After the weather forecast was turning south for the weekend, Josh and I decided to shoot for some run-out slabby climbing in Darrington. The first route we did was called The Quin Konehead Pre-Memorial Route or just, The Kone. The route was named after Quinn Koenig, who wanted to free solo the Willis Wall on… [Continue Reading]

Josh leading the 4th pitch

I have been wanting to do the classic Washington Pass Birthday Tour for awhile and had a good weather window, so it was game on. Peter, John and I all met up in Burlington to start the long drive up to Washington Pass. We started the tour at the Blue Lake trailhead, but apparently you… [Continue Reading]

John touring up with Early Winter Spires in background

I had the wonderful opportunity to do Triple Couloirs on Dragontail last weekend. The route was in great shape. The ice sections were a little thin but easily climbable. Unfortunately, 8 mile road was closed to the trailhead, so we had the walk the extra 3 miles each way. We started hiking on Saturday and… [Continue Reading]

Dragontail in the background with Triple Couloirs route in the middle

This was my second time doing The Slot Couloir in less than ideal conditions. We skinned up from the Alpental Parking lot with a nasty icy suncrust. We reached the top of the couloir before noon and dropped in, hoping that the couloir wasn’t icy. The sound of skis on ice is not something I… [Continue Reading]

Climbing up Crooked Couloir

The wapta traverse is stated to be the premier hut to hut traverse in North America. I couldn’t agree more. The traverse is usually done in 4 – 6 days(and even some that have done it in a day!). We ended up doing it in 4 days which was perfect. Towering mountains line the traverse… [Continue Reading]

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack Review

 

 WP_20160524_002

Overview

After climbing the North Ridge of Mt. Baker last spring and spending the majority of the approach and climb with my skis on my back, I realized that I needed a more beefy winter pack that would carry my skis and weight better than my Mountain Hardware Summit Rocket 40. I looked at packs from Cold Cold World, Cilo Gear, and others. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack caught my eye because it was so light and half the price of similar others. I ended up choosing the 4400 ice pack (70L, largest volume offered for this model) because there was not much weight penalty (6oz over the 40L) and with an upcoming Waddington trip, I wanted something that could carry extra volume should the need arise.

The pack is made of a Dyneema (formerly called Cuben Fiber, name changed) polyester hybrid. It appears this hybrid is woven poly on with non-woven dyneema (Cuben Fiber) laminated to the back. All the seams are taped and although it isn’t advertised as water proof, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be. The bottom is doubled up with the same material. The pack has a super durable strip of Dyneema “Hardline” on the outside for crampons.

WP_20160503_007CWP_20160503_005rampon and Ice Ax/tool Attachment

I thought the heavy duty bungee cord (complete with large metal hooks) that secures crampons on the back would be the first thing I’d cut off and replace with something lighter, but it turns out that it’s so simple and functional, I decided to keep it. Ice tools are attached via a sleeve and buckle on the bottom and shock cord and toggle on the top. The upper shock cords are extra-long and can be used to secure a helmet by clipping them together with a spare biner, or attaching a mitten hook.

 

Side Straps, Ski Attachment, Y StrapWP_20160503_003

HMG sells a ski option which features reinforced side panels and a ski holster. It’s $100 extra for this feature and honestly it seems unnecessary as the standard configuration is adequate for ‘A frame’ ski carry. The top of the pack has a unique ‘Y’ strap that is handy for securing things to the top of the pack, especially rope.

 Shoulder and Hip Straps

It could be just me, but the haul loop seemed too light for a pack this size. I backed it up with a piece of cord in case I needed to haul or clip off the pack. The shoulder straps are padded and comfortable for an ultra-light pack. They also feature the whistle/chest buckle combo. The hip belt is wide, moderately padded, and removable. As with most packs, this one came with about three feet too much strap. I cut all but four inches off of one side and doubled it over and sewed it so it is fixed. The other side I trimmed to allow a reasonable amount of adjustment.WP_20160503_020

It comes standard with a gear loop and two ice clip holders on either side. For $10 extra, you can get zippered pockets instead of gear loops. On the Wapta traverse, I really appreciated the gear loops on the hip belt because for much of the time, we had our packs and harnesses on. The gear loops allowed me to get gear off my harness so the hip belt would sit flat on my hips.

Main CompartmentWP_20160503_011 1

The interior is accessed by a roll top closure, which helps make the bag weather proof. The interior has one quart sized zippered pocket. Behind the zippered pocked is two removable aluminum stays and behind that is the foam back pad and frame sheet. My biggest complaint about the pack is that this foam pad and frame sheet are sewn in. I suspect this was done because it was easier to seam seal, but the flaw with WP_20160503_012WP_20160503_016 1this logic is if water did penetrate the pad compartment, it would be very, very difficult to dry out. I really like the option of being able to remove the back pad and replace it with my thin folded evazote bivy pad so I made the painful decision to cut open the back pad compartment. To keep the frame sheet tied in to the aluminum stays for load distribution, I sewed Velcro between the two stays and a strip on the back of the pocket. When the pocket is folded down it forms a ‘lid’ and locks everything together.

One other note, is that this pack does not have a hydration hole. You could always cut one in but it would somewhat negate the extreme weather-proof properties of this pack. You can still use hydration bladders if the pack isn’t too full by running the hose out the top and folding the lid over.

Conclusion

The Hyperlite Mountain Ice Pack is specialized ultralight climbing pack that lacks the bells and whistles of main stream packs. But bells and whistles add up and many of them are under utilized.  The design is well thought out and tailored to long, cold approaches. However, that doesn’t mean it can only be used for such endeavors. This pack is very similar to Hyperlite’s Porter, Southwest, and Windrider models, which are designed for ultralight packrafting and through hiking. The Ice Pack would also excel with these uses making it a true multiuse pack. I’ve been very impressed by this pack and found it to be nearly perfect for the climbing and approaches I do in the Cascades.