Ski Mountaineering

Ski Mountaineering

rappelling during a ski mountaineering trip

The difference between ski touring and ski mountaineering in my book is that with ski mountaineering, we’ll be carrying a rope, for use on either glacial or steep terrain (or both!)

If you’re snowboarding then you’ll need some telescopic poles plus either a split board or some snowshoes instead of skis. But you knew that, didn’t you?

I’m a big fan of check lists – check out The Check List Manifesto by Atul Gawande.
This page functions as an online checklist by checking off the tick button for each item.
Alternatively, access a print version by hitting the button to the right.
This will hide all the images and supplementary info and you can then print it off as a hard copy.

ItemDetailTickMore info
Skiing KitThings to slide with. Things to stop you sliding too much
BootsSki 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. Downhill boots are NOT suitable. I use Dynafit Vulcans
Skis and bindingsYour preferred ski with a touring bindingI ski tour on Blizzard Zero G 108's. They're not for everyone, being wide and stiff.

I use Dynafit Radical ST bindings
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
Skinscut to fit skis and well glued, preferably tail-fix typeI use Black Diamond Glidelites
Couteaux a.k.a. harscheisen or ski crampons, compatible with binding
Transceiverpreferably a digital triple antenna modelI use a Mammut Pulse, but strongly recommend the Element. 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
Probe2.4m minimum lengthI use a Black Diamond QuickDraw 240
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.
Ice AxeA light weight 50cm axe is idealI use a Grivel Air Tech with a steel pick and adze.
Cramponscompatible with and adjusted to your bootsI use Petzl Leopards for most snow work. If I expect to encounter Ice then somthing steel such as a Grivel Haute Route would be more appropriate
HarnessA light and simple model is bestI use a Blue Ice Choucas, which looks disturbingly like something from Anne Summers - apparently
2 Screwgate krabspreferably wide bodied HMS typeI use Petzl 3D Attaches
Sling240cm in circumference, 120cm in length
Ice screw17cm lengthI use Petzl Laser Speed Lights
2 Wire gate krabsTo carry your screw and prusiksI use DMM Phantoms
Prusik loopsOr Micro Traxion and TiblocThese will need to be matched to the rope size. I use 4mm cord for ski touring. Alternatively make it simple and use a Petzl Micro Traxion and Tibloc.
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 secnd 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 bagUnlikely we'll be doing long lunches on days in the hills
LunchSomething to go in that bag
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...I use an insulated 1 liter Nalgene bottle
WalletYou'll need money for huts and wine 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 transceiver
Overnight Kit
Silk linerMandatory in nearly all mountain huts for hygiene reasons
Ear plugsIn case there are snorers in the dorm
HeadtorchTo get to the toilet at night. Fresh batteries or fully chargedI use a Petzl Tikka RXP as it has reactive lighting and a red bulb option as well
HeadphonesIf you like your music. But only at night please
Phone chargerShare with your mates?
Spare pantsIt shouldn't be too frightening, but you never know 😉
Spare topNice to change into for the evening
Spare socksGive your feet an essential evening treat
Brew KitBuilder's tea, coffee, left wing tea. Whatever you fancy
Pack towel (optional)Some huts have showers these days.
ToothbrushCut the handle off to save a few grams
ToothpasteA small sample tube is best