When you slip, the event seems to happen in a flash, yet your reaction feels like it takes a lifetime to engage.  The first time it happens your attempted recovery almost always fails, because you underestimate how much relative effort you need to put into your self arrest.  The subsequent slips have you more aware of summoning the necessary power, but only after a delay, since your mental processes are flowing slow as molasses.

The physical challenges of pushing on at high elevations can be compared to trying to get your car to pass another on the interstate, while towing a large boat over a high mountain pass.  You floor it, but your engine is gutless.  Your legs feel like you have been dragging your two three year old nieces around all day perched atop your boots, while your arms feel like you have done a thousand push ups. If you have been spending time clawing up ice pitches on the front points of your crampons, your legs can get especially fatigued, and they start convulsing in a motion similar to a sewing machine. This is very dangerous; it can result in breaking free from the ice and falling, but the fear, as mentioned above is an intellectual thought, and lacks the adrenaline rush of strength one could normally expect at lower inclines.  At rest you attempt sleep, but your heart and breathing are so rapid they keep you awake.  Just as well, if that isn’t disrupting your sleep, the repeated leg and stomach cramps will.  A couple of times altitude sickness forced me to descend – not worth pushing against that issue.   

In general you are in a malaise, and nothing works well if it works at all.  Tangled ropes become frustrating conundrums; you foul the threads of the fuel receptacle of your stove while attempting to attach the fuel tank; you do things robotically, which sometimes leads to serious errors like absentmindedly unclipping from the rope; but most perplexing is your better sense of judgment get left thousands of feet below.  You start doing (or at least pondering) short cuts to proper alpine technique: forsaking setting proper belays (too much effort); allowing slack rope between climbers (unfocused); attempting to continue up a dangerous line, when clear minded prudence dictates down climbing to another alternative route (STUPID-LAZY); ignoring your better judgment and sixth sense that a slope “feels” ready to avalanche; cooking in tents; not maintaining hydration; and letting the wind blow away vital equipment are just a few samples of  stupid lapses in judgment.  This malaise imposes on your physical being too: You catch yourself stepping on the rope (cutting it with your crampons) tripping because you did not pick up you foot, almost falling because you failed to effectively set your tools, and getting knocked over by the wind because you were too slow and uncoordinated.

The final steps to the summit always seems like they are more than you can bear.  You step once, take ten breaths, then step again… Even when the slope levels out, it feels like it requires a team of wild horses to drag you the final hundred yards.  False summits are especially cruel; I have seen men cry with frustration when they realize their envisioned destination was only a hump hiding still higher ground beyond.  When you reach the top most will say they feel little sense of joy, more often they experience only relief there is no more up.  I don’t think I suffer this problem as severely as others, I love the top.  But then again getting to the top has always been secondary to me, so perhaps I am not as disappointed as others when summiting fails to evoke some great sense of elation and accomplishment.

Perhaps the most poignant experience is not successful attainment of the summit; it is the realization you must turn back, failing to get to the top.  This is too much for some people to bear, and no doubt is the underlying cause to many a fatality, as they continue up often knowing they are playing the long odds.  For me the climb – being there with the mountain - is the goal, so I am not as smitten by summit fever as other climbers.  In fact my record attempting climbs to peaks higher than 18K feet has only a 25% success rate.  It never was THAT important to me, but then none of these climbs were new routes or other firsts.  I have always considered myself a tourist – one with skills, big lungs, and a lust for adrenaline, but I was never a conqueror, and any competitive inclination was pitted again my own spirit and will.

The cold deserves its own section here.  I actually hate feeling cold!  If you knew me you’d wonder how I cope with it at all on a climb.  The only way I can cope with it is to imagine it is a lusty suitor trying to get in my pants.  At some level I like the attention, but know it is up to no good, and fiercely fend off all of its advances.  Remove a glove, and a minute later you hand is thoroughly numbed, taking thirty minutes to come back to life.  Two minutes in the open, and your skin gets frost nipped, burning when it comes back to life.  You cover every exposed surface.  Some contemporary climbers wear a full face mask with a snorkel that draws preheated air from their insulating layers.  I wear ski goggles with alpaca scarves covering my nose and mouth.  Most relieve themselves inside their shelters, but I prefer doing so outside; taking a dump and cleaning up in under thirty seconds is one of my finer alpine skills...   

