Gale force winds
Well I hung last night down in the woods, it was just on the treeline right near the loch. I pitched next to a huge blown over tree because we've been having some serious wind (;)) the last few days and I wanted as much of a windbreak as possible. Seemingly the police were advising people not to travel unless necessary, with 90mph winds forecast. Perfect camping weather IMO!
I didn't have any trouble setting up, pitched the tarp on a steep A frame shape, and added my poncho as endcover/door to stop the wind driving the rain through my shelter.
Over the course of the first few hours when exceptional gusts blew pegs went flying. You could hear the gusts hurtling down from the hills (the loch is on the edge of the highlands) and across the water, and boomph it'd hit hard then die. I went round and replaced the guylines, and by the end of the night I had added 3 extra lines and put down huge rocks over those with the biggest strain as there is nothing I hate more than getting up in the middle of the night to stake down a tarp (which is why I'll only pitch on a beach when it's calm)
Now, my questions,
How do you chaps cope with gale force winds? Do you always carry extra line? I was lucky, I had paracord as well as pegs in my bag for a change (usually just cut my own).
I was lucky with site selection, it was easy to get the pegs in behind or between roots to get a good hold, what do you do if you don't have this advantage, or if you don't have rocks to anchor your lines?
How do you ensure a tight pitch? The force of the winds were so strong to push the tarp flat against me in the hammock and push me up. If it had been wetter this would have really caused problems.
And finally, do you build any weak links into your setup? It occured to me as some of winds battered my tarp that I didn't know what would go first - the lines, the shockcord loops, the tarp's corner stitching, or the tarp material itself!
But boy do I like hanging - even if everyone thinks I'm crazy :boggle:
I had a similar night at the head of Haweswater once, no sleep whatsoever and spent the whole night listening to the wind come down the valley like a locomotive. I think we were up and away before 5 a.m the next morning.
Maybe try and add some panel pull-outs to your tarp, either permanent sewn on ones or some temporary Grip-clips.
on windy nights i pull tarp all the way to ground. leave about 6" under my hammock. location, location, location on windy nights is very important. :)
We are all basically sleeping in a kite. I don't ever want to see my tarp fly away. My only fear about high wind is a stake attatched to shock cord slingshoting into my head. (Darwin wins in the end) Opie makes some tieouts and I saw a thread (god only knows where, sorry), and there is a product review were this subject is mentioned. he used sticks as a toggle (nice) on the theory that they would give before the tarp.
Oh man, I've had nights like that. I wasn't able to stick them out, but I've experienced it.
For your first question, I always carry extra rope and pegs. I carry four cheap shepard's hook pegs in addition to my two groundhog-type stakes, and I carry 2-5 pieces of 12' paracord.
If your anchors won't hold, and you have some time, I have the solution for you.
A tight pitch is dangerous in heavy winds because your tarp tends to act more like a sail. However, I would recommend a shallow A-frame pitch (to reduce the amount of tarp the wind can "see") and to not use adjustable knots. When I use my stakes, I put a marlin-spike hitch in the guyline; I don't use a taut-line hitch. That keeps the knot from slipping (which is likely when it gets wet).
Lastly, I don't "build" any weak links into my system; they just occur. My guylines are actually 3/32" draw cord, which I haven't found a strength rating for, so those might go quickly. Also, my tarp is set up with a CRL that uses a utility strength biner (read: 50lb limit) on one end and a figure-9 (also 50lbs) on the other.
If the winds are really, really strong, my guylines should be the first to go, and then my figure 9 would probably break, leaving the tarp blowing everywhere, but still intact and retrievable.