Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nights 361 and 362 - 3 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Friday night: 21 degrees
Saturday morning: 24 degrees
Saturday night: 34 degrees
Sunday morning: 34 degrees

My dad posted a link to my blog on reddit tonight, and when I looked a minute ago there were 1100 people here!  Thanks for stopping by!

REI Garage Sale
Yesterday dad and I went to the garage sale at the REI store in Conshohocken.  We got there an hour early to make sure we could get some of the best deals, but we counted over 80 people in front of us.  There were more than 30 behind us when they let us in, so we weren't too bad.

There were some really good deals left when we got in.  We bought three things--a Sierra Designs Zissou 12 dridown sleeping bag (50% off), a Big Agnes insulated sleeping pad (65% off), and an REI Minimalist bivvy (93% off).

When we were waiting in line outside "the corral," we saw quite a few people pick up the bivvy and then put it back, and I realized it was probably because there was no tag telling you the price and what was wrong with it.

Dad and I asked one of the REI staff how much it was, and he said he would check.  He came back and told us we could have it for $8.00--it's normally $110!

All that stuff fits in my 18 liter pack, with room left for a hat, headlamp, and emergency survival kit!  Together, all of that weighs just about five pounds, and I think it would keep me warm down to almost 0 degrees.

I'm about to go out and bivouac on the hill behind our house.  We had a lot of rain today, so I'll have a chance to check how waterproof the bivvy is.  I'll let you know in my next post.

Sir Edmund

I know I told you before that I would post a picture of the portrait my grandfather drew of Edmund Hillary.  Here it is.  I'm also going to post the original that he used to draw it.  I think he did a good job!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Nights 359 and 360 - 5 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

My mom's note on the chalkboard in our kitchen

Wednesday night: 18 degrees F (-8 degrees C)
Thursday morning: 25 degrees F (-4 degrees C)
Thursday night: 21 degrees F (-6 degrees C)
Friday morning: 24 degrees F (-4 degrees C)

I'm sorry I didn't think of it sooner, but for the rest of my time in the tent I'll make sure I have the temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius.  About half of those reading are from the U.S., but quite a few of you are from various countries that measure temperature in degrees celsius.

I just finished my Knife Edge video from Tuesday!  So you know, it's a lot longer than the one from my regular hiking route.  I hope you like it.

Also, in case you were watching on Tuesday, the RightThisMinute video did not air until yesterday.  That link will take you to the story.  It was very weird seeing myself on TV!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Nights 356 - 358 - 7 nights to go!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday night: 43 degrees
Monday morning: 44 degrees
Monday night: 36 degrees
Tuesday morning: 28 degrees
Tuesday night: 21 degrees
Wednesday morning: 14 degrees

Powerline View
Tuesday morning, dad, Maisy, and I got up early (we left about 6:00) to hike to Knife Edge on the Appalachian Trail.  I took my GoPro and makeshift chest harness to get some footage.  I should have the video done by the end of the week. 

For Christmas my grandfather did a sketch of Sir Edmund Hilary for me.  I'll include a picture of it tomorrow.

I usually get cold feet in the tent, because my feet hang off of the pad that provides insulation.  For Christmas I got a pair of Baffin down booties, which I've wanted for awhile.  I also got an actual GoPro chest mount.

One of the biggest surprises, though, was last night--it snowed without anyone really expecting it!  We had close to 2" after just a few hours of heavy snow.  

Traversing Knife Edge

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Nights 353-355 - 10 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Thursday night: 32 degrees
Friday morning: 29 degrees
Friday night: 34 degrees
Saturday morning: 33 degrees
Saturday night: 35 degrees
Sunday morning: 49 degrees

I have two big things to tell you about today!

Bill McKibben
First, the other day I had a comment on the blog from Bill McKibben!  Bill is a writer and professor who started a website called to tell people about reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.  It was really nice of him to visit my blog, and I hope he comes back again!

Being Interviewed
Second, this afternoon my dad got an email from Mark Smiley that a syndicated TV show called RightThisMinute contacted the people at EpicTV (where Mark posts his climbing videos) and asked about interviewing me about the Royal Arches climb.  EpicTV contacted Mark, and Mark emailed us.  An hour later, I was on Skype talking to the people at RightThisMinute for tomorrow's episode!

To be honest, I don't remember what they asked me, because I was so nervous.  I'm excited to be able to see it tomorrow, and when I post I'll link to it.

