Here’s a few ideas and tips before you set off on your next ski tour, with a guided group or on your own. This is a bit of a random list, put together as we skinned up to our hut today. Any further suggestions welcome!
1. Be flexible – you’ll have a plan A, and probably the huts and logistics planned, but if the weather and conditions are difficult, don’t be afraid to get the guidebooks and maps out and go to plan B. This nearly always results in better, and safer skiing, rather than charging ahead and trying to get your original objective done.
2. Have a shake down day. Unless you’ve skied and tested your kit recently, it well worth having a day tour or some lift accessed skiing before you head out on a hut to hut tour. Test your kit, the snow and your legs before you’re committed.
3. Put fresh batteries in your transceiver, and make sure you and your mates can find you. Half an hour spent on a quick practice session will iron out any technique faults, as well as testing the transceivers properly.
4. Get some GPS mapping. Easily available on your smart phone, there are paid and free apps that will give you a GPS location. Remember to download the area that you’ll be in, and take a external battery and cable for your phone as you can chew through the battery pretty quickly. ViewRanger is pretty good. Oh, and take a paper map and compass as well (obviously).
5. Tighten up your boots nuts and bolts. On some boots these can rattle loose.
6. Wax the skis and skins. This doesn’t (or shouldn’t) apply to rentals. But running some wax over the skins in particular can be very useful. You can do this by hand before the tour, and I always carry a little stick of wax with me.
7. Tell someone where you’re going, which huts you’ll use and give them some instructions on what to do if they don’t hear from you. Some huts don’t have much mobile signal, but all have landlines.
8. Decide on whether to carry snacks from the valley for the entire tour, or to restock along the way. The huts will do you a packed lunch or snacks if you want to save weight.
9. Take kit for the cold, and the heat. It’s quite often four seasons in a day when you’re touring in the spring. The heat can be as much of an issue as the cold sometimes. A sun hat plus your beanie and goggles.
10. Its a cliche to talk about luxuries, but everyone always takes too much. I personally take a spare lightweight top for the hut, sleeping bag liner, toothbrush and a set of headphones for an evening podcast. Spare socks, books, pyjamas, toiletries will only slow you down… it’s worth roughing it for a few days. Check our ski touring kit list.