Monday, September 17, 2018

Gear, Virtual Yard Sale, 2018

September 26, 2018. Sale suspended. I'm out of the country for over a month. Check in again in Mid November.
  • Drictor/Jackson hand-off or I'll ship via USPS. Shipping included in listed price.
  • Drictor pickup entitles thee to a glance through a pretty sweet free box...  
  • Items are priced to sell. And therefore prices are firm. Things will go fast...
  • "Bundles" of items are fixed together, as photographed. Including the racking carabiner. Bonus! For now I'm not going to split things up. 
  • All climbing gear is well-maintained and functional. I'd whip on any of it. 
  • This web page and its comments section will be the definitive overview of what's available and who's got "dibs".  I likely won't keep much track of more than 1 or 2 backup offers on each item. I'll delete stuff as it is sold and paid for, and the comments section will identify order of commitment to particular items. 
  • Make a comment (again, on this page... you may have gotten here through a social media link that allows commenting, but that won't catch my attention nor hold your place in line like a comment here will) with what you're buying, and follow up with an email to me; jediahmporter at gmail dot com to arrange payment, hand-off, and shipping. 
  • Shipped items pay via PayPal
  • Gimme a few days to get stuff shipped out. Basically, I can ship 9/20 and again 9/25ish. 
$100 BCA Shaxe Tech. Brand new. Retail $180

$40 Black Diamond 300cm Aluminum Avalanche Probe. Retail $75

$30. Three tricams. Red, Red, Brown. Retail $72

$30. Three tricams. Red, blue, brown. Retail $72

$40 Tricams and stoppers. Retail ~$100

$70 Camp Race 290 Crampons. Barely used. Retail $180

$15. Kong GiGi and locker. Retail ~$25
$25 Metolius adjustable aiders. Retail $66
$75 Brand new Black Diamond skins. Details on box in pic. Retail $180

$40 Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody. Two small burn holes on front. Otherwise in great shape. Size Medium. Retail $180

$75. Garmont Ferrata summer mountaineering boots. Brand new. Size 9. Retail ~$300

$35 Garmont Dragontail n.air.g GTX approach shoes. Very lightly used. Size 9. Retail $150

$30 Evolv Zender approach shoes. Size 9. Lightly used. Retail $100

$300 Lange XT FreeTour 130 ski boots. Size 26.5. Barely used. Retail $800

$50. Osprey Scorpion 45 pack. A sort of prototype. Burly, high volume day pack. Or super simple backpacking bag. I used to great effect in Indian Creek as a crag pack. Retail price uncertain. 

$30 Patagonia hybrid fleece mid layer. Green fleece is thicker than grey. Retail uncertain
$100. Brand new Arc Teryx Procline FL pants. Size Large. Retail $300
$300 Arc Teryx Macai jacket. Brand new. Size medium. Retail $925 
$100. Arc Teryx Khamski 31 pack. Barely used. Retail $240

$300. Hilleberg Nallo 2. Well maintained, but suffered some damage. Damage to lower edge of fly repaired  (see below. repaired with ripstop tape, stitched on, and overlaid with seam sealer) and thoroughly tested. Retail $750

$325 Nearly Full set (no #4) of BD ultralight Camalots. Lightly used. One year old.  Retail $660

$45 Evolv Maximus. Size 9. Brand New. Excellent approach shoes for using with crampons. Retail $140

Not pictured:
  • Arc Teryx Gamma Rock Pants. Size Medium, short. Lightly used. $30
  • Three person car camping tent. Some generic thing. Weatherproof. Nothing fancy. $10 with the purchase of anything else, Wydaho pick-up only. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Comprehensive Overview of Outdoor Communications

Updated Spring 2018. I've recently been tackling OutdoorGearLab's PLB and Messenger review. This has me tuned into the options, and remembering this important topic and article. I'm bumping this to the top of the site, because it is something that matters. 

We head to the mountains partially to escape technology and the “constant contact” of the smartphone age. We have more communication options in town than ever before. Similarly, we have a ton of options in the backcountry. Just as we carry rain gear when it shouldn’t rain and take first aid classes even though no one should get hurt, we should educate ourselves in the options for both routine and emergency communications. 

