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Ski Touring Question


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Jplotz · · Wenatchee, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 1,205

Yes, I know this is primarily a climber's website.  But I also know that probably more often than not many climbers ski tour as well.  So I thought I would throw this question out there, here rather than Powder Project which seems largely vacant of activity.

What's the lightest you've ever gotten your kit for a multi-day tour in the spring?  I'm interested to know your ideas/tips/tricks as far as food, shelter, stove/fuel, pack size, and the touring gear you used. 

Also, what's in your binding repair kit?


Thanks!

garrett knorr · · fort collins · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 60

I've only done one multi-day tour with a mostly dry approach so take anything I say with a grain of salt. I will also say, how light you go is dependent on what you are comfortable with. For example, if you plan on eating food that doesn't need a stove you can save a lot of weight by not having a stove at all. Many people will be very against this idea of hot food though but I'm happy with it. Just make sure you have access to clean runoff.

I've gone as light as ski gear, food, thin painters tarp, sleeping bag (but I was sleeping on dryish ground and not snow). I took a 45l bc that's the smallest pack I have that would fit everything but I could probably fit it all into a 30l. Had I actually brought a tent, the 45l would have been full.

I'm a splitboarder so thats my touring gear. My repair includes the usual straps that break and screws that come loose.  

Hope this was helpful.

Ross D · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 0

Learn how to build snow shelters and save weight on a 4-season tent. I spent over a week in a BD megamid with burly snow walls and it went okay. I feel a stove is solid to melt snow/purify water. If its that warm I doubt I'd be skiing. I'd rather eat real food if its more than an overnight.

Cliff bars and gu both freeze hard. I knew a dude who worked on Denali that kept a stick of butter in his pocket...Another kept a tube of that instant tollhouse cookie dough handy. Take a bite of fat and sugar every hour. Not recommended in bear country. If its above freezing summer backpacking food.

Take out your boot tongues (if you're not breaking trail) rip off buckles if you want. Ski straps can hold boots together pretty well.

Superlite bindings (like the Plum) are cool if you're not doing much on flat ground, not skiing powder, and have super light skis to go with them. Just bring whoever mounts them some extra beer because they're a pain in the ass to drill.

Straps, bailing wire, multitool with drivers that fit the right screws (ex: dynafits use posidrives) and check all your shit before you leave. If everybody in the group has same gear ( all telemark, all split board) you don't need as much spare gear. 

JonasMR · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 6

Bring a thermos; a liter of hot tea can become 3+ liters as snow is added.  Lighter than carrying 3L water.

A full snow shelter is awesome, but time consuming.  Be careful not to get wet.  A snow trench is way quicker and surprisingly warm.  Don't skimp on your bivy/tarp with something that'll get brittle in the cold.

A pound on the foot is worth 8 in the pack (less skiing ofc, but still a deal); no real substitute for light boots/bindings.

I dunno what to tell you about repair kits, I'm still pulling stuff out and putting stuff back in mine.  A second-rate backcountry repair can be a real pain in the ass.

Sam Fletcher · · Idaho · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 50

Really great gear breakdown of a very long solo traverse http://www.jediahporter.com/2017/05/red-line-traverse-gear.html.

Pretty impressive to see all the stuff go into a 45L bag.

Jplotz · · Wenatchee, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 1,205

Is a snow trench for a 5 day traverse worth the cost in comfort vs the weight savings?  This is in the Cascades in spring. 

Also, does anyone have experience with this if you rip your bindings out in the b/c:

Maybe use in conjunction with Loctite Blue?

Idaho Bob · · McCall, ID · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 450

The only ski/binding failures I've seen were with tele gear (multiple times). Make sure boots are in top shape.  My repair kit has duct tape and wire.  After being tent bound for 5 days at 16,000+ft in an endless blizzard my takeaways were:  use a tent, carry extra fuel and food.  In the spring, glop wax for skins may be necessary and getting skins to adhere to skis is sometimes an issue.  In the backcountry going lightweight may have unintended consequences.  Carrying a 35-40lb pack on skis is easy and up to 60lbs is doable for most.  A 20-30m rescue rope (7mm) can be very useful.  Plan route in detail.  Good starting point is 4km +300m elevation gain per hour until the team demonstrates they can do more.  

Beean · · Canmore, AB · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0

Things I have learnt/been told:

Light touring gear is your friend. 1kg boots, 1400g ski/binding is easily achievable and skiable by all but the raddest meat huckers. Definitely recommend a race binding, unless you fall a lot. They're more reliable for the most part and have less parts to break.

Canister stove systems are efficient, I'd recommend them over liquid fuel for a spring traverse. 

Bring a single wall metal water bottle for warming up skins or drying liners.  

Take a candle or two for your snow cave or quinzee.

Hot wax your skins for increased glop reduction and speed. Get mohair skins and burn your nylons. 

5 minute epoxy and some shredded steel wool mean you can usually reuse the holes if your binding pulls. 

Ross D · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 0

Building a snow shelter every day would eat a lot of time. I wasn't really thinking of traversing when I responded. But still a good skill to have, IMO. 

Little tear packets of 5-minute epoxy could be used if you had to Jerry-rig a screw back in a ski. I would rather get the screws epoxyed in when you get a binding mounted, and its recommended by most (all?) manufacturers for carbon skis.

Bean: wax your skins with normal ski wax? Ill have to try that...

I also should have started out with: don't telemark!

Beean · · Canmore, AB · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
Ross Downer wrote:


Bean: wax your skins with normal ski wax? Ill have to try that...

Yep, warm the wax up so its soft and rub it on the skin, then iron in the direction of travel on low heat. Important thing is to keep the iron temp low enough so it doesn't melt plush or warm the skin glue too much, but warm enough so the wax melts. It's a little grabby for the first km or so but then things get fast. 

