Multi-Day Ski Mountaineering Gear List

Here’s the gear list for our 5-day ski mountaineering trip to Mount Baker. Since we each spent hours pulling our gear together for our first big adventure I thought I’d share what I took.

Personal Gear

Internal frame back pack – 50 Liter (3100 cu in.) minimum: Osprey Variant 52.
This seemed to be the clear backpack to get. A bunch of my friends have it. I like that it has a pocket on the front for crampons, attachment for ice axe, light weight, and could handle 5 days of gear. My only complaint is that the side pockets aren’t big enough for a Nalgene. (Backcountry, Amazon, REI)

Sleeping Bag – down or synthetic, 15º F to 20º F minimum: 1997 MEC Swan. I opted to go with my ancient MEC Swan down sleeping bag that was good to -20’c. Likely a little heavier than what Shawn recently bought, the Marmot Helium sleeping bag. Also, Martin’s choice (owner of Pro Guiding).

Compression Sack – for sleeping bag: no-name old one. Went with my old one from 1997. Next time I’ll get a lighter weight water proof one. Update: I recommend the Sea-to-Sky eVent compression sacks. Super light weight and easy to use.

Sleeping Pad – closed cell foam or self inflating: Therm-a-rest Neoair and Z-lite. Andre, Shawn and Martin all recommended coupling the Neoair with a Z-lite. Lightweight and warm. I think the combo worked well. Out of the three of us, I was never cold. However, the Z-lite is pretty bulky. I had a regular sized one, next time I might cut a bit off of it to lighten it up.

Headlamp – lightweight LED recommended: a Black Diamond one. Just grabbed my Black Diamond one. Nothing fancy. Update: I’ve since upgraded to a Black Diamond Storm. Much brighter for night mountaineering.

Water Bottles – 1 or 2 liters, wide mouth: Two Nalgenes. Two Nalgenes wasn’t really necessary, one would have sufficed since it was warm enough to put snow in your Nalgene and have your water melt it. Nalgene’s were also good for putting hot water in at night to warm up.

Bowl or Cup – Cheap plastic bowl. I wish I had Dave’s Fozzils bowl and Guyot Designs Squishy Cup.

Utensils – spoon and fork. I think a spoon would have been just fine. Never used the fork! Update: I now use a Light My Fire titanium spork.

Small KnifeGerber Multi-tool. My older model is a little heavy, but got the job done.

Sunglasses – adequate for snow travel: Julbo Dolgan. Julbo appears to be the leader in glacier glasses and I went with the cheapest pair. The regular size fit okay. Two problems though, they slipped a little and would require pushing up. When they slipped down a little you could see your eyeball. Wasn’t a fan of that.

Goggles – left them at the car.

Sunscreen – SPF >25, waterproof: Sex Wax Sunscreen. Way too zinky!

Lip Balm – SPF 15+: Nothing special

Lighter: Nothing special

Personal Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, waterless hand cleaner, etc.: Nothing special. A tiny waterless hand cleaner proved to be plenty.

Small Personal 1st aid kit – blister repair (Compeed), aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.: Nothing special. Didn’t use any of it, which was a good thing!

Ski Gear

Skis – Alpine Touring: Dynafit Manaslus. Love em!

Ski Boots – Alpine Touring – no downhill boots: Dynafit Titan. Love em!

Ski Poles – telescopic poles work well, but not required. My regular poles, Swix Mach CT-1 worked fine (though I recently broke a tip in my Dynafit binding). When I’m ready I’ll pick up a pair of Black Diamond Traverse ski poles and a Black Diamond Whippet for self arrest.

Climbing Skins – I like the custom fit Dynafit Speedskin.

Ski Crampons – THESE ARE REQUIRED! I couldn’t find any Dynafit brand crampons but found a place that makes em, B&D Ski Gear.

Ski Brakes or Removable Ski Leashes: Brakes on my Dynafit bindings

Safety Gear

Transceiver – single frequency, 457 kHz only: Pieps DSP. My trustee transceiver.

Shovel – compact, lightweight, metal blade preferred: Black Diamond Transfer 3. Happy with mine. Though Dave’s has an emergency sled kit built into his K2 shovel.

Probe – dedicated probe only, ski poles do not suffice: Black Diamond Guide Probe.

Technical Gear

Ice Axe – 55-70 cm length, lightweight: Black Diamond Raven Pro. Went with a 50 cm length. Sounds like that’s the length that ski mountaineers prefer since it is on your back most of the time and when you pull it out it is only for really steep stuff.

Boot Crampons: Black Diamond Sabertooth Pro. Recommended by Andre.

Anti-Ball plates – for crampons: n/a. Built into my crampons.

Climbing Harness – lightweight, BD Alpine Bod style (no padding): Black Diamond Couloir. Super light weight harness built for ski mountaineering.

