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What to Pack for a Day Skiing the Backcountry

With Skiers Caroline Gleich & Brooklyn Bell

Whether you’re not sure what you need to start touring, or just want to see how a couple of backcountry pros load up their packs, we turned to a couple of athletes to discover what to pack for a day skiing or riding the backcountry. 

Athlete and artist Brooklyn Bell sends cliffs and backflips alike in the powder near her home of Bellingham, Washington—and beyond. And professional mountaineer and environmental activist Caroline Gleich is less than a year out from an Everest expedition, and spends more winter days than not touring in her backyard of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. 

We invited Brooklyn and Caroline to tell us how they pack for a day in the backcountry. They shared everything from their favorite gear and how to remove skins in a flash, to what they like to eat on the skin track.

 

Caroline: Backcountry skiing may seem like a big upfront investment, but once you realize you don’t have to pay for lift tickets or wait in lift lines, the investment begins to pay off. One of the mistakes I made early on in my career was not investing in lightweight gear. 

If you’re going to be a committed uphill and/or backcountry skier, go with lighter equipment and adjust your skiing style and speeds accordingly. It’s a beautiful lifelong sport. 

Also make sure you continue to educate yourself on the dangers of avalanche travel. Start by taking a course. At the very least, watch the “Know Before You Go” series. And find a mentor.

Brooklyn: For those who are new to the backcountry, the best place to start is by taking an AIARE 1 course from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. Ask friends about their experiences in the backcountry and start having dialogues about snow, terrain, and avalanche conditions. 

You should also keep up to date with your local avalanche center and spend time reading books on traveling safely through avalanche terrain. Another great resource is podcasts—tune into “Avalanche Hour Podcast” on Spotify to hear experts from all over talk about avalanche safety and the snow pack.

When taking my AIARE 1, my thoughts were:

  • How do I find my voice in the backcountry?
  • What kind of skier do I want to be and how will spending time in the backcountry become part of these goals?
  • How can I develop a long-term relationship with the snow?

Brooklyn’s Gear List

Caroline’s Gear List