The most frustrating element of extreme climbing is when compassion and civil behavior breaks down.  You start off aspiring to build the bonds of brotherhoods that can only be forged in the crucible of privation, but often end up near the end of the trip with an almost homicidal contempt for everyone you are trekking with.  Thus while these journeys can create life long bonds they also can destroy friendships.  Many write off these social breakdowns to terminal irritation, the result of spending too much time spooning with stinky men while being subjected to their idiosyncratic behaviors in cramped cold quarters, and enduring all manner of prolonged discomfort and stress.  I think there is another underlying cause.  I think one’s creature-self has a primitive realization that all of this is not good for you, and after days it reaches a breaking point, and like a trapped rat who becomes willing to chew off its limb to save its life, you too crack and your psyche de-evolves to this creature that starts gnawing on everything in sight, perceiving your fellow climbers as part of what traps you on the mountain.  For me one of the ultimate challenges of mountaineering is keeping the mountain from coming between me and my companions.  Keeping detente up high is akin to attempting to tango with a surly bear on thin ice.  You are constantly trying to please your partner, while watching for the slightest gesture telegraphing irritation, meanwhile trying not to let your own opinions and idiosyncrasies become fodder for animosity.    

Far and away one of the most sobering experiences one can have is encountering corpses along the route.  Sometimes it is too dangerous to attempt recovering climbing casualties, so the deceased is left en situ. Your first encounter with one of these corpses sets your mind racing in a thousand directions, most of which you really don’t care to dwell on.  I don’t think I have adjusted to this as well as others; I am always disturbed whenever I pass these poor souls.  I would describe more on this topic, except I am becoming physically ill from the recollections, and am sure no one really wants me to continue in this vein anyway.  I will only add the strongest lingering feeling is how tragic and wasteful it is to be marooned forever in these forsaken reaches.    

The most eerie experience I ever had mountaineering was a time when we were forced on a Peruvian trip to travel in really bad weather. Storms had trapped us in snow caves for ten days at about 16K, exhausting our food.  Two of our party of six were beginning to get frost bite on their feet.  All were weak and cold, but hydrated.  It was retreat or risk freezing.  More food was available at a camp 4K lower; we merely had to down climb.  That task took twenty hours, partially because of the route conditions, partly because of the wind and cold, but mainly because we were straining at the margins of our physical limits.  Each of us lost hope at one time or another.  Most of the time someone else would admonish and cajole the lost soul to continue.  I remember one of my moments of despair.  I felt like it was too difficult to continue, not worth continuing, such was the feeling of suffering at the time.  It would not be difficult to just sit there and let life drain away.  Definitely a lapse into a dark corner of one’s psyche when your own life seems to lack value sufficient to keep mushing on.  The strangest part of this experience was when I realized I was balancing on a spiritual/mental fulcrum, that I held my own life in the balance, and that my decision alone could tip the balance either way.  It is a haunting feeling being in that moment.  Fortunately I snapped out of it with a shudder; only weeks later did the terror of that moment really sink in, and drove me into a depression that lasted months, so traumatized I was from that experience.  We all made it back down; three suffered frost bite injuries, and were subsequently evacuated, while the other three assisted rescue efforts to get other parties off the mountain.

I have shared some of the impression what is like for me to venture high, and test my mettle.  Unfortunately I feel I lack the articulation to fully express what it is like, to be up there.  Each climb has it own insights, and each climber experiences the journey in their own unique way.  Most feel spiritually transformed.  Somehow the utter feeling of insignificance I feel on a big brooding mountain makes me feel more connected to this universe, something I definitely need, in order to cope with the tribulations we suffer as creatures cursed with self awareness.

Ed

1:57 p.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed,

After reading that, remind me to never ever under any circumstances go hiking (much less climbing) with you, or even go on a walk around the block. I have a lot of "tent in a storm at altitude" time, but none which were as harrowing as what you describe.

A comment, though, on the loss of appetite - that is one of the effects of AMS. Luckily for me, I adapt fairly quickly to altitude. So while I do lose a little appetite (who doesn't when confronted with yet another bag of freezedry cardboard?), I do manage to get my 6000 cal/day down (green tea and hot chocolate help a lot in disguising the "cardboard" nature of freezedry).

One of your other comments reminds me of a declaration by a tentmate about the 5th or 6th day of sitting in the tent in a storm on Denali - "It's like being in prison where there is no hope of escape, even if you break out." You would have 10,000 feet of descent down the narrow ridge of the West Buttress, followed by descending the Headwall, then miles of traversing a glacier that has huge visible crevasses and lots of hidden crevasses, all in a whiteout. To make matters worse, my tentmate was "Crazy James". But that's another story.

