/ The history of Bothy bags / group shelters.

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mikeatomm - on 16 Mar 2019

BOTHY Bags or group shelters. 

Outdoor Gear Coach has published a well researched story about Bothy bags (also known as group shelters (or Zdarsky sacks in USA and we are looking for interesting stories of real live use. 

https://www.outdoorgearcoach.co.uk/group-shelter/  

Bothy bags are now almost standard kit for group leaders in UK and Scandinavia and to a lesser extent in eastern USA but hardly at all in Alpine Europe. However the depth of understanding of their benefits is something that deserves to be improved. This story is a result of collaboration with our USA editor Chuck Kukla.  

and it starts much earlier than we had previously assumed, 1890's with Mummery tent and Smythe in the 1930's in a fascinating way.

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Frank R. on 16 Mar 2019
In reply to mikeatomm:

Interesting. Regarding Mathias Zdarsky's original design, most of the publications about him are in German or Czech (he was born in Moravia, interestingly one of the least mountainous part of the then Austrian Hungarian empire  ). Not much in English. You could try contacting the Lilienfeld Ski museum, they published some books about him, perhaps they could help with finding out more. Zdarsky was a very interesting figure in ski mountaineering and avalanche study at the time.

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Scott K - on 21 Mar 2019
In reply to mikeatomm:

They must be pretty common in Scandinavia as Hilleberg have the windsack which they first produced in the 70s. Below is from the Hilleberg website.

History

In Sweden, some sort of “windsack” has long been considered indispensable for winter ski tours. Originally, a Swedish windsack was a kind of modified, narrow ridge tent without a floor, constructed to be set up between two skis and designed as an emergency shelter. In the late 1970s, after finding that traditional windsacks proved inadequate in many situations, Bo Hilleberg created the first Hilleberg Windsack, inspired by the simple climber’s bivy bags used in the Alps. Over the years, we have constantly updated the design. A few years ago, we took advantage of the very lightweight silicone-coated nylon now available to build our current Windsack with full waterproof back and breathable front, similar to Bo’s original, but in a much lighter package

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AlanLittle - on 21 Mar 2019
In reply to Frank R.:

> Moravia, interestingly one of the least mountainous part of the then Austrian Hungarian empire

Yeah, no way the best climber in the world would ever come from there

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galpinos on 21 Mar 2019
In reply to Scott K:

£155 for the three man. Ouch!

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oldie - on 21 Mar 2019
In reply to mikeatomm:

I have a Zdarsky Sack somewhere in my loft. Bought from Lawries alpine climbing shop in London in early 1970s. PU coated non-ripstop nylon, designed for climbers to sit inside with entry end folded beneath them, two ventilation sleeves at top.
Only used once, by my partner, in the testing climate of a wet Stoney Middleton (lying down with karrimat and sleeping bag).

I prefered my versatile, tough 8 x 4 ft poly bag. Used this as couldn't afford a tent. Easily got sleeping bag plus gear inside, folded back edges of opening so rain couldn't run over lip, arranged rucksack as a pole to keep front open for ventilation, front formed a cowl. In rainy weather cooked inside with me as the tent pole above the stove. In dry weather just used it as a large groundsheet. Never blew down, never leaked, "erected" in seconds, everything a little damp after a weekend but quite acceptable.
Not so comfortable as an emergency bivouvac, bag slowly slid down if on snow and had to get out and rearrange. Rapidly soaked and gasping for breath if used with open end beneath feet.

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Frank R. on 20:36 Thu
In reply to AlanLittle:

> Yeah, no way the best climber in the world would ever come from there

You got me there In defence of my (not best, I admit!) post, Adam is more of a sport climber, and I was thinking more about then-traditional mountaineering, skiing and ski-touring, which was definitely Zdarsky's forte...(and even though he was born near Trebitsch, I think, which is "just" a hilly country, he moved to the Alps later). Not intending to belittle other mountaineers from Moravia, of couse!

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