What's In Our Pack: Backcountry Touring 

By: Ian Havlick

There was a recent study published examining how Norwegians who live in the far north of the country (north of the Arctic Circle) endure the long, frigid, nearly continuously dark winters. Their response? Make winter something to look forward to, rather than something to dread… you can imagine that reply in a typical sing songy Norwegian accent. Aside from the continuous darkness for several months straight, Crested Butte, Colorado is fairly comparable in snow, and cold for much of the winter. After our world class singletrack trails are buried under feet of snow, what does one do for fun when the high temperature barely crests 0ºF? 

Backcountry skiing takes center stage for many in the community to cut their own form of singletrack, and access the trademark powder skiing Colorado’s high country is famous for. Before splurging next month’s paycheck on Backcountry.com, its imperative to pair the shiny new gear with a three-day avalanche safety course. Crested Butte is known as one of the pioneering towns for avalanche safety in the United States, alongside Alta, Utah, Stevens Pass, WA, and Jackson Hole, WY, as it is the birthplace of AIARE (American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education), a leading provider of avalanche safety courses across the US and internationally. 

The following is a sample of what one of our guides , Ian Havlick, takes with him on an average day of backcountry ski guiding. 
Backcountry Packing List 
Listed Left to right, top to bottom: 
-Insulating jacket 
-Waterproof shell jacket 
-Tech compatible touring boots with good walk mode 
-adjustable poles 
-Lightwieght touring skis 
-Top loading pack (30-40L volume) and/or Avalanche airbag pack 
-Goggles 
-2 pair of gloves 
-skins 
-First aid kit 
-headlamp 
-packable rescue sled 
 -small binoculars 
-Snow study kit (ruschblock cord, thermometer, crystal card 
-Ballcap and sunglasses 
-1.5L Thermos -Repair kit (tape, bailing wire, zip ties, hose clamps, screws, epoxy, steel wool, drill bits) 
-buff neck gator 
-food 
-modern 3 antennae beacon 
-Avalanche shovel 
-280cm (or longer) probe 
-snow saw 

Keep in mind that when packing that pack with the gear you deem necessary to its best to really “keep it tight.” No dangly boy scout nalgenes hanging off the pack, and as few lumps as possible really make a difference when carrying the load all day, up a few thousand vertical feet at high altitude. Think about packing the heaviest items closest to the hips, and using jackets and more compressible items to fill in the empty spaces between those bulkier pieces of equipment. Avalanche safety gear should be easily accessible and not require ripping everything else out onto the snow to get the handle to your shovel. Keep these tips in mind and make the most of the winter!

Filed under: Tips & Tricks

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