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Equipment list for high mountain ski touring and winter haute routes

Personal equipment

  • Skis - A randonnee (alpine touring) ski set up is essential. It allows for ski touring up the mountain and gives a solid performance for skiing down hill. Any good alpine "freeride" ski in a mid-fat to fat width will work well. Some suggestions : Movement Flame, Atomic Beta Ride 9.22, Dynastar Legend 4800, Fischer Big Stix 74, Rossignol Bandit XX, Salomon, Völkl.
  • Bindings - It is important for your randonnee binding to be easy to get on and off, durable, have a ski brake and ski crampon. Some suggestions : Diamir Fritschi Freeride or the Diamir Fritschi Titanal II.
  • Ski Crampons - A ski crampon is essential and is bought with the binding.
  • Poles - An adjustable probe pole is the most versatile. Some suggestions : Life Link carbon fibre adj. probe, Black Diamond carbon fibre adj. probe. The carbon fibre poles are lighter and have a lighter swing weight, but any adjustable or fixed length probe pole will do.
  • Ski boots - Any good Randonee (alpine touring) boot that fits your foot well and seems comfortable. Some suggestions : Dynafit, Lowa, Nordica, Scarpa. The Scarpa Denali and the Lowa Struktura Evo are about the stiffest. You might consider getting a Raichle Thermoflex or an Intuition thermally molded liner for more warmth and touring comfort. Fit the randonee boot a little bigger than an alpine ski boot but maybe a little smaller than a plastic climbing boot. The more toe room the warmer your feet will stay on summit day, but if too big, you give up some edge control.
  • Climbing skins - A full length, full width climbing skin with glue and some sort of clip on system is preferable. Some suggestions : Backcountry Access.
  • Crampons - Any crampon is fine as long as it fits on your ski boot well and is quick to take off and put on. Crampons with anti balling plates. Steel is fine but aluminum is preferred for ski touring for its lightness. Some suggestions : Camp LC 480, Grivel aluminum, Petzl Ecrin (steel but fairly light).
  • Ice Axe - Any ice axe will do, however the lighter the better. Aluminum axes work well and save weight. An ice axe leash is not necessary. Length recommendations - 48cm to 60 cm. If an axe is too long it gets unwieldy on steeper slopes and is awkward getting in and out of trams. Some suggestions : Grivel Air Tech Racing (one of the lightest steel axes), Cassin Ghost (Aluminum and extremely light).
  • Harness - It needs to fit over all your lower layers and be comfortable to walk or ski tour in. Again light weight and compact are desirable features. Some suggestions - Black Diamond Alpine Bod, Petzl Pandion and Tetrax.
  • Carabiners - One small locking biner. For crevasse rescue gear (optional-guides will have) add - 2 non-locking biners. Some suggestions : Petzl Attache, Petlz Spirit straight gate.
  • Prussik cord 1,2 m of 5-6mm Ø
  • Prussik cord 4 m of 5-6mm Ø
  • Avalanche Transciever - What to look for - Acoustic loudspeaker (no ear piece), European frequency 457 Khz. Some suggestions : Mammut Pulse, DTS Tracker.
  • Shovel - Any lightweight shovel made specifically for removing avalanche debris. Some suggestions - Backcountry Access.
  • Probe - Again, the lighter the better. There are some hot new carbon fibre probes available. Some suggestions : Backcountry Access (they have a slick probe and shovel combo where the probe is stored in the shovel shaft. It?s called the BCA Tour Shovel/Probe system). * Not every one in the group needs a probe and shovel. The guides will have them. Two to three more sets would be good, but it doesn't hurt if every one wants to carry these items.
  • Gaiters - Need to fit over your ski boots; optional. Some Gore-tex or ski pants have internal gaitors or fastening systems which work.
  • Socks - Good warm ski sock. If it is too thick, it might restrict circulation and make your toes cold. Some suggestions - Smartwool.
  • Shell clothing - A Gore-tex top and bottom will be the most weather proof. Make sure it fits with all the possible layers under it. There are other options to Gore-tex that work fine. The top should have a comfortable protective hood.
  • Inner layers - Mid weight long under wear top and bottom, Mid weight fleece top and bottom, Heavier weight fleece jacket or insulated sweater. Schoeller fabric stretch climbing pants are useful, but optional.
  • Insulation layer - Down jacket or synthetic insulation jacket. Some suggestions - Patagonia DAS Parka, Marmot, etc. A down sweater could be a little on the cold side depending on the weather; a jacket with a hood is preferable. Thinner for Haute Routes and thicker for Mont Blanc.
  • Hat - Warm fleece hat, additional thin balaclava optional.
  • Sun hat - A brimmed "baseball cap".
  • Bandana
  • Sunglasses - Category 4 and side shields best for long days on sunny glaciers, wrap around cat. 3 sport glasses fine for most things.
  • Goggles
  • Gloves - Standard ski glove plus and additional super warm glove. Some suggestions - Black Diamond Guide Glove, Patagonia Nitro Glove, and an optional glove liner.
  • Pack - A medium sized pack between 30 and 40 Liters is best. If the pack is too big, the straps often slap you in the face when it is windy and it wont ski as well as a smaller model. It does need to fit all your gear, but don't forget you'll be wearing most of the clothing. A ski oriented pack with pockets and slots for the shovel blade, probe, and shovel handle is very nice, but not imperative. Some suggestions - BCA Stash BC, 2400 cu. In.
  • Food - Sandwiches, bars, and salty snacks - can easily by here - if you have specific favorites, bring from home.
  • Fluids - One to two liter capacity. A steel thermos is very nice to have. One to two liters, soda bottles lightest option - hydration systems with hoses not recommended as they freeze.
  • First-aid kit - Small and light. Some suggestions - Ibuprofen, blister kit.
  • Sun screen and lip screen - Small and light containers. At least SPF 15.
  • Camera - small and light. We find when we bring along our small and light camera, we take more pictures.
  • Optional Items - Map, Compass, Altimeter, and GPS are all fun, but optional as the guides will have these items.
  • Pocket knife
  • Money in euros 
  • Any of these items can be purchased locally and the technical gear (skis, ice axes etc), can be rented. However, in April the selection will be slim for buying. Another option if you are having trouble finding items in the US or want to get a better price, you can order from the web site

Hut Extras:

  • Headlamp - spare batteries. Recommendation: Petzl Tikka Plus.
  • Ear plugs, sleeping bag liner (optional).
  • Alpine Club membership card.

Please let us know if you have any questions about equipment; for example, if you have something that you think will work, but are not sure.

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