I don't get that suffering bit on the ascent, and setting foot on the summit always feels great, with all the adrenaline flowing. It's the exhaustion and terror of the descent that gets to me. The ascent of Vinson was an effort. But the descent was by far the hardest part of the whole climb, especially descending 3000 feet of fixed line between High Camp and Low Camp (much harder both physically and mentally than ascending the fixed line - there was no fixed line on our 2006-7 expedition to Vinson).

But we are way off topic here (except your comment of retreating when you had run out of food).

2:47 p.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed,

Wow.

That is all.

3:03 p.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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@Bill s and Ed still trying to figure how much food and what the climbers eat on their last " Pitch" towards the summit from high camp?. it was confuseing but I did enjoy ED's post..@ Bill S thank you for understanding my meaning towards Muir and explaining the time line..also enjoyed your pic's...

3:35 p.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed,

     I noticed on your bio that you own a restaurant. What kind of restaurant? Just curious. I must admit that some of your past forum comments that I have read since being on this site really makes my day. Your take on life really cracks me up. As they say..I'll have two of whatever he's having....or three.

9:17 p.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed,

     I noticed on your bio that you own a restaurant. What kind of restaurant? ...

 Peruvian Cuisine - my wife of 22 years is Peruvian.

10:56 p.m. on April 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed.....some of that stuff happens at 6000 ft. too. Haha.

Well, mostly the personal conflict stuff, and the confusion we experienced may have been due to other sources we brought along. None the less, I spent several years just going solo on many trips to get away from it. I try really hard to get along with other members of a group, but some people have a low stress threshold.

My worst inter-personal conflict experience was with a guy who was determined to build a fire close to my MH tent (and his too), even after expressing my concerns in an increasingly aggressive manner, he persisted.

I moved my tent over the next hill and hiked out alone the next day.

One day maybe I will get to try high altitude.

12:05 a.m. on April 2, 2011 (EDT)
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@Bill s and Ed still trying to figure how much food and what the climbers eat on their last " Pitch" towards the summit from high camp?...

We do not have a special high altitude summit day menu; we pretty much eat what we ate the preceding days.  As Bill alludes many eat a lot of freeze dried foods like pasta, but the light and fast crowd is tending toward stuff like power bars, gel packs and other concentrated sources of energy.  I find a high quality thoroughly dried salami (or high quality jerky) and cheese added to the menu provides a much welcome contrast to the bland food normally packed in, but this is not something to eat high up, as it will get you sick. 

I concur with Bill, we planned about 4500 calories for warm climbs and about 6000 calories per day for cold climbs, summit day or otherwise.  This is pretty standard practice.

Ed

12:23 a.m. on April 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed,

After reading that, remind me to never ever under any circumstances go hiking (much less climbing) with you, or even go on a walk around the block...

..I do lose a little appetite (who doesn't when confronted with yet another bag of freezedry cardboard?)...

..I don't get that suffering bit on the ascent, and setting foot on the summit always feels great, with all the adrenaline flowing. It's the exhaustion and terror of the descent that gets to me...

Oh come on Bill, I was hoping you would accompany me on a beach hike – along the shores of the Sea of Tranquility!  Regardless of these experiences shared here, most of my trips are joyous and uneventful!  But when things get hairy they seem to get real hairy.  You would like my hiking trips; they feature much better food and camp comforts than most anyone for miles around, plus my companions are way nicer, cultivated, and intelligent than I, all making for great BS sessions around camp in the evening. 

That Peruvian trip encountered exceptionally freak weather, caused by the 1983 El Niño event.  This event was particularly severe, even by El Niño standards.  Unfortunately climate forecasting technology was not as sophisticated back then.  The typical El Niño commences around December, but this one commenced abruptly in mid trip, in early October, a period generally accepted as the tail end of the dry season in that region.  We attempted to down climb several times, but the windows between storms were too narrow to travel any distance.  Hunger induced exhaustion eventually forced our hand.  This was not the result of poor preparation or bad judgment.  Being trapped for ten days in those mountains at that time of year is considered an extraordinary event.  Others trapped on the mountain didn’t fare nearly as well, as is often the case when groups endure such prolonged storms.  In fact we were the only group out of four capable of self rescue.  Perhaps because of experiencing such events first hand and coming away mostly unscathed, I feel vindicated in my less than ultra light conservative approach, regarding preparation, equipping, provisioning, risk assessment, and contingency management.

