Backcountry Guide: Watch Your Back(pack)

Your prime directive when packing should be self-sufficiency. Failing to prepare, prepares you to fail. A basic start to the high adventure is a light, well-fitted backpack. Here is an orderly list of backcountry tools to layer systematically in your pack.

Basic Hobbit Day Pack:

•Small repair kit on the bottom with an array of nylon zip ties and duct tape.

•Store a first aid kit including stuff for blisters, small and large soft-tissue bandages, a couple of slings, cloth tape, a tensor bandage, air-way and collapsible artificial respiration mask, in the bottom of your pack as well.

•Probe and shovel handle on one side.

•Thermos of hot tea or water on the other side of the pack.

•Shovel blade against exterior wall inside.

•Climbing skins folded and layered on top of the shovel blade.

•Warm, compressed down or synthetic puffy jacket in the middle against your back.

•Extra toque wrapped around goggles toward the top.

•Lunch—last in, first out.

•A map, compass, sun block, knife, headlamp, and lighter in the top pocket.

•Collapsible ski poles strapped to the outside of the pack with the points down.

Gandalf Day Pack Additions:

•Snow/wood saw adjacent to probe

•Thin, small tarp with 2 meter parachute cord sections tied to each corner stuffed in the very bottom

•Snow observation kit tucked in an outside pocket including: digital thermometer; 2 meter folding ruler; pencil; field book; black snow crystal screen; 10x magnification loop; and 7 meters of 2mm knotted climbing cord for cutting ruetschblocks

•GPS on the top pocket with the map

•Altimeter watch

•Cell phone, radio or triquarter

Before you walk out of the house, clip on your avalanche beacon against your first layer of clothing.

All in all, an effective pack will weigh about 17 lbs. A light pack allows a good rider to stay quick and maneuverable while weaving though the mountains.

When you strap on this spinal protection shield, think of that movement as a ritual preparing you for battle with the white winter dragon. Ride again to slay another day.