Overnight ski mountaineering trips in the Cascades are unique because we need to bring extra layers, food, stoves and tents. But we still want our packs as small and stuffed - the tighter the pack, the better it skis! The clothing is very condition dependent, since what I need for a March tour will be radically warmer (and heavier) than for June. Here's my suggested list, with links to the gear I use.
Group Gear Provided
- Stoves and fuel
- Climbing protection
- Comprehensive first aid kit to stabilize bleeding and fractures
- Emergency communication - cell phone, satellite phone, or beacon device
- Emergency shelter
- Internal Frame Pack - 40L to 55L. Depending on the time of year or conditions, I've been using the Blue Ice Warthog 40L (my favorite but a bit hard to get in North America) or Mammut Trion Guide 52L
- Sleeping pad - I bring a full length, inflating pad for snow camping. Thermarest NeoAir XLite
- 1-2 Liters of water storage, in a combination of Nalgene bottles and thermos. More about my thoughts about water storage and treatment is here: LINK.
- Sun screen and lip balm
- Sunglasses - with good side protection and dark lenses. I actually carry two pairs, a brown lense for low light and a reflective lense for bright light. Native Bomber and Smith Guide's Choice
- Goggles - yes bring both! I like sunglasses for most uphill work, but goggles for the stormy days with flat light. K2 Source Z - Red Storm Goggle
- Small first aid kit with a couple of band-aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, your preferred blister repair. Also, an epi-pen if you have any critical allergies!
- Pocket knife
- Lighters - I carry 3-4 on any trip, in various places in my pack
- Headlamp - Black Diamond Gizmo Headlamp
- Sleeping bag - I recommend down insulation because it packs so much smaller. 32°F / 0°C minimum, 20°F / -7°C for real cold weather or folks who sleep cold. Feathered Friends Vireo or Swallow UL 20 Sleeping Bag
- Compression stuff sack - makes that sleeping bag pack really small! Outdoor Research Ultralight Compression Sack, 5L or 8L
- Mug - instead of a mug, I bring a 500mL Nalgene bottle. It works as a mug in camp and water storage during the day.
- Spoon - no need for a fork for most meals.
- Bowl - a few years ago I discovered this bowl that unsnaps to make cleaning easy and packs flat in my pack. Fozzil Bowlz
- Food - you'll want a simple, quick breakfast to get started in the morning; 4-8 snacks to get you through the day; and a hearty dinner to fill you up at night so you can sleep warm. Food shopping, preparation, and cooking is available for an additional charge. Read my menu recommendations and a few dinner recipes here: LINK
- Toothpaste, toothbrush, any medications you normally need
- Camera, cell phone
- Avalanche Transceiver - single frequency, 457kHz, less than 10 years old required. Backcountry Access Tracker 2
- Shovel - small, compact, and metal blade. Backcountry Access B-1 Shovel
- Probe - a dedicated avalanche probe, not a ski-pole alternative model! Backcountry Access Stealth 240 Probe
- Skis - with Alpine Touring / Randonee or Telemark bindings and Ski Brakes or leashes. K2 Wayback 96 skis with Dynafit TLT Radical FT 2.0 Binding
- Ski boots - Alpine Touring / Randonee or Telemark only. No downhill boots! Scarpa Maestrale RS
- Ski poles - if you like to adjust your poles, then great, but I find them too much trouble and bring fixed length poles on 99% of my trips. Black Diamond Fixed Length Carbon Ski Poles
- Climbing skins - these should be full length, wall-to-wall. I'm a huge fan of Pomoca, who just happen to produce the K2 backcountry skins. Pomoca Climb Pro Skins
- Ski Crampons - REQUIRED! Really necessary for those frozen morning starts. Get a pair wider than you ski-waist width, but less than 10mm wider. Dynafit Ski Crampons (100mm fit my skis above)
- OPTIONAL: Ski Helmet - helmet usage is becoming more and more common. While you're likely not to see me ski with a helmet except under certain circumstances, I will never tell you that you shouldn't. Make sure you have a way to secure it to your pack for uphill travel, and be aware that not all models replace the need for a climbing helmet. K2 Stash Helmet
- Ice Axe - 55cm is perfect for ski mountaineering. Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe
- Boot Crampons with Anti-Ball plates - steel works best, and the heel-bail/toe strap models are easiest to put on yet have a secure fit. Black Diamond Contact Clip Crampon
- Climbing harness - lightweight, easy to move around in. Blue Ice Choucas III Harness (my favorite but a bit harder to get in the States) or Black Diamond Couloir Harness
- 1 large belay "HMS" or "Williams" carabiner. Black Diamond VaporLock Screwgate Carabiner
- 2 smaller locking carabiners. Black Diamond Positron Screwgate Carabiner
- 1 non-locking carabiner of equal length to the smaller locking carabiners. Black Diamond Hotwire Carabiner
- 1 24" / 60cm dyneema sewn sling. Black Diamond Dynex Runner
- 1 48" / 120cm dyneema sewn sling. Black Diamond Dynex Runner
- CONDITION DEPENDENT: 18' / 6m of 5mm or 6mm accessory cord, called a "cordellette"
- CONDITION DEPENDENT: Ice screw 13cm. Black Diamond Express Ice Screw
- CONDITION DEPENDENT: Climbing Helmet - if there is an objective rockfall, icefall, or other hazard on the route, a climbing helmet may be required. Black Diamond Half Dome
Clothing - recommending clothing can be the hardest part in the Cascades. What I wear for a tour in March is dramatically different then for June. Here is a loose suggestion that may be changed depending on actual conditions.
- On head: Knit hat, ball cap, neck gaiter. Outdoor Research Storm Beanie, Swift Cap, and Echo Ubertube
- On top: Short-sleeve shirt or long sleeve base layer, active insulation, soft or hard shell, belay insulation. Insulation may be dropped if the forecast is good. Outdoor Research Growler S/S Shirt or Echo L/S Zip Tee, Deviator Hoody, Allout Hooded Jacket or Realm Jacket, and Uberlayer Hooded Jacket
- On hands: I usually bring two pairs of light, medium, or heavy insulated gloves. Outdoor Research Stormtracker Gloves, Super Vert Gloves, or Luminary Sensor Gloves
- On bottom: Base layer bottoms, softshell pants, rain pants. Outdoor Research Sequence Tights, Trailbreaker Pants, Furio Pants
- On feet: ski socks, and 1 pair of heavier socks for sleeping and camp. I typically budget 1 pair x 2 days
- Underwear - 1 pair per week. Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Briefs. Ladies, I leave it up to your judgement on sports bras. The Missus usually budgets one per 3-5 days, depending on the activity and time of year.
- OPTIONAL / CONDITION DEPENDENT: Light hikers for camp or Down booties - I bring down booties on almost every snow trip. Feathered Friends Down Booties