Deep in the wild? At least give some thought to effective routine and emergency communication. Here, in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, we carried a satellite modem for voice and text through a smart phone. And we carried battery power to spare. 

First of all, one need not carry any sort of communications. Unless it is expected or asked of you by a specific person, the choice is yours. One can choose whatever level of commitment one desires. While it is a matter of personal preference, there is an ever evolving convention. I like to think of it this way: “What does my mom expect I do?” Now, my mom is just savvy enough to represent convention, in my view. She expects that I carry a first aid kit, that I use my seatbelt, and that I have avalanche training. There are measures available that aren’t on her radar. Those have yet to become conventional, and my mother's ignorance of them confirms that. When it comes to emergency communications, my mother expects that I know where cell signal works, and she expects that I have an “Oh $h17” button I can push if things really go south in the wild. She likes when I can call from a sat phone, but it isn’t something she expects all the time. With my mom's expectations, that’s where I’d draw the “convention” line. You can choose less in the interest of adventure, and more in the interest of greater margin of safety, but it is all your choice. 

Once you have chosen your method of communication, understand its limitations and make sure everyone involved understands. With one-way satellite communications, for instance, the agreement with those out in civilization must be “no news is good news”. These things do not always work. And those in the field have no way of knowing if it is working. If you are counting on communicating in the event of an emergency with someone who is not a professional emergency dispatcher make sure he or she understands what to do when you send word. I could write an entire article, and may someday, on how to craft, with your loved ones, an excellent backcountry emergency response plan. You can save everyone involved a great deal of stress by clarifying expectations and limitations beforehand. 

Alright, in order of simplicity and utility, as it pertains to backcountry communications, your options. 

  • Cell signal. We all have cell phones. As a backcountry tool your only further responsibilities are to keep it charged (extra, external batteries are available) and to know where you will and will not get signal. This latter objective is problematic at best. Cell providers' maps of coverage are grossly over optimistic. Local knowledge is best. “Line of sight” to cell towers isn’t enough. Strangely enough, when very far from towers, your phone may show full signal but not work at all. Or it can get a text out but not a phone call. Or vice versa. Rumor has it, and I know of no one that has tested this, that you can sometimes get a 911 call out when you can’t otherwise make calls or texts. It has to show signal for this rumored trick to work. Some parts of the world now have dispatch offices that receive text messages to "911". In an emergency, if you can't dial 911, it is worth trying a text message. 
You'd be stoked too if you had just sent a huge couloir in
fresh snow with attendant amazing skiing and complicated
avalanche hazard management. BCA BC Link radios
(shown on Meagan's left shoulder) prove invaluable in
situations like this. 

