We had our final outing with our HAMS class this past weekend — winter camping. The purpose was to get hands on practice setting up an expedition and camping in cold, harsh conditions. The later pretty much sums up the weekend, although we did luck out since it didn’t snow. We headed up to Second Creek at Berthoud Pass (near Winter Park) on Friday afternoon, geared out with everything needed to conquer a big mountain. After snow-shoeing in by rope teams, we set up a low camp in the trees. We found a nice sheltered area and packed down the snow real hard. Both of us slept pretty well that night, although the wind was quite noisy.
On Saturday morning, we woke to clear blue skies and nice views of the high mountain ridges. After packing down our camp and loading up our haul sled, we were ready to travel upwards to set up a higher camp just near tree line.
We found a semi flat area with some big snow drifts. This would be our camp for the night. We spent the next couple hours packing down snow really hard and cutting our snow-bricks for walls to protect from the wind. Luckily we had lots of manpower in our group of 10 and the end result was a ~6 foot wall, long enough to wrap around 4-5 tents. After a quick lunch break, we got back to work and practiced crevasse rescue (z-pulley), which was particular difficult in typical Colorado sugar/granular snow.
By the end of the day, we were all pretty worn out and ready to buckle down for the cold night. Linnea was in charge of melting snow for water, and I particularly like boiling it for a hot nalgene bottle I could put in the bottom of my sleeping bag. The night was noticeably colder (~0) than the first and a pretty long in general.
The next day we woke up to some more brisk, cold air. Breakfast consisted of bacon, hot chocolate, more hot chocolate, and hot water once the the hot chocolate was used up. Luckily the sun was out and we survived the weekend. We learned a lot about what needs to be done to survive and maybe even enjoying camping on the mountain in the winter. Overall, this was the finale of the HAMS class, and we’re lucking forward to training climbs this spring. After that, I think some big peaks will be in our near future.
In the morning and the night we had some beautiful views of the mountains.