Pack it up for the mountains
Photo by Mika Merikanto
To pack your bag
Your backpack is the most valuable thing you own in the backcountry. You might loose your skis and get into trouble but if you loose your backpack you might be in serious trouble. Even worse is if you’ve only backed your back full of beer and chorizo (well, some of it doesn’t harm anybody). You should pack your things today, not in the morning when it’s easy to forget some of your belongings.
We all have our personal taste what comes to packing our bags but for backcountry at least following items should have a place in your backpack:
3. Emergency shelter such as bivy bag or space blanket
4. A small First Aid Kit
5. A communication device
6. Navigation: GPS device or a compass (or smartphone with compass and GPS app)
7. Insulation: One extra pair of gloves, hat and a puff coat
8. Nutrition: Extra food - whatever you prefer but preferably something to boost up energy.
9. Hydration: Extra water. An insulated bottle of warm fluid is especially nice when the weather deteriorates and things get chilly.
10. Illumination: When the night falls down dark as a dungeon the headlamp is a valuable piece of equipment.
11. A McGyver kit to do it all. Example of things to bring are: multitool, lighter, candle, metal wire, spare batteries for the beacon, some wax for the days the snow sticks to everything from ski boots to skins and duck tape that can be used practically for anything.
12. + (depending on outing) crampons, harness, 30 m of rope + glacier rescue kit.
Preparation of the gear
Skis are an extension of your body making skiing possible. If your skis are rusted so will be your skiing. Learn how to take care of your skis and keep edges ready to bite when it’s needed. Also local ski shops will be happy to give your skis a service in case you want something more advanced service to be done.
Check your set in advance to make sure that everything works as expected when you’re on top of that mean looking couloir.
With no exceptions I check the batteries before EVERY ski day and I change the batteries each time I’m under 50%. Do not wait until you only have 10% left, you can be certain that the beacon will quit on you as soon as you got the signal from your friend buried under the snow.
Charge the batteries on all of your electronic devices. It’s annoying when the camera tilts in crucial moment or mobile phone runs out of steam when you need it most.