Field Report...


So, a few weeks ago I achieved a goal of mine when I summited a true "glaciated peak". Not only was this a big deal for me since climbing these are generally more difficult than taking a hike up a grassy hillside somewhere, but it also allows one to join in a highly respected club here in Portland that has a stature of limitations for those they allow in, the main one is sumiting one such peak. Time and time and time again a glaciated summit has eluded me, but this past Memorial Day Weekend, the summit of South Sister, located just outside of Bend, Oregon at 10,363 feet, was mine.

me on the summit

This posting is not about that climb. If you must know, it was clear, sunny, calm and I had a great time with my friends in the snow and sunshine. We spent the time building snow walls, setting up camp, making food, climbing up mountains, petting dogs, taking photos, glissading down mountains and also falling down them (thanks to inadequate snowshoes carrying me and my 40 pound pack full of gear in slushy soft snow). No, this isn't a post about that.... it's a post about a bag I bought at the last minute before the climb, having to be one of the best $30 last minute purchases ever.

Prior in my climbs, I have my massive pack that I use to bring all my gear to base camp. I can fit pretty much everything in this pack, a two person tent, down sleeping bag, hard boots, crampons, ice axe, shovel, stove, water, food, more food, and a supply of cold weather clothes. In fact, this pack is so big... that it easily carried everything that I needed for a two week stint on the Appalachian Trail back in college. However, when you've got all that gear (tents, food, sleeping bag, etc) safely nestled at base camp, the idea of taking a massive pack up a steep long dangerous climb seems a little ridiculous. Sure, it'd be great to just go and climb to the summit without a pack... but really, one needs to bring with them water, food, the 12 essentials, extra clothes, camera, etc, and even though that may seem like a lot, it's not enough to fill a large pack. As well, one could easily put all those "summit ready" items into a "daypack" but most "daypacks" are too big and bulky and heavy to cram into your main pack to start with. What I needed was a summit pack. Small, lightweight, easily compressible and just big enough and sturdy enough to carry all the things I needed to the summit with out extra weight.

That's where I stumbled upon the REI Flash.

Coming in three various sizes (I got the smallest, the 18) the flash is a lightweight (10z) ripstop material daypack that easily converts into a stuff sack for usage in your large pack. With a top loading entry, it's easy to get your stuff in and out quickly without hassle. As well, inside the pack is a hydration-compatible sleeve with an exit hose port and internal pockets for small items. The shoulder straps are lightweight and durable with sternum and waist straps that make for a close fitting cinching silhouette. An added plus were the external daisy chains and tool loop which personally extended the amount of gear this bag could carry quite seamlessly.

I had read prior reviews which raved about the pack... but thought that if one thing was missing, it was some kind of cinching system (shock cords) for the daisy chains to secure more gear to the outside. Thinking about this and not having much time for shopping before my trip, I thought about what I had laying around the house. Being a biker, especially one that gets lots of flats... I have an ample amount of tubes sitting in my "lobby" waiting for patch repair. Seizing the opportunity, I cut one of these tubes up into strands and weaved them through the daisy chains and bam... instant lashing straps for external gear carrying.

This is my flash pack in where I had used the bike tubes lashed through the daisy chains to carry my crampons.

my friends with their massive packs...look at Liz, she doesn't seem that excited about carrying that pack up a few thousand some feet.

Anyways, it wouldn't surprise me if that after the trip... my climbing friends all went out and purchased this great little summit pack. It's great as well for an airport carry on, stuffing in a larger bag to then take out and use for carrying groceries or small adventures, and I highly recommend using the daisy chains to expand the amount you can carry. And, just as I reused old bike tubes for lashing straps, look around your house and see what items you have that can have other purposes beyond their initial intention.

As well, if you'd like to see the complete album of photos from the climb, you can take a look at them here.


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