Silvretta Traverse 5.5 — The Gear


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Backcountry Skiing the Silvretta Mountains.

Silvretta Traverse

Gear does not the climber make — but you can’t do this stuff without the gear. Hence, let’s delve (or wallow) into the closet so I can share my mess-ups and also what worked. All good info for any spring weather ski traverse with luxury lodging. (Otherwise, get a bigger pack and carry more stuff).

Overall, the thrust with European “hut” skiing is to travel light and simple, knowing the luxurious lodges are waiting with a shower, a place to dry your clothing, and plenty of food and re-hydration if you don’t carry a ton of eats and water. (Of course not all EU huts are luxurious, but those on the Silvretta are indeed, as are so many others across central Europe.)


Gear Silvretta Backcountry Skiing.

Most of the gear, please click image for massive enlargement.

(Following is listed somewhat from left to right, though some items are not in the photo.)

Backpack: Black Diamond Alias. Slightly too small but I’d rather have that than too big. Felt like the Avalung was overkill, but on the other hand several people have died in slides just outside the door of the Wiesbadener Hut, so I’d probably bring it again. (Note, call it a “rucksack” in EU and you’ll sound more like a pro.)

Fluid hauling: Just a 1-liter Nalgene and a small thermos. I brought the Nalgene instead of a water bag as I can use it as a pee bottle if necessary. Turned out that wasn’t necessary — all bathrooms are just down the hall. Do I drink out of it too? Yep. After a good wash. Aaron Ralston said that was ok. Want to share? As for athletic drink mix, I brought my trusty Cytomax and was glad I did, though six day’s worth did add a bit of weight to the load and I probably could have gone without.

Puffy: Down jacket from Mont Bell. They seem to make the lightest available for a given thickness, but the coat could do with three or four ounces more fill. Someone needs to make a decent lightweight puffy for golight ski mountaineers. Most such jackets have heavy fabric and not enough down fill. Others have light fabric and also a miserly amount of stuffing. Clouveil’s first puffy from years ago was awesome, with 800 fill down and plenty of it, but they soon quit making that exact model as it probably wholesaled for practically what it cost to produce. What’s more, most people simply do not appreciate or need a thick puffy with weak fabric. But we do. Solution? Take the Mont Bell over to the sew shop and get some extra down put in. Next week.

Computer: Acer Aspire One with a mini mouse and cut-down power cord to reduce weight. Neoprene case inside a Tupperware box kept it in near-new condition (as did not falling while skiing — and not sitting on it). Hauling the ‘puter around was a pain, but as all my travels are really “work trips” it was great to have at the huts so I could stay on top of the photo processing as well as throw a few blogs from the huts that had Internet. Even worked some on the train during our last day.

Eye Protection: Kid’s size Smith yellow goggles and Smith Trace Interlock sunglasses with rose lenses and dark lenses. Croakie on sunglasses.

Shovel: Arva Snowplume. Carbon shaft, minimalist blade. Not for daily use, just for emergency.

Shell garments and layers: No pant shell, just used OR Tremor pants. Top waterproof shell, OR Zealot. I actually wish I’d brought a lighter softshell pant such as my Cloudveil Inertia Peaks, combined with an emergency leg shell such as OR Revel Pants. The Tremors were a bit too hot, and would have been marginal if the weather had turned rainy since they’re only water resistant. Softshell workhorse jacket was my Clouveil Serendipty, the older model with huge Napoleon pockets. Lower base layer, cheapo lightweight polypro tights (never used), upper base layer, OR wool T-neck Sequence. Sun shirt, my proverbial old button-down North Face junker. That guy is getting retired for something more athletic and modern looking! But can my neck handle the sun with no collar to protect it? I’ve got all spring to find out.

Ski Crampons: B&D Dynafit compatible. They got used. Never tour in EU without harscheisen! Also, “dynamic” ski crampons that lift with your foot are better for longer, lower angled tours such as those of the Silvretta.

Repair and First-aid: Just the basics, in that little yellow bag. Screwdriver, knife, some tape, fire starting stuff, CPR mask and a few other knickknacks.

Hats: Basic ski cap, thin polypro balaclava, sun hat (old Coolmax bill cap with neck protection flaps. Coolmax is amazing stuff as it wicks sweat like nothing else I’ve ever seen. The whole hat gets soaked, but I never get any sweat dripping in my eyes. Best hat I’ve ever had. Anyone know of anything out there to replace it?)