Homemade Chest Harness
Tomorrow my dad and I are going to do Knife Edge in the morning, and maybe we'll get to see the sun rise from there.  I'm thinking about making a video with my GoPro, so I used some of my webbing to improvise a chest harness for it.

Over the last few days it's been warm and rainy, so almost all of the snow is gone.  Tonight it's supposed to cool off, though, so at least we'll have a cold Christmas even if it's not a white one.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nights 350-352 - 13 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Monday night: 8 degrees
Tuesday morning: 23 degrees
Tuesday night: 16 degrees
Wednesday morning: 24 degrees
Wednesday night: 25 degrees
Thursday morning: 14 degrees

Snow on Tuesday

On Monday night, it was not actually 8 degrees.  I think it was actually more like 18.  When I went out to the tent, the watch that I use to record temperatures was on the ground, and it's usually hung from the gear loft.  The ground is a lot colder, so I think that gave me an inaccurate temperature.

We got about 2" of snow on Tuesday.  In places now, the snow is almost a foot deep.

Today we went to New York City to see the Radio City Christmas show.  We had quite a bit of time to kill, so while my mom took my little brother and sister to FAO Schwarz, dad and I decided to spend some time in Central Park.  I'm not a big fan of the city, and this way it was like we weren't really there.

There were a lot of rocks in the park that were big enough to boulder on, so that's exactly what I did!

Some places where I tried to climb had a lot of snow on the rock, and I had to brush it off.  I didn't bring gloves, so my hands got really cold and stiff.  I had to try a few different places to find one I could climb all the way.

On Top!
The other day my dad was visiting a client in New Hampshire, and he wound up talking to someone there about my blog.  He was telling her about the Royal Arches climb, and she said that her younger brother is actually a climber who has done a lot of routes in Yosemite.  She said maybe I had heard of him--his name is MARK HUDON.

If you have been reading my blog, you'll know that we first talked to Mark last spring, and I actually met him when I was in Yosemite with the Smileys.  I couldn't believe that my dad has worked with Mark's sister for a few years, and we never knew the connection. And if you read his comment from the other day, he said he was born in Manchester and learned to ice climb at Cathedral Ledge, so now it all makes sense!

Mark said he is going to sleep out on the 31st in honor of my last night in the tent, and he suggested that I try to get other people to do the same thing.  If you're interested in doing the same thing, leave a comment and tell us where you live.  I'll be sure to mention everyone who sleeps out on the last night, and if you send a picture, I'll post it!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nights 348 and 349 -16 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Saturday night: 20 degrees
Sunday morning: 29 degrees
Sunday night: 26 degrees
Monday morning: 21 degrees

On Saturday night when I went out to the tent I noticed that there was a huge rip on the vestibule. It was about a foot long and semi-circle shaped so it was like a flap. Since the rip was like a flap, there was snow piled in part of the vestibule. Thankfully, none of the snow came into the tent overnight. Other than that the tent was in okay shape. 

Early tomorrow morning until late morning it's going to snow and is supposed amount to about 5 inches. Because of this I'm going to sleep in the L.L. Bean tent in case my tent isn't able to standup to the snow.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nights 346 and 347 - 18 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Thursday night: 13 degrees
Friday morning: 24 degrees
Friday night: 26 degrees
Saturday morning: 26 degrees

Heading out to Hike
Around 9:00 this morning it started snowing.  It's been snowing steadily all day, and within the last two hours there's been some freezing rain mixed in with it.

When dad and I hiked, the snow and wind were cold enough that I wore a balaclava and ski goggles.

Checking the Ice at the Pond

So far we have about 7" of snow.  The tent looks OK, but one of the poles is sagging a bit under the weight of the snow.  Once I get the snow off of it, I think it will get its shape back.

While we were hiking, we stopped at the pond to check out the ice.  I used the ice axe to chop through it, and it was about 3/4" thick.  I was able to walk around the edge a bit, but there was a hole in the middle of the pond, so I didn't get too close to that.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nights 343 - 345 - 20 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Monday night: 30 degrees
Tuesday morning: 33 degrees
Tuesday night: 21 degrees
Wednesday morning: 26 degrees

Wednesday night: 25 degrees
Two Tents
Thursday morning: 28 degrees

Tuesday we were supposed to get 3-4" of snow, but unfortunately we only got about an inch.  Right after the snow stopped, the temperature started dropping.  That night it was supposed to hit 14 degrees, but as you can see, it didn't.

