Our Spring Break Plans: Have I missed any Gear I need to consider?

2:34 p.m. on February 14, 2010 (EST)
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This loop may be a 2 day loop, given that there's 10,000 feet of elevation change total, and we will probably be slower than I think. ;)

IN mid March, we're planning a trip out to Glacier National Park in Montana to go Mountain Snowshoeing in the back country. We'll be 15-20 miles out, in the park itself, so we'll have to be pretty self reliant. Any one in here have any back country experience to share? What follows is our equipment list.
[*]2 65 Liter backpacks
[*]100 feet of rope each
[*]Snowshoes and Poles (Cabella's Snowy Range Shoes, made by Atlas)
[*]Nautica Wind Shells, waterproof
[*]Polarguard vests under, packable
[*]Fleece long underwear and foundation layer
[*]Waterproof wind pants
[*]Goretex Gloves
[*]3 pairs wool socks, each in the packs
[*]Packcloth waterproof gaiters, tall
[*]Cabella's Sorrel Packer boots for me, or Herman Survivors as an alternate. My wife has some lighter weight packer boots with Thinsulate and a goretex inner boot.
[*]2 Surveyors compasses
[*]Set of waterproof Topo maps of Glacier each
[*]Avalanche beacon each.
[*]2 GMRS Radios
[*]We'll rent the snowshovels from Glacier Outdoor Center and I don't think we'll really need ice axes, since we aren't really going to be doing any traverses on steep glacier faces and we can't carry ice axes on Amtrak, anyway.
[*]2 1 liter Nalgene Bottles each for water
[*]Small backpackers stove, and fuel, to melt snow if we run short on liquids as well as 2 lighters and waterproof matches
[*]Small thermos for hot chocolate at the Overlook looking down on Lake McDonald from the mountaintop. (Good photo opportunity)
[*]Survival bivvy sacks if we get caught out in the back country in a Spring Storm. We'll just ride it out in a snow cave if we do get caught unexpectedly and we'll also have a 3 day food supply
[*]Glacier sunglasses for the wife and sunscreen for both. I have some very good polarized cycling/ski glasses, already
[*]Flashlights and survival whistles

[*]Video and Still Digicams

[*] Back country first aid kit

Any suggestions as to anything I missed, those of you that have some back country experience? It's going to be too early for Bears, I do know that. :D I can't carry bear spray on the train, either, but if needed, I'm sure I can get some there in MT. We'll be staying in Whitefish, by the way, about 45 minutes from the park.

2:36 a.m. on February 15, 2010 (EST)
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Any of the snow steep enough (and consolidated) to use crampons to get up it? Or just planning on kicking foot steps? That is a long uphill.

While sitting after the sun goes down, might be nice to have an insulated pad a bit bigger than your butt with a hand hold cut into it. Thick, closed cell insulated pad (Ensolite type). You will have to protect your stove similarly from melting its way out of sight in the snow.

Is that a liquid fuel stove? It might be a tad chilly there for propane etc. I doubt you will find a lot of liquid water on that trip so plan on melting a LOT of snow. Bring a couple of garbage bags to carry it back from a clean collection area.

A 2 liter pot would be a nice addition. You will need cups and spoons to eat with. You will have to scurry up Stanton's east cirque plenty fast to only have a liter water bottle each. Where did you plan to camp once over the ridge?

You might consider a tent. A bivy is not a good over night solution for March there. While you are at it, it might be a good tent stuffer to include 0F bags for each two of you. Hot chocolate might be a bit romantic but you can't expect her to keep you that warm all night long without them.

Snow caves are great if you have the time/energy to construct and you have the right snow, location and depth to go - and have done it before. You might consider a backpackers head lamp each along with the whistles. Make sure they are not the type with the little ball.

I'm guessing getting up to that ridge in a day would be a long day on snow shoes and collecting that amount of altitude. Take food for 4 days. I suspect it will be overcast and some precip each day. There might be a good reason why there is no trail up that cirque for summer activity...not that you would see a trail in March.

Those beacons might come in handy on that slope. I'd trail a long red/yellow tail as well. There actually might be a reason why they call that camp ground on the road Avalanche Creek. Will that road be plowed that early in the season?

A balaclava might be a good investment. It will still be a bit cool there for a nekkid head.

What are you doing with all that rope? Is that 10mm dry? Snowshoes and climbing rope don't seem to make a good match-up.

You might see if you can rent a pulk. Instead of carrying all that stuff on your backs, drag it along behind you...if you modify your trip to be more on the level.

You might want to adjust your outing in the snow of Montana to just perhaps the Avalanche trail to Avalanche Lake or take in the snow as a hike nearer the road around the 3,000' level.

That would give me plenty of adventure in Glacier in mid March.

10:06 a.m. on February 15, 2010 (EST)
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Well, that's a good part of the reason I posted, asking for advice. :D Thanks!

4:32 p.m. on February 22, 2010 (EST)
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Any further input from anyone?

5:50 p.m. on February 23, 2010 (EST)
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It may be that they are all tacitly saying that you should reduce your tip to the Avalance Creek Campground...if the road has been plowed close enough to do get to it in a day. A day hike in snowshoes (or crampons) is a long day hike...no matter how far you go. It might be more fun to establish a 'base camp' and take shorter hikes out to look at the scenery such as creeks that if well frozen and covered in snow will make a pretty darn good trail, easy to follow and generally on the most level part of the geography.

A better suggestion over all for a first time out would be to find a well designated and safe ski or snowshoe track/trail closer to the main area of the park that will have good road access. If it snows it really is a bother to have to leave your car.

An even better trip here would be early August. Just don't bring all the heavy winter stuff, and enjoy a very pretty combination of cross country and well maintained trail. In winter - it is ALL cross country...no trails.

You might also post your questions here:


8:39 a.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Remember to keep your water warm. The Outdoor Research Bottle Parka seems popular. I keep my water in my jacket, but this can be cumbersome especially with the 32 oz nalgenes. I bring two 18 oz stainless bottles (they will explode if the freeze while full of water), and a 32 oz nalgene. Regardless of what you carry, store the water bottles upside down so that they start freezing at the "bottom" first. This way the top will still open once freezing begins.

Also, if you are going to be out for 2 days, you will run out of water and need to melt more.

Good luck, I am jealous. If you want to pay for the airfare, I will personally warm your water for you.

12:13 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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If you are having to spend money on the avy beacons and you won't be on any steep slopes then why bring them? However, if you already have them it doesn't hurt to bring them; just with shovels and probes there is a descent increase in weight.

September 26, 2018
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