Travelin’ The EU — Munich is Conquered — On to the Alps

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My method of packing involves a series of memorized checklists, with everything thrown into a heap for later scientific packing.

My method of packing involves a series of memorized checklists, with everything thrown into a heap for later scientific packing. I rarely forget anything half way important, but sometimes funny things happen, like why did I arrive in Europe with a multi-meter down in the bottom of my computer backpack? Trust me, I might be a geek but I general do not travel with electrical meters -- at least not on this planet.

For me, the toughest part of doing the European travel thing is the packing. This time I brought two pair of skis, DPS Wailer 99 and Dynafit Cho Oyu. By the time I crammed my planks into a light but still-too-heavy Dakine ski bag, that was twenty pounds. Cram in the street clothing and backcountry gear, fifty pound limit was reached as easily as loading our dishwasher.

Problem was, our rope and assorted climbing gear was all still piled on the floor, as were a few gifts for friends. Would the 8 pound Colorado marble stone cutting board have to be left behind? Perhaps not, as a third bag was mandatory no matter what.

So Lisa packed her ski bag to 49.8 pounds and we activated one more piece of luggage for all the extra accouterments. It wasn’t cheap getting all three bags checked through to Munich, but we do what we have to do. Or, rather, one’s plastic does what it has to do.

I’m no virgin when it comes to airline travel. Even so, for an extended trip I simply cannot get my bag weight down low enough to avoid that second suitcase. The skis are light. Heck, they don’t even have brakes. Three pairs of socks couldn’t add up to that much? Or the three pairs of pants and two shirts? But I did bring two backpacks: Dynafit Cho Oyu for longer days, and a CAMP bikini for resort uphilling and short days.

Ski pants and base layers can’t be left behind. I’ve got my usual Outdoor Research Trailbreaker pants balled up next to the ski bindings for for impact protection, and a couple of OR wool zip-T shirts are stuck in there as tight as tree roots in granite.

My favorite thing in the whole load are the B&D Ultimate Cuff Pivots I’m bringing over for gifting. Those things are just so cool they deserve international travel. Perhaps I’ll grab a $7.00 glass of United Airlines vino to celebrate what we did get packed. Come to think of it, I’ve figured out why TSA won’t allow liquids. It’s so you can’t bring your own wine.

I’m writing this as we glide over the Atlantic. We’ll gear jam a rental car tomorrow and try to GPS our way out of Munich. Perhaps packing isn’t that tough, come to think of it.

Update: Third bag missing at carousel but said to now be in transit. Perhaps TSA used the included rock slab for training. It was most certainly x-ray proof. Apparently they put the rascal luggage on a Lufthansa Flight after our United just took off. And in case you guys are wondering, yes we did attempt to fly the Luft but got baited and switched.

Comments

28 Responses to “Travelin’ The EU — Munich is Conquered — On to the Alps”

  1. Mark January 2nd, 2014 11:04 am

    Can’t wait for TR details Lou! What’s the basis for the two ski strategy? Wailer for deeper/shorter days Cho Oyu for longer tours?

    -Mark

  2. Lou Dawson January 2nd, 2014 12:17 pm

    Super lightweight edge-hold skis for social uphilling, night runs at resorts, or variable conditions and yes really long tours. Powder boards for pow and breakable crust. Mainly, I brought both skis because I could (grin) and I’m always trying to get a better handle on what they help me with.

    Stay tuned for plenty of trip report travel writing. We have quite a bit of driving to do, and industry visits, so it won’t be as much pure skiing as I’d like, but should be plenty interesting.

    Lou

  3. David B January 2nd, 2014 4:38 pm

    Can’t beat carbon fibre skis for air travel. I know that’s not their intended use but the kg’s (or pounds) are super valuable at check in.

    This years travel quiver consists of DPS wailer 112RPC for all round fun & DPS Lotus 138 for the deep stuff.

    Can’t wait to see your reports Lou.

  4. JU January 2nd, 2014 6:33 pm

    Ah, the things we suffer in the pursuit of the perfect day on snow. All good in the end though! Just don’t go via Heathrow (in 4 encounters there, they have lost my luggage 3 times, the staff are truly appalling and it’s comprehensively chaotic). How leniently you and your gear are treated at checkin seems to depend as much on the counter staff as on airline policy (this comment applies to most countries), so imagine you are already in the white stuff and smile at them. If you are buying clothes or gear in the country of destination, it’s often cheaper to post them home than to pay excess baggage charges. Bring on total passenger + luggage weight charges I say.

