Sunday, February 22, 2015

Life in a portaledge... How to not crack! 10 helpful tips.

Amy and I have spent something like a hundred plus days together in a portaledge, maybe even more!  Imagine being trapped for over a week at a tme in a 5X7 ft space with another could break you! These are the 10 most important things we have discovered which will keep your experience in a  portaledge from being completely miserable: 

 We find ourselves asking quite frequently... How much? 
How much food? How much water?... You'll figure it out.

1) Right to the chase... Fuel?!
 How much?
How many days? What environment are you climbing in? 
Fuel weighs less than water! Keeps you warm, keeps you hydrated during the storm. Always grab two out of the haulbag when you initially get settled in for the long haul. Otherwise, if a can of Gaz runs out, you'll be going fishing in the storm. We bring a lot of fuel... It's not that heavy, and just a little heat when you're freezing to death can keep you going that much longer.  Watch out for carbon monoxide.... Partner turns purple and gets loopy... Open a door.... Yes it does happen! Usually while melting snow! As far as how much... How comfortable do wish to be?

Which brings us to Number two:

2) A bivy sack! You may be in a rainfly designed by those who sell big wall equipment, i.e. portaledges, rainflys, haulbags, ect. But it Doesn't mean any of those designers have actually slept in one, in a real battle for the summit...You will get wet! You will get wet from your own breath, the freeze, the zipper that doesn't close the door all the way, your partner peeing, the checking to see if the storm has cleared. Ever slept in a wet sleeping bag?.... Try spending 12 days in one! Avoid the wet!.... Bring a bivy... Or don't breath, don't cook, don't melt, don't look outside, don't get wet!

3)Esponja...That means sponge! 
Yes... A sponge. Wipe those walls! Catch the drips while they are dripping and tell your partner to wipe... Not his ass... His or her side of the wall. One drip can lead to a hell of a lot of trouble. It will freeze, then it will shatter... It will run, others will follow. One drop on your non-bivyed sacked sleeping bag can turn into a hand size water spot.  Wipe it or be sorry!

4) A wise man named S.P. taught me a..."whisk or wisp broom" in his goofy ascent. I had asked about the snow problem, and how to control it. Snow will get every where. It's sticky, then wet, and flat-out sucks in tiny spaces. Partner comes in from the storm...dust them off. Clean his/her boots, wipe the jacket... Tell her to not move! Clean her off!!  gaiters to helmet... You're a team, work as one.  Pull everything back and welcome hell as it comes flying through the door, just have your broom ready. It should be small, the 99 cent store will always have what you are looking for. That covers wet.... Kind of....

A free number... Bring some Fn' garbage bags...they are useful for everything. You'll find something to do with them!

5) Number five! Oh man, 
I am listing these in order of importance... 
Pen and Paper!
Yes that's right... A paper and a pen!
It will keep you sane.  It will keep you happy; you can make up games, you can design, write feelings, whatever you wish.... Draw! It helps. Keep a diary... Or for the manly men, keep a "journal".

6) Clothes/ sleeping bag.... You would think I would tell you about this... Down gets wet synthetic doesn't.  Cotton kills, wool doesn't smell.... But number 6 being my favorite number, I wont waste it on this.  I will use it for what I find most important:
A ... repair kit.
Spool of thread, a little seam grip, and Gorilla Tape. Gorilla tape is key! Heat it up in cold climates over the stove or with a lighter and adhere. Works unbelievably when HOT N' STICKY! That is the trick. A nice Leatherman with pliers is great, and don't forget the sail needle... It's the one that's curved. Also remember, stuff sacks can always be cut up to repair anything; it's the one thing that's extra material to sacrifice. Repair everything during down time... Keeps you busy, and the mind occupied. Oh! String...don't forget extra string, you'll find a use. Also good thread! None of that cheap cotton crap!

7)  Music! Who doesn't like it? Lets be honest, it makes any situation better. Unless you just had your heartbroken and one of those tear jerkin' love songs comes on and leaves you fighting back the sorrows of love... Suck it up! Music makes the rock that just pelted your portaledge leaving a big ass hole seem like a fart in the wind. It makes the 8 day snow storm feel like a weak little two hour pittle. AM/ FM radio will run for 10 times longer than your iPod, with one AA battery. 

A freebee... sleeping pads... Yes you need one. Foam! It's the best insulation you'll have and covers the whole floor space...You're floating in the air.

Oh man, another free bee... A Dynamo Charger... A what? Dynamo Charger... Your camera is dead.  No summit shot? Start cranking! Look what happened to Ulie Steck... No Pic, No summit?

9) Modify everything to your liking. Modify your ledge, the rainfly, your jacket, your bag.... Whatever you think  will make your life easier, probably will. Test it out... Don't like it... Modify it. Get busy, you're going big wallin'.  Once you leave the ground there's only two ways to get off... Up! Or Down! 

9 1/2) Pee Bottle! Make it a different color or shape. Shape is the best. That way in the dark you can find it and use it... And that way you partner knows what she is about to drink...also, makes life easier for the girls out there who big wall- as long as she's not shy!

10) Clip in Points! Clip loops for everything. It doesn't have one... Put one! The lighter should have one. Your beanie should have one.  Every can of gas, every sack, every jacket and glove... Start tying.  Baby carabiners are good to clip the clip in points without wasting your real biners!

Get on the wall, don't drop anything, and stay dry!

Amy's additions:
1) a personal kit:  wet wipes, toothbrush, baby toothpaste, extra underwear, and baby comb...if you have long hair-
19 days on a wall without this will leave you with dreadlocks, stinky breath, more stinky...other parts...and a partner who wants more distance than your little ledge can offer!

2) hand-warmers:  put them in the day bag for when the sun is gone, or if it's too cold to touch the rock..throw one in your chalk bag.  Plus, when your done climbing for the day, they can go in your sleeping bag.

3) my favorite number, and therefore, the most important:
A kindle!  I think I read about 3 books on our last outing.  You can read a book together, or you can tune-out your partner...very important.
Just make sure to get the cheapest, least amount of technology model you can.  No lights, no fancy touch-screen...the battery will last much longer.

And, my freebie:  bring extra food!
Pack what you think you need, and then have you and your partner bring an extra, little snack bag:  chocolate, peanuts, cookies, whatever will make you happy when the snow starts falling and you have to hang-out without food.  This is especially true if you're with a bottomless pit, which surprisingly, many skinny climbers are!


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  2. thanks for posting this type of blog here.. keep updating and keep blogging.
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