Mountain skill & gear, picture & tip thread

THLR

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Mar 6, 2020
Messages
133
I'm not sure how to pitch this, so I'll jsut throw out a few thoughts and hopefully the thread will shape into something useful:

Mountain hunting is not "mountain hunting period". Climate (temperature, wind, humidity, visibility) vary too much. Incline can go from slight to vertical. Groundcover can be nothing/total, groundcover can be like sandpaper, slippery as ice, warm/cold, wet/dry, soft/hard. Even the rock are different, it can be stable as anything or brittle as cornflakes.

So I believe different "mountain cultures" develops in different areas, slightly different gear, slightly different techniques etc. I also believe all of us do a fairly good job of adapting to our local conditions, we have our favorite gear for a reason, and even if we have a different perception of risk, we all wish to be safe and come home successful.

I would like to see a healthy exchange of opinions and information, a thread where we post "this is how I do it" and where no critical or inquiring question is perceived as an attack, but rather we explain the why and how. I know I have picked up gear tips and techniques this way and have my own "blend" of different mountain cultures.

Here's my attempt to start the thread, recent mountain goat hunt which in Europe translates to chamois. For me this is a winter hunt, elevations go from sealevel up to about 1000-1200 meters ASL (roughly 3-4000' ASL), inclination is moderate to steep (hands touching ground if you put your arm level), groundcover is anything from bare to kneedeep in snow with occational ice.

Typical scenario: Animals spotted from a vantage points. I use roads and paths to travel between vantage points before comitting to hard work.
chamois klaterute.jpg

This is the route I chose on this occasion. With "3 point anchor" I feel very safe. Two legs, two arms makes 4. I only move one at a time 2 legs/1 arm or 2 arms/1 leg always anchored and I don't shift my balance before the moving leg/arm is secure in a new location. It is slow, but safe. I also calculate on falling and always look to see where I will fall. If it's anywhere I'll start tumbling, pick up speed or hit sharp rocks I go a different route. I want to be arrested by ground, trees or rocks in 1-3 meters - just so there isn't too much energy in the impact.

I almost always walk at an angle and I face the ground when turning. I don't want to tumble, start sliding, going forward with a leg arrestd (ancle/knee absorbs all energy) etc.
chamois klatrerute.jpg

Here's some key pointers to my gear: If not for the cameras, it would have been light and fast.
  • Thin wool cap. Ventilates well and prevents sweat to turn into "ice helmet". With a thich cap I overheat and I get ice in it. Complemented by shell hood and extra warmt is insulation jacket with hood.
  • Rifle is strapped to backpack. Using half of the SLIK SLING is probable most value for money in recent years. Gives me a tight pack that's easy top climb with.
  • Shell mittens. Pulsewarmers and utility gloves below, I do not want them wet after a climb. Wool liners in thigh pocket. I see a lot of people use gloves, I have never had luck with that (too cold)
  • Alpine climbing gaiters with membrane (I use Sea to Summit Quagmire), not the soft hunting gaiters that slide everywhere. I'm punching a lot of holes in snow, and the softer gaiters let snow infiltrate from below and arrest it where it melts into the boots. Also they get pulled down from the knee and start snagging into terrain.
I have special needs for backpack/bags due film equipment. But the backpack is small with a strong carry system so I can strap on the animal. In the backpack I have
  • Insulation (in waterproof bag)
  • water, bottle or thermo flask
  • some food,
  • batteries for torch and cameras,
  • 240L or 400L plastic bin bag for shelter (lightest bivvy bag). I see some make their own from Tyvek, I just haven't gotten around to making one. Foam pad for sitting.
  • Pullover rainpaints. Possibly a poncho.
  • Knife, surgical gloves,
  • ø6 to 8mm climbing rope, lenght 5 meters.
  • Head torch x2, about 300 lumen (one is in jacket, one is backpack). I want to see where I put my foot, I navigate via a map. A stronger light reflect a lot from the trees, which tends to blind me.
  • Whistle
  • Reflective vest
So basically the back is what I need for a "day". Not necessarily comfortable, but I don't want a simple injury to become dangerous due exposure. I calculate a trip to be max 16 hrs with a difficult route. In case of mishaps, I should be out max one night and one day before I'm spotted by rescue. So the time segment and weather forecast is an important part of my planning, I don't bring gear for "anything & infinity".

