Well, as I started paragliding, I started a bucket list (some details on that later). Many of the items on this list imply me being out in the wild for more than a couple of hours. So this is a “getting started to train on bivouac”.
The Penkkopf is a 2011m high peak in Kleinarl, Austria. It is not exactly unexplored, as there are route descriptions for hiking, ski-touring and even hike&fly available on the internet. But this was not the reason I went there; the main idea was to start my bivvy training on a mountain I know but haven’t flown from yet. Well, in fact it was my first bivouac ever, but first things first….
The decision to spend the night out (Aug 7-8th, 2016 by the way) was rather spontaneous, as I was driving home from flying at Bischling and heard the weather forecast on the radio; 0% risk of thunderstorms and another sunny day to follow. This was at 6pm, so after picking a couple things up (thermo-underwear, pullover, something to eat and head light+sleeping bag). So not exactly a lot of preparation and therefore I chose a mountain I’ve already been to. One memorable occasion was a full-moon ski-tour in February 2013.
I started in the Kleinarl valley at 8pm, walking uphill, switching on the head light just after Kleinarler Hütte at 21:00 and finally reached the peak shortly before 10 pm. As I was hiking I already sensed it is going to be a rather chilly night for mid-August, and I should be right.
Romantic thoughts first; lots of stars, very quiet (the only thing you could hear were the jets flying at 10km), a beautiful sunset and a even more scenic sunrise. The morning flight was also a pleasure and I managed to some pretty fluent wing overs to get rid of the height.
However, getting to the practical aspects (remember, this was training!); Although I brought a sleeping bag rated to withstand temperatures of -10°C, I occasionally started trembling when I woke up. This was because I refused to believe a camping pad is indeed necessary. First lesson learned; camping pad goes along next time, even in summer. The reason I was feeling cold was merely the ground cold not the fresh air. Probably also a second pair of pants and underwear would have been wise as they were also not spared from sweat..
Besides that, I didn’t get a lot of new insights. Probably it helps someone (most likely me reading this in a couple of weeks), this is a list of gear (total <15kg) I brought;
- Woody Valley Wani Light
- Gin Yeti 2011 19m²
- Evo Cross reserve
- Hard hat (way too heavy for future trips)
- Windstopper Gloves
- Thermo underwear (shirt only) + pullover
- Windstopper Jacket (not warm at all)
- Ski-touring poles
- 2L camel bag (carried ~1.5l water up)
- Some snack bars and 2 loafs
- Sleeping bag (rather heavy thing, I think my dad bought it when he was a child)
- GoPro (which ran out of battery, well, I knew that, used all battery the day before ;))
Some ideas which worked well to protect the gear from dew;
- Stored gloves + GoPro under the helmet. Helmet was wet outside, dry on the inside
- Kept the glider in the harness
- Put my shoes in the sleeping-bag’s pack sack. Remained try as well
- Used the Harness as a pillow (as you can see on the picture)
It all fit really well into my Wani Light when hiking (and I have to mention the superb feeling while carrying, the rucksack really distributes the weight well on hips and shoulders). Yet when flying the storage was really crumped with the sleeping bag and the poles. So I wouldn’t recommend this harness for longer trips.
Overall, quite a nice experience, yet a bit cold. Definitely worth repeating, although I think I’m the type of guy rather sleeping in a tent than under the sky.