The Unplanned Bivi Story - what are some of yours?

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by Andinistaloco » Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:21 am

Good question, DMT.

I've had several, but the one which always comes first to mind was in the Venezuelan Andes, heading up to Bolivar via Humboldt, Bonpland, and the lower lakes. I ran off to climb a spire along the way and ended up separated from my partner, who was headed to the camp below Bolivar. It got ridiculously socked in - visibility of something like ten feet. Soon I'd lost the trail (such as it was) as well. Still, I knew where I was headed and I knew which way was north and all that good stuff, so I plodded along, aiming for where I figured the camp would be.

After a while, though, it started raining. Then it got darker. Then it started sleeting. Finally I stopped pushing as it was around 15K and I was getting tired with the heavy pack and plus, I couldn't see a damned thing. Figured I was close though. Bummer was that my partner had the tent and stove, whereas I had uncooked spaghetti noodles and a rope and harnesses and gear, none of which kept the snow off or provided much in the way of sustenance. Ended up digging a big hole beneath a boulder and crawling in... my legs were still sticking out though.

No danger, just an amazingly miserable night. What's funny (now) is that when the sun rose the next morning I saw I was about 1/2-1/4 mile from, and just above, the camp. Whoooooops.

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by Scott » Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:59 am

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by Saintgrizzly » Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:03 am

And here's mine, with partners Bob Bolton and Duane Gilliland. Most definitely something none of us will ever forget!

McDonald Peak Mishap(s)

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by bird » Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:26 pm

Had an unplanned Bivy in June of 1981 in the Daks (Wallface climb) wearing standard climbing wear of the day...cotton painters pants and rugby the rain.
Worked very hard to avoid repeating that every since!

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by fatdad » Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:08 pm

I guess in some ways it's reassuring that I'm not the only one who has a wierd vibe about the Minarets. Beautiful cluster of peaks and I'd love to return but, after the accident, my plans to do climb Michael Minaret got scratched for the foreseeable future.

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by Dave K » Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:54 pm

My only one so far happened on the summit of Mt. Conness almost 7 years ago to the day. It was a very pleasant early fall evening. Strangely enough it actually turned out to be one my funnest backcountry experiences ever. The three of us stayed up most of the night laughing.

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by phydeux » Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:14 am

Years ago I was doing a climb of Inyo and Keynot Peaks (California, southern Owens Valley) by the normal Union Wash route in early spring. A friend had bailed earlier in the week, but I decided to go by myself. When I got up in the AM I'd realized I'd forgotten my down jacket (damn!). As a substitute I stuffed my down sleeping bag into my day pack and headed up the wash.

Lots of snow up near the top slowed me down. I made Inyo Peak, and was pretty sure I could make it over to Keynot and back before sunset; I didn't. I didn't want to decend in the dark, but was able to use my sleeping bag to stay reasonable warm through the night. I was also able to melt snow for hot water since I'd brought a Sierra Cup and a butane lighter to start a small fire. Temps didn't get below freezing overnight (the snow wasn't frozen on its surface in the morning) so the decent the next morning was fairly routine on crunchy snow and Unin wash's endless scree slope.

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by BHunewill » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:07 am

Yeah, beautiful but very haunted.

What's the story behind that? I'm not very familiar with the Minarets.

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by Dave Dinnell » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:05 am

Fun topic...Only a handful of unplanned bivies for me over the years. All seem to involve a lack of judgement due to sleep deprivation or other things.

Summer of '85, made a night-time drive after working all day to Whitney Portal to do the East Face in a day. Arrived at 3 a.m. Tired, we ambled up slowly but enjoyed the approach tremendously. Watched an incredible sunset from the summit.

Decided to return via the trail as darkness set in. Both headlamps went out on the switchbacks during the moonless descent. Stumbled around below the switchbacks for awhile and thought we had lost the trail completely.

Crawled under a big boulder and slept on our packs and rope. Come morning, we crawled out from under our rock to find we were right next to the trail.

In '97 made a lame but fun trip up the West Face of the Leaning Tower. A friend had made a hual bag by inverting a canvas army duffle bag over a barrel and soaking it in verathane then letting it dry for a couple of days. We thought "cool" and tossed it in the back seat of the car.

About 4 hours later, we arrived in the Valley completely buzzed due to the fumes from our new "haul bag." We sort of "floated" a bit in the parking area and made slow progress getting going. By the time we roped up it was late in the day.

Near the top of the second pitch, I think, it was getting too dark to see and there was a 6 inch protrusion of rock...can't exactly call it a ledge, though, but it seemed like a good place to stop at the time. Spent a very uncomfortable night not sleeping and just hanging in our harnesses waiting for dawn to arrive. Very surreal experience as was the rest of the climb but very cool topping out.

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by asmrz » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:27 pm

My first (of many). The late Bob Harvey and I climbed E.Butt of El Cap, but started a bit late. On the way down, we got lost in a fading light. Started to rap, did some raps, it got really dark, no moon at all and I thought we should just stop and wait for dawn. So we did. When the dawn broke, we found ourselves about 15 feet above terra firma. The trail was just below us. True story.

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Re: The Unplanned Bivi Story - what are some of yours?

by wfinley » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:51 pm

Dingus Milktoast wrote:Here is one of mine, cross-posted from the Taco. Cheers Summitpost! I figger the mountaineers of this board will have some similar tales of woe to relate.
We climb in the footsteps of giants, eh?


That was very well written!

I have lots of fun bivy stories... but perhaps my favorite is from a bivy in the Canadian Rockies. Long story short we ran out of light and my partner, exhausted from climbing, fell asleep as soon as we dug a snow ledge. He was sleeping so deeply I managed to position my entire body on top of his legs and had a nicely insulated stance for 2 or 3 hours until he woke up screaming "GET OFF ME!!! I'm not your #!@$% thermarest!" Another favorite was curled up inside a crevasse at 13K on Mt. Blackburn. I was with 2 others - a guy & his girlfriend. The guy is super skinny and couldn't stay warm while crouching in the crevasse so he paced all night while I spooned with his girlfriend. I can only imagine what he was thinking all night as I spooned and snored with his girlfriend while he paced.


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