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  1. #1
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    Pack without Avy tool pocket?

    Like most (many? some?) I use a pack with a dedicated Avy tool pocket for my probe and shovel while touring. I recently upgraded my summer pack to a Patagonia Ascensionist which is pretty much just one big compartment. I've started to really enjoy the simplicity. The fact that the 55L weighs less than my 26L touring pack doesn't hurt either. I'm thinking of switching to something similar (either the smaller pattaguci or some other lightweight climbing pack) for my winter tours. Ski carry is actually pretty solid but the one thing that gives me pause is no separate compartment for avy tools. Does anyone use a bag like this? Any problems with the avy stuff being in the main compartment? Are my partners guaranteed to die due to my lack of organization? Any tips to make it work?

    The other concern is wet skins, but I think this is easily solved but putting them in bibs, jacket, or using the rope carrier of the bag.

  2. #2
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    it means all your stuff is gonna get super wet anytime you need to use your shovel or probe... seems pretty suboptimal to me

  3. #3
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    Feb 2009
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    Yeah I switched to the ascensionist 35L as my touring pack - super light & simple, surprisingly durable (so far). BD Cirque packs are similar design. Not using my shovel/probe too often - knock on wood. In spring/summer its great since not much else in my pack, and stick that stuff at bottom below shovel/probe. But come winter may get crowded & congested.

  4. #4
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    Yer gonna die.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by I've seen black diamonds! View Post
    Yer gonna die.
    To be fair, he'll be fine. It's his partners that'll die.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    To be fair, he'll be fine. It's his partners that'll die.
    I guess I could also die if it gets my down jacket wet and the temps drop and I get stranded on the mountain.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by davjr96 View Post
    I guess I could also die if it gets my down jacket wet and the temps drop and I get stranded on the mountain.
    True. Condolences to your entire party.

  8. #8
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    Well, yeah, but once he’s dead, they can have a Donner Party
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
    Hunter S. Thompson

  9. #9
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    Jan 2008
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    BD Cirque 35 - light mountaineering pack with ski carry and a divider for snow tools


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    Best Skier on the Mountain
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    1992 - 2012
    Squaw Valley, USA

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    To be fair, he'll be fine. It's his partners that'll die.
    Yup, like when my partner shows up with a plastic shovel ... we swap shovels ;-)
    Galibier Design
    crafting technology in service of music

  11. #11
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    May 2018
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    The BD Cirque 30/35 does seem like a good solution to this potential death problem. Seems to have a separate sleeve/pouch in the main pocket while still checking all the other boxes. And it comes in red.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    183
    I like going simple, and used a pack without a dedicated avy tools pocket for a couple of seasons. I never worried about being able to get my tools out in a hurry, but:
    1) I tended to get my spare clothes wet when putting the tools back. A seperate dry bag sorts this but sort of defeats the point of going for simplicity.
    2) I ended up pulling all my stuff out of the bag when getting my avy tools out (taking a shovel blade out pretty much means all your other stuff comes with it). On a windy day this can be a nightmare.
    3) If your stuff didn't fall out of the bag when you took your shovel blade out then don't worry - you'll have to take it all out to get the shovel blade back in
    4) I cought myself once or twice thinking that I couldn't be bothered to get my shovel out (to dig a pit, not find a person )

    Perhaps in certain climates or for more gnarly ski mountaineering a climbing pack would be better, but I have gone back to a dedicated ski tour pack.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by gritter View Post
    I like going simple, and used a pack without a dedicated avy tools pocket for a couple of seasons. I never worried about being able to get my tools out in a hurry, but:
    1) I tended to get my spare clothes wet when putting the tools back. A seperate dry bag sorts this but sort of defeats the point of going for simplicity.
    2) I ended up pulling all my stuff out of the bag when getting my avy tools out (taking a shovel blade out pretty much means all your other stuff comes with it). On a windy day this can be a nightmare.
    3) If your stuff didn't fall out of the bag when you took your shovel blade out then don't worry - you'll have to take it all out to get the shovel blade back in
    4) I cought myself once or twice thinking that I couldn't be bothered to get my shovel out (to dig a pit, not find a person )

    Perhaps in certain climates or for more gnarly ski mountaineering a climbing pack would be better, but I have gone back to a dedicated ski tour pack.
    This is why you need a dedicated sleeve in the bag..... in a rescue situation I don’t want to have to think about what items just flew out of my bag as I yanked my probe/shovel


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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    1,525
    I made the switch to Prival and now my whole avy kit fits on the sides of my boots. BTW, looking for a few new bc partners this winter.

