Other than nutrition and hydration, what are the minimum requirements you should establish for the content of your BC back pack? Below list is not a recommendation for the optimal back pack. These are just the very minimum requirements that no one should ever go out to BC ski without. Because they are all required there is no order of priority, item number nine is just as critical as item number one on the list.
- Shovel you also must have a beacon but that one goes on you, not in your pack…
- Rain gear to be used as insulation and/or wind protection as needed
- Map and compass, would visibility suddenly vanish, you may need them
- Waterproof matches and/or lighter
- Flashlight or better yet a headlamp
- First aid kit
- Emergency shelter, lightweight emergency bivouac sac or space blanket
- Cell phone
The idea with above list is that you should, with that content and some common/backcountry sense, be able to make it through a night in the BC. But “I am not doing an overnighter” you say. I am just doing day tours. Well, the thing is you never really know that for sure when you leave in the morning. That may be plan A, this is your plan B. Accidents are more likely to happen later in the day when everyone is tired. This being winter and the days being extra short, it significantly increases the chances that, if you are injured, rescue will only get to you the day after.
Now, above and beyond just surviving in the back country, here are a few items that when added will help make the outing actually enjoyable:
- Extra pair of gloves
- Extra layer of clothing for warmth
- Extra trail mix or similarly convenient food
- Rub on wax for your skins
- Ski crampons
- Extra ball cap*
- Swiss army knife or multi tool
Both 4 & 5 are mostly for comfort. The rub on wax is not only for spring skiing because 1) any day can get locally hot, and 2) whenever you have to ford a creek your skins can get wet and you will want to wax the snot out of them. For you to really enjoy your ski crampons all it takes are a couple of sunny days followed by a really cold night and your easy traverse will be an ice trap waiting toi see you tumbling down the hill. What I am trying to say is that you may need these things when you least expect them.
*) This one of course depends on if you even use a ball cap in the first place. If you are like me and you use it for the up-track as a combined sun shelter and sweat band, then having a second one for real long days is great as in a dry one for the afternoon. Also, if your first ball cap blows off your head as the ridge winds hit you unexpectedly, then that extra one will be great to have. After losing a few favorite ball caps to these winds I finally got it and get the darn thing off my head before it vanishes down some unattainable cliff band, but it sure took a few losses to get me there.
As important as equipment is in the back country none of it will fulfill its potential unless we are properly and thoroughly trained on how and when to use them.