My layers are:
  • Woolnet weave sweather
  • Wool sweather, weight depending on season. Aclima or Devold: Expedition or Combat series.
  • Windbreaker with or without hood
  • In very low temperatures, I'll put on a thin vest light Arcteryx Atom
  • Membrane shelljacket with hood
  • Synthethic insulation hooded, for extended glassing, food or if I'm simply stuck. Down is more comfortable but I dare not use that on exposed trips.
Huntec vinter 2.jpg
Chamois. Adult male is 30-60 kgs? (60-120 lbs). Both male and female have horns.
chamois flokk.jpg
Success. Not the biggest trophy, but correct animal shot according to management plan. This was right around 1174m ASL (?). So it is comparable other goat hunts?
K95 og chamois gimp small.JPG

Weakest points I usually find in equipment is:
  • Jackets and pants does not protect waist, wrist and neck good enough. Especially when the hunter bends over on the approach.
  • Poor systems for rifle attachment
  • Difficult to carry/balance larger tripods AND have them accessible.
  • Backpacks with overly complex zipper/lock/web systems that expose your hands too much in the cold and arrest too much snow.
  • Poor suspenders, pants slide on the hips to compromise baselayers.
 
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woods89

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Southern MO Ozarks
Very interesting and informative! Great photos, as well!
If I get a chance I may type a few things up about late season elk hunting, although it would be a stretch to label it as an expert perspective.
 

ColeyG

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Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Messages
178
Great idea for a topic.

As a long time climber, mountaineer, and reformed mountain guide turned mountain hunter, these subjects are near and dear to my heart. The list of friends and colleagues I've lost in the mountains is too long to recall at this point, and while some of these events have been relatively unavoidable (minus staying home), some could have easily been prevented.

If I understand your question and/or suggestion correctly, it seems like you are interested in a conversation focused on both techniques and equipment for getting around in the mountains, aka mountain hunting in this context.

These topics can (and have) filled volumes in the world of climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, etc. In my mind, mountain hunting is basically just backpacking and mountaineering with some additional equipment in the pack and clanging around. The tools and techniques for getting around in the hills on a mountain hunts aren't really any different than those I'd use when backpacking and alpine climbing. Gear selection should be driven by the weather and terrain you expect to encounter and be weighed against your preference and acceptance of risk and discomfort. Clothing and equipment in the hunting world has finally started to catch up to the quality of stuff that has existed in mountaineering for a long time.

Techniques and equipment are often the first two things that people want to talk about and get tuned up on when it comes to "technical" and/or "high consequence" environments. In my mind those things are a few items down the priority list and the starting point should be safety. Coming home with all of fingers, toes, and hole you had at the beginning of the hunt. Yes, gear and techniques play a huge role in safety. That having been said, the most valuable thing you can have with you in the mountains, with regard to both safety and success, is good judgement. Judgement only comes after many years, miles, and learning some lessons the hard way. The best gear in the world can't overcome a single bad decision that puts you in harms way. An ounce of prevention is worth a rescue helicopter full of cure in the mountains.

With regard to the big picture conversation of safety and success in the mountains with a bunch of gear and technique discussion layered in, a good starting point for any aspiring or relatively new mountain travelers is a book called "Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills" put out by the Mountaineer's Press.


One of the harder topics in this larger conversation is risk analysis and risk management. I think a good starting point for that part of the conversation is to create a common definition of risk. Risk is often conflated with potential consequences, and that is far too narrow a definition in my mind. I really like the

RISK = Probability x severity x exposure
formula as a foundation for conversations about risk. Too often we focus on one of those elements. A good friend, mountain mentor, and longtime guide trainer used to say, in response to questions about whether or not to use ropes and protection, "consider the likelihood of a fall, and consider the consequence of a fall." A simplistic version of the formula above, but a helpful quick reference in ongoing terrain analysis and decision making.

