Monday, January 13, 2014

Beware! Coffee Addiction more dangerous than previously thought!

Last weekend was supposed to be low key. My weekend off from my typical physically demanding and oftentimes risky adventures. I went with my wife and several friends on a camping trip. The biggest challenge was supposed to be figuring out how to cook a whole turkey in the woods. However, It ended up being making the morning coffee.

By lopping off the bottom of an empty kegshell, we were able to create a makeshift oven and cook a perfect turkey, a feat that I doubt we normally could have managed even in a fully stocked kitchen!
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It was accompanied by my friend's 3-course backcountry fondue for a grand feast!

The following morning, while a couple friends began prepping for an eggs benedict breakfast, I attempted to get the stoves fired up. Since we were all badly in need of coffee, I decided to get all 3 stoves going. The whisperlight, powered by white gas, was not deterred in the least by the single digit morning temperatures. It fired right up. The other two stoves, powered by pressurized propane/butane canisters, would not ignite due to the cold. Dang, we forgot to sleep with the fuel canisters in our sleeping bags, and needed to warm them up if we wanted our coffee!

I've dealt with this problem numerous times, and had yet to find a pleasant way of reheating an overly cold fuel canister. Putting the large ice cold canister it in your jacket is miserable when you are trying to warm up yourself. Holding a lighter under it takes forever and requires a hand out of the mitten to work the lighter. Since we had one working stove the thought crossed my mind to hold it over the open flame, but that didn't seem safe. Finally I decided to try putting the canister into to the water I was heating on the Whisperlight. The water wasn't very warm yet, but nevertheless a couple minutes in the pot and stove #2 was fired up and heating a second pot of water. Into this pot I placed the jetboil fuel canister. The water was warm, but not too hot.

At some point my wife asked if this was safe...

After a minute or two I went to remove the fuel from the now hot, but still not boiling, water. Just as my thumb and forefinger touched the plastic tab on top of the canister... POP!

The canister blew up. The force of the blasted ripped open the pot like a can of tuna, and crushed the stove and fuel can below:
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The blast also sliced my thumb open like a filleted fish, shattered my thumb bone, and broke several bones in my hand. 

Off to the ER I went with no eggs benedict sad.gif
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16 stitches, 6 pins, 1 surgery, and a splint later and I'm on the road to recovery!
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Needless to say my plans for turkey day climbing at Garden Creek Gap, climbing at Red Rocks the remainder of the long weekend, and ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon in Montana the following weekend have all been canceled.

The moral of the story, if there is one, might be to lay off the coffee, or at least use a white gas stove if making it in the cold. Whatever you do, be careful if trying to warm up a fuel canister! 

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