What’s in my spring skimo pack?
I’m in the mountains frequently. I work at Mount Hood Meadows Winter Resort, volunteer with Crag Rats Mountain Rescue (Hood River, OR), and work part time as an international expedition leader. I love being in the mountains and also like having a good margin of safety—all seasons. I like to travel light, but also plan for contingency. I have a number of backpacks. A fully loaded mountain rescue “ready pack” hangs in my mudroom. I have a tiny 10-liter mountain running pack for summer. But my favorite, is my ski mountaineering pack, or skimo for short. Almost year-round, my ski pack is in a perpetual state of being packed, or strewn about my mudroom drying. I take almost the same gear, every trip in the mountains. Partly because I’ve figured out a system that works for me and partly so I don’t have to think too hard when packing. So, for recreational outings, here’s my skimo kit for the upcoming spring and summer skimo season. Keep in mind this kit is generally for fair weather, one-day climbs of the Cascade volcanoes. You’ll notice there’s three things I bring a backup of: headlamp, gloves, and puffy.
Key: • Always. o Optional
I’m a huge fan of the influx of European brands to the global outdoor scene. High tech fabrics are constructed into well-fitting garments with minimal accessories. Function, style, and light-weight often come with a higher price tag, but cost is amortized if you keep gear for a long duration. I am not sponsored by any companies, but put in a few brands for examples.
• Synthetic boxers (ExOfficio)
• Synthetic long underwear (Patagonia)
• Soft shell pants (Mammut Base Jump or Tetramar)
o Waterproof shell pant with full side zips (Mammut Preclip)
• Synthetic or wool long-sleeve zip-t (Trew or Smartwool) or thin hooded long-sleeve sunshirt (Black Diamond)
• Lightweight fleece, full zip with a hood (Eider)
• Thin uninsulated softshell windshirt (Outdoor Research Ferossi jacket is one of my favorite pieces of all time).
• Waterproof Gore-tex jacket (Mammut Nordwand)
• Synthetic puffy, sized big enough to fit over all my clothes including hard shell (Rab Xenon Hoody with Primaloft insulation)
o Down Puffy for backup, really cold alpine starts or as an emergency layer
• Buff/neck gaiter
• Fleece hat
• Medium weight wool-synthetic socks (DarnTough)
• Helmet (CAMP Speed)
• Goggles with storm lenses (Smith IOS)
• Sunglasses with yellow and dark lenses (Oakley)
• Lightweight gloves (Smartwool Spring)
• Backup gloves (Outdoor Research)
o storm mittens (Black Diamond)
Sure you can make many different tools work: snowshoes, telemark skis, or a splitboard. But alpine touring gear is the most versatile.
• Skis with tech bindings with skins and poles. I use the one-ski-quiver Dynastar Mythic 97 for most of winter. For summer, I use a lighter Black Diamond Carbon Ascent with 90 mm underfoot in shorter length. I used nylon-mohair skins because they are lighter and glide better (Black Diamond Glidelite) I use Dynafit tech binders on all my skis.
• Alpine touring ski boots: light enough to spend all day but no so light that my feet get cold or I have difficulty driving the ski on a technical descent (La Sportiva Spectre 2.0 with Intuition ProTour liners)
o Self-arrest grip pole (Black Diamond Wippet)
o Ski crampons—on low-angle firm snow, this is an excellent ascent tool (Dynafit)
In winter I use an airbag pack: this year I used the Black Diamond Jetforce Tour 26. But in spring and summer, when conditions are stable and I need to carry more gear, I like the larger mountaineering-style pack, the CAMP M3. I always carry a beacon, shovel and probe too.
For nontechnical volcano climbs, I like going light. But, be advised that the light aluminum and carbon skimo gear isn’t that great for ice and mixed climbing. For that you’ll need something burlier.
• Aluminum ice ax (Black Diamond Raven Pro)
• Aluminum full-frame crampons (Black Diamond Neve)
• Ski mountaineering harness (Black Diamond Couloir)
• Basic crevasse rescue kit: set of prussics, a sling, three locking carabiners, 5-meter webbing, cordlette, pully, micro8, and a 30-meter-long 8-mm glacier-travel rope.
o Picket. Since I’m bringing skis, I usually don’t bring a picket.
o Ice screw. If I’m skiing, I rarely need an ice screw.
• skin wax
• chemical hand warmers
• sunscreen + lip balm
• Headlamp + extra batteries
• Backup headlamp
• cell phone with GPS app (GAIA)
• Map and compass (by way of cell phone)
• A small repair/survival/medical kit: wire, steel wool, a binding screw, cord, zip ties, electrical tape, and a small binding tool. For longer trips, I sometimes add epoxy and hose clamps to repair binders, at least two polyurethane ski straps, wind- and waterproof matches/lighter, medical and/or paper tape.
• Food and water
o Bivy sack