Curt Haire · · leavenworth, wa · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 1

ok John, I'll weigh in:  over my years  leading two and three week ski tours for Outward Bound and other outfitters, I never carried a tent.  in fine weather, I'd sleep under the stars.  If precip was a prospect, a  light tarp over a snow trench was usually more than adequate.  in full on storm, snow cave or igloo depending on snow conditions. if the snowpack is too shallow for a traditional snowcave, a "shovel-up" does the job. understand - this is coming from a guy who didn't  bother to take a tent on my second Denali trip...  thermos is a good suggestion, but you can enjoy the same benefit  by wrapping the good old nalgene with evasote foam (we all have old dead foam pads just waiting to be re-used, don't we?) - carry two for the weight of a thermos...

next item may raise some eyebrows:  if you're out for a week or more, consider taking a pressure-cooker.  you can cook real food, and over that long a trip, you'll make up for the weight in fuel savings.   

my binding repair kit is a leatherman and duct tape.  if its something I can actually fix, the leatherman will do the job.  if its more than I can fix with the leatherman, last resort is duct tape my ski to my boot.  I had a colleague ski 15+ miles out from Glacier Peak once with his ski duct taped to his boot... but as I said - absolute last resort.

final suggestion -- not about weight saving, more about weight management -- if your kit comes out to more than about 25lb consider pulling a sled instead of carrying a pack. the difference is unbelievable.  most folks I know will happily pull more than twice the weight on a sled than they would consider skiing with a pack...

-Haireball

JonasMR · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 6
Jplotz wrote:

Is a snow trench for a 5 day traverse worth the cost in comfort vs the weight savings?  This is in the Cascades in spring. 

Certainly build, and sleep in, a few shelters and trenches for yourself before heading out for 5 days.  If you don't like it, bring the tent.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 242
Curt Haire wrote:

if your kit comes out to more than about 25lb consider pulling a sled instead of carrying a pack. the difference is unbelievable.  most folks I know will happily pull more than twice the weight on a sled than they would consider skiing with a pack...

Most fun ski descents are probably "not so fun" if you have to deal with pulling a sled.

NorCalNomad · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 120
Kyle Tarry wrote:

Most fun ski descents are probably "not so fun" if you have to deal with pulling a sled.

What's not fun having a 25+lb dead weight attached to you when going down a tight couloir? 

JonasMR · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 6
Kyle Tarry wrote:

Most fun ski descents are probably "not so fun" if you have to deal with pulling a sled.

Or tight trees, or boot-packing.  For heavier loads, I do think the swiveling hip belt makes a difference.  Get one of those.

Curt Haire · · leavenworth, wa · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 1
Ancent · · Reno, NV · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 34

Honest question regarding the sled: You've made your point that it is VERY doable. I believe you on that. But is the skiing as fun? Presumably you're going out on these treks to enjoy the skiing aspect--unless it really is expedition trekking to get to some remote location to say climb some peak--and most BC skiers have learned to ski very well with heavy packs. That said, skiing "with training wheels" sounds about as much fun as mountain biking with training wheels (i.e., not). I very much agree 50 lb packs uphill is a pain.

JonasMR · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 6
Curt Haire wrote:

I will reiterate my sled suggestion.  Twelve years on professional ...

Aww man, lets not fall down this rabbit hole in another thread, please.  No one is saying you are wrong for liking sleds, or that they aren't the best way to go for some things.  Folks are saying they haven't enjoyed sleds in some situations.

As always, OP should try a few day runs with a sled in the kind of terrain s/he will be skiing to see if it works for their needs.  Borrow/rent/make as opportunity allows.

Jplotz · · Wenatchee, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 1,205
JonasMR wrote:

.

terrain s/he will be skiing 

He

J.Roatch · · Leavenworth, WA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 120

I wouldn't want to rely on snow shelters in the cascades in spring -- I don't think the quality of the snow would be ideal unless you're just digging out a trench and putting a tarp over. Is there really that much weight savings if they tent you bring is just poles and a tarp? I've never weighed my packs FYI.

For overnights in the cascade springs, I've brought a simple tent (rain-fly and poles) and dug out an area for it so it was protected from the wind. I think it's more diverse, especially if you may be spending some time low (if you get stuck on the Glacier Peak hike in very shallow snow).

I probably don't bring enough for binding repairs. What binding? Do you use the old Dynafit Speeds? I know some people just bring an extra heel and some glue, which may be heavier than a kit, but if they're gonna break I wouldn't want to only be prepared for them ripping out.

I find that to go light, save weight with minimal selections of clothing, planning meals well and using dryer foods, having a light stove/fuel, leaving the books and camera at home...

But, I'm not sure how light I've gotten my bag. How light have you gotten yours?

I don't advocate a sled unless necessary for the trip. Some trips may require it to set-up a basecamp. Personally, the way I ski.... a sled wouldn't be an option. It's too fun to jump off stuff and go really fast.

bttrrtRock Charles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 5

Cooked Bacon - So light. 

Drink water from streams or springs. 

No fuel and stove is the easiest weight savings. 

Don't sacrifice too much warmth (safety) for speed if you are over a days distance from help.

Two light shells and a warm down is a good system not too many people use. The light shells can be layered for warmth and dry faster than down. More applicable when in wet spring snowfall. Also better to put the shell against a wet (sweaty) base layer  than down which will soak up water from the base layer. I also bring a light capalene base layer in my pack on every tour cuz when it gets cold, dry will save your life and in its super nice at camp. 

A light tent is nice if you want to ski more and dig less.  

Leave the goggles at home (snow condition permitting). 

Aluminum ax or just a whippet and aluminum crampons if needed. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Pacific Northwest
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