Another thing that makes risk management difficult is risk analysis is and should be very subjective. Your perceived "risk" in certain terrain or activities will be different than mine because our analysis runs through our individual filters of experience, knowledge, and ability. TO further complicate things, personal risk management is very different than group risk management, where the collective knowledge, skills, and experience levels need to be considered. A great piece of reference material re: group decision making in high consequence environments is an article on heuristic traps by Ian McCammon where McCammon discusses certain normal patterns of thinking that can be problematic in making personal and group decisions in the face of high consequences.


According to "Accidents in North American Mountaineering," last I looked anyhow, the three things that are most likely to kill you in the mountains are;

  1. Slips, trips, and falls
  2. Getting hit by falling rocks
  3. Rappelling off of the end of your rope
So bear these things in mind and if you can avoid them, you are very likely going to have safe travels in the hills.

Sorry for the long post. I'd be happy to try to chime in on specific questions on anything gear or technique related, but wanted to offer some overarching thoughts to start.

Cheers.
 
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THLR

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Joined
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Messages
133
[...]
If I understand your question and/or suggestion correctly, it seems like you are interested in a conversation focused on both techniques and equipment for getting around in the mountains, aka mountain hunting in this context.
[...]
According to "Accidents in North American Mountaineering," last I looked anyhow, the three things that are most likely to kill you in the mountains are;

  1. Slips, trips, and falls
  2. Getting hit by falling rocks
Yes your words pretty much mirrored my thoughts.

My own skillset pretty much centers around navigation and avoiding your no 1 (slips, trips and falls). The mountains here are steep, but low and stable so no 2 is not really relevant here.
My gear pretty much centers around staying dry, keeping wind out and protecting the hands.
20211230_093427-01.jpeg
Avalanches very much is, the only ways I have to counter that is forecasts, staying home, abandoning a route, navigating ridges/flat spaces/distancing myself 2-3 times the elevation of the wall I want to avoid. Ski hunting is perhaps the most risky thing I do. Lot's of energy potential in a fall and I sometimes break equipment. I fall every year...
20210201_143645-01.jpeg

I'm not used to high altitude, and struggle when oxygen gets lower, not really sure how to deal with arid mountains. But wet/windy/cold/exposed is just how it is here. I suspect this is similar to some goat hunting, especially coastal areas - brushbusting, steep incline, moderate elevations (usually sub 3000') etc.
20210523_123309.jpg
 
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THLR

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Mar 6, 2020
Messages
133
Ok, let's try and do some shorter posts

On these hunts I am very particular about what I wear.
coldskills 6.jpg
I like this picture because you can see the birds pass me.
coldskills3.jpg
The woolnet baselayers are superior here.
Since we never left wool and have a fairly homogenous outdoor population, the market is easy to sell to and the money is a real incentive for producers to sharpen their products. Because of this, brands like Devold and Aclima are simply "better" when it comes to merino competence. Comparing products, what is new a 2020 US product line, I saw in catalogues here during the 90's.
aclima-woolnet-crew-neck-shirt-herr-black-2.jpg
You layer this with an expedition/combat shirt. Note how well neck and wrists are protected (it opens up to a big V on the chest and you'll have a huge vent available)
devold expedition.jpg
 
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THLR

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Messages
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This is what I don't like about hunting brands. This specific model has been removed, but in general waist exposure when you bend over, crawl, glass. You know... basic hunting.

Buying hunting clothes online can be difficult (depending on return cost), I highly recommend trying for fit.
Sitka (3).jpeg

How will this pant circulate air and what can you possibly fit in these pockets? In colder climates, you lose a lot of unneccessary energy when you plaster the fabric into the thighs.
Sitka (5).jpeg

Here you see the difference in waist protection. Only one will cover your rear when you sit down to glass. Also, you will ventilate better if you use suspenders. A tight belt "locks" and you can get quite sweaty in the groin...
Sitka (11).jpeg
 
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THLR

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Mar 6, 2020
Messages
133
The Slik Sling. Picked up the tip from this forum. Best value for money I've had in recent years, makes for a nice tight pack/rifle carry.
20220114_153918-01.jpeg
 

ColeyG

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Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Messages
178
"Avalanches very much is, the only ways I have to counter that is forecasts, staying home, abandoning a route, navigating ridges/flat spaces/distancing myself 2-3 times the elevation of the wall I want to avoid. Ski hunting is perhaps the most risky thing I do. Lot's of energy potential in a fall and I sometimes break equipment. I fall every year..."

