Some seasons come on quickly and I feel like I’m in full ski mode before I have time to gather the gear together. That’s not the case this year, plenty of time for tinkering and prepping in this beautiful 60 degree weather. Just went through the emergency/repair items and refreshed and refined the kit. If there were some internal guidelines I have, or ideas that might make sense, they might be these-
1- Keep gear in good repair to prevent needing to fix shit in the field.
2-Ski conservatively and intelligently to avoid damaging gear and to prevent injury. (avoid lumps in the snow, ski “in control”, slow and cautious early season, ski within your limits not to impress others, varying conditions almost always exist, etc)
3-If and when you fuck up be creative and get yourself out of the mess you created, if you can.
Beyond food, water, clothing layers and avy gear, here is a list of what I pack into the backcountry on a standard day and what it’s intended use is.
Ibuprofen= Don’t use them on regular tours, but nice to have for longer days, or if body parts act up (more and more handy the older I get).
Sport Legs= I tend to cramp easily, these are amazing to help prevent that. I use them regularly on bigger days.
Tylenol= Mild pain relief for bigger days, or for injuries.
Voke Tabs= Great little boost of caffeine when needed.
Hydrocodone= Nice piece of heavy pain relief in case of broken bones, or severe injuries.
Toilet paper and wet wipes= When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. The wet wipe provides a nice clean finish!
The ski strap= A million and one uses, from binding repair to splint, to skin attachment, SKI STRAPS are the most versatile and important piece of repair gear. I think carrying two is the minimum to have on hand. I keep one wrapped around my ski pole for quick and easy access.
Multi-tool= Key for binding adjustment, cutting cord, scraping out damaged base material, cutting up clothing to use as gauze, etc, etc. Lightweight is nice, but pliers are recommended. I’ll sometimes leave this behind if I know someone else in the group has one.
InReach= I’ve only recently been carrying this magical “Oh shit button”, but with as light as it is, I think it just makes too much sense. Most accidents and incidents seem to be in two categories. The first is minor injuries and or repairs that you can make in the field and limp your way out on your own. Then, there are the major fuck ups where someone is immobile and even with WOFR training and solid groups of folks, it’s really hard to move anybody around that can’t do so on their own. Cell reception can be spotty and sometimes you just know that you need outside help. Sending somebody out to get help can take hours. The InReach is an awesome piece of insurance that I hope to never use, except to text my girlfriend that I’m fine, but my stupid link-up is taking waaaaay longer than I’d hoped.
Emergency blanket= You get cold fast waiting around in the snow, the minimal weight of the space blanket seems worth the while if you have to bundle somebody up while waiting for help, or on extrication.
Spare snack= I like having a spare bit of energy buried deep in the pack in case I run out of food, or bonk, or if somebody else is out of food. Could also be dinner, or breakfast if you have to spend the night out.
Neosporin= Nice to have along for blisters and hot spots. Apply and cover with duct tape.
Duct tape= If the ski strap can’t fix it then duct tape usually can. I keep some on my ski pole for quick access as well as wrapped on my lighter and Neosporin.
Skin wax= This is one of those little items that is totally worth always having on board. It can be tough to predict when you’ll use it, but gloppy skins can ruin the day. Make sure you have enough for more than just you, more often than not you’re partner will also want some.
Lighter= Sitting around a fire is much better than sitting around in the cold. If you ski in the woods it’s a nice idea to keep a lighter on hand just in case. If you’re on a glacier or up in the alpine they don’t make much sense.
Sunscreen and lip balm= Good items to always have with you, instead of deciding every morning if it’s going to be sunny or not. Just cache them in an out of the way pocket and they’ll always be there when you need em.
Would be interested to hear what other folks bring, or do not bring?! Let me know in the comments.