Snowy High Altitude Wild Camp

Ethan Allen
 
 
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I’ve had a lot of comments and chats with people as to why I did this mad little adventure. For me it’s doing something new, getting away from people. It’s the stars and the moonlight. It’s trails with no one around. It’s the look on day walkers faces as you head down. It’s watching the sunrise from an amazing place. It’s total escape.

My wife kindly got me a new bivvy bag for my birthday, and with some other birthday money, I got a new 4 seasons sleeping bag. I was keen to put it to the test and I was recommended a spot to sleep in, so I thought I would go for a bit of an extreme wild camp.

I had an absolutely fantastic time walking up an easy track in the moonlight. There was enough light to see where I was putting my feet, and it was great to get some clean air into my lungs and really stretch my legs.

 

I’ve edited the photos into a slideshow to some words I recorded as I hiked. Or most of the photos are further down this post, so read on.

I hiked up for about 3 hours to a place I was told would be good to bivvy. Needless to say I couldn’t find it, so I found a little shelter and bedded down where I could.

I actually slept really well, and I was nice and cozy with the new sleeping bag. I don’t recommend this type of wild camping without the correct gear. For other wild camps I’ve just used what I’ve got, including two sleeping bags and a plastic bivvy. While I think that is great for lower altitude camping, and getting a taste for the experience, I think high altitude mountain camping is next level kind of stuff. You need the right gear, and I recommend getting on Facebook groups and asking questions. Also, consider going with a friend that has done it before.

This is a good video which gives lots of handy advice.

Getting up, packed up and going was the worst bit. I had big snowboarding gloves and some thinner ones, the thinner ones worked but I couldn’t get my fingers working for long. But I planned every move, just stuffed everything in my pack, luckily it all went in! And got moving.

 

The sun came out. The cloud cleared and the views were breath taking.

I stopped to have some breakfast, but with the wind, I just couldn’t get the beer can stove going. I think if I do this sort of thing again I either need better kit, or I need to do it in the summer when my fingers aren’t as cold.

For me, I think I pushed this particular trip a bit to far altitude wise, I love sitting and cooking, reading and looking at the stars, and I just wasn’t able to do that as it was too cold and windy, I think I didn’t choose the best spot to camp, and should have stayed a bit lower.

Even if you are going for a little sleep out in the woods, or any sort of hike, it’s always a good idea to make sure someone knows where you are, when you are expected to be back and what to do if you don’t call in.

I left info with my (pregnant) wife, grid references and which valley I was walking in. I said I’d be down at 11.30. It took me a little longer than expected to get down and I didn’t take into account my phone not working in the cold. So, I madly starting running to the car when I realized I was running out of time. I just made it, but I had no reception in the valley. So I drove for 10 mins and found some service and contacted the wife that was getting most anxious. Almost 15mins beyond the allotted time, luckily she hadn’t rung 999 yet. And I definitely don’t blame her getting worried, I’d seriously mucked this up and it is something to take very seriously.

This slightly soured the whole experience, so here’s what I would change.
I’d set an ETA window. I’d say I expect to be back at 11.30, but she shouldn’t get worried until 3 hours after this. I’d also look at not using my phone at all when I’m out except to send the odd SMS update. I’m also going to register to this emergency SMS text service. I’m not going to get into this extreme high altitude mountain hiking on a really regular basis – keeping to lower altitudes – but if I did I would look at taking a back-up phone and possibly a satellite phone. Apparently, the DeLorme inReach SE is great.

 

This was written by Laurence who lives in England and writes the excellent blog Chasing Wilderness – article source

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