Mitigating avalanche danger is very deep rabbit hole where judgement and experience should play the leading role. A couple of quick reference points re: avalanche.

Avalanche Danger "Red Flags"
1. New snow aka a recent storm
2. Signs of recent avalanche
3. Collapsing or cracking in the snow pack
4. Rapid rise in temperature
5. Significant wind events

Generally speaking, avalanche activity typically peaks either during a storm event or the day after and declines from there. After a tent-bound day or two and weathering a storm, it is tempting to charge out and get after it and that is prime time for something bad happening in avalanche terrain.

Another bit of jargon and checklist from from the avy world is;

Five to Stay Alive
1. Avalanche beacon
2. Shovel
3. Avalanche probe
4. A partner
5. Proper training

This is the minimum list of "things" recommended to help you stay alive should you party member get buried in an avalanche. As your earlier post mentions, avoiding avalanche terrain, terrain traps, runout zones etc. is another example of the importance of prevention.

Anyone expecting to travel in avy terrain should definitely take a "Level 1" aka "Recreational" avy course which will cover the basics of snowpack analysis, travel decisions, and rescue.

Are you in Norway? If so, one of best friends and longtime climbing partners owns and operates Northern Alpine Guides out of Lofoten and specializes in ski trips. They would be a great source of info and training re: technical travel in the mountains.
 
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THLR

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Messages
133
Are you in Norway? If so, one of best friends and longtime climbing partners owns and operates Northern Alpine Guides out of Lofoten and specializes in ski trips. They would be a great source of info and training re: technical travel in the mountains.
Northern Alpine Guides are on the red line, across the fiord from me. Most of the coastal pictures I take are along the yellow lines. I travel inland for my hunting.
keiservarden.jpg
 

ColeyG

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Oct 25, 2017
Messages
178
Cool. Beautiful country and I have wanted to get over there and visit since my friend, Seth Hobby, moved over there and started his business. One day.
 

Jake Larsen

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Sep 11, 2017
Messages
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Location
Bozeman, MT
Great idea for a topic.

As a long time climber, mountaineer, and reformed mountain guide turned mountain hunter, these subjects are near and dear to my heart. The list of friends and colleagues I've lost in the mountains is too long to recall at this point, and while some of these events have been relatively unavoidable (minus staying home), some could have easily been prevented.

If I understand your question and/or suggestion correctly, it seems like you are interested in a conversation focused on both techniques and equipment for getting around in the mountains, aka mountain hunting in this context.

These topics can (and have) filled volumes in the world of climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, etc. In my mind, mountain hunting is basically just backpacking and mountaineering with some additional equipment in the pack and clanging around. The tools and techniques for getting around in the hills on a mountain hunts aren't really any different than those I'd use when backpacking and alpine climbing. Gear selection should be driven by the weather and terrain you expect to encounter and be weighed against your preference and acceptance of risk and discomfort. Clothing and equipment in the hunting world has finally started to catch up to the quality of stuff that has existed in mountaineering for a long time.

Techniques and equipment are often the first two things that people want to talk about and get tuned up on when it comes to "technical" and/or "high consequence" environments. In my mind those things are a few items down the priority list and the starting point should be safety. Coming home with all of fingers, toes, and hole you had at the beginning of the hunt. Yes, gear and techniques play a huge role in safety. That having been said, the most valuable thing you can have with you in the mountains, with regard to both safety and success, is good judgement. Judgement only comes after many years, miles, and learning some lessons the hard way. The best gear in the world can't overcome a single bad decision that puts you in harms way. An ounce of prevention is worth a rescue helicopter full of cure in the mountains.

With regard to the big picture conversation of safety and success in the mountains with a bunch of gear and technique discussion layered in, a good starting point for any aspiring or relatively new mountain travelers is a book called "Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills" put out by the Mountaineer's Press.


