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My new outdoor home

August 11, 2009 01:38 by umair

  I paid $350 in overweight while taking my gear to Pakistan from United States. Thats why I decided to stash all of my gear in my home in Lahore instead of bringing it back and buying everything new again for my outdoor activities. This had two major benefits first now I can take a quick trip to Pakistan anytime and walla all my gear is there to start multiday camping. Second I get to buy everything new again ... who doesn't love shopping. Any outdoor enthusiast's loves new buying and stashing new gear, some people even say it's all about gear.

  So the first thing I bought after getting back from Pakistan was a new light weight 2 person tent. The good thing about building and completing your new gear warehouse is you always know what you want and you always keep an eye on the deals around you (especially internet). I never tried BigAgnes product before but always heard good reviews from friends. Thus when I found this terrific deal on internet about this 4 lbs & 4oz light weight tent I immediately pressed "Add to cart" button. They also gave me free footprint for the tent, extra bonus. Even though it is a 3 season tent but its designed for wind-shedding, I will be using it as my primary 4 Season tent when I am camping in East Cost. 

The Big Agnes Sunnyside 2 tent features a wind-shedding design with 2 doors and 2 vestibules that offer convenient entry/exit and separate storage areas.

The North Face Aguila 23 -My offshore outdoor Home


My Review of The North Face Aguila 23:

 In long multiday treks you definitely are better off with two person tent rather than a small cramped up one person tent, which by the way I also own and use it for quick and ultra lightweight treks. A two person also helps you to have enough space for your self and your clothing, gear, etc ... especially when you are staying at one site aka base camp for multidays. For this I bought and took The North Face Aguila 23 with me to K2 Bascamp Trek; a 16 to 18 day trek on tough and rugged terrain of Baltoro Glacier and Godwin Austin Glacier ... not to forget the blessings of high altitude. After a long day haul to your next camping station all you need is a nice and comfortable tent where you can lie down easily, sit comfortably to read your book, have enough space to open or rearrange your bag/backpack, invite a friend over to have some chit chat etc. For all of this Aguila 23 performed 5 stars, the way the tent is designed it gives huge inside space. From outside the tent looks pretty small and its aero dynamic design makes it look slick too (a lot of international trekkers asked me about this cool looking tent) but once you get in you have this huge space and it all due to its design of how the poles pull the tent inner mesh towards them. Yes there are days when you are bound to stay inside the tent the whole (bad weather ofcourse or waiting for your slow partner who is running one day behind) this tent gave me the protection from all kind of bad weather and kept me dry and clean. The assembky if the tent is very simple and it only takes less than 2 minutes & 46 seconds minutes to setup it (yes I timed it), its fun putting up this tent because of the way the poles stick together thats why it was always my porters who were eager to put it up or break it down for me. The pole assembly looks pretty complicated when a person sees it for first time, I remember when one of the porter first saw it without the fly he said "Azaab" (meaning WHAT THE HELL?), but it's just piece of cake.

I'll give it 5 out of 5 ... Excellent Buy!

Brief Product Description:

The North Face Aguila 23 is a three-season backpacking tent that uses a hubbed-pole configuration that maximizes usable space and is easy to set up.

  • Aguila has two doors and two large vestibules for convenient entry/exit and generous storage space
  • DAC® reverse-combi pole system maximizes headroom and comfort by using different diameter poles
  • Aluminum hub eliminates unnecessary pole sections, reduces weight and makes setup a breeze
  • Strong, ultralight Microclips™ secure the canopy to the poles through a unique camming action
  • Silicone- and polyurethane-coated rainfly provides high water repellency, greater resistance to UV breakdown and compressibility for easier packing
  • Ripstop nylon canopy is fully seam-sealed and nylon taffeta floor is fully taped for the ultimate in weather protection
  • No-see-um mesh panels and doors provide high/low air circulation that inhibit condensation buildup
  • Color-coded canopy and rainfly webbing ensure ease of setup; adjustable stake-out loops allow micro adjustments


Side Note:

Don't forget to take Crazy Creek chair with you it makes a big difference ... :)


Wilderness First Aid, May 9 ~ May 10, 2009

May 8, 2009 06:20 by umair

I will be away for the weekend for the Wilderness First Aid class.

Below is the agenda/course outline I have been given by Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS


Introductions                                                                            .5 hr.



Patient Assessment System                                                   3.5 hrs.

                        Initial Assessment

                        Focused History, Vital Signs, Patient Exam



Lunch (1 hr.)


Spine and Head Injury

Spinal Cord Injury Management                                                        1.0 hr. 

Head Injuries                                                                             .5 hr.


Shock, Bleeding, Wounds

Shock                                                                                                     .75 hr. 

Wilderness Wound Management                                                     1.75 hr.





