My name is Andrew Drummond and I’m a backcountry skier based out of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. On a whim, I started an alpine touring ski shop in 2016 and have expanded to trail running and biking. In my spare time you can find me taking photos, roasting coffee, or making fresh sourdough bread.
Safety should be at the forefront of any backcountry adventure. This all starts with planning and communicating your plans with partners, friends, and family members. Make sure your intentions are clear and that everyone is on the same page with goals and safety priorities for the tour.
Heat / Cold Management
Backcountry skiing is a combination of Nordic and Alpine where you’ll generate a lot of heat on the way up, and rapidly cool down when you stop moving. I love starting with a merino baselayer, lightweight fleece, shell, and down jacket. I always keep handwarms in my pack for those frigid days and the lyngen Down Knickers have been the best addition to my kit last season.
You’ll rarely regret bringing a camera out on your adventure but you’ll certainly be kicking yourself if you forget it. Chances are you’re going out to somewhere beautiful. It’s a fine balance of being in the moment and capturing the moment. I like to bring my DSLR out with me most days because you never know what you’ll see.
It’s a simple concept but with the sport growing every year, you’re likely to incorporate more situations where it’s easy to be condescending. We all love the outdoor space and we all need to work together.
Bring fun food
Gels and bars work in a pinch but going the extra mile to have a homemade sandwich, fresh granola, or a hot drink will go a long way. I’ve brought out everything from instant mashed potatoes to fresh baguettes with brie. You’ll be amazed what hot food and drinks do for morale.
You’ll remember those days of gear failure more than when things just worked as they should. It’s a great idea to have the tools to make adjustments on the fly – check binding screws, bring a block of skin/ski wax, and touch up your skins periodically with skin glue.
Push your comfort zone.
That might mean visiting new terrain, learning a new skill like ice climbing, or overnight winter camping. Caring a full winter kit will certainly add a challenge to any tour but will certainly add a reward for the hard work.
Balancing Education and Experience
You can only learn so much from a book or a course before needing hands on experience. They go hand-in-hand and it’s important to refresh your rescue skills regularly and make sure you’re able to apply them in the backcountry.