Sandwich Ridge Wilderness Overnight - Passaconaway, Whiteface and the Tripyramids

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Rhody Seth

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Charlestown, RI
My friend and I spent a night on the Kate Sleeper Trail over Presidents' Day weekend. We made it an easy carspot by leaving my car at Sabbaday and making the short drive to the Oliverian Brook Trail. We started in spikes but on the ascent to Passaconaway we switched to snowshoes and they would be used for the bulk of the trip. Day 1 was cold and in the single digits much of the day. We saw a good number of people as we went from Passaconaway to Whiteface and then were were alone for the remainder, except for one pair we met at the top of North Tripyramid and those enjoying Sabbaday Falls.

The heavy packs wore us down and we were tired by the time we reached Whiteface. :p We were breaking trail on Kate Sleeper and ready for camp. Luckily there were plenty of good spots to camp on that trail. We set up camp in the low point between East and West Sleeper and while the temps warmed through the night the wind also howled something fierce. I had my share of camping blunders, doing a poor job with my tarp tie-outs and having stove issues in the morning. Luckily Pete heated up water for me. The most challenging part of the trip was the South Slide climb. It was fairly icy but the snowshoes worked great for traction (as well as the heel rises). Pete lost his Garmin InReach on the slide which was dispiriting but we deloaded, threw on spikes and went back down. Luckily he found it right where he suspected he lost it. We wore spikes the rest of the way up South Tripyramid out of stubborn/laziness and that was a true slog. From there we went back to snowshoes for the remainder of the trip.

After enjoying the short packed out section from Middle to North to Middle Tri, we descended via the Sabbaday Falls Brook Trail. The trail was choppy due to the recent warm temps and as we descended it probably reached 40 degrees, resulting in mash potato snow. That five mile hike out really finished us off. Passaconaway and Whiteface were #27-28 on my winter 48 list and Whiteface was #45 for Round 3 leaving me with three more to go (Owls Head, Isolation and Wildcat A).

As always it was a learning process and a great adventure. Here's the video if you have an idle 20 minutes.

 
What was the stove problem?

I think there were two separate issues. When it worked in the evening, it wasn't producing much flame/heat. I've since taken it apart and cleaned it twice but it's still not performing well. I think the jet may need to be replaced.

In the morning the issue was that there was no pressure. When I tried to pump it there was no resistance. I'm going to look into cleaning the pump but I just got this replacement pump so I wouldn't think it would be the issue.
 
Assuming it is a whisperlight, the evening issue is most likely that heat is being reflected on the snow underneath creating a bit of vapor from heating up snow underneath. The vapor rises and freezes on the nozzle where the fuel sprays out. It reduces the diameter of the opening so that the stove runs but at very low flame. It is hard to diagnose as by the time a person can look at the nozzle the ice will have melted. Folks usually carry a piece of license plate to set the stove on. Any flat dry surface will work.

The AM issue is probably the lip seal on the pump, rotate the pump head to clear the locking tabs and then pull out the plunger and gently expand diameter of the rim of the pump leather. Apply a drop or two of lubricant.

While you are lubricating, lubricate the o-rings with silicon grease. Just a bit will do but without it the O-ring will eventually wear imperceptibly causing leakage at the fuel pump head.

Out scout troop used to use whisperlights so had to get good at diagnosis.
 
Nice video. I came up Pine Bend Brook Monday and followed your tracks out Sabbaday Brook. It got pretty soft in the sun, unlike Pine Bend Brook which was a microspikes superhighway. I met a couple on Middle that was considering hiking your loop in reverse as a day hike. If they did hike it, they had your tracks to follow too.
 
Assuming it is a whisperlight, the evening issue is most likely that heat is being reflected on the snow underneath creating a bit of vapor from heating up snow underneath. The vapor rises and freezes on the nozzle where the fuel sprays out. It reduces the diameter of the opening so that the stove runs but at very low flame. It is hard to diagnose as by the time a person can look at the nozzle the ice will have melted. Folks usually carry a piece of license plate to set the stove on. Any flat dry surface will work.