Focused Spine Assessment                                                                .5 hr.


Musculoskeletal Injury

Athletic Injuries                                                                                 .75 hr.

Fractures                                                                                             .75 hr.

Traction Splinting                                                                              1.0 hr.

Dislocations                                                                                          .5 hr.


Lunch (1 hr.)



Heat                                                                                                       .5hr.

Cold Injuries                                                                                       .75 hr.

Lightning                                                                                               .5 hr.

Altitude Illness                                                                                      .5 hr.


Medical Topics

Acute Abdomen                                                                                    .5 hr.

Anaphylaxis                                                                                          .5 hr.

The Unconscious Patient                                                                      .5 hr.

Wilderness First Aid Kits                                                                   .25 hr.


This course outline is the copyrighted material of

©2004 Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS • 284 Lincoln St. • Lander, WY 82520 •866-831-9001


Wilderness First Aid

April 17, 2009 09:32 by umair

Since I will be spending 3 to 4 weeks in wilderness in Pakistan, I decided it will not be a bad idea to take the Wilderness First Aid course. This could not be helpful for me but I can be of some help to other hikers, climbers, trekkers, or mountaineers who are venturing out in the high mountains of Korakoram just like me.

Some Info about this Course:

This 16-hour course in Wilderness First Aid is taught by the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS. This interactive course is designed to provide outdoor leaders, guides and rangers with an introduction to First Aid and patient care in remote settings. Emphasis is placed on principles of treatment and decision-making, not the memorization of lists. All levels of training and experience are welcome. Camping is free. Dorm room lodging is available for $20 per evening. Everyone has access to bathrooms, showers and a full-service kitchen.

Location: Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Cost: $230.00 non-member / $210.00 member
Organization: Venture Outdoors

How to make your PDA a GPS navigation unit for Wilderness & Road

February 15, 2008 02:35 by umair

I was looking for a cheap alternate to handheld GPS navigation system. On the other hand I also wanted a good Road Navigation unit which can tell me turn by turn instructions as well POI (point of interest). I good TomTom car navigation unit is great for the road but of no use off the road similarly a Garmin or Magellan handheld unit for outdoor sports works like a charm in wilderness but can't talk vocally the turn by turn instruction while you are driving. Definitely the best solution would have been to buy a approx. $250 TomTom and $450 Garmin handheld unit. sometimes when my budget is tight the best solution doesn't interpret as a viable solution for me. 

So I had to use my brains to find the a solution which is best for my tight pocket. I dide own a Palm Treo 700w Windows Mobile 5.0 based PDA all had to do was to use it as a GPS device. I knew I can get a USB GPS unit, a SD Card Slot GPS Unit, or a BlueTooth GPS device to get the GPS coordinates into my PDA. But the real challenge was to find the right software. A software which can work on Windows Mobile 5.0 with the resolution of 312 MHz, 240x240 pixels and 26MB RAM memory, cause thats what the lousy Palm Treo  700W has. You can definitely find a better PDA with 128MB RAM and 320x240 resolution in the market ... Palm has also discontinued selling 700W cause it had so many issues due to very low RAM and the new models such 700Wx include twice as much RAM. (To read my aritcle on Palm Treo 700W goto

There are a lot of Windows Mobile and Palm OS road navigation software out there such as (for more info goto

I found this website which specializes in PDA based eGPS units and other GPS accessories. Since I never heard about Semsons so I was reluctant to do business with them but after some great reviews on internet I picked up the phone and called them. They had a great customer service and they guided me to buy the right product. Thus their exceptional customer service gave me the courage to do business with them. I was tempted to buy TomTom software but the customer service guy told me honestly that the software is great indeed but they recently had some complaints when people tried to run it on low processing and low memeory PDAs such as Treo 700W; he advised me to get iGuidance which uses very low memory and processing power. He also advised that there are free trial software which I can test before buying.




I bought iTrek M5+ BlueTooth Receiver  for $50, which can capture upto 51 satellites at a time and had a battery life of 28 to 30 hours. I used this device in very dense wilderness as well as roads and never lost my location. Not only that it takes just few seconds to find your location after a cold start. I used it for my White Mountain multi day trip in NH by attaching it to the back of my back pack with valcro from walmart (pic on the left)

For road navigation I used iGuidance v.4, which worked like a charm. It had so many features that I don't have time to ellaborate right now but you definitely should check out the website for more details By buying a good Car Mount for my PDA with external speaker and space to attach the GPS receiver, all  from Semson, it made the whole system perfect. 

Now the challenge was to find the software for wilderness, for which I required Topo Maps. I didn't have too many options out there for this purpose and they were not cheap as well. One of it was National Geographic for Pocket PC but the problem was that the maps were too expensive. Other was Fugawi Map software which had all the flexibilities of using any map and collaborating amps from any source; but still not suitable for me cause the software was too complex for me ... may be for an experienced or skilled person who knows how to read nautical charts, collaborate map etc. 