  5. Billy Balz January 2nd, 2014 7:57 pm

    I thought you big shot sponsored 14rs got free first class upgrades with no baggage charges? Maybe Obama can intervene for the return journey…. You deserve it for all the education you disseminate for us newbie AT guys. Have fun, I’m jealous in Maine

  6. Lou Dawson January 2nd, 2014 10:18 pm

    Up and at ‘em here in Austria, we’ll see what the day brings!

    David, indeed, the two-ski quiver seems to be effective for traveling as skis get lighter. Nice to have two choices! Billy, I’ve even gone farther up than Obama for intervention in travel days, as they say, it all works in mysterious ways (grin). I have to say that generally I’m impressed with modern air travel. It is amazing what they do with both people and luggage. The safety stats are nearly miraculous.

    Nevertheless this trip was one our lesser impressive in terms of how United performed. Getting bait/switched off our Lufthansa flight was a surprise. Lesson learned. Air travel is getting more and more like car rental, the price you get quoted will not be the price you end up paying unless you are ruthless as to personal comfort and baggage packing. For example, once we got bumped to United, for any sort of comfort and good seats together we had to spring for Economy Plus, which was a “good” value but still quite a percentage increase. Take that and the baggage charges and we paid about a 20% premium.

    I agree that they should weigh the PERSON and the baggage. That would be much more fair. Apparently they’re doing that in Samoa, I heard (I’m not making a tasteless joke, really read that somewhere).

    We’re getting out on a ski tour right away this morning, jet lag and all. We’ll try to file a report ASAP.

    Lou

  7. Lou Dawson January 2nd, 2014 10:28 pm

    Luggage followed us to our accommodations in Austria. Amazing how they do that. I now have my tooth paste. Lou

  8. Jim Knight January 2nd, 2014 11:43 pm

    Yup. Ultimate Cuff Pivots could be the ultimate currency. Fare thee well!
    Dirtbag tip: wear all your heavy bulky clothing at check-in. Change out once aboard.

  9. Frame January 3rd, 2014 5:42 am

    I’m 6′ 4″ and not a fatty, how is paying by weight more fair? You don’t get to choose if you are short or not. I have to buy bigger clothes/shoes as well compared to short folks, more weight/room in luggage.
    And damm right those are my knees you can feel on the back of your seat, you can stick in in the aisle, but heck it hurts when the drinks cart hits em.

  10. Jack January 3rd, 2014 9:08 am

    Dirtbag tip #2: walk up to the skycap at curb check in with a $20 bill in hand, when he tells you the bad news about the 3rd bag, pull a $10 out…… a good tip to curbside beats the formal baggage charge.

  11. Lou Dawson January 3rd, 2014 11:03 am

    Frame, good point. I guess what I should have suggested is that they charge by body mass index or something! Seriously, to be fair perhaps they could have a weight limit for body weight, after which you’d pay a fee, and/or if you were under that weight you’d get a credit towards your baggage. There must be _some_ way of them being more fair than allowing one person to carry 100 pounds of fat at no charge, and make the people on either side of them uncomfortable, as opposed to a small skinny woman getting dinged for needing to carry in her luggage enough clothing for her business meetings. The system is screwy. But then, I guess it always has been (grin).

  12. Matus January 3rd, 2014 11:27 am

    After some ski trips via plane I am able to pack into 20kg backpack plus 10kg onboard backpack plus one ski bag. Including skis, snow camping etc. However boarding in ski boots with the helmet is required to achieve the miraculous weight.

  13. Terry January 3rd, 2014 8:12 pm

    Good tips, Jack and Matus!

    Matus, wearing ski boots on the plane would work with some of the boots with decent walk modes. I have friends who drive in them. Would like to see TSA’s reaction :)

  14. Fernando Pereira January 3rd, 2014 9:26 pm

    My standard international ski travel setup:

    1 checked-in duffel 20kg max (clothes, crampons, ice axe, 1st aid kit, water bottle, thermos,…)
    1 checked in pair of skis + ski crampons + skins + poles in ski bag
    1 carry-on ski backpack (BD Alias) that fits on the overhead bin, containing ski boots, one set of ski clothes (socks and inner layer stuffed inside boots), compact camera, beacon, 7 inch tablet (Nexus 7), small bag with chargers/USB cables, helmet strapped onto backpack

  15. Matus January 3rd, 2014 10:21 pm

    Terry, you just need to get on board with the ski boots on your feet. We never had any problem with that when flying several times from Europe to Libanon, Kamchatka/Russia, Armenia… We also keep all heavy items attached to our bodies to keep the weight down (avy beacon, hardshells, climbimg skins). We get rid of everything right after boarding. There is a lot of room under the seats for this;)

    Snowpulse backpack raises more questions and problems even when flying with standard company (Lufthansa).

