One Last List for the Year

Christmas is a time for lists, right?  “Making a list; checking it twice…”  I don’t make Christmas lists anymore, but I sure make enough other lists throughout the year – places I want to go; mountains I want to climb; educational courses I seek; gear I need for trips.

A group in a Level I avalanche course learns the basics of beacons

I truly hope that if you are considering going backcountry skiing this year you will pursue some sort of avalanche education during the season.  Local mountaineering shops typically host avalanche awareness seminars a few evenings during the season.  Guide services will offer a range of courses.  There are books that can serve as fantastic reminders of lessons learned long ago.  And then there is the opportunity to simply go out and practice some snow science or rescue skills while in the field.

Whether you plan to attend a formal course in the field, or just practice on your own, there is some gear that will allow you to be well prepared, without overloading you.  Below is a list that goes beyond the basics like food, clothing, and ski gear; yet it isn’t overly geeky with all kinds of instruments for formal recording.  It’d be great to see every backcountry skiing group have this among them.




Rescue Sled / Tarp

First Aid Kit

Repair Kit

Map / Map Tool



Crystal Card


Snow Saw

As a professional guide I often carry more than this.  As an avid ski mountaineer there are occasions when I carry less.  But this list represents a good balance of function and preparedness.  If you are making your first steps into the backcountry get the education needed to learn how to use this gear.  If you are a seasoned ski tourer challenge yourself to practice with this gear occasionally.

Happy Holidays!

Donny Roth
Brooks Range Ambassador

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