Well after a very thorough and frustrating search on internet I found this guy who is working on building a Pocket PC apllication for backpackers. The application name is BackCountry Navigator ( and it is compatible to 240x240 pixel resolution. Again it has so many features that I would suggest going the website and reading it ... but I would take some time to tell you that it has the ability to download Topo or Aerial map of any place in US directly from the TerraServer-USA all you need is either a data plan (unlimited if you are downloading a large area) or PDA with wifi accessability, not only that you can download different scales of map so you can zoom in or out. The BackCountry Navigator easily connect to your GPS device and can track your location or waypoints  On the pic below you can see the summit of Mt. Washington and trials as well as my current location and where I am heading to. Did I tell you that it just cost me $30 bucks.


 As I mentioned earlier above the best solution is to buy $250e TomTom and $450 Garmin Handheld, which means that due to some reason I have not made my custom solution the best. The reason is pretty obvious but not too critical to jeopardize the whole idea. First of all Treo 700W is a weak device you may be better off with the new powerful PDAs, may be from HTC, cause if you get a call while using any of the application your application may shutdown due to low memory. Second the screen is small so you need a good Car Mount with external speaker so you can hear the directions while dirving. The BackCountry navigator software is still a working project and may require a lot of fixes and enhancements to make it the perfect application but I would no doubt declare it the best system in the market. I have no complaints with the GPS Receiver as it works longer and stronger than any other GPS unit out there.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions ... 

Categories: Articles | Mountaineering
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Equipment for Alpinism by Colin Haley

January 31, 2008 03:16 by umair

I compiled this article from for the purpose of ease of reading. It is a great article which talks about all the essential equipment needed for Alpinism from the author's perspective.  The Author is Colin Haley.

Click here to download the article:
Equipment for Alpinism.pdf (346.62 kb)

Colin Haley, from Seattle Washington, is emerging as one of the worlds leading alpinists. With a new linkup on Cerro Torre with Kelly Cordes and a first winter ascent of Alaska's Mt. Huntington, among many other climbs, Colin is gaining notice not only for the climbs he is putting up, but also the bold, clean alpine style he does them in.

Categories: Mountaineering
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MedKit Essentials

January 26, 2008 11:36 by umair
Don't forget to pack this pill in your MedKit incase things go wrong. 
Happy Trails! 

Categories: Mountaineering
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Drawbacks in my failed attempt of Mt. Washington in 2006

January 24, 2008 02:52 by umair

I would like to be honest with you all and tell you exactly what I think went wrong in my failed attempt two years back. Since this day that failed attempt bothers me a lot cause I am not used to face such kind of major failures.

1. Very Poor Planning:
We were team of three. We are and were very good friends and still hold great respect for each other. We didn't communicate enough. I and my other fellow student just looked and planned the route in our head. We didn't have a detailed expedition plan like bearings, windchecks, weathercheck, UTMs, bail points etc. Our team leader/instructor unfortunately was very busy those days so we couldn't successfully communicate to him nor get his consensus. We did not even bother to show or discuss our plan to any of the instructor for comments.

2. Ignoring the Terrain:
I was the first year student with very limited experience to extreme weather conditions and had experienced very limited terrains. I totally ignored the details of the terrain I will be facing in NH and assumed it to be similar to what I experienced in PA or WV. I ignored that how heavy my back pack can become if am planning to haul and setup a base-camp ... thus thinking that the first three miles to Harvard Cabin is going to be piece of cake.

3. X-Check Gearlist:
We did not create a proper gear list for individual team member and for the team as a whole. Therefore we never did any cross check. So the result was missing essential gear i.e. one team member was missing a helmet due to which we could not attempt any gully the second day.

4. Ignoring Importance of Time:
We had not put proper time constraints. According to initial plan we decided that we will leave very early and will have our base camp setup by 9AM to be ready to head for summit attempt. Our turn around time should be 2:30PM. But unfortunately some of us, including me, decided to have a hot breakfast at Pinkham Notch and ignored the whole time plan. Thus we reached our base-camp at 11:30AM. Since we were already running behind time so we hurried to setup our tent and headed towards the summit attempt. For me it was pushing to hard to reach the summit. By 2:30PM my instructor said its time to turn around. We were just 1/2mile away from summit.

5. Poor Physical Condition:
I was the weakest link in my team as well as the whole group. Even though I have tried much harder to physically train my self for this year but still I am physically very behind the other Mountaineers. But in return I have found my physical limitations ... that I might be slow but a slow steady pace can keep me going for days. So if I plan by having ample time (for example by leaving early) according to my pace I have more chances of attaining my goals instead of planning according to other's.

