Ski touring, the idea is to take as little as possible – after all, it’s you that has to carry it. On the tour from Alagna to Zinal at the end of last month (see previous posts), three of us – including me – had reasonable well laden rucksacks: one of my companions even carried a pair of jeans and a shirt for five days. The guides, despite carrying extra rope and all sorts of bits and pieces of climbing hardware, travelled the lightest of all of us.
Here are the items I took – right down to the smallest things. For ease of reading I’ll group some items together, but they’re in no particular order:
Mountain Hardwear Dihedral rucksack, about 45 litres, with ski and ice axe straps and water bottle pockets/straps on the outside
50cm Black Diamond ice axe; Black Diamond crampons; Eurohike mummy silk liner (210x75cm); Black Diamond carabiner, Black Diamond harness (not the cheapest one, with a fleece-lined waistband)
Patagonia down jacket; Colltext skins, cut to size at Follomi Sports in Sion; Arva two-piece shovel in metal
Sinner goggles; Bolle sunglasses; mittens; fleece gloves; ski crampons (Haarscheisen in German or Swiss-German)
Kompardell retractable ski poles with large baskets and extra-long handles; Arva Evolution trasceiver; Black Diamond 190cm tour probe
Mammut sunhat; Scarpa touring boots with Dynafit holes; Rossignol B2 skis with Dynafit bindings
Patagonia shell jacket; Icebreaker merino base layer with rollneck and zip; very lightweight Calida merino base layer; Icebreaker summer half-sleeved v-neck base layer
Fleece gilet; lightweight woolly hat; headband with fleece lining; cotton long-sleeved roundneck top; neck thing (called a snood by some, I think)
Tea bags; toothbrush; toothpaste; miniature bottle of scent; tiny bar of soap; deodorant; Swiss Army knife; Petzl headtorch
Phone charger; camera charger; two water bottles, each 75cl; lightweight Calida long johns; five pairs of knickers; lightweight ski trousers
Mobile phone; two pairs of ski socks; eight muesli bars; a pack of strawberry shoelaces; two packs of Ricola cough sweets
Cotton edelweiss scarf; three packs tissues; notebook; pen; book (Annapurna by Maurice Herzog); earplugs; lots of Compeed
Eight spare batteries; lightweight fleece top; lightweight tracksuit bottoms; pair of very lightweight Argentine Alpargata shoes (to wear en route to and from the start and finish of the tour)
That – I think – is it. The optional kit that proved most essential, which I would never leave behind, were Compeed (used by the others more than me), extra ski socks (I wished I had taken three pairs), the down jacket (for going out to the loo in the night as well as for wearing in the hut and under my shell jacket sometimes) and the fleece gilet (for climbing, worn over one base layer).
The kit I did not use was: spare batteries (for headtorch and transceiver: I would take fewer next time); lightweight fleece (not needed now I have a down jacket) and my book (these huts had plenty of reading material – but not all do). Bulkiest in comparison to usefulness was my camera charger – a horrible weight of wires. I didn’t use the tea bags, but I have done on previous trips – it’s far cheaper to buy hot water in huts than tea. I didn’t use the goggles, but we were lucky with the weather. I could have managed without an extra cotton top to wear in bed, and my tracksuit bottoms weren’t essential. But in the end I did use most of this kit.
Next time, extras I will bring are salami sausage and hard cheese – great to eat and to hand round when you stop for a breather – although I was surprised to find that my strawberry shoelaces (some sort of Haribo concoction) were a hit, too.
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