Writer (Mike Wigley) and Rowan Bashford skinning up the Mueller Glacier, New Zealand. Photo by: Tess Carney
What to carry in your pack for a tour:
- Shovel, transceiver, probe, collapsible poles, skins
- Goggles, sunglasses, sunscreen
- Lunch, snacks, water
- Map, compass
- Extra layers for when you take a break or emergency
- Extra gloves, hat
- First Aid kit with an emergency space blanket
- Repair kit for splitboard (extra binding parts, screws), screwdriver, (2-4) rubber ski straps (Valhalla Pure), duct tape, needle and thread, Leatherman or multi tool with knife, scraper.
- Emergency device (cell phone, Delorme inreach/ spot SOS messenger, sat phone)
- Have your pack set up for touring the night before so you don’t forget anything, double check the list before leaving the house for a solid day of touring.
- Put your beacon on while getting dressed checking battery power.
- Leave skins off skis till you get to the trailhead.
At the Trailhead:
- Turn beacon on; check yours and the group member’s battery percentage.
- Set up collapsible poles to your height, with your elbows making a 90 degree angle while holding the pole handles and the ski baskets on snow
- Set up splitboard for skinning. Practice at home to be fast in the field in various weather conditions. For skinning swap the splitboard skis, so the straight inside metal edge is your outside edge while walking up hill. Place skins and bindings onto skis and strap in.
- Delayer clothing so when you start skinning your at a cool temperature.
- Have a member of the group do a beacon check before skinning for the day.
- Take your time, walk at a speed so group members are able to have a conversation without feeling short of breath.
- If breaking trail in the snow, keep the angle of the skintrack low, in the long run it keeps everyone’s energy levels up and is more efficient.
- While leading make sure to know who is on the tail end and periodically look over your shoulder to ensure everyone is together.
- While skinning on the snow, keep the skis on the snow and glide them rather then lifting.
- Use your poles to engage your risers when the angle of the skintrack becomes too steep. Take off risers when angle of skintrack mellows out.
- Practice makes perfect. Practice inside switching over from skis to snowboard and vice versa. Applying skins and taking them off and having a place for all your gear in your backpack mapped out. Makes it easier to organize yourself in the field and recognize if you forgot something.
Have a routine at the top;
- Quickly stomp out a spot in the snow to switch over
- Take off pack and place beside you
- Collapse poles then place on/in pack
- Unstrap bindings, step beside
- Pick up one ski, take off binding and set aside, then take off skin and place on pack. Repeat with other ski. Then taking both skins and placing them in you pack or jacket. Finish putting splitboard together.
- Grab an extra layer for the ride down, eat a snack, drink water, and a good time to fiddle with any gear before riding down.
- Put on goggles and helmet, strap into your snowboard in a comfortable spot. You may need to stomp a spot in the snow to strap in.
- Make sure where you strap in, your able to just roll into your line.
- The above routine can be used for switching over from snowboard to skis as well. I find if you do your switch over first, then you have time to enjoy a break with snacks and water while everyone finishes their changeovers and discusses the plan for the run down or the route up.
Extra Helpful Tips:
- If you find your skins are failing on you, pull over and take your skins off. Scrape any snow or ice off the adhesive side of your skin using the metal edge of your skin. Take 5 minutes and put your skins in jacket to warm up glue, to help the glue become more adhesive. If still failing use rubber ski straps or duct tape and wrap around skis and skins to help skin stay in place on ski.
- As well on the ride down you can ride with your skins in your jacket to ensure the glue lasts longer through the day.
- Be mindful of the terrain your splitboarding in and if you should keep your poles out or not. If your designated run isn’t fall line and you have to traverse or rolling over flat sections, keeping your poles out could benefit you.
- Carrying a multi-tool, knife, and a scraper in your pants pockets can save you time on switchovers. If you need to scrape snow or ice off your board, or tighten some screws.
- Learn what clothing layers works best for you in certain climates while touring, to reduce in sweating or getting soaked in wet climates.
Enjoy the journey of it all. It’s not all about bagging peaks and slaying lines, it’s about the whole process of connecting in the mountains with friends and loved ones. There’s a lifetime of lines out there to explore, enjoy the moment.