GPS: Garmin Etrex Venture, with associated software installed on computer. Couldn’t afford to buy the EU maps so had some extra work plotting the routes. Mark Houston of Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides shared his Silvretta waypoints with me. That’s a big deal, as all the good guides have the top trips “gyped” but no way they’re going to be giving that stuff out to just anyone and undercutting their own service. So thanks Mark! That said, for travel in most of the Silvretta’s open terrain, you can gyp off the 1:25000 topo maps and create a perfectly adequate route for use in bad weather, though doing so wouldn’t work for the more tricky stuff such as getting around the serac areas while climbing Piz Buin. But who would want to climb Piz Buin in a whiteout anyway? Probably a guide and their clients, but in that kind of weather I’d rather be at the hut slurping a cappuccino and doing some journal writing — or blogging.

Headlamps: A Black Diamond Spot, and an Ion in the repair kit. Lithium batteries for everything. Tip: if you’re staying with a room mate or in the hut’s bunk rooms, get a headlamp with a red light option such as Brunton RL4.

Cell Phone: The lightest weight international phone I could find, carried with charger and case. Too much junk but you’ve got to have a cell phone for this stuff. A cell will work from many places up in the mountains in central Europe, and who knows where you’re going to end up and who you’ll need to call? Taxi? I’m not an ace with European cell phone issues. Ideal would be owning a phone that worked everywhere. Verizon said mine did, but then I found out it didn’t, so I bought the international phone. Typical.

Rope: We brought a regular 30 meter randonnee rope (which Ted carried, thanks!) as well as my 30 meter hunk of Blue Water Tech Cord 5mm Dynema. We found the diminutive rope to be quite useful. It has no stretch so you don’t want to use it for a glacier travel rope or for belays where a long freefall could occur, but it would make the perfect extra cord for setting up a crevasse extrication system (which is why we carried it). And where it really shined was for doing a bit of belaying on the scramble sections of our peak climbs. It’s really amazing having a rope that small. Instead of going to all the trouble making guide-style loops for storage, I’d just bundle it up and stick it in the big pocket of my Cloudveil Serendipty; “la cord del la poche?” Is this a new trend with the top French guides?

Harness and glacier gear: CAMP Coral harness (lightweight, buckles around waist, easy removal of leg loops for bathroom or putting on with skis on feet). I’m not sure if CAMP still makes this harness, but they have other equally nice options. Check out their Alp 95 if you want the ultimate in lightweight, it’s upgraded this year with a buckle at the waist so it works much better than previous iterations. Only problem is lack of leg loop buckles. Also carried a few biners, several prussiks and an ice screw.

We never roped up on the glaciers, but would have if there hadn’t been the severely beaten skin tracks and snowshoe crevasse test prints to follow. Glacier travel is in my view one of the main reasons you hire a guide in Europe, because they know how to get you out if you fall in, and they generally know where you need a rope and where you don’t. But Ted and I have solid glacier travel skills, so self guiding felt totally appropriate — and if the skin tracks are not in you can always leave later and shadow a guided party (though you might get yelled at and shunned at the hut if you’re too blatent about doing so.) Mainly, never leave just AHEAD of a guided group, that’s considered poor etiquette and might even get you slapped (yes, actually open handed on the cheek), as happened to one of Ted’s friends by a Swiss guide a few years ago.

Beacon and Probe: My trusty Tracker, along with a Life-Link Ultra Light probe. Better still is Ted’s G3 Carbon probe. I’ll have to pick up one of those. It weighs nothing. As many of you know I don’t always carry a probe, but in situations where the unknown may arise I like having the full arsenal of politically correct avy gear, and a probe can be essential on a glacier if you find yourself in a crevasse field, or need to bivouac and make sure you’re not sleeping on a snow bridge.

Ax and ‘Pons: CAMP lightweight alu stuff is the only way for this type of trip. Corsa axe and XLC 390 crampons, with the anti snowball plates.

Gloves: OR Omni worn 100% of the time. These Windstopper lighweights are incredibly versatile. Of course I carry a “real” glove as well — whatever I can find that has thick synthetic insulation and a minimalist shell, in this case a pair of Gordini I got at Sports Authority. Most gloves these days are long on shell beef and short on insulation, making them somewhat absurd for lightweight travel when they live in our pack most of the time (I mean, should your gloves weigh more than your jacket?).

Boots, Shoes and Socks: Dynafit Zzero but of course! One pair of thin synthetic ski socks, washed in the shower about every other night. I’d have brought a second pair of stockings but simply could not fit them in the rucksack. For hut shoes I ended up hauling a cheapo pair of WallyWorld bedroom slippers, as my lighter weight tennies were still too bulky and heavy for this trip. Tip: whatever your exact choice, bring a closed toe type of hut shoe so you can wear them comfortably on the snowy patio. Flipflops and shower shoes are light and easily packed, but really a bit too minimalist for alpine lounging. Ted brought Crocks. No comment.

