Backcountry skiing essentials
If you are going into the backcountry to go skiing or snowboarding or even snowshoeing. We recommend that you have these essential items with you. They could help save your life or your partners. This week has been an epic week of snow at the resorts, this list was specifically for backcountry skiing but some of these items could prove useful at any resort. Please stay safe do not go into closed areas of a ski resort, I know that the powder is inviting but the resort has kept that area closed for a reason.

  1. Shovel – The shovel is a main stay of the backcountry pack it is used to check avalanche conditions and used to make shelter or dig someone out.
  2. Probe – if you do get into a situation where you need to find someone then a probe will help you get the job done quickly.
  3. Beacon – the beacon should be worn at all times when in the backcountry and set to transmit. Take time to train with the beacon and understand how it works and what tricks you will need to know to find someone buried under snow.
  4. Food – take some trail food with you, power bars, granola anything that will pack easily and keep your calories up.
  5. Water – you are surrounded by frozen water but getting a drink and quenching that thirst is hard to do when you have to melt the water to drink. A little stove and pot to boil snow is not a bad idea but it takes time to melt that water.
  6. Fire – some way to start a fire is always good to have you can use it to make a fire and cook with, to heat yourself and to signal for help if needed.
  7. Light – I would recommend a head lamp that way you can use your hands and still see. 
  8. Extra batteries – you can never have enough batteries.
  9. Two way radio – cell phones don’t work in the backcountry so a good two way radio is a must to communicate with the rest of your party.
  10. Insulation layer – you should have multiple layers when you go skiing, the insulation layer may be in your pack as you are going up the mountain but you will need it on the way down.
  11. Rain jacket – a good waterproof jacket is always needed, cut out any water and wind to help keep you warm.
  12. Map – know where you are going. A paper map that has been laminated will help give you a sense of direction when the electronic GPS goes out.
  13. First aid kit – a small kit with different items will help, moleskin, ibuprofen and some band aids are a must.
  14. Ski strap – you never know when you will need to tie down your skis or other items a ski strap will come in handy for many different situations from holding the skis together to making a shelter if you need it.
  15. Extra gloves – when that first set gets wet it is nice to have a second pair to put on or if someone looses a glove you will be prepared.
  16. Bivvy sack – if you have to sleep out there stay warm and it will keep you alive to you can get help or be rescued. 
  17. Backpack – you will need something to carry all the stuff in find one that can hold all these items and isn’t too big.
  18. Friends – bring people that have experience in the backcountry and people you can trust they may save your life.
  19. Multi tool – a good knife and multi tool are a must things break down and you could use it to save your butt.
  20. Sun screen – the sun is extremely intense as you get higher into the hills. Make sure that you have adequate sun protection. Wear a hat and long sleeves to keep that sun off your skin.
  21. Instructions on how to use all the items including avalanche awareness – take an avalanche awareness class learn how to use your beacon and probe. http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/ this is a great place to get information and training.

Now with all that scary stuff make sure that you have fun and take your time and do not over commit yourself to a trip that you are not prepared for. Start small go with people that have done it before and gain some experience. The backcountry can be a fun place to ski.

This should all fit in a backpack that you can keep in your car and use if you get stranded in the car as well.

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