I would appreciate if people can critic/comment on my article.

Umair Lateef
(I am the guy who believes knowledge multiplies not divides by sharing knowledge)

Categories: Mountaineering | Prezi 2008
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Experienced climber dies on Mount Washington

January 22, 2008 06:26 by umair

Hiking alone, caught in ravine avalanche

Peter Roux spent his work days in an office at the Memphis headquarters of International Paper and found his escape in hiking, his wife said yesterday.

The 39-year-old Lewiston, Maine, native and University of Maine graduate, who had twice scaled Mount Washington with his wife, Ann, came to New England on Friday to meet friends. He had been hiking alone in the mountain's Huntington Ravine when he failed to contact his companions as expected that evening, authorities said.

Authorities say the experienced climber's body was found atop a debris pile Saturday morning, the result of an avalanche, in the first hiking death on the famously treacherous mountain since 2004.

"He loved nature," said Ann Roux, 39, also a Lewiston, Maine, native who met her future husband when they were freshmen at the University of Maine. "He just liked the views, and he started [hiking] to get a workout."

In a telephone interview from her home in Memphis, she said her husband did not take excessive risks.

"He was not a thrill-seeker," she said.

New Hampshire's Mount Washington is famous for its extreme weather, with hurri cane-force winds coupled with sub-zero temperatures regularly recorded at its iconic observatory. It also is a popular hiking destination, where the US Forest Service maintains an avalanche center, which issues daily updates on snow conditions.

According to the US Forest Service, the posted avalanche rating for the gullies in Huntington Ravine on the mountain's east side was "high" on Friday, meaning natural or human-triggered avalanches were likely.

On Friday morning, Roux left Pinkham Notch, the starting point of several hiking trails, with plans to climb Odell's Gully about 3 miles away in Huntington Ravine, his companions told investigators. A storm with wind speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour and gusts at Mount Washington's summit of 86 miles per hour pounded the mountain throughout the day, packing unstable snow onto Odell's Gully, according to a report of the accident posted yesterday on the avalanche center's website.

After friends reported Roux overdue, Forest Service snow rangers began a search about 10 p.m.

Because of concerns about the snowy terrain's stability, search teams did not enter the ravine until Saturday morning.

Roux's body was discovered at 7:15 a.m., 400 feet below Odell's Gully.

The Mount Washington Observatory provided a snowcat, a vehicle used for travel on snowy terrain in blistery conditions, to transport rescuers.

Investigators determined that during Roux's climb, a snow slope fractured, causing an avalanche that carried him amid its debris.

The avalanche center's accident report suggests Roux may have triggered the avalanche by encountering a pocket of unstable snow.

"He was a very good hiker," Ann Roux said. "This was a freak accident."

The couple had been married for 15 years, and had previously lived in Jay, Maine, and Erie, Pa., before moving to Memphis. They had no children.

He worked for International Paper for 18 years, most recently as manager of finance, Ann Roux said.

She said she worried for his safety, but not any more than when he traveled on an airplane.

"It's natural to worry," she said. "But it's not any different than a business trip."

Funeral plans were pending, she said. Services will be in Lewiston, Maine, on either Friday or Saturday, she said.

More than 130 people have died on the 6,288-foot-tall Mount Washington since 1849 for numerous reasons, including falls, avalanches, hypothermia, and natural causes, according to records of the Mount Washington Observatory. Most recently, a 28-year-old man from Southbridge died in a fall in Huntington Ravine's Yale Gully in January 2004, and a Vermont man died in a fall at adjacent Mount Clay in March of that year. A Canadian man died of a heart attack on Mount Washington in August 2006.

John C. Drake can be reached at 




Orientation - Key Points

January 22, 2008 04:39 by Admin

Magnetic Declination:  17 degrees West (in 2003)

Approx. Coordinates of Major Features:
  UTM (NAD27) Lat / Lon
Mt. Washington Summit 19 316158E 4904232N19 316057E 4904294N 44° 16' 12"N, 71° 18' 12"W44° 16' 14"N, 71° 18' 17"W
Pinkham Notch Visitors Center 19 320120E 4902586N 44° 15' 22"N, 71° 15' 12"W
Hermit Lake Shelters 19 317540E 4903013N 44° 15' 34"N, 71° 17' 09"W
Harvard Cabin 19 318759E 4904171N 44° 16' 13"N, 71° 16' 15"W
·         Summit of Mt. Washington: 19T 03 16 178E; 49 04 498N
·         Intersection of Alpine Gardens Trail and Lion’s Head Trail: 19 T 03 16 869E; 49 03 856N
·         The Lion’s Head: 19T 03 17 512E; 49 03 776N

Categories: Mountaineering | Prezi 2008
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