  15. #15
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    I use an airbag pack with more pockets than I'd like in the winter, but I use a top loading climbing pack in the spring. It is not hard to get a shovel and probe out of the pack with out removing any other items. I always put them in the pack in the same way (against the spine). Most or all of the other items in my pack are in stuff sacks. I can reach in and find both parts of the shovel and the probe without looking. I loosen the two upper side straps, open the top pocket, then tilt the pack so the spine is facing diagonally upward. The shovel and probe are then sitting on top of the stuff sacks and slide out easily. They go back in the same way. It works because I've been doing it the same way for hundreds of days. It's probably faster than getting them in and out of the dedicated pocket on my airbag pack which is just too small for a full sized shovel. Everything needs to be arranged just right for it to zip all the way.

    My point isn't that top loaders are better. It's that in many cases familiarity with gear matter more than the gear itself. And not every "feature" is going to make your life better if it's just replacing another viable solution. What I would be concerned about with the Ascensionist is how the fabric holds up against ski edges. The old version was made of a pretty light fabric. New one seems burlier but is it actually designed for ski carry? At least they'll replace it for free if you cut it up after a few bootpacks.

  16. #16
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    ^ yeah, I really don’t think the “you’ll be slow removing your stuff in an accident” argument is the damning thing, it’s just always having all your shit wet. I’m not digging full pits every day I tour but I have the probe out a lot, and the shovel at least once a week for this or that... but to each his own. I wouldn’t balk at touring with someone with this setup, personally, as long as they were competent.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    ^ yeah, I really don’t think the “you’ll be slow removing your stuff in an accident” argument is the damning thing, it’s just always having all your shit wet. I’m not digging full pits every day I tour but I have the probe out a lot, and the shovel at least once a week for this or that... but to each his own. I wouldn’t balk at touring with someone with this setup, personally, as long as they were competent.
    But having other gear fall out of your pack when you are conducting a rescue is a point worth mentioning as extra gear laying around could cause confusion at the accident site, especially if someone from outside your party comes on scene.

  18. #18
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    Feb 2009
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    113
    On the ascensionist durability question, agree that a-frame doesnt work great because the side straps are pretty thin and I've sliced the side panel in a few places (although the grid ripstop has held well). I put a webbing loop on the small ice axe loop and run skis diagonal and works better. This is the older, thinner fabric version. Works well later season when not carrying as much. In the winter, may go back to my bigger burlier deuter which has an avy pocket - or look at one of the BD Cirques

  19. #19
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    I skied with the Ascensionist 30 for two seasons and it's great, but:

    1. your clothing inside the pack will get wet.
    2. thus, you can't bring down.
    3. you will be slower getting to your shove and probe
    4. transitions will be more of a yard sale

    No problems with durability.
    Axe carry is great.
    Wicked light.

    Some poster here detailed how he sewed in some retaining straps or tubes for the probe and shovel. The problem for me was the blade. It fight perfectly at the bottom of the back. Guaranteed yardsale.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by I've seen black diamonds! View Post
    ... My point isn't that top loaders are better. It's that in many cases familiarity with gear matter more than the gear itself. And not every "feature" is going to make your life better if it's just replacing another viable solution. What I would be concerned about with the Ascensionist is how the fabric holds up against ski edges. The old version was made of a pretty light fabric. New one seems burlier but is it actually designed for ski carry? At least they'll replace it for free if you cut it up after a few bootpacks.
    ^^^ key point highlighted ^^^

    ... Thom
    Galibier Design
    crafting technology in service of music

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowaddict91 View Post
    But having other gear fall out of your pack when you are conducting a rescue is a point worth mentioning as extra gear laying around could cause confusion at the accident site, especially if someone from outside your party comes on scene.
    This. The rescue team is trained to keep 100% of their gear with them at all times (except for designated cache areas) for this exact reason. If a rescuer drops a glove and another team member thinks it's a clue, the team could spend vital time searching in the wrong area.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    650

    Pack without Avy tool pocket?

    One more vote for the BD Cirque 35. Really light but still carries well fully loaded.

    It’d probably be a bit slower to get to the avi pocket than with my other pack that has a designated avi tool pocket on the outside with its own zipper, but I only use the pack in the spring when avalanche danger is low and I don’t want the weight of an airbag. Plus it’s a good general daypack for longer hiking days.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1000-oaks View Post
    This. The rescue team is trained to keep 100% of their gear with them at all times (except for designated cache areas) for this exact reason. If a rescuer drops a glove and another team member thinks it's a clue, the team could spend vital time searching in the wrong area.
    That's a great point ... something I've never had to consider, since all of my packs have dedicated pockets. You don't know how folks will respond when the shit hits the fan. Not everyone is as organized as @ISBD.

    ... Thom
    Galibier Design
    crafting technology in service of music

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