Bigtop Debut


1990-1991 North Twin Mountain, New Hampshire
by Vincentoli Blanteev, your cybah-spaced mountain correspondent

New England Map    Windshield wipers are on high as two cars with four hikers make their way north. At a pizza joint deep within the White Mountains the crew laments about the conditions over the brew, but as usual with New England weather the only play is to sit it out. The secret weapon this year is the Bigtop.

The Bigtop is a 15 ft. umbrella tent with portable wood burning stove that Timur scored via mail order with Vincentoli’s money. For like $250-300 bucks it was the most high powered survival item that could be found in any catalog anywhere, so they ordered it. The tent weighs in at a massive 8 lbs. and the stove at 6 lbs., with the tent pole, stakes and stove pipe checking in at another 6 lbs. But worth the weight. Once set up it could hold four people in a pinch, three comfortably. The wood burning stove uses a fraction of the wood that was needed for an open fire, with no smoke to burn out your eyes.

The Bigtop, Mountainsmith Tent

    At the base of North Twin Trail, the new tent is put up within 20 feet of the autos. It is sheeting hard rain now, and since this is December, the ground is frozen. So no matter where you camped it was on several inches of flowing rainwater. The survival technique here involved continually blasting the stove hard to keep the tent dry while wood was put down to get up off the flowing water. Several nights of driving rain passed with the crew couped up in the Bigtop going stir crazy. The only highlight, other than the faster than usual consumption of party materials, was Novasch’s allegation that Vincentoli was actually sleeping “in the car,” a very most unsurvival like infraction of the HAE survival code of conduct. Here also lies a greater mystery as to the lost film that Novasch claims was taken of the event. As for Vincentoli his defense; “hey… fuck you…. kiss my brown spot you flatland gomers, I went out to the car at night to get some equipment, and was fucking around with it when I must of dozed off. Next thing I know I am startled by Novasch stumbling around on ice laughing and yelling, ‘Fucking Vincentoli is sleeping in the fucking car?… he’s fucking sleeping in the fucking car!!’, like he had the same idea and was pissed off that I already had the good seat.” editor’s note: Vincentoli really was sleeping in the car like a gomer.

HAE hiking

    By late the second night into the start of the third day temperatures dropped so rapidly that anything used to keep your ass out of the water, like snowshoes for example, was frozen into the ground and had to be hacked out. That first night of rain it was too wet to even think about taking out the down bags but as the second night progressed the ice forming under your butt brought out the survival systems. A fluffy light snow now blanketed the morning scene as the hikers moved up a logging road to higher elevations. Camp 2 is pitched on the side of mountain at a rather uncomfortable angle. Snow cover is not sufficient to build a useful snow plateau for tenting, so Vincentoli cuts up a log platform that was not very flat. Or very stable. With loose logs all over the place and the happy hour festivities occurring there is plenty of falling over as ice coated terrain makes footing difficult. High impact camping was practiced without guilt since the base camp was located conveniently on the fringe of a huge clear cutting operation where major forest destruction was evident everywhere.

The Bigtop in action.

    The ascent starts with a long bushwack across the mountain, until hitting the summit trail. After a serious upward chuff the top is duly attained. It’s photo time but quick because conditions are getting severe. This year it’s McAnus as guest photographer. Vincentoli gets the camera from McAnus and, without thinking, fires off the last shot of Novasch mugging like a peak bagger over the ice coated “North Twin Mt, 4324 ft” sign.

Actually Vincentoli was thinking that McAnus was indeed the “guest photo dude” and therefore would surely act like a real photo dude earlier by bringing along that spare roll of film, thoughtfully packed in earlier. But no McAnus had not brought any spare film, and in fine half assed style here is essentially a repeat of last years photo boondoggle fuckup, in which the same identical last piece of film was expended on a nearly the same identical Novasch peak bagging shot. Vincentoli is seriously pissed. “How many fucking times do I have to risk my fucking ass climbing up a fucking mountain in the middle of the fucking wintertime before I can get my fucking photo fucking taken like fuck I can’t fucking believe there ain’t no more fucking film fucking again…fucking again!!! he screamed, this tirade starting in on Novasch and ending with McAnus. Novasch was laughing in stitches at Vincentoli’s misfortune that was his luck, while McAnus was mildly annoyed at Vincentoli for yelling at him. “Hey like it’s your fucking camera,” he retorted. editor’s note: most of the pictures from this trek where not usable due to camera malfunction.

Back at base camp it was soon evident that although there was dead wood all over the place, none of it was about to burn after a week long soaking. Finally Vincentoli spied a lone piece of fine standing dead wood that did burn, and camp was on. More exploring was undertaken the next day and then later McAnus finds his pants stuck on his boots when he tries to change without taking his boots off first. Caught by Novasch, who then quickly summoned Marcus and Vincentoli, the peanut gallery has a classic laugh while trashing McAnus. McAnus was sitting on ice coated wood in his long underwear, “not in very survival like position,” according to Vincentoli. “He was either trying to take a dump right at the footstep of the shelter, or he was jerking off, or…err no I couldn’t believe it he was trying to take his pants off with his boots on!”. But it was obvious that McAnus was in a jam as it took quite a while for him to do enough thrashing around to free himself, while the gang is laughing too hard and falling about the place to effectively goof on McAnus anymore.


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