Monday, November 25, 2013

Backcountry Skiing Gear List, 2013-14.

Snow is slowly accumulating here in the Eastern Sierra.  As they say "We'll get ours". And when we do, be ready. Get your gear together and polish up what you carry.  I've kinda got my system down, with minor tweaks from one year to another.  I wrote up a similar list for winter alpine climbing.  And one for Ski Mountaineering.
Mike B tearing up accessible powder.  Banana Chute, Mammoth Lakes, CA.  March 2013

Here and now we're talking about your typical day out.  6-8 hours at most, a group of 2-7 people, hunting down good snow and good terrain with minimal "faffing" around.  Don't think too much about it; this is standard skiing.  I'll follow with a post noting what I carry for more "specialized" missions.  

  • Darn Tough ski socks
  • Arc Teryx Gamma SK pants (or Flylow Bibs for super stormy days)
  • CAMP Magic pants (in the pack).
  • Synthetic boxers
  • Synthetic/wool t-shirt.
  • Outdoor Research Rumor Hoody
  • Patagonia Houdini wind breaker.  Or Outdoor Research Axiom for when the weather is full.
  • Patagonia Primo Down jacket
  • Dynafit Ski Touring Expert Gloves
  • Warm stylie wool hat
  • Buff
  • Sun hat
  • Giro 9 Helmet (sometimes…)
  • Sunglasses.  Native Hardtop, Julbo Explorer, or Kaenon Burnet, depending.  Maybe, just maybe, goggles. Of the 60-80 days a year I ski in the backcountry, I probably carry goggles 2 times on average.  And use them for one run before I remember how annoying it is.  
Ski Gear:
  • Scarpa Maestrale RS boots
  • Black Diamond Amperage Skis
  • BD nylon/mohair blend skins
  • Dynafit Radical ST bindings
  • Black Diamond Fixed Carbon poles
Safety Gear, etc.  Some of this is individual and needed by each group member. Other gear can be shared by the group.  Divided well, even this comprehensive list of emergency group gear will go barely noticed in the pack:

Some gear failure is repairable.  Some is not.  
  • Backcountry Access Float 32 Pack
  • Voile Telepack Shovel
  • Black Diamond Carbon 240 Probe
  • Backcountry Access Tracker 2 Transceiver
  • Food.  4 bars and a salad or sandwich.
  • A liter of water and a half liter of hot drink.
  • First Aid/Emergency kit.  
  • Ski repair kit.  (it should be around a pound for groups.  Less is probably inadequate.  More is silly.  Let me know if you want more detail on what I carry)
  • Brooks Range Ultralight Guide Tarp 
  • Brooks Range Eskimo Sled
  • 30m of thin sled dragging rope
  • 2 locking carabiners
  • Navigation kit:  GPS, maps, compass, clinometer, altimeter.  Often the iPhone versions are enough.  Sometimes bringing the dedicated tools is justified.
  • Snow Study:  Saw, crystal card, magnifier, ruler, documentation.  Be equipped and trained to make sound decisions for yourself and large column tests for the avalanche center.
  • Extra clothes:  An extra puffy jacket and pair of over mitts are regularly appreciated.  Especially in a large group.  
  • Iridium Extreme Sat Phone.
Ken E. getting adventurous on Mt. Gibbs.  Eastern Sierra, January 2013. 


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