Taking Crampons Off

On Tuesday my dad and I hiked in the morning. It was pretty icy out, so I wore crampons, unlike my dad, who didn't. Going up the hill he was struggling, because we were on the icy part of the trail, and he couldn't move over. A couple minutes later we hit another icy section that was at a sideways angle so he kept slipping. I guess he should have worn crampons!


It hasn't just been cold here lately, the coldest temperature on Earth was recorded in Antarctica on Monday. The temperature was minus 135.8 degrees farenheit. The old record was minus 135.3 which was also recorded in Antarctica.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Nights 341 and 342 - 23 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Saturday night: 24 degrees
Sunday morning: 27 degrees
Sunday night: 26 degrees
Monday morning: 31 degrees

Sunday afternoon I went to see if the pond was frozen, and I took my dad's ice axe.  Even though it had been below freezing for quite a while, it didn't even have a thin crust on it.

Leaving the pond, I went into the woods above the pond where there's a stream with some steep dirt banks on either side.  Since I had the axe, I decided to practice kicking steps in the dirt.  For those of you who aren't familiar with mountaineering, in steep or unstable snow where you can't frontpoint (use the front points of your crampons), you take the adze of your axe and chop steps, or kick your boots into the snow.

Maisy Licks my Wound
I did that for awhile, and then I started going up toward the top of the hollow to go home.  I lost my footing, though, and I started sliding down toward the stream.  I was trying to "self arrest" with the axe, but it wasn't biting in the rocky soil.  I wasn't able to stop until I could hook it on a tree.  It just so happened that there was a little rocky dropoff, and I slammed my left knee on it.

I had a hard time getting up to the edge of the hollow after that. I had to lean on the axe a bit to climb out, but I finally made it.

As I was walking home, it started to flurry, and within an hour it was really snowing.  When I got home and checked out my knee, Maisy started licking the blood from it, and before my mom could get a washcloth to wash it, Maisy had it all clean!

Just in case my tent collapsed under the weight, my dad and I set up the L.L. Bean tent as a backup.  I was planning on starting out in my tent and then moving over if I had to, which I didn't.

Today we had off from school because we got about an inch of snow, and there was some ice on top of it.  Since there was snow on the ground, I took my downhill skis out.  I put a GoPro mount on the end of one ski, and I got some video of it.  Unfortunately, in a lot of the videos I got snow on the lens, and it wasn't very clear.

This evening my dad and I hiked, but on parts of the trail it was really slippery.  We figured that once it freezes even more tonight, the ice is going to be thick enough that we will probably need crampons.  Because of that, we're going to hike in the morning with crampons and see what it's like.

Mount Washington Sunset - Sunday Night

Also, here's a picture of the sunset from the top of Mount Washington last night!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nights 339 and 340 - 25 Nights to Go!

Hi and welcome back!

Thursday night: 50 degrees
Friday morning: 48 degrees
Friday night: 37 degrees
Saturday morning: 34 degrees

I just logged on to see how many visitors I've had recently, and there were more than 700 in the last day!  Most days I have about 50-70 visitors, so I was pretty surprised that there were so many.  I wanted to say thanks to everyone who has checked in and I hope you keep sharing it with your friends.

On Friday it was pretty rainy during the day.  When I checked the tent in the evening everything was wet, but I was able to bring in my wet sleeping bags and dry the tent.  It was supposed to be mild overnight on Friday, so I took out the 40 degree bag, and I was fine.

When I went out to the tent Friday night it was changing over to freezing rain, and sometime later in the night it turned to snow.  None of it really stuck, though.

Mount Washington, New Hampshire
At some point this winter my dad and I are planning to climb Mount Washington in New Hampshire. It's 6,288' tall, but just because it's small doesn't mean it's easy.  It's usually below 0 degrees on the summit, with the winds going up to almost 100 miles per hour pretty regularly.
Ready for Mount Washington?

This morning I put on all of the clothing and gear that I would need for the climb to see what it would be like.  I had five layers on top and three layers on the bottom.  After just a few minutes with it on I was sweating (even outside), so it should be warm enough for Mount Washington.

As an example, right now on Mount Washington the ambient temperature is -2.7 degrees, and the windchill is -38.