  16. Patrick January 3rd, 2014 11:53 pm

    Dang.
    If I’d only known that ‘multi-meter down’ was the next big thing, I would have asked Santa for a new vest filled with it.
    My current vest just has goose down fill, SOOO 1990s.

  17. Lou Dawson January 4th, 2014 12:28 am

    Patrick, momentary slip into redundant prose due to jetlag (grin), apologies. I will edit immediately! Always a struggle to keep the editorial standards to at least a 7th grade level!

    Actually, come to think of it I’ll let stand as an example for our other writers. At least for now.

    Lou

  18. Daniel January 4th, 2014 12:49 am

    Welcome to Europe!

    Go for the southern alps if you can. Great snow cover there. We had to skip our usual skitouring destinations in the northern alps in favor of good snow for the christmas/new year holidays.

  19. UpSki Kevin January 5th, 2014 5:07 pm

    Lou, what weight sleeping bag do you recommend for the refuges/hostels/etc around the alps in the spring time? I’m wanting to downsize from my 0deg bag to something more compact.

  20. Daniel January 5th, 2014 5:18 pm

    Hardly anybody uses sleeping bags. Apart from the mandatory and lightweight silk bags that are mandatory in most apine huts. I’d recommend silk or the lightest down bag you xan find.

  21. John Warner January 5th, 2014 11:44 pm

    In 25 years of ski mountaineering in the Alps, our group has never needed sleeping bags in the huts. Blankets and/or duvets have always been provided in Austria, Switzerland, France, and Italy,

  22. Lou Dawson January 6th, 2014 2:05 am

    I don’t have as many years into it as John, but I’ve been to quite a few huts now and never needed a sleeping bag, though we do bring the silk sleeping bag liners as some of the huts say they require those (though I’ve noticed the locals tend to ignore that). Considering that the idea of using the liner is that the hut is not cleaning the bedding very often, one does tend to consider using the liner while sleeping (grin). Lou

  23. Erik Erikson January 6th, 2014 2:10 am

    Speaking for Austrian huts: If you rent a (more expensive) room for about 4 to 6 persons you very often get warm blankets and sheets. If you rent the (cheaper) like “dorms”, you always only get quite thin wool blankets, regularly 2 of them. Most times there are lot of spare wool blankets, so you can wrap yourself in 5 or 6 of them (which is often necessary, cause rooms and dorms are very seldom heated). This works for warmth reasonably, but is a little heavy and uncomfortable.
    I always bring a light sleeping bag if I approach a hut only once and use it as a base camp fot several tours. If I go from hut to hut on skies I often don´t and save the weight and space by going with the “many wool-blankets method…”. Sometimes I end up sleeping in my down-jacket and all my other clothes additionally though.

  24. jc January 7th, 2014 9:11 pm

    Hi Lou and Lisa, noticed you did not take an air bag with you. Any specific reasons why not? Thanks, enjoying the beautiful pictures.

  25. louis dawson January 8th, 2014 1:04 am

    J.C., the incredible hassle of air travel is one reason, weight is another, also the fact that we depend on being fairly conservative with our touring plans. For example we toured in CH yesterday with zero avalanch danger. Each to his own… but I do get concerned that airbags are being considered a 100% solution as well as causing skiers to up level of risk. Lou

  26. jc January 8th, 2014 6:35 am

    Good points, seems almost impossible not to feel some amount of added security while skiing with an air bag. Result being increased risk. Any feel for percentage of skiers there using airbags?

  27. Wookie January 13th, 2014 3:54 am

    Ah – nice to see the orginator of my favorite blog back on my side of the world. Good luck with the snow and safe travels. Perhaps one day We’ll meet for a Strudel and a Weißbier. (a horrible combination that you photograph a bit too much.) ;-)

    Staying for the ISPO?

  28. Lou Dawson January 13th, 2014 5:20 am

    Wookie, thanks for commenting and I do appreciate getting set straight on food combinations so I can fit into the culture better (grin). I did stop drinking cappuccino after 10:00 a.m. so am adjusted on that as well. Yes, we’ll be at ISPO. Lou

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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