Spring Backcountry Skiing Tip #7:
While preparing for spring ski touring, it’s easy to become complacent and begin leaving essential items at home. It’s warm out, the days are long, you want a lightweight pack… But some things should be as part of your pack as its very fabric. If you ski tour near forested terrain one such is a small “survival” kit that includes a butane lighter, waterproof matches, and perhaps a bit of “kindling” material that makes it easy to start a fire.
Outdoor stores sell various kindling such as fire “paste” in a tube and small flammable bricks. Go for the bricks, they store better than the tube of paste. Or if you like multi-purpose gear, you can kindle a fire using shavings from your wax block (see tip #5 below) combined with a wad of toilet paper. Our kindling of choice is cotton balls saturated with vaseline, stored in a ziplock in our fire starting kit. Once you decide on a fire kindling system, test it once or twice before your life depends on it.
Other essentials:Eye protection, adequate clothing, sun protection, the usual avalanche safety gear, small first-aid and repair kit. We recommend always carrying a bit of food, even if the trip is two hours, in case you get caught out longer.
And remember your cell phone or inReach — or at least a SPOT unit.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.