When you mentioned drinking coco to get down your freeze dried cardboard, I am not so fondly reminded of one repast we resorted to on a couple of trips.  As you may remember there was a Swiss product called “peppermint cake.”  It was a white, chewy, hard confectionary candy packaged about the size of a drive-in movie Hershey Bar, and divided up into sections in a similar fashion.  Our high altitude rations called for downing one or two of these bars single handedly every day.  Boy did that get old!  I can’t stand peppermint to this day.  We also made our own concoction consisting of dried fruit rolls, with honey spread on top like butter, then sprinkled with raisins.  The whole mess was chilled, re-rolled, and repackaged in plastic tubes that looked like super wide soda straws.  It was a gooey mess to eat above freezing, but once you got up high, they made fairly edible push-up style popsicles.  Assorted hard candies, caramels, and powdered soups rounded out our high altitude menu.  Yea, and lots of coco and Wyler’s sugar sweetened lemon drink too…  Despite conventional wisdom we did pack whiskey and smokes up pretty high, but used these very sparingly for “medicinal purposes” as a morale booster.  That, some books, and the trusty Walkman made tent days pass a little more humanely.

As for feeling great all the way to the summit, I guess you fared better than I, and most folks I have shared the top with for that matter.  I don’t think I was as terrified as others usually were, regarding the down climb, perhaps because I had already bonked, so to speak, and had mentally prepared for the down climb before even reaching the top.  Nevertheless I heartedly agree the down climb is way more dangerous.  You no longer have summit fever pushing you on; there is a tendency to over extend just to reach the top, then have no gas for the trip down.  You can slip or fall on the way up, but it is usually only a foot or two before your face contacts the slope, whereas a down slope fall can catapult you out over the slope sometimes falling considerable distances before a jarring impact with the ice.  By then you often have too much speed to self arrest.  Even if you don’t fall, it is much more difficult to manage a misstep downhill, because you have to fight momentum and gravity’s pull before you can recover.

Ed

4:19 p.m. on April 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed, your peppermint cake sounds like Kendall Mint Cake, not from the Swiss, but from the Lake District of England. Downing one entire cake a day seems extreme. Mine usually last a week. They are essentially energy bars, being glucose, milk and peppermint oil.

As far as the original question, ending a trip with nothing left of food, is arrogant and presupposes there will be no unforeseen circumstances. One could also extrapolate this theory to only carrying enough runners for a predicted rappel route down, only carrying protection for the cracks you expect to encounter, clothes for your predicted weather. The list is endless. When I did S & R, and sometimes it was for "experienced" outdoors people, it was often about being ill prepared for changing conditions. "We didn't expect the storm" "The route was harder than we expected" etc. Being prepared for circumstance we can't fully anticipate, is one of the challenges of being outside.

 

 

5:17 a.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed, your peppermint cake sounds like Kendall Mint Cake...

As far as the original question, ending a trip with nothing left of food.. ..One could also extrapolate this theory to only carrying enough runners.. ..protection for the cracks you expect.. ..clothes for your predicted weather...

I stand corrected, it probably is Kendall, seeing I remember there was only one brand.   The theory behind one brick per day was even if you ate nothing else, you'd still be getting a lot of calories.

And the most egregious; not carrying enough whiskey!  I had some buddies who always under provisioned the sauce, and then would raid mine.  I eventually carried a reserve of cheap stuff - cheap enough they eventually got the hint, and manned up. 

Ed

10:56 a.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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This is an interesting thread that I've enjoyed reading, thanks.

Personally, I don't understand the purpose of just-in-time thinking when it comes to the outdoors. I think you need to have some slack in the system for the unexpected events.

But just because there are 'measurebators' out there, to use the term Ken Rockwell coined, doesn't mean that some people aren't adept at controlling risk when it comes to going ultralight with a pack (or no pack!). People can be fanatic about anything and they are found in most recreational pursuits. The difference will be in 'freedom' in the end: starving or fasting really comes down to having a choice or not about identical circumstances. Capabilities are crucial but they can be hard to distinguish, especially among strangers on the internets.

I carry Kendal Mint Cake all the time as it is the only thing I would never eat given the choice; even then it is the chocolate coated variety. But, case in point, I forgot my sandwiches one time last year on a day hike and was glad it was there. Well, glad would be overstating it perhaps.