One of the harder topics in this larger conversation is risk analysis and risk management. I think a good starting point for that part of the conversation is to create a common definition of risk. Risk is often conflated with potential consequences, and that is far too narrow a definition in my mind. I really like the

RISK = Probability x severity x exposure
formula as a foundation for conversations about risk. Too often we focus on one of those elements. A good friend, mountain mentor, and longtime guide trainer used to say, in response to questions about whether or not to use ropes and protection, "consider the likelihood of a fall, and consider the consequence of a fall." A simplistic version of the formula above, but a helpful quick reference in ongoing terrain analysis and decision making.

Another thing that makes risk management difficult is risk analysis is and should be very subjective. Your perceived "risk" in certain terrain or activities will be different than mine because our analysis runs through our individual filters of experience, knowledge, and ability. TO further complicate things, personal risk management is very different than group risk management, where the collective knowledge, skills, and experience levels need to be considered. A great piece of reference material re: group decision making in high consequence environments is an article on heuristic traps by Ian McCammon where McCammon discusses certain normal patterns of thinking that can be problematic in making personal and group decisions in the face of high consequences.


According to "Accidents in North American Mountaineering," last I looked anyhow, the three things that are most likely to kill you in the mountains are;

  1. Slips, trips, and falls
  2. Getting hit by falling rocks
  3. Rappelling off of the end of your rope
So bear these things in mind and if you can avoid them, you are very likely going to have safe travels in the hills.

Sorry for the long post. I'd be happy to try to chime in on specific questions on anything gear or technique related, but wanted to offer some overarching thoughts to start.

Cheers.
Excellent answer here. I've got a similar background, and have only 1 thing to add. Check out "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales for more on "risk management" its a deep dive on how human psychology and brain chemistry effect the decision making processes, and some very useful "rules" to help you process information correctly and make the right calls in potentially dangerous situations. Some if it is pretty heavy reading, but we'll worth it IMHO. Told through the lens of some of the most outstanding survival stories we have on record.

Sent from my Pixel 6 using Tapatalk
 

ODB

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Messages
2,650
Location
N.F.D.
This is what I don't like about hunting brands. This specific model has been removed, but in general waist exposure when you bend over, crawl, glass. You know... basic hunting.

Buying hunting clothes online can be difficult (depending on return cost), I highly recommend trying for fit.
View attachment 369985

How will this pant circulate air and what can you possibly fit in these pockets? In colder climates, you lose a lot of unneccessary energy when you plaster the fabric into the thighs.
View attachment 369986

Here you see the difference in waist protection. Only one will cover your rear when you sit down to glass. Also, you will ventilate better if you use suspenders. A tight belt "locks" and you can get quite sweaty in the groin...
View attachment 369987

100% on those waists…I can’t understand why more makers don’t make a higher waist in the rear.
 
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THLR

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Joined
Mar 6, 2020
Messages
133
[...] I've got a similar background, and have only 1 thing to add. Check out "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales for more on "risk management" [...]
Thanks for the tip! Just picked it up on my Kindle.

I looked through the material from @ColeyG as well. Seems like our alpinist cultures in terms of gear and techniques are very similar (not really surprising). 25 years ago I was your typical know-it-all kid, thankfully a visit to New Zealand and meeting the locals widened my horizon significantly.

I came from a "plataou" mountain culture. Weather is severe enough, but here you can basically go anywhere you can put your eyes, ground is mostly firm so easy; heavy loads are not really a problem. Absolutely stunning place in autumn as the colours are unreal, I don't live south anymore but occasionally go:
reinsjakt.jpg

I was very lucky with the people I met in New Zealand. After my first visit, I was sent a book about the local mountain hunters (and more). Two of my tutors where featured there. I had no idea when there, but the knowledge/experience was a gamechanger for my attitude. Everything from routeplanning to what gear I brought.

I accessed via 1, setup camp at 2, made some risky decisions at 3, got my mountain goat at 4, chose the safe route out aaaaaand if we skip back to @Jake Larsen 's recommended book: Narrowly avoided killing myself at 5: I reacted to an "odd" feeling/redflag, turned on my torch (battery tech wasn't LED at the time) and saw that my path was washed away with a mudslide straight into a whitewater murder canyon. 2 more steps...
chamois.jpg
Details of point 3 above. Point 1 I had to free climb, which in hindsight was too risky. Point 2 was just a matter of route, perfectly safe. Point 3 was the final approach and success.
nz chamois – Kopi.jpg
chamois nz.jpg
chamois 2.jpg

So the morale of this post would have to be open to other people. It has contributed significantly to my life, giving me skill to access terrain and great hunting experiences. And I refine my gear every year, a fair amount is found via forums like Rokslide.
 
