The selection of equipment for a trip depends on two factors: the purpose of our trip and the current weather conditions. Otherwise we will pack for a quick trip to the mountain peak, and we will take something else with us for a whole day trip.
We must be aware that the same route may require different equipment at different times of the day / months of winter. Sometimes even the most inclined section on the way to the summit is usually not a problem and good “skins” are enough to overcome it. However, it may happen that under unfavorable conditions; hard snow or ice, we will have to put on ski crampons. The principle also works the other way around – when you go on more difficult descents, you must take crampons and ice ax with you, which, under favorable conditions, may stay in your backpack – in spring for example when the snow turns into a pleasant firn. A small note for the people who want to try ski touring… on a splitboard. If we plan slightly more difficult routes with a steeper slopes, we need to pack crampons – where the skier enters by sticking the “toes” of the hard shell of his boot, a snowboarder with a softer and rounder shape of the boot may not be able to cope with it.
However, there is one common rule that works well for both an easy short trip and the more advanced one: take only what we really need. The more unnecessary things we pack in the backpack, the more we will get tired during the trip. However, we cannot always afford complete minimalism – it is worth being prepared for various scenarios.
Before we pack for the ski tour, it is definitely worth checking the conditions in the mountains; avalanche report, amount of snowfall, temperature, as well as the weather forecast for the day of our trip. It is obvious that in order to pack properly, we should have a set goal of the trip, adequate to our skills and current conditions. It is also worth getting acquainted with the planned route in theory – its length, elevation, technical difficulties. If all this is settled, we can go packing the backpack. Below we present the optimal variants for short and long ski runs.
QUICK SKITOUR INTO THE MOUNTAIN
If we are going for a training, quick trip to a specific peak and we know that we will not stray far from the route, theoretically, we do not need to take an avalanche kit with us (unless the 4th avalanche risk is announced). However, let’s bear in mind that the risk of an avalanche may appear in a place that we would not suspect. Sometimes even a seemingly safe ski tour trip can be risky.
It is also good to get into the habit of taking the “holy trinity” that is, detector, probe and shovel. No extra sandwich will be less problem than no avalanche kit, especially in a place endangered by avalanches. We pack the avalanche kit on the top of the backpack. Backpack models dedicated to ski touring often have separate, easily accessible pockets for the probe and shovel. It is best to put the detector on right at the beginning of the trail. Hiding it deep in the backpack can usually end up forgetting to take it out.
If the dilemma related to taking the avalanche kit is already behind us, we can take care of the rest of the equipment:
Let’s put into the backpack:
- something to drink and eat – we recommend light and nutritious or high-calorie provisions. These can be sandwiches, but chocolate, energy bars, nuts and dried fruit also work well. They will be invaluable when we feel we are weakening. A piece of dark chocolate can work wonders in such moments! Even if it does not work directly on our body ..
- sunglasses, but preferably sports one, close to the face and eyes (useful not only when the sun is shining, but also during strong wind or rainfall). Some people cannot imagine even the shortest descent without goggles, so it is also worth considering.
-helmet. As in the case of the avalanche set, it is worth getting into the habit of taking the helmet even on easy trips.
- hat / buff / headband.
LONGER SKI TOUR TRIP
Otherwise, we’ll pack for any off-road trip. Then let’s always take with us:
- avalanche kit (probe, shovel, detector – and let’s make sure that both we and our companions are able to use such equipment),
- charged mobile phone,
- something to drink (preferably 1.5l) and eat. When it comes to hydration during a trip, the most effective is to use a camel back solution. This solution allows us to drink small amounts of liquids with high frequency, without stopping and rummaging in the backpack. On the other hand, there is a classic, traditional thermos flask with hot tea with honey and lemon.
What else should we take with us for a longer “trip”?
- a first aid kit,
- sunglasses or goggles (if we know that it can rain heavily),
- an additional pair of warm gloves and a hat,
- windproof jacket,
- map and compass,
- emergency blanket (NRC foil, life foil), headlamp,
- additional pair of skins. Especially if we are going on a tour that will be an alternating combination of ascents and descents
- crampons and an ice ax (if we are going on a more difficult, high mountain turn, or there is hard snow).
- It is also worth adding an additional layer of clothing to the backpack, e.g. a down jacket, windproof pants.
It is also important to choose the backpack itself, for longer trips we definitely recommend taking a spacious backpack. If we pack into a small backpack, it may happen that if we want to undress from the top layer of clothes on the approach, we will be forced to carry them. So it is better to take the bigger one and move some air in it, but if necessary, have space to hide additional items. It is also worth that the model of the backpack was designed for skitouring or splitboard. In more difficult terrain, or with heavy ice, we will have to remove the boards and put on crampons, so our backpack must have appropriate hooks to attach the equipment.
Finally, one more piece of advice for packing your ski-tour equipment. It is definitely better to prepare your backpack the day before the trip, and just pack food and drink in the morning. Then there is less chance that we will forget something in a hurry. With time, we will gain experience in packing and we will be able to assess what we really need and what we can do without on the trip.