This year I had another important lesson in being prepared. I never used to carry a mobile phone because I don't like them and always figure that someone else will have one on the hill anyway. My partner's nagging became so unbearable that in the end I had no choice. A few weeks later I bumped into some other people who didn't have a phone but did have a broken leg and having mine, was able to use it to call in a helicopter. So my nagging partner saved them a very uncomfortable wait on the hill.

If anyone wants some Kendal Mint Cake, drop me an email, we have it flying out of our ears here.

Jon

11:06 a.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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@ Ed and Erick- Ed I was trying to see if their was a paralell to climbers making their push to the summit from high base camp. After your  description and Bills about the amount of calorier's consumed I couldn''t..

I couldn't make a claime or argument that mountaneers are doing the same exact thing as proposed by ULT hikers..It would be impossible..

my own situation for my hike..I don't have the fortitude or luxuary of missing a meal do to a high metabolism and I can already walk through the rain drops.LOL

3:20 p.m. on April 3, 2011 (EDT)
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As for feeling great all the way to the summit, I guess you fared better than I, and most folks I have shared the top with for that matter. ...

Ed

Ummm, Ed, I did not say I felt great all the way to the summit. I said I felt great AT the summit. The adrenaline and endorphins the body generates under stress helps staying "in the zone", keeping the drive for the summit going. Recently I have had several "medical procedures" (a significant one coming up this week), and the anaesthesiologists all comment on my "higher than usual tolerance for pain" (I don't take the dope pills they prescribe for the after-procedure pain for the minor discomfort I feel). There is no denying that it takes a lot of effort to keep going when you are dehydrated (despite downing multiple liters of water, Hydralyte, Gu, Clif Bars, etc etc), and despite acclimatizing rapidly and well, suffering the lack of oxygen. Maybe I should characterize the summit feeling a "RELIEF!! MADE IT!!" (followed by, "oh, rats (insert your favorite meaning for @#$%&@!!!), now I have to make it down this accursed hill"). Or on one of my frequent bike rides of 50-100 miles "Rats, still another 50 miles to go, and no more Hydralyte in my Camelbak, and it's 90F". But somehow, ya gotta keep moving to get to basecamp or get to the end, no matter how much it hurts. "Never quit!"

But "Never quit" does not mean (to quote the title of a book I saw yesterday at the Borders closing sale) "Die Trying". I know my limits and how much reserve I have. I have turned back many times (3 times on Denali, 2 of which were due to other members of the party). To quote someone "The mountain will always be there. Make sure you can say the same about yourself."

8:37 a.m. on April 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Ummm, Ed, I did not say I felt great all the way to the summit. I said I felt great AT the summit.. ..the anaesthesiologists all comment on my "higher than usual tolerance for pain".. ..Or on one of my frequent bike rides of 50-100 miles "Rats, still another 50 miles to go, and no more Hydralyte...  "The mountain will always be there. Make sure you can say the same about yourself."

Well you had me going!  For a minute there I thought you were a machine or had a sick sense of what feels good. 

It never dawned on me, but I know quite a few mountaineers who also have a high capacity to tolerate suffering and pain.  I too had that ability since childhood; In high school I walked home a mile, after hurting myself playing sand lot tackle football, the Friday of a Thanksgiving holiday.  I delayed going to the doctor until the following Monday (didn’t think I was hurt that seriously and didn’t want to miss football on TV).  I left his office with my broken leg in a cast.  Have other similar stories.  I also avoid pain meds; only used them post-op twice; once after a knee reconstruction, and once after they put me back together after a bad auto accident.  Other “odd” stunts include eating steak the same day I had all four of my wisdom teeth (two impacted) extracted, and resetting a broken thumb by myself.  I don’t mean to say this stuff doesn’t hurt, it does, but somehow I am uaually able to mentally manage the pain.

I can’t say I suffer under the physical rigors of cycling like I do with mountaineering, except for the biggest event of my cycling career, where I raced as an amateur in the 1981 Coors Classic stage race. I realized how totally outclassed I was when Greg LeMond did the prologue on the first day to Coit Tower, averaging 20mph up hill.  The race included beautiful stages through the Sierras, the Rockies, and other colorful venues too. While I was a very good hill climber, having been raised among the Whittier Hills of LA, and attending the Claremont Colleges at the base of Mt Baldy, the pros really made us amateurs look like – well amateurs.

As for another day, yea the summit is only worth attaining if you can make it back in one piece.

Ed

 

4:54 p.m. on April 4, 2011 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

"I can’t say I suffer under the physical rigors of cycling like I do with mountaineering, except for the biggest event of my cycling career, where I raced as an amateur in the 1981 Coors Classic stage race."

