Beartooth Mountains – Sundance & Shadow Lakes via West Fork Rock Creek
My friend and co-worker Shane R. and I snuck in an 18+ mile overnight to shakedown some gear this weekend in the Beartooth Mtns. Shane is about to depart on an Alaska trip where he will be documenting a hunt and I just love giving (new) gear a real testing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if it doesn’t get the mileage, then it cannot pass the test. So off we went to an alpine cirque that consists of three of the five tallest mountains in Montana – Castle Mtn, Whitetail Peak, and Silver Run Peak.
As you may be aware, Julia and I climbed both Mt Lockhart and Whitetail Peak here last year on a trip with another friend and co-worker Brad B. The hike is relatively easy, with less than 2000′ elevation gain if one chooses to stay low once reaching the cirque and the lakes.
This year instead of climbing equipment and equivalent motives, I brought my UL flyfishing Tenkara Iwana setup, salami, pringles, and a Coors tallboy (‘the taste of camping’). Going to the same destination multiple times with different objectives can give just that little bit of new perspective. Shane also indulged in some extra gear such as tripod, DSLR, and a non-UL but bomber 4-season Hilleberg Akto.
Despite these extras, my pack weighed all-in with food and water at under 20lbs while Shane’s was just under 25lbs. I still find it fun to be passing day-hikers who have the same sized packs as us and don’t believe that we are going many miles further to camp. Gotta love the lightweight ethos! Not to mention that I came out with 14 lbs on my back at 3+ MPH (3.2 thanks to Shane’s GPS data) while carrying on a conversation the entire way. Truly awesome times.
As for my gear shakedown, it was mainly bringing a new prototype HMG cuben fiber flat tarp to try out properly in the backcountry. As I often climb and hike with Julia I don’t always get to tarp or bivy and this was the perfect excuse to take the new tarp into the high country. Camp was just below 10,000’and a couple of afternoon thunderstorms with rain and groppel helped with the gear testing process. Despite the proto tarp being a little too long for the width (a predisposed known variable to both myself and Mike at HMG), it worked fine with a little patience in pitching. The finalized tarp will probably be in the 6’x9′ range, while this first pressing was a bit too long. I made it work anyway and was psyched for my shelter/bivy combo to weigh in at under 1 lb. For those who are curious, my current summer bivy is the 7oz Six Moon Designs Meteor Bivy.
As for my pack, I’m still largely carrying my proto orange HMG Porter into the hills. The harness and carry is unparalleled for the ~2lb weight of the pack and the carrying capacity/volume. If you haven’t checked out one of Hyperlite’s ambassador’s recent successes with the Porter Pack, then you have to check out Luc Mehl’s blog of the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic. HMG also covered this on their recently updated website. Some of the hardiest adventurers in the world are involved and have driven this Classic for the last 30+ years and it is so exciting to see what they are accomplishing with the fast and light movement in some real terrain. A big shout out to all involved in the Classic – especially Roman Dial who finished as the first solo ‘competitor’ this year and whom I believe was the driving force behind the first Classic in 1982. Talk about adventure racing! Thanks guys for both the motivation and for the foresight. Please keep on doing your thing. Love it.
Thanks as always for reading and viewing – I really do hope that you enjoy it all!