Off Piste Skiing

Off Piste Skiing

Stuart Galbraith in La Thuile

Off piste or backcountry skiing is one of the most exhilarating sensations around.

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ItemDetailTickMore info
Skiing KitThings to slide with.
BootsDownhill or ski touring boots.Try to avoid hiring boots as blisters often result.Try as many makes as possible to see which one fits your foot best. Touring boots are now almost as good as downhill boots. I use Dynafit Vulcans
Skis and bindingsYour preferred ski and bindingI ski tour on Blizzard Zero G 108's mounted with Dynafit ST Radicals for most days. They're not for everyone, being wide and stiff.

For powder hooliganism, I'm on K2 Pinnacle 118's mounted with Marker Kingpins.



If you're in touring boots, you MUST use a touring binding. Failure to do this can result in a spiral fracture of the tibia and fibula. I speak from personal experience.
Polespreferably fixed length. Powder baskets usefulAdjustable/telescopic poles often break or malfunction. I've been testing Zeek carbon fibre ski poles for the last 2 seasons. These British made poles have made a significant improvement to my ski performance as well as saving weight
Transceiverpreferably a digital triple antenna modelI use a Mammut Pulse, but strongly recommend the Element, which I supply FOC as part of my hire fee. Please reserve in advance. The Mammut Barryvox is getting very good reviews as well
Shovelwith a telescopic handle and a metal bladeI use either a K2 Shaxe or a Voilé Telepro. I supply these FOC as part of my hire fee. Please reserve in advance
Probe2.4m minimum lengthI use a Black Diamond QuickDraw 240. I supply these FOC as part of my hire fee. Please reserve in advance
Pack35-50 litres, with straps for carrying skisThe size of your pack is going to be determined by the size of your kit. Please bear in mind that you will be asked to carry some group kit such as repair kits, a group shelter, a rope or a spare layer. This will probably take another 2 or 3 liters so you will need to have some margin. On hot days you'll also need space for your warm clothing in the pack. I prefer packs with a zip off back to access stuff that's low down quickly and easily. I also like packs that carry skis diagonally across the back rather than A framing. I have had a connection with Lowe Alpine for many years and was asked for design specifications for a ski touring pack. The resulting product is the Descent 35 which I use for much of my ski touring work.

Should an airbag pack be necessary, I use a modular ABS system
Helmet (optional)The decision to wear a helmet is a personal oneHelmets are becoming more and more popular. I personally don't use one for skiing, but equally you are very welcome to wear one if you so wish.
Harness?If we are skiing on a glacier ( for example the Vallée Blanche )I can supply these FOC. Please reserve in advance
ClothesWe all have different systems. This one works for me
ShreddiesThat's underpants in northern England
SocksGood quality socks are essential. I use Lenz heated socks. I must be getting soft
ThermalsDepending on temperatures, you may need 1, 2 or 3 leg layers
Powerstretch pantsThe second layer of leg insulation
Shell pantsFor ski touring, a good shell pant with side zips for uphill effortI use Patagonia Untracked Goretex pants. I'm on my second pair and the Patagonoa repair policy has done me proud several times on both pairs.
Thermal TopA long sleeved crew necked or short zip top
Mid layer topA long sleeved top with a full length zip
Insulation layerA light weight synthetic or down jacketI use the Arc'teryx Atom. Light and warm
Shell topA good quality waterproof, windproof and breathable shell jacketI use the Arc'teryx FL
BeanieWoolly hat. Long enough to cover your ears as well
SunhatBaseball cap if you want to look continenta, a cricket hat for Brits
SunglassesCategory 3 lenses at least. Additional low light lenses usefulI use Tifosi Tyrants with interchangeable lenses
GogglesLow light screen useful
Light GlovesGloves to skin up with and/or ski down when it's warmI use leather gloves from Simond for 99% of my days on skis
Warm GlovesFor when it's chilly. Mittens if you must, but not recommendedI have a pair of ski gloves that stay in my pack most of the time
Other Stuff
SuncreamSPF 30-50. Just enough to last the trip. Share with your mates?
Lip salveDon't share this with anyone unless you're prepared to kiss them
WatchSo you can get up for breakfast at the right time. I use a Suunto with an integrated GPS
Sandwich bag?Depending on our plan for the day
Lunch?Something to go in that bagOften we will be getting to the hut in early afernoon but you'll still need soemthing to keep you going. At most huts you can buy a late lunch but I like to carry a sandwich as well as snack bars
Snack barsChocolate, nuts, energy gels ? Keep some in your pockets
Water bottle/flask"How much water do I need?". If I had a £ for every time...For off piste you can get away with half a liter. On cold days I often carry a flask instead
WalletYou'll need money for après-ski at the very least
Lift PassIf you've got a pass for the area we're in, bring it along
Mobile PhoneSwitched off and at least 40cm away from your transceiverMake sure you know the emergency number for the area. Ask me if you don't