The Grand Mesa on Thanksgiving...

9:35 p.m. on November 27, 2010 (EST)
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Spent a night at around 9000ft on the Grand Mesa this last Wednesday, November 24th. I checked the weather at a couple of websites ahead of time, and came out with an average of -7 for a low for the night. I chose to bring my 15F-rated Marmot Helium.

I had a warm night on the mountain. I woke up once, to urinate, at around 2am. Checking the thermometer next to my head registered -12F. My night as spent was the result of a combination of factors...

I was inside a relatively smallish, two-person double-wall tent. A Hilleberg Allak. Camp was on top of about 12" of snow, in a small clearing at the edge of an Aspen stand.

My pad system comprised of a long-length Thermarest Prolite Plus on top of a full-length 3/8" CCF on top of a 3/4-length 1/4" Evazote pad. Total R-value of around 6.0. I also brought along and used a Western Mountaineering Cloudrest down pillow.

Inside the bag, on top I wore the an Ice Breaker 220wt merino wool LS top under a Eddie Bauer First Ascent Downlight Vest under a Patagonia Nano-Puff pullover; on bottom, Patagonia Capilene 3 tights under Lowe Alpine Sierra Lite softshells, under M65 side-button pant liners. 3 pairs of wool socks in adjusted sizes on my feet. An R1 balaclava under a Mountain Hardwear 100wt fleece beanie on my head. Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch liner gloves.

I brought a Patagonia R2 fleece along that I didn't wear, so I ended up draping that over my feet. I stayed toasty warm all night long, as much as 27 degrees below the rating of my bag. My Helium is the 2007 model, with 850 fill, a Pertex Quantum shell, and a half-zip.

It was bitterly cold up there, with a stiff wind of around 20mph. I could not be outside my sleeping bag for long once the sun went down. My layers would have kept me fine moving, but at rest they were overpowered. I'll need to bring my Marmot Iceland jacket along for the next trip up there.

btw: for those headed to the Grand Mesa, the Kannah Creek trail is spectacular, especially with snow...

10:36 p.m. on November 27, 2010 (EST)
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Anypicture's? Where is Grand Mesa?

11:20 p.m. on November 27, 2010 (EST)
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Pics or it didn't happen!

3:21 a.m. on November 28, 2010 (EST)
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Grand Mesa is located due east of Grand Junction, CO, about an hour drive from town to the top of the mesa. It is billed as the world's largest flat topped mountain but I have no idea if it is really true. There is a lot of room to play up there. Here is a pic of Grand Mesa taken from my backyard earlier this week.


1:20 p.m. on November 28, 2010 (EST)
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Pillowthread, I like that report - especially the detail around exactly what kinds of pads you used, clothing layering, etc.  It helps give me an idea what works so I can plan myself.

But .. I have to say ... being in an environment so cold that you can't leave your sleeping bag without getting too cold ... that's bordering more on "survival" than "recreation" :).

What do you think you could have worn differently such that you could be out and about and still stay warm?

4:35 p.m. on November 28, 2010 (EST)
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@ bheiser: Well, I guestimate that outside the tent must have been at least -15F, so, I think I'd be alright just hanging out at those temps in my Marmot Iceland Jacket and a pair of WM Flight pants.

The M65 liners I have are really warm for the weight--and cost only $6!--but do not come down past mid-shin. They have side-button closures, so they can be donned without removing boots/crampons, but no waist adjustment, and must be secured with a user-supplied web belt or 550 cord.

The WM Flight pants are the next step up, in my opinion. I value the ability to take them on and off without removing layers/footwear. They look really warm, and a pair of these combined with my Iceland jacket should be close to the warmth of a down expedition suit.

Without buying the WM flight pants, I could probably be comfortable in the Cap 3 bottoms, three pairs of army issue brown polypro bottoms, the softshell pants, and the M65 liners.

And up top, I think I'd have room for all three layers listed in my first post, under the Iceland Jacket. I'm sure there would be compression of the down vest, but I think I'd be toasty with that combo down to -40F, provided I also had appropriate leg insulation.

9:19 a.m. on December 14, 2010 (EST)
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With hundreds of lakes and resevoirs I've never heard the Grand Mesa had competition for world's largest "mountaintop." Great spots up there to view ungulates.

Thanks for your report even though I shy away from winter camping. Unless of course camping includes the back of my pickup or sharing a tarped space with the sheepherder's stove. Both are serious cheating most minds here though I'd imagine. Heeh heeh.

5:40 p.m. on December 14, 2010 (EST)
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@ Krumholz Kid: I saw your email address on your profile--any relation to Dave Betts, mountain guide for Outward Bound?

April 24, 2018
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