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Backpacking Arts and Skills | High Sierra Backpacker

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Backpacking Arts and Skills

Backpacking Arts: Practical skills required to keep yourself operating in camp and on trail. From the tip of your pointed sunburnt head to the bottom of your flat blistered feet.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Technology News. The Bottom Line: Escape from the Tech Trap sticky icon

Human Triggered Wave of Extinction Started Before Humans

Humans Ended Ice Age Cycle Before Industralism


Technology News
The Bottom Line

Escape from the Tech Trap

Our rising technological understanding of the physical reality around us has shifted humanity's fundamental challenge, which started with basic physical survival, into the sphere of the spiritual and motivational world.
As the scope and power of our technological understanding evolved to threaten all of us, and all life on this planet, it has become vitally important that the brutal operating code that our physical reality operates on, that, "life eats itself to survive," be put aside, by us, for our own survival.

Alex Wierbinski's picture



Tahoe Winter Mountain Safety Event

Beacons and Beers offers backcountry advice ahead of ski season,
Sierra Sun, November 17, 2018.


“...representatives from Black Diamond, Mammut and ORTOVOX gave presentations on the latest beacons, probes and avalanche rescue techniques.”

Safety Skills
"We want to remind people that traveling in the backcountry is dangerous, and we want to make sure that people have the skills to be safe."

Backpacking is Dangerous

Gear & Knowledge
“...centered on the importance of having proper equipment and knowing how to use it before heading into the backcountry.”

What You Are Getting Into
"It's just really important to know what you are getting into and to travel smartly in the backcountry. That's what it comes down to for us."



Bottom Line

markskor's picture

thanks for kind words

After 40+ years backpacking Sierra...still too many places to see. Working now in Tuolumne Meadows store is a 2-edge sword...Great central location but only 3 days a week to do art and explore. Still. kind of like the views from outside the office.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Navigation Tools: Members Favorite for High Sierra Backpacking and Backcountry Travel

Members Favorites

Navigation Tools

The best tool is the one filling your boots; YOU. Below we have a selection of navigation tools found helpful by Tahoe to Whitney Membership.

Navigation Introduction

Land and Sky Navigation Resources

Astronomy Resources

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Field Astronomy for the High Sierra Backpacker

Field Astronomy for the High Sierra Backpacker
 Resources and Information for precisely tracking the position of the Sun across its diurnal (daily) path. Astronomical references tell us the time and keeps us oriented in the terrain by the known time and compass points of its rising and setting positions.

Sun and Moon rise and set coordinates and times.

The same principals apply to the movement of stars across the night sky. 

We can keep track of time at night by the movement of the stars, once we account for the differential between the setting of the Sun and the appearance of the first evening stars.

Nightime Time Keeping: Time Spot 1

Once we figure out how to tell time we can figure out the direction and mentally picture the line of the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, and how our view of our Galaxy reaveals our rough position within it. Then we'll figure out how to find "the next galaxy over."

Locate Ourselves in the Galaxy and Universe

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Backpacking Navigation: Time and Space References


2/3rds of Summertime backpacking is during the day, a third is spent under Night Skies. We are going to locate, record, and use the information about sunrise and set times and compass points as our basic backpacking clock and compass during day and night.

Basic Time and Space Orientation
The basic information establishing the relationship between time and space is available from the Trail Guide's Navigation page.

The links on that page to the Naval Observatory allow us to derive sunrise and sunset compass points and times for any location in the country. We also record the standard time and altitude of the Sun at Local Noon.
I measure these reference points from a position I pick located roughly mid-way along the line of my trip. I record the times and compass points of Sunrise, Sunset, and the "standard" time of Local Noon on the top of the first page of my journal.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Cell Phone Weighs Down Backpack of Self-Discovery


I had to post a link to this cool article, Cell Phones Weigh Down the Backpack of Self-Discovery by Mr. Conley at Bloomberg.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

WuDang Mountains, China

Though I strive to keep this forum focused on backpacking, and centered on the High Sierras, the indescribable beauty of nature does not confine itself within my artificial limits.

This beautiful video of Chines Wildlife was produced by what appears to be a Chinese Citizen living in the US. I may be mistaken. This video was relayed to me by a third party.


This video cannot be embedded: You must view it at Ying's Channel.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Idiot Tip: Emergency Snowshoes

Many years ago a friend of mine moved to Meyers, nestled in beautiful Christmas Valley below Echo Summit. This is on the Southeastern side of Lake Tahoe. I was a downhill skier, and enjoyed much of what Tahoe offered during the Winter. I visited all the time, and especially during Winter. Though a backpacker, I had no Winter skills at that time.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Backpacking Skills: Stormdrane's Blog and Videos

Check out my post on Stormdrane's Rope and Knot work Blog and YouTube channel. 


Stormdrane's Blog.

Stormdrane's Videos

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Resource for rope and Knotwork: Stormdrane's Blog

Video embed: 
See video

An important backpacking skill is the ability to make rope and cord serve your purpose. The ability to expertly hang food, lashing gear securely to your pack, and properly tie down your tent or tarp is very useful.

Oh, I've got another amazing use for rope skills: Check this out...

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Backpacking: Cold Water Survival Reference, Yukon Man

 Backpacking Survival: Cold Water and self rescue from frozen lakes. Resources and References. Great information link to Yukon Man's cold water survival page. Check out the first video on Yukon Man's Cold Water Survival page. Also links to TahoetoWhitney frozen lake escape account.

Yukon Man's Cold Water rescue and survival videos and information

Escape from Round Lake


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Spring Snow Survival Issues in the High Sierras: Weak Ice, Soft Snow, and Spring Runoff

High Sierra Winter temperatures have been rising for quite a few years now. During mid-Winter this has created a softer, wetter environment. This softer snow has made Winter travel more difficult, and the wetter snow makes for wetter backpackers, which makes it more difficult to retain warmth.

Rather than experiencing snow so cold that it is "dry," recent high Winter temperatures have made for soggy, and even wet experiences. Wet snow is much more dangerous than dry snow for Winter Backpackers.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Link to an Excellent resource for ropework and knotting

The TahoetoWhitney YouTube Channel was subscribed to by Atzlanz. I checked out his channel, which indicated that Atzlanz was a skilled student of the Art of Knotting and Ropework. His channel led to his website, which I found to be a valuable resource for all things knotty.

Having basic rope skills is an important backpacking skill.

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