6 tips for safer ski touring / free skiing – by Gjermund Nordskar

When skiing in snow covered mountains close to or in avalanche terrain (above 30 degrees), it’s always a chance to be caught by an avalanche - which is the last thing you want to experience or be a part of. 

Words by: Norrøna athlete, guide and avalanche instructor, Gjermund Nordskar (@gjermundnordskar)

I have made some tips to have as assets when you’re out ski touring next time. 

Here are the six essential tips for safer ski touring.

1: Adapt the trip according to avalanche forecast, weather forecast and changes in weather:

Be aware of changes in weather all the time, and how it can affect the avalanche danger. Check for changes before the trip, on the start of the trip, and in critical terrain on the trip. Ask the question; Is everything as expected? If not, adjust according to the new information. 

2: Adapt the trip according to your groups abilities:

Find out who you are skiing with. How many people are in the group and what avalanche knowledge do you have in the group? Remember that the less experienced person in your group is the one the whole group has to adapt to. 

3: Reduce your load on the snowpack:

Use always distance between each person in the group when walking or skiing in terrain above 30 degrees. Use a minimum of 10 meter when skinning uphill, and ski one by one downhill – and remember to stop on planned safe spots.

4: Always ask safety questions

Before entering avalanche terrain, always ask yourself; Why is the snow and terrain safe here? Use the group’s knowledge to discuss and find it out. If the answer is negative, find easier terrain or turn around.

5: Examine the snow pack:

Dig always in the snow before you enter terrain above 30 degrees. Check the stability and the properties of the snow, and answer the question; Why is the snowpack safe here?

6: Bring necessary equipment:

Bring always shovel, search probe and avalanche beacon when skiing close to or in avalanche terrain. Beside necessary ski touring gear, bring also enough windproof and isolating clothes, and some extra windproof gloves. And remember to always have a windsack and first aid kit in your backpack. For tips, check out some of my favorite Norrøna skiing gear here: 

* The lyngen collection

* The tamok pants and Lofoten jackets
* The lyngen backpack
* The falketind down jackets
* The Norrøna Windsack (must have)

Photos taken by @finnhovem, @gjermundnordskar and @noooondal

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