Friday, October 14, 2005

Backpacking Light

Lighter not always better
Rescue workers say hikers unprepared
By Jason Blevins
Denver Post Staff Writer

The hot trend in mountaineering these days is light and fast.

Lighten up, leave more at home, and you can increase mobility and agility while reducing fatigue, the nasty culprit behind many a mountaineering mishap.

Elite climbers take a day to go up and down peaks that traditionally required several days to complete. High-speed athletes are bagging three or more peaks in a single day, making it home for dinner with the family. Through-hikers are whittling down packs to less than 10 pounds, compared with the 60-pound packs previously required for long jaunts in the woods.

Light-and-fast disciples say it is the only way to go. Ditch the beast-of-burden ethos and erase suffering from the backcountry experience, they say.

Search and rescue specialists worry the trend leaves hikers and climbers ill-prepared for unforeseen and often inevitable calamity. Read more...