When it gets closer to New Years I'm going to haven an announcement about my next project, which will include Mount Washington and a few other climbs.  I'll tell you more about that later!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nights 337 and 338 - 27 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Tuesday night: 19 degrees
Wednesday morning: 20 degrees
Wednesday night: 46 degrees
Thursday morning 47 degrees

I would like to thank everyone who has said such nice things in the comments and in person.    I think a lot of you learned about me through Mr. Rabenold--he's my social studies teacher, and he posted links to this blog on his blog, his Facebook page, the middle school team website, and a few other places.

He also showed the video from my Royal Arches climb in class today.  I was embarrassed, yet proud.

As you can see from the temperatures, it's been getting warm lately.  It's also been raining, which is going to turn into freezing rain and then snow in the next few days, judging from the radar.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nights 335 and 336 - 29 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Sunday night: 34 degrees
Monday morning: 33 degrees
Monday night: 36 degrees
Tuesday morning: 31 degrees

It's been quiet in the tent the last few nights.  I had a really hard time falling asleep on Monday, beause there were coyotes howling up on the hill.  Other than that, not much has happened.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nights 333 and 334 - 31 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Friday night: 18 degrees
Saturday morning: 14 degrees
Saturday night: 28 degrees
Sunday morning: 28 degrees

I filmed my hike on Saturday morning, and my dad has iMovie on his computer, so we uploaded the video, edited it, added music.  I think it's pretty good, considering that it's the first video I ever made.  See what you think.

Thanks for reading/watching!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Nights 330 - 332 - 33 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Tuesday night: 32 degrees
Wednesday morning: 42 degrees
Wednesday night: 28 degrees
Thursday morning: 24 degrees
Hero 3 White
Thursday night: 28 degrees
Friday morning: 27 degrees

Not much has happened lately, except that today I got a GoPro!  I've been looking at all the different models, and I decided on the Hero 3 White.  It's the entry-level camera, but it's still really good.

As soon as we got home, I put one of the mounts on my ski helmet.  I didn't have another mount to put on my climbing helmet, so I took the strap off my headlamp and fed it through the camera's back panel.  Now I can wear it on my climbing helmet or just on my head.

I think I might make some videos of my usual hikes, and on some of the days when I can't post because we go skiing, I'll try to make videos of some of the runs.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nights 328 and 329 - 36 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Sunday night: 20 degrees
Monday morning: 18 degrees
Monday night: 30 degrees
Tuesday morning: 32 degrees

My big announcement is that the Royal Arches video went live on Mark and Janelle Smiley's website today!  I hope you like it and share it with your friends!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nights 326 and 327 - 38 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Friday night: 50 degrees
Saturday morning: 34 degrees
Saturday night: 28 degrees
Sunday morning: 21 degrees

On Saturday night we got home from the Penn State game at about 9:00, and I noticed that it had snowed a bit here at home.  It was 28 degrees with 13 mph winds, which turned out to be about 18 degrees with the wind chill.

When I went out to the tent it was pretty windy, but as I was starting to fall asleep, it got REALLY windy.  The tent was flattened by the wind a few times, then it started to blow around.  I realized that my dad and I hadn't staked it down when we pitched it the other day!

I quickly reached out into the vestibule and tried to grab the ground, because I thought the tent was going to blow away.  Thankfully, one corner of the vestibule was staked down, so that was like a pivot point, and it blew around that stake as the wind blew.  I didn't want the floor to rip, so I tried to keep it from sliding on the ground when the wind blew.

I ran to the house and woke up my dad to come outside.  We quickly staked down the corners, but one stake that my dad tried to pound in broke, because the frozen ground was so hard.

Once the tent was secure, we both got into sleeping bags and tried to sleep.  It was hard to fall asleep with the wind, though.  The tent was almost flattened completely when the wind blew too hard, but it wasn't as hard as it was before.

Today I got out the rain fly from my Alps tent, and I was able to duct tape the back of the fly.  I set it up, guyed out all the corner so it could stand up to the wind.  

Today my dad and I hiked to the pond.  It's been below freezing for more than 24 hours, and we wanted to see if it was frozen.  I thought it probably was, but dad didn't.  It was really shallow, but it was frozen enough that I could hit it with my hiking stick without it breaking or cracking.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nights 324 and 325 - 40 days to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Wednesday night: 20 degrees
Thursday morning: 21 degrees
Thursday night: 41 degrees
Friday morning: 43 degrees

Last weekend my friend S.F. and his dad, our assistant soccer coach, let me borrow their 5 degree sleeping bag.  I was glad I had it on Wednesday night, because it got down into the teens overnight.  I was never cold in it, and I have a feeling I'll have to use it a lot over these last few weeks of the year.