The AM issue is probably the lip seal on the pump, rotate the pump head to clear the locking tabs and then pull out the plunger and gently expand diameter of the rim of the pump leather. Apply a drop or two of lubricant.

While you are lubricating, lubricate the o-rings with silicon grease. Just a bit will do but without it the O-ring will eventually wear imperceptibly causing leakage at the fuel pump head.

Out scout troop used to use whisperlights so had to get good at diagnosis.

Thanks for your thoughts and expertise! I think the jet may need replacing - I've cleaned it twice here at home and it's still not producing great flame. The pump seems to be working fine now but I appreciate the info - I'll keep that in mind for next time.

Nice video. I came up Pine Bend Brook Monday and followed your tracks out Sabbaday Brook. It got pretty soft in the sun, unlike Pine Bend Brook which was a microspikes superhighway. I met a couple on Middle that was considering hiking your loop in reverse as a day hike. If they did hike it, they had your tracks to follow too.

I'm glad we helped you a bit with Sabbaday. It wasn't much fun descending for us with the soft uneven snowpack.
 
Assuming it is a whisperlight, the evening issue is most likely that heat is being reflected on the snow underneath creating a bit of vapor from heating up snow underneath. The vapor rises and freezes on the nozzle where the fuel sprays out. It reduces the diameter of the opening so that the stove runs but at very low flame. It is hard to diagnose as by the time a person can look at the nozzle the ice will have melted. Folks usually carry a piece of license plate to set the stove on. Any flat dry surface will work.

The AM issue is probably the lip seal on the pump, rotate the pump head to clear the locking tabs and then pull out the plunger and gently expand diameter of the rim of the pump leather. Apply a drop or two of lubricant.

While you are lubricating, lubricate the o-rings with silicon grease. Just a bit will do but without it the O-ring will eventually wear imperceptibly causing leakage at the fuel pump head.

Out scout troop used to use whisperlights so had to get good at diagnosis.
This is great info. I usually fire up my stove at home before each trip to be sure everything is working. Get the field repair kit if you have not already.
https://youtu.be/O1WSGFBq-FI
 
The other issue that can cause well used whisperlights to act up is a carboned up cable in the preheat tube. Inside the pipe between the pump and the jet is cable if it carbons up it can lead to poor flame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1WSGFBq-FI

I have seen this on stoves that burn pump gas but rarely on real stove fuel. Jets rarely wear out BTW, the proper way to shut down a whisperlight is to turn off the fuel and blow it out, do not let it run until the flame goes out aas the air fuel mixture in that shut down phase is off and things carbon up. Yes you will smell some raw gas when you blow it out. I converted my "old reliable" original whisperlight to a shaker jet. I think the cost was almost as much as a new stove.
 
The best way to solve this problem is to learn how to keep your fellow hikers up at night and get a real stove. It’s called the XGK.
 
The other issue that can cause well used whisperlights to act up is a carboned up cable in the preheat tube. Inside the pipe between the pump and the jet is cable if it carbons up it can lead to poor flame.

I cleaned my stove out twice last week and that cable is definitely black on the end near the stove. Any suggestions on how to really get it clean? WD40? I also picked up the repair kit and I'm going to try replacing the jet just to see.
 
I think I used old toothbrush and rag the last time I did one 20 years ago. The cable actually acts like a flexible reamer to knock carbon from inside the tube. So slide it in and out while rotating with the jet removed and then blow it out. If you want to use WD-40 it is not going to hurt anything. My guess is your had the dreaded freezing jet issue which should be cured with piece of license plate under the primer cup and legs.
 
If you watch the video, at 9:00 you can see the foil platform (with snow) and the reflector setup. https://youtu.be/mHFUOqHXy1g?t=540

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Tim
 

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In the close up it looks like there is snow between the reflector and the sheet of foil. Heat would get down to the powder, form a vapor and could cause the partial jet freezing phenomena I described.
 
Enjoyed the video. Nice work !

Thanks much!

Follow-up on the stove, I haven't fixed it yet. :p I did pick up the repair kit but I've yet to give the pump a good look-see. I got distracted by other things and then the temps were high enough on our recent trip that I was able just to go back to the cannister stove. I'll get you working again, whisperlite!
 
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