2 Locking Biners – (1) large HMS style and (1) reg. locker. Got some Black Diamond ones.

3 Non-locking Biners – any style, we recommend wire gates. Got some Black Diamond ones.

2 Cordelettes – 6 mm diameter, 6 meter lengths, untied. Just had Martin cut me some rope at his shop.

1 Sewn Sling – nylon or spectra, double-length. Black Diamond Sewn Runner.. I had a double length. Next time I’ll take a single length as well.

2 Ice Screws – 13cm and 16cm. Black Diamond Turbo Ice Screws. Went with the cheaper Turbo. Sounds like the Express ones are primarily for ice climbers.

Optional Items

*We highly recommend these items, but do not require them to participate.

Camera and Film – we’d like some shots for the PGS website! Who uses film? Took my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 waterproof camera. I like that I can throw in my pocket or snow and not have to worry about it. It drives me nuts that I constantly have to wipe the lens before shooting.

Ear Plugs – essential for sound sleep: essential. Everyone snores. The wind howls. The rain, rains.

Thermos– vacuum type: didn’t bring. I don’t drink coffee.

Note Pad and Pencil – Rite-in-the-rain brand waterproof notebook works: got a small one though it seems for tour planning the larger size would be preferable. The list neglected a pen, I brought my Fisher Space Pen. Next time a pencil would be nice since I’d rather write on my map with a pencil.

Compass – adjustable declination a must: Got a Brunton Classic. But I think I need one with a mirro. And I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the declination. I have my eye on the Suunto MC-2G Global Compass. Update: I have upgraded to the Suunto.

Altimeter – Suunto watch works well: Found a used Suunto Core on Craigslist. The watch has a learning core and I was bummed at how easily the glass scratched.

Map Case – large zip-loc will suffice: went the large zip-loc route.

Maps – contact guiding office for appropriate quadrangles: got the USGS one not the Green Trails.

Collapsible Water Canteen – good for storing snowmelt at camp: bought a MSR Hydromedary Hydration Bag one but left it in the car.

Warm Socks – to sleep in – had three pairs of ski socks. Glad I had multiple pairs since I sweat a lot!

Lightweight Bivy/Tarp – handy with a floorless tent: didn’t need.

Foot Powder: don’t bring this.

Group Gear Provided By PGS

*Please contact the guiding office if you prefer to bring your own gear in place of any of our group gear.

Tents: Dave and I camped in a MSR Hoop which I really liked because it had two vestibules which is a nice feature when two people have a lot of gear and saves you crawling over the other to go to the bathroom.

Stoves: Dave and I had a JetBoil modified to include a hoop so you could hang it from the top of the tent. It worked great! Seemed better than the MSR Reactor that Shawn and Becky used. Update: Bought a Jetboil, used it for a season, blew it up, then got a Reactor.

Cooking Pots: Incorporated with stove.

Fuel: 3 oz per person per day.

Ropes: 40 m half rope.

Group 1st Aid Kit: thankfully it never came out.

Base Layer Clothes

1 Bottom – midweight or lightweight: Patagonia Capilene

Non-Cotton Underwear – All sites pointed to ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief as being the top choice, and it turned out to work great!

1 or 2 Tops – midweight or lightweight: Patagonia Capilene

Sock Liners – 2 or 3 pair: Got some silk liners from REI.

Ski Socks – 2 pair: My favorites are Bridgedale’s ski sock.

Mid Layer Clothes

Windshirt, Soft Shell, Fleece – only one of these is necessary: A North Face Summit Series soft shell. Oddly I can’t track it down online.

Schoeller™ type pants – soft shell: Apparently the pant to get is OR’s Trailbreaker pant but they were hard to track down so I opted for the Marmot Scree which got the job done.

Outwear Clothes

Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Jacket: I thought I could just use my old North Face ski shell but was told it would be way too much weight so I got the OR Helium Jacket one of the lightest jackets you can buy, plus it packs down really small.

Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Pants – may be omitted w/ Schoeller™ type pants: Again, my favorite Flylow Stash pants would be too heavy so I got a pair of OR Rampart Pants which are full zip making it easy to put on with ski boots or crampons and waterproof for when it was raining.

Warm Hat – should cover ears. I’ve apparently lost my toque so I picked up a OR Wintertrek Hat. Fit well. Don’t know what people on Amazon are complaining about!

Sun Hat – baseball type or visor. Brought a white Livestrong super light hat.

Lightweight Gloves. Bought a pair of OR Stormtracker Gloves. Works great if you don’t use em in the rain or wet snow as they’re not very waterproof.

Ski Gloves: I’ve got a pair of fancy Patagonia ski gloves that rock, though smell a little :).

Down or Synthetic Jacket: I took my old North Face Redpoint Jacket.

What Was I Missing?

Dave recommended picking up a snow picket, a second sling, cheap GPS, satellite phone or radio (Dave likes radios because you can communicate with the rescue crew though you might not always be in range).

Where’d I Shop?

While I had a good amount of the gear, I still had to pick up a ton of gear at Pro Guiding in North Bend. It was great to talk to Martin the owner and walk through buying the gear. Odds and ends I picked up at Amazon and REI. I was also able to grab some pricey items used on Craigslist (ice axe, backpack and watch).

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