Ski touring these days puts so much emphasis on ‘fast and light’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer of this practice and will try to cut out most items that I don’t need on an everyday ski tour. There are, however, some items that are essential to your back pack that can’t be left at home. With these ‘mandatory’ items I try to cut down the weight or find alternatives that can be used in their place.
The pack I have dissected below is what I would take for a glaciated ski tour where I am unsure of the approach conditions but has no real technical climbing.
It is not a ‘recommended’ list of items and it also excludes any extra items of clothing but it is what comes with me everywhere I go!
- Cilao harness. Its a fine line between comfort and weight when it comes to mountaineering harnesses. This French made, 135g harness fits in my pack nicely and I can wear it under my pants for a comfortable minimal fit.
- Petzl Ride ice axe. New this year these short, curved, alloy axes are great for Ski-mo. Having a steel pick they can bite in ice and paired with a trig grip make them a great all round tool. Weighing in at 275g I often carry two for good measure.
- Tranceiver. I used to carry a light single antenna transceiver but after reading stats about their performance I upgraded last year. Its all well and good having a light one but if you can’t find your friends in a slide then whats the point.
- Gloves. I usually carry a pair for up, and a pair for down. Petzl make a great leather glove that can tackle most rock without falling apart, paired with my Salomon Goretex glove for the way down or if it gets too snowy I’m covered for all occasions.
- Ski crampons. I used to not bother with these. But for the sake of 200g in the bottom of the bag you barely notice they make all the difference on a long and icy ski track. Gram for gram worth the weight!
- Poles. I use the Salomon Carbon S3. Light and strong these adjustable poles have great long grips that make traversing easier.
- Crampons. I mostly use the Camp X450. A lightweight alloy crampons that I like to beat up in the rocks. No anti-balling plates can often be frustrating, but at 450g for the pair I turn the other cheek.
- Shovel. For the last 4 winters I have been carrying around a 800g monster. I now carry around the carbon alternative that shaved 500g from my pack. At 295g this is the lightest shovel you would want in your pack as it actually still works to move snow!
- Probe. This year I dropped to a 240cm probe from the 320cm one I had before. 200g
- Boots. Salomon MTN Lab. In my opinion the best ‘real’ ski touring boot on the market. 1850g in 28.5
- THE BAG! I squeeze all this and more into the Xalp 30. Designed for this sort of thing it has been well thought out. It has a separate compartment for your crampons/rope. 2 ice axe loops, and the best ski carry system that saves time. I can go a whole day without taking off the waist strap but still getting in and out of the bag. A great feature for anyone who has tried to get in their bag at the top of a 55′ couloir!
- First Aid Kit. This has all the essential plasters and bandages as well as pain killers, a multi-tool, wire and cable ties for repairs and a head torch.
- Your eyes are key! Sunglasses, goggles and a spare lens always come in my bag. Its great when you can see!
- Rope. A crucial item when on a glacier. I have gone for a 30m 6mm line that works great as a crevasse rescue rope, and an abseil line. its lighter than a 30m 8.1mm rando line but not as strong when placed over sharp rocks. 950g
- My go-to touring ski. Salomon MTN Explore 95 with MTN binding. 1750g it is a great all mountain tool. floats in powder and holds an edge on 50′ boiler plate.
- Skins, I don’t take the bag if I’m going super light, and forget the cheat sheets. Grams are grams after all! 520g
- Water. 500ml does me for most days. 1L if its hot or more than 5 hours.
- Food. Snickers, cereal bars, energy gels, whatever I can find in the cupboard as I rush for the door! Mainly just calories in some form or another.
- Crevasse kit. I can haul a friend out of a hole with these simple items. There is also a belay plate and a prussik for abseils. 700g
All of this kit fits in the 30l bag with space for a down and a shell layer. the bag weighs just over 4.5kg with everything in. Not the lightest but far from the heaviest but it has everything you need.