  • Satellite. There are devices that communicate with aerial satellites which in turn communicate back to the ground. All satellite communication requires a clear view of the sky and experiences at least momentary and terrain-dependent service blackout. There are three major networks of interest in North America. Iridium is global, and the most reliable for two way communication of all types. Globalstar is less expensive, and works for both one way and two way communication, with the right equipment. Its coverage is lesser in the northern latitudes and a lot less over the open oceans. Finally, governments around the world cooperate to maintain a network of satellites for exclusively one-way, emergency communication. This is called the COSPAS-SARSAT network. 
    • PLB. Personal Locator Beacon is a generic term for exactly what it sounds like. It is a device carried by a person, that knows your location, and can send a signal. In most contexts, PLB refers to a device that uses the COSPAS-SARSAT communication service. The devices are quite small, relatively inexpensive, and the service is free. With one exception (drop me a note and I can elaborate), you can only use a government PLB in an absolute emergency. All that is sent is a distress signal, and the user knows nothing about the receipt of that signal until the proverbial cavalry arrives. The responders do not know whether you are just lonely or if you are on the verge of death. You will be punished for abuse of the service. 
    • One-way communicators. This is the “Spot” device. Using the Globalstar network, these devices can send rudimentary communications out. They cannot receive anything. Depending on the device and the service plan, the user can send preprogrammed messages of a couple types, perhaps a short text message, and an emergency distress signal. The emergency distress signal is similar to that of the PLB, except that it is monitored by a service for which you pay. 
    • Two-way text. The DeLorme InReach device uses the Iridium network to do everything the Spot does, plus two-way texting. 
    • Voice. One can acquire satellite phone service on a wide spectrum of devices using either the Globalstar network or the Iridium network. Most of these satellite phones can also do rudimentary texting, some data, and some have an emergency distress button. 
    • Iridium makes what they all the “Iridium GO”. The GO is essentially a satellite modem for your smartphone. Limited by strength and presence of signal, you can do voice calls, texting, and data. 
  • Radio. “Old fashioned” two-way radio can be used for both routine communication and emergency response. It can also provide reliable and immediate communication between groups or individuals in the field. This latter attribute is especially helpful in backcountry skiing when members of a group may be spread out over thousands of feet, yet would greatly benefit from immediate information sharing. All radio technology can be used to communicate between groups in the field. Communication with the outside world is more problematic and I’ll detail the limitations in each sub-section below. All radio frequencies are regulated by the federal government, but all are legal for use in life or limb emergencies. 
    • HAM. This is the federally licensed amateur radio network. It is exclusively for non-commercial use. One must be licensed to use HAM frequencies, except in an emergency. The community of HAMs is tight, resourceful, and rule-following. They erect and maintain a fairly comprehensive network of signal repeaters that creates a coverage that is at least slightly better than cell phones but, if you limit the equipment to that which is reasonable to carry on human powered adventures, less than the coverage of satellite communications. 
    • VHF/UHF. The “Very High Frequencies” and “Ultra High Frequencies" are entirely regulated. Within these frequencies are some HAM stations, some stations used in commercial endeavors like ski patrol and guiding, and some frequencies used in government entities like land management and law enforcement. All are legal for use in emergencies, but negotiating the morass of relevant frequencies is utterly mystifying. 
    • FRS. The “Family Radio Service” is yet another subset of the overall radio band. These frequencies are used by the “talkabout” style radios. Except in very specific venues, usually those with a very high density of outdoor enthusiasts like certain parts of certain National Parks (Denali National Park and the West Buttress climbing route is the best known), these radios are only reliable for communicating within a party. On Denali the park service monitors a specific frequency for emergencies, and broadcasts daily weather on another. Further complicating your selection and use of FRS radios is the fact that the US FCC is in the process of revising its rules on these radios. 
      • There are countless products on the market that use the FRS channels. Most are, at the very least, confusing to shop for and choose. They are all limited by federal regulation in terms of power and frequencies. The vast majority of options are configured more for novelty use than they are for actual backcountry application. It is theoretically possible to cobble together a set of FRS radios with reliable battery power, weather resistance, ease of use, and an external mic for convenience. But I know of no one that has pulled this off. The far better option is to go with: 
      • Backcountry Access BC Link radios. My buddy, and fellow IFMGA guide Rob Copolillo, has assembled a far more comprehensive review of these radios. Suffice it to say that these radios are, at first glance, nothing revolutionary. However, they take proven technology and wrap it into a very user friendly package. The end result is far more applicable to backcountry travel than anything else available. 
  • GoTenna. I was recently made aware of this start-up, crowd-sourced sort of communications network. My review on (search it out) better elaborates on this. For now there really isn't anything that GoTenna does that radios don't do better. However, with wide enough adoption, that could change. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017 Year in Review. Non-work

A verbal selfie, illustrated with portrait selfies. North Teton Park. March
Whew... 2017 was intense. And in tents. I camped out 46 nights, total. More than most years, though, the truth is between the numbers. You'll find the familiar numbers way below. But first, the non numbers.

I also traveled a ton. The longest I stayed in any one place was 20 nights in a row, once. After that, the next longest stint was 12 nights. Short of that, 8 nights. Many months I slept in 12-15 different places. Like a rolling stone. Four trips to Latin America. I hopped back and forth between Wyoming and Colorado through the first half of the year. A trip to California, and twice drove across the country. I scored almost 7 weeks with family in New York. That is the longest I have spent there since I was in college.
Failure number one of 2017. Fitz Roy. February

I worked a lot. Most of my mountain time was for work. I did one personal expedition, but otherwise didn't take a ton of personal mountain time. I spent a total of 177 days in the mountains. 139 of them were for work.

That one personal expedition reigns as a highlight. Check out the full report here. Watch Backcountry Magazine in the future for a photo or two and some background info.
All alone in the High Sierra. April. 