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THLR

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Joined
Mar 6, 2020
Messages
133
[...]
Avalanche Danger "Red Flags"
1. New snow aka a recent storm
2. Signs of recent avalanche
3. Collapsing or cracking in the snow pack
4. Rapid rise in temperature
5. Significant wind events

Generally speaking, avalanche activity typically peaks either during a storm event or the day after and declines from there.
[...]
Five to Stay Alive
1. Avalanche beacon
2. Shovel
3. Avalanche probe
4. A partner
5. Proper training
I just made one of your sentences bold and larger. To me this is the most important. If terrain is too channeling, don't go, stay home. It usually makes for though going too, so a nice trip just becomes work & sweat.

We have about 6 avalanche deaths per year, roughly 80 are caught. It peaks right after hunting season, in March. Almost all incidents happens in the northern region. The 6:80 proportion should underline the importance of "Five to Stay Alive".

I don't go into the worst terrain, I do it by avoiding. If I need to cross somewhere (I'm not going to ski it, I'm a lousy skier) I dig a hole and check it I get that "pea" feel under a compact plate. That's the abort alarm for me. Similar if I have the heavy fresh snow on top of the plate, I avoid by route. The reason is simply that I don't have access to the full "Five to Stay Alive" as I'm alone. A rule of thumb was taught is "15 minutes to dig out a friend, 30 minutes for the corpse". Not sure how that is formulated/stressed your end.

FOR THE HUNTER
Animals don't eat snow, so hunters and skiers gravitate towards different parts of the terrain. If the terrain isn't channeling, it's a lot easier for the hunter to avoid. When I have "Red flags" I simply route via exposed/naked areas (because I can). These areas typically ruin skis and offer no slopes, so typically not a place a skier would go. This was on a day with red flag 2-3. Seeing 2 on many North/northwest slopes, 3 manifests as hearing "thunder" in the snow and when you ski the flats, small collapses and small trees shaking in a radius around you. It takes a really long time, but you have to plan/pick routes and go back/look elsewhere when needed. Red flag 5... there's just too much wind here, it's combined with 1 that can be difficult. The MET service has good online maps that gives good indication of routes NOT available so I know what side to start from. Like the picture below, online service indicated north/northwest would be dangerous, that held true. So I went in southwest and had good access.
clymr fjell.jpg
Different day. Routeplanning via binoculars. The pic doesn't show but I'm looking for terrain traps in the U valley. They are not as clear (or dangerous) as a V, but makes for really heavy going. See how little snow there is on the exposed tops, easily increase to 10' in the U. If you hit the soft stuff...
stanleyk2.jpg
Just a pic showing the kind of windswept terrain a hunter will gravitate towards (there's a bird straight in front of me!). Skiers hate this. This is roughly 800m ASL (2400'?) and any danger is usually in the climb up to these platous.
coldskills wufgimp.jpg
 
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THLR

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Mar 6, 2020
Messages
133
Shorter gear post. This is how I layer the hands. Remove the wristwarmer and you have my late season glassing system:
20210127_180310-01.jpeg

Pictured above is the cheap Mechanix fastfit glove. It's not very good, the leather and seams disintegrate. Granqvist M1009 is by far the best glove I've used in that category. Unlike climbing gloves, I'd avoid the wrist velcro, seems to be only a hassle for the on/off when hunting:
granqvist m1009.jpg
Arcteryx Venta is probably the best weight/heat benefit I've had when moving and needing a little more protection
20210127_180351-01.jpeg
For rainly autumn hunts the $3 electrician's utility gloves gives me enough heat (arrest and warm the water) and nimbleness for gear/shooting. And they are so cheap/small you can swap to a dry pair. For heat I have the Black Diamond shell mittens, wool or synthethic liners if needed. I just don't buy the overpriced hunting brand gloves, especially not the USD200 ones that puncture in one season anyway.
huntec pants ventilation.jpg
huntec vega 5.jpg
Huntec regn 4.jpg
 
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