It warmed up over twenty degrees from Wednesday to Thursday, and it's been kind of rainy.  On Sunday, however, the overnight low is supposed to be 16, which will be awesome.  I'll definitely be glad I have that 5 degree bag then.

Mark Smiley sent us this picture that they took on the Royal Arches climb.  I think it turned out pretty well.

Royal Arches
Pitch 16 - September 25, 2013

I'm going to have a big announcement on Tuesday, so be sure to check back!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nights 322 and 323

Hi and welcome back!

Monday night: 44 degrees
Tuesday morning: 38 degrees
Tuesday night: 31 degrees
Wednesday morning: 26 degrees

bivvy shelter
On Monday night, since I didn't have a tent, I slept in my bivvy shelter.  That night instead of having the slick side of my sleeping pad facing up, I put it down so the sleeping bag would stay on it.

At about 1:00 I woke up outside of the bivvy with my sleeping pad still underneath me.  No matter what I try, it seems like if I use that pad I'll end up outside of the shelter.

Tuesday night I had the replacement tent from L.L. Bean, but didn't have it up in time for bed, so I slept in the bivvy again.  It was pretty windy, and as you can see it was about 10 degrees colder than Monday.  There are spots on the shelter where the fabric is loose, and when the wind blows it can be pretty loud. Also, there was some wind from the east again, and even though I cinched it down all the way, it would blow right in my sleeping bag.  That was pretty horrible.  It took me a long time to fall asleep.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nights 320 and 321

Hi and welcome back!

Saturday night: 49 degrees
Sunday morning: 51 degrees
Sunday night: 59 degrees
Monday morning: 49 degrees
Radar at 1:00 a.m. Monday Morning
with Storms to the West

On Sunday afternoon I was putting the footprint under the L.L. Bean tent, and I realized that I could do a fly/pole/footprint only pitch.  That's where you pitch the tent with everything but the tent body itself.

When I was putting it up, I realized that the front vestibule was part of the tent body, and that left a hole with no door to close the fly.  I pitched it facing east, because the wind almost always comes from the west, so I didn't think it would be a problem.

Around 2:30 a.m. I woke up to find that it was pouring and windy.  Not only that, but there was some wind from the east blowing rain in on me.

About five minutes later my dad came out to check on me, and he asked how long I'd been awake.  I said just a few minutes.  He said that around 1:00 a storm had passed over, but I must have slept through it.

Right around then it started getting REALLY windy.  Dad came into the tent to get out of the rain, and the wind pushed one wall of the fly in on us.  The poles started to pull out of the velcro loops that held them to the fly, and because the conditions were so bad, dad went in to get a sleeping bag to stay with me.

When he got back, we were trying to hold the tent up, when one of the poles snapped and ripped through the fly.  I couldn't believe it, because those poles were really fat.  I thought they would be stronger.

There was nothing else to do then but cover ourselves with the fly and try to stay dry.  Not too long after, the heavy rain and wind stopped and it was just a steady, light rain.  After awhile it started to get muggy under the fly, so we opened the back vestibule zipper and stuck our heads outside.

When we got too wet, we decided to go back under the fly.  We were under there for awhile when I started getting sick to my stomach.  That's when I realized that the fly didn't breathe at all, and there were no vents.  I felt sick enough that I decided to sleep with my head outside the fly, even if I got wet.  I slept on and off until almost 5:00, then I went inside to get ready for school.

Thanks to the L.L. Bean guarantee, I was pretty sure that they would replace the tent for free. I know their guarantee is very good, so I wasn't worried.  More on that later!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nights 318 and 319

Hi and welcome back!

Thursday night: 28 degrees
Friday morning: 27 degrees
Friday night: 33 degrees
Saturday morning: 34 degrees

I'm sorry that I didn't post yesterday, but my dad, my grandfather and I were at the Penn State football game, and we got home kind of late.

On Friday night dad and I were hiking when we saw a black object about 15 feet in front of us.  It started to move, so we knew it wasn't a rock, then we saw its white tail and we realized it was a skunk!

It definitely saw us, but it must not have thought we were much of a threat, because it just ran away while Maisy barked at it.

Did anyone get to see the Leonid meteor shower last night?  It was cloudy here, so I didn't get to see them, but the Geminids are coming on December 12 and 13, so hopefully we will have better weather for those.

Thanks for reading!