 

My father won first place in the mens amateur (35 yr old bracket ?)

Coors Classic during the early eighties in Greenville SC. He taught me how to run along beside him and hand off fresh bottles of water every couple of laps.

He won a keg of beer and gave it away because he doesn't drink.

 

11:42 a.m. on April 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Kit Kats, they don't freeze, provide a gob of simple carbs and are yummy on a hard hike. They're good enough for Gordon Brown!  I also like gummi bears. 

Try a KitKat or five on your next cold summit morning.  No, I'm not diabetic.  Yet. 

BILL, thank you for emphasizing the importance of taking care during the descent!

I have heard it said that the majority of mountain deaths occur on the downclimb and I believe it. 

Flat-landers need not worry but we few, we chosen few, we band of br.. OOPS sorry, got off track. As I was saying; those who climb must take care going down the hill or risk up running afoul of a weak ice bridge, rock fall or Ed and Pillow arguing over some Russian guy and not watching where they are going! Oh yes, and try KitKats!

7:11 p.m. on April 5, 2011 (EDT)
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..those who climb must take care going down the hill or risk .. (falling like) ..Ed and Pillow arguing over some Russian guy and not watching where they are going!...

Hey!  I already have enough problems without someone jinxing me!  Besides, if I keep debating on this forum, I'll never make it back on the mountain to face such risk.

Ed

12:01 a.m. on April 23, 2011 (EDT)
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My standard is one extra day of food.  If I'm going someplace more remote, I will bring more. 

11:08 p.m. on April 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Summer: Extra food is "optional" since you can live at least a week without food. Not wise but at least optional.

 

Winter: This is a whole different situation. EXTRA FOOD is mandatory to maintain enough body heat in an emergency bivouac (say stormbound, lost or  a broken leg, for ex.).

 

12:32 a.m. on April 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Nuts to not have wiggle room. I underestimated a group of teenage girls on a church youth group hike -- glad I packed the equivalent of two extra meals as we ate one at a breakfast that I wasn't counting on using (reconstituted refried bean soup, and the girls were thrilled to have it!)

I have also rescued several hikers out on backpack trips and dayhikes. More than once I have divested myself of the few extra bars I carry for "just in case" to those who didn't plan for *enough*.  Sometimes, it is not just ourselves we take care of on our hikes. Water, fire, campsites, food, and duct tape are on the list of keeping people safe while "out there"...

WISam uses a good rule of thumb. I would rather carry a few extra ounces than run out! It isn't always about the "starving"...

My standard is one extra day of food.  If I'm going someplace more remote, I will bring more. 

9:07 p.m. on April 30, 2011 (EDT)
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This company may have the last word to this thread - arriving at the trail's end without any food. Their company slogan is "Where your last mile is your lightest mile." The link to their website has been posted on Trailspace before.

11:02 p.m. on April 30, 2011 (EDT)
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^ No friggin' way! E.A.T.? Is this site for real? haha,,

a lot of great responses here. I, for one, would not survive very long eating pine needles, bugs, and moss. I always keep an extra day of food, extra vitamins, couple cliff bars, and water. It's part of the scout motto, Be Prepared. I'll take the extra 2lbs! 

7:23 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Wow, what a good idea until you come into trouble and your trip gets delayed for whatever reason.

Some people choose to push the envelope but it is often not the safest way to go about things all the time.

I choose to take a little extra (E=emergency) E-food and E-water on trips.

I have needed it before.

Depending on the length of my trip and the location.  I take about 1 days extra E-food / E-water for every week it would take to get to help.  One days food and water can be stretched if needed and if all goes well then the last two days are food plenty and I eat up. 

So YES, at the end of a trip I have nothing left. 

10:05 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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E.A.T

Waiting for  a gear review.

 

2:06 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Usually during many of my multiday trips into the backcountry when I usually go in for 2-3 weeks. I usually end up with about half my food supplies left. Guess I eat less when in the wilds observing nature than I do when in town working towards my next seasonal hikes. I usually in the past 30 years work about 3-4 1/2 months of the year and take off 8-9 months hiking. 3 months during the summer and 1 1/2 months during between Thanksgiving and New Years.

I repack all my food from the original boxes and plastic bags into Ziploc's. I experiemnt with making new recipes of soups,stews and pasta dishes beforehand at home and then repackage every meal so it is easier to prepare in the field. I am looking into dehydration of backpacking vegies and meats for my next trip next year.

July 24, 2014
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