The latter half of 2017 was likely the most disjointed and stressful six months of my life, so far. Priorities got "reshuffled", to put it mildly. The upshot is the impending settlement of a long-building, clouded mess (pardon the vagueness... like I said, it is still "pending"). The downside is ongoing, profound uncertainty.  And an understated "relaxation" of mountain and training motivation. Priorities reshuffled.
"That look on your face put a pit in my stomach". High Sierra. April. 

I did a lot of things well in 2017. My joints are healthier and happier at the end of the year than at the beginning. In work, I did great, supporting multiple households in comfortable fashion. I stored equity, professional development, and retirement savings. I found the motivation and means and time to do my first ever dedicated service trip. This time, to Puerto Rico. I don't see why I wouldn't do at least a week of service every year of the rest of my life.

Other things, by the numbers:

* 1001 hours of action in 2017.
* 266,200 vertical feet skied
* 470 climbing pitches
* 35 days alpine climbing
* 305 hours of action on alpine climbing days
* 78 days backcountry skiing
* 411 hours of backcountry skiing
* 5 days bicycling
* 8.5 hours bicycling
* 15 days in the climbing gym
* 24 hours climbing gym
* 24 days hiking
* 98.5 hours of hiking
* 102 days of rest
* 17 days rock cragging
* 30 hours of rock cragging
* 23 days of multi pitch rock climbing
* 80 hours multi pitch rock climbing
* 9 sick days
* 1 swimming day
* 2 hours of swimming
* 30 travel days
* on two travel days I also did a total of two hours of exercise
* 28 days of weight training
* 40 hours of weight training

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017. Year in Review, Professionally


It's time for the annual review of my guiding agenda. First, a look back to previous years. Each year links to its full report:

  • I've been guiding since 2005, but only in 2012 did I start collecting info this way
  • 2012 (132 guiding days) 
  • 2013 (94 guiding days)
  • 2014 (79 guiding days)
  • 2015 (86 guiding days)
  • 2016 (111 guiding days)

The highlight of 2017 was three work trips to South America. Argentina in January, Peru in May, and Chile in October. In total I spent 71 days out of the country for work. The "days" counts herein refer only to field time. Much of an international guiding trip is not field time.

Of 140 guiding days, I spent:
  • Notably, zero on ice
  • 55 alpine climbing
  • 27 rock climbing
  • Skiing has steadily increased over the years. 
    • 2012- About 12 days ski guiding
    • 2013- About 25
    • 2014- About 15
    • 2015- 22
    • 2016- 42
    • 2017- 58
Another notable development, but one that I sadly have no past stats on, for 2017, was the amount I worked with other guides. I'm pretty sure I worked with others almost twice as often in 2017 as I have in recent years. I worked 17 of the 86 trips with at least one other guide.

More of what it looked like, by the numbers:
  • I worked 86 guiding trips 
  • Of those, 57 were single-day outings. 
  • 17 were two day commitments. 
  • 7 were for 3 days 
  • 2 trips went for four days 
  • 1 trip was 5 days and one trip was 6 days 
  • I did a 9 day trip to ski in Peru with an amazing group in May.  
  • Of all those trips, I camped in the backcountry for work about 31 nights. I also slept away from home, but in hotels and huts, a great deal. 
  • For instance, I spent 11 nights at the Exum hut at Grand Teton National Park's Lower Saddle. 
  • I did a total of 14 trips to the Grand Teton. We summitted 11 of those. 
  • That adds up to 140 guiding days. 
  • Of course, for every 2-3 guiding days, there is an average of one day of administrative work that includes packing, unpacking, food prep, etc. 
  • I did 10 trips with folks that came directly to me. These fine guests were not the customers of another guide service nor had I climbed with them prior. They somehow found me, usually through word of mouth. 
  • 41 trips were with returning clients. 
  • A total, then, of 68 days (just under half the total) were with clients that came directly or returned to me. 
  • Many folks come to me for a specific route or peak. In 2017 43 trips were initiated with a specific peak or route in mind. Of those 43 we made the summit as planned on 27. That 63% "success ratio" is almost exactly average. (The 6 year average is 62% summits)