Hyperlite Ultamid 2 and 4400 Ice Pack
I had the privilege of joining Sierra Mountaineering Club to attempt Mt Shasta via the West Face to the summit crater of Shastina, where we camped for the night. The original plan was to attempt the summit of Shasta via the Whitney Glacier, but things didn't work out as planned...
We had brought all the standard group gear (e.g. 4 season tent, snow pickets, rope, etc), and I had brought a couple of extra items along for field testing purposes, from Hyperlite Mountaineering: their Ice Pack and Ultamid 2 ultralight tent.
The pack was pretty amazing, carrying a far lighter load because I had 4400 cu in to play with and the pack weighed 2.5 pounds. Carried the load well across all of the terrain between Bunny Flat and the summit crater (which included a couloir at a 45 or so deg angle and talus / scree areas). It's now my dedicated pack. I absolutely love it.
The tent was pretty cool once you figure out how to pitch it. It weighs 1.1 pounds with the guy lines, so extremely light. I pitched it out at standard height, then used the standard 3-season aluminum stakes to make multiple mini-deadman anchors (yes, I know these were totally inappropriate stakes to use, but I wanted to test how well they would hold in the wind). I used my ice axe plunged to the limit as the upwind guy line anchor. This was perfectly fine in the mild wind we had just before going to bed.
In the photo below, the HMG Ultamid 2 is on the left. We are in the Shastina summit crater. Mt. Shasta's on the right.
... But then the weather conditions changed. And I was awoken at 9:30 with half the Ultamid getting ripped out all along my sleeping bag. Near- whiteout conditions with 40-50 (?) mph winds. It was an "interesting" experience to be abruptly awoken that way, for sure! So, I grabbed the edge of the tent to keep my single trekking pole support upright (i.e. keep the tent up) while I took a minute or so to wake up and think about how to solve the problem. Then I rolled the edge of the tent under my butt and managed to wiggle into some clothes and a jacket, followed by sliding on my boots. Painful with wind / snow / tent blowing everywhere. Then I went out and re-staked the mini-deadman anchors before going out to find the snow pickets. Once I had four snow pickets crammed in as replacements for the totally inappropriate 3 season stakes I had, the tent was fully secure. There was ZERO damage to the tent fabric or accessory cord lines for staking / guy line placement. ZERO damage to my 10-year old MSR hiking poles used as the single support tent pole.
My partner had his expo North Face 3-man tent and used SMC snow stakes, however the storm ripped those out. So, we had a situation of eventually needing to use every ice axe and snow picket we had to button up the expo tent, and I abandoned the Ultamid and joined the other guys in the expo tent.
Field test was over.
The results: I learned a tough, but important lesson in proper anchorage of a tent when at high altitude. Never again will I use anything but snow stakes backed up with snow pickets +/- other gear like ice axes. My initial impression is the Ultamid can handle very high winds, so long as you do the following:
1. Absolutely take the time and bring the appropriate equipment to stake it out properly.
2. Shovel about a foot or two of snow as a barrier around the upwind rim of the tent to prevent wind from getting under the lip of the tent and lifting it (this was a strong suggestion from HMG's ambassadors who took it to the Himalayans).
So, if you haven't ever ridden out a storm at high altitude, good lessons learned, and very cool and exciting equipment from HMG.
Disclaimer: I purchased all of the HMG equipment and have zero financial interest in HMG as a company.