Backcountry Checklist

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This does NOT really concern what you use to lay tracks, cause I don't care what you use to lay tracks. Telemark gear is popular, Alpine Touring (A/T, or randonee)gear is increasingly common, and boarders have long been keen to make the hardyards for the fresh stuff. Indeed, it could well be argued that boarding has beencentral to the increased popularity of winter backcountry activities.

Whatever your bent, just get into it.

This section does however concern things you may want to carry with you whileyou're riding (in addition to your base camp / tent equipment). It sounds like a shit-load, but is easy to pack into a small daypack once you have it sussed.

  • First Aid Kit. Maintained, and be armed with the knowledge to use it. Can your partner use it ?
  • Repair Kit. I carry: little chemical handwarmers, Leatherman tool or equivalent pliers and screwdrivers, duct or gaffer tape, about 100mm of 10mm dia aluminium tubing, a few safety pins of various sizes, a piece of wire about fencing wire thickness and some fuse wire. Other top suggestions include five minute araldite, binding screws and wire wool, spare tele binding and cable (suuuuure, say the AT crew), skins glue, PTEX candle, wax, some cord/string and hacksaw blades. A recent addition (ta Benny) is the use of a $6.95 'blow-torch' style ciggie lighter. Fan-bloody-tastic for sealing the edges of gaffer and duct tape. More directional than a standard lighter or matches, and refillable too.
  • Exit and entry gear: May include rope, harness, crampons, ice tools, belay/rappel devices, snow stakes, possibly even ice screws and other clean protection. If you bolt it I will pull it - save it for elsewhere. Be able to prussic / jumar.
  • Avalanche Safety Transceiver. Much more important than an EPIRB. No use locating a cold dead body, hey. Especially if it's yours - remember to turn it on.
  • Snow shovel and probe, bivy bag or space blanket.
  • Some knowledge as to how to keep yourself (and partner) alive if caught out for a 'forced bivvy' should conditions change, equipment fail, purse get dropped or blouse be torn. It happens, be aware.
  • EPIRB. Optional, use as required. Remember, an EPIRB is a locator, and in the worst conditions no one will be able to fly or travel to your location, even if they are aware of your probable location and that you have signalled for help.
  • GPS. Will tell you where you are, but not how to get out unless you have some waypoints already there. I don't have any to give you. I think they're a good idea, but purists will shun them. This may be a good enough reason for using them in itself.
  • CB radio may be good, especially when combined with a fold-out aerial. By convention the most commonly monitored station is 5 - the emergency station - in a given area. Record the stations you hear traffic on and keep this information with the radio.
  • Mobile Phone. Realistically an option in much of the NSW Main Range southern end. I imagine CDMA is better than digital, but head up on a hilltop. Reception from the base of the western faces is likely to be shit. But then I haven't tried. My CDMA phone on Telstra can make and recieve calls from the tops of the peaks, and from the faces which see Guthega, Charlotte Pass and Thredbo.
  • Some warm gear that is in a waterproof bag. Maybe just a spare set of thermals and socks or gloves, but if it rains or you fall in the drink with a loaded pack you'll be more than grateful for something dry. You might just avoid hypothermia as well.
  • Eye Protection. Wear eye protection all the time, even in what seems to be low light conditions. The ambient light received by your eyes will be high, and the air is often quite dry. Even if the conditions do not give you snowblindness, you will get sore, itchy eyeballs. No fun. Symptoms will often not become apparent until the next day.