Camera: Canon Powershot A720. With lithium AA batteries will easily last for a six day trip, even with heavy use of LCD and flash. This is a bomber rig that’s now made around 5,000 captures and is still going strong. Carried in a small pouch on one shoulder strap. I noticed the euros are big on shoulder strap pouches for their GPS units and cameras. Great minds think alike?

Warning: It appears Canon may be phasing out A-series cameras that have optical viewfinders combined with wide zoom range — two essential features for grabbing quality backcountry skiing photos. Thus, it appears the 720 might be the most cost effective they’ll ever offer in this category as it has a 6x lens, even though it could do with a still wider zoom that included a deeper wide angle end.

Skis, Sticks and Skins: K2 167 cm Baker SL with Black Diamond mohair climbing skins and Dynafit ST bindings. Generic carbon fiber non-adjustable poles.

Altimeter Watch: Basic Suunto Vector. Essential item.

Mayo Clinic: The pink bag. Small travel toothbrush and some tooth paste, floss, vitamins, Ibu, aspirin, ear plugs, Xanax, Celebrex and a few other goodies. Also carried my secret hand sanitizer in a small plastic vial, Vicks Early Defense, lasts on your hands instead of just evaporating as the alcohol based ones will do. Also, heavy use will not chap your hands. Since starting to use this stuff a few years ago I get 90% fewer colds. Essential for hut living, where hand washing is not exactly the most commonly practiced activity. Note the Vicks product contains Triclosan, a controversial chemical disinfectant. If you’re uncomfortable with that look for something with benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient, or just stick with the alcohol based products and use them more frequently since they don’t last on your hands.

Comments

40 Responses to “Silvretta Traverse 5.5 — The Gear”

  1. Nick April 16th, 2009 9:51 am

    Lou – trip looked great. I love gear list posts like this – as I never have any idea if I am under or over packing for various trip sizes.

    Curious about the Cytomax – is that your daily drink when touring, or is it a before or after drink? Basically, what do you think your daily intake is as far as basica water v. Cytomax?

  2. Brent April 16th, 2009 10:01 am

    Nice list. About the puffy – I’ve been very happy with my Western Mountaineering Flight jacket, sized up to L from my normal M. Its actually pretty well stuffed and still 13~14oz.

  3. Sam April 16th, 2009 11:35 am

    For super well insulated and well made (in the US no less) minimalist down jackets, try Feathered Friends (featheredfriends.com). They seem willing to make it how the customer wants and I’ve not worn anything else as warm for the weight.

  4. Tucker April 16th, 2009 12:09 pm

    Thanks for posting this list, it’s a big help.

    For a replacement cap, Patagonia has a “Bimini” cap or a “Sunshade” cap that both have coolmax bands and neck flaps. I’ve been wearing one of their running caps for runs and mountain biking, and they’re just the trick.

  5. Scott April 16th, 2009 12:25 pm

    I second the recommendation for the Bimini cap. Lou, have you used B&D ski crampons with FT12′s? It seems to me that the Classic crampon would be the best choice (stronger) but would require a simple mod to fit.

  6. Lou April 16th, 2009 12:47 pm

    Scott, the B&D cramps work fine with the FT12, you just need to set them up so if they’re in dynamic mode your’e not crushing them down on the FT12 connector plate. Of course, best thing to do is just remove that stuff from the binding. It’s just cosmetic. B&D also sells a lock that’s compatible with the FT12, if you want to use the cramps in static mode (not hinging up and down).

    Thanks all for the other gear recommends! I’ll get one of those hats for sure. Any ideas for heat shirts with long sleeves and perhaps a collar?

    I’ll also look at the Feathered Friends, got an email about that as well.

  7. Lou April 16th, 2009 12:52 pm

    Nick, yeah, I mix up some Cyto in the Nalgene, and some sweet tea in the thermos. In this case daily intake during touring is about 1 1/2 liter, with plenty of hydration in the morning and evening. For longer tours at higher altitude or in colder temps my fluid needs really climb, and in that case I up what I carry by a liter or so, either with a tall Nalgene or by using a water bladder. Over the years my body has adapted pretty well to going with minimal fluid intake so long as I don’t push too hard, but I’m definitely stronger when I drink more and simply don’t carry more because of the weight and space it takes. If I did the tour again I think I would probably use a water bladder and perhaps even skip the thermos to save weight, though not skiing with a thermos in Europe would be like not skiing with a probe pole in Jackson…

  8. Tucker April 16th, 2009 1:03 pm

    “Heat shirt”? If you mean a shirt to wear when it’s hot, but to protect from the sun, Patagonia’s got a whole line they designed for fly fishing. That’s the line the bimini and sunshade caps are from. So if you don’t mind looking like a fly fisheman lost in the alps, that could work for you. ;)

    (shirt names are Sun Shade, Sol Patrol, and Sun Tech. All technical fabrics. Sorry if I sound like the Patagonia salesman, but I’ve been using their gear since I was a kid in the Boy Scouts, and I’m a big fan.)

  9. Lou April 16th, 2009 1:09 pm

    Tucker, I’ll take a look at that stuff, but I’m thinking something more athletic looking than fly fishing apparel.

    I think what’s happened to me is I’ve been around some Italians. Even moderate exposure to Italians causes one to re-evaluate their whole look and style (grin).

  10. Tucker April 16th, 2009 1:15 pm

    Tell me about it. My wife worked for Valentino at one point. You have no idea the trouble I went through to make her understand that this techical sports apparel is way superior to anything the fashion industry produces for staying warm. I believe her line was, “I’m not wearing that stuff, I’m no granola!” :)

    She’s a big fan now, but it took a while. I think figuring out how expensive Arcteryx stuff is didn’t hurt (what is it with that?). It doesn’t hurt though that the outdoor gear can be pretty cool-looking nowadays.

    In fact, I’ve almost got her buying into the whole ski touring thing… Your posts on the Huts will seal the deal, I’m pretty sure. So thanks!

  11. gonzoskijohnny April 16th, 2009 1:19 pm

    The western mtneering flash jacket packs about the same as the montbell, twice the warmth and loft. http://www.bentgate.com/wemohoflja.html
    At BG i was able to compare side by side. NOT from China. Tiny, light, warm. toasty on lunch stop in front range snowstorm at 11,000 and 26F last weekend.

  12. Tucker April 16th, 2009 1:36 pm

    Heck, now that you’ve got me on it: Check out Patagonia’s Down Sweater:

    •Shell and lining: 1.4-oz 22-denier 100% all-recycled polyester mini-ripstop with Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Insulation: 800-fill-power goose down

    •349 g (12.3 oz)

    Ideal Uses

    Hut Touring

    packs down to two fists. This is what I carry when I try to tour in the East. Even my Valentino-loving wife wears one. ;)

  13. Brenda April 16th, 2009 1:59 pm

    If you’re disappointed with down jacket offerings, have a look at what http://www.nunatakusa.com/ has to offer (i’m not affiliated, i just dream of having extra money for this gear). You can choose what sort of material you’d like the shell made of, from extra-light to heavy-duty, and add extra down fill if you want. It looks like great stuff.

  14. Charles April 16th, 2009 2:03 pm

    Nice trip report, makes me want to get on a Europe trip ASAP!

    Any special reason for the cytomax specifically? I personally like the Ultima Replenisher, but I guess personal preferences..

    thanks for the great site.

    charles

  15. Lou April 16th, 2009 3:47 pm

    That Nunatak stuff is amazing!

  16. Nick April 16th, 2009 4:52 pm

    Thanks Lou. I am going to take some Cyto on a multi-day tour I am doing in a couple of weeks to give it a try.

  17. Kevin April 16th, 2009 5:33 pm

    Nuun electrolyte tablets. Way easier then carrying baggies of powder. Come in a tablet that you drop into your water bottle. Not sure if it is as effective as cytomax, but it is much easier on my stomach.

  18. randy floren April 16th, 2009 6:10 pm

    Lou, another opinion for a great sunshirt try the Columbia Bonehead (I know) shirt. I’ve got three of them in white. They’re cotton, so they don’t stink, they’re a bit heavier than the nylon shirts but they breathe like a champ, reflect the sun and have HUGE pockets for fishing gear. The stink factor becomes important after the first day of a sweaty trip. I wear mine hiking, spring skiing, gardening, walking the pooch on a hot day etc. Plus, I enjoy feeling secretly superior to recent outdoor school graduates who’ve been taught that if they wear anything made of cotton, they will die instantly.

  19. randy floren April 16th, 2009 6:17 pm

    Lou, another opinion for a great sunshirt try the Columbia Bonehead (I know) shirt. I’ve got three of them in white. They’re cotton, so they don’t stink, they’re a bit heavier than the nylon shirts but they breathe like a champ, reflect the sun and have HUGE pockets for fishing gear. The stink factor becomes important after the first day of a sweaty trip. I wear mine hiking, spring skiing, gardening, walking the pooch on a hot day etc. Plus, I enjoy feeling secretly superior to recent outdoor school graduates who’ve been taught that if they wear anything made of cotton, they will die instantly.

    Hey, I didn’t read the Italian shirt thing…. this won’t make you look like that! Definitely non-Euro…

  20. randy floren April 16th, 2009 6:23 pm

    Hey, I didn’t read the Italian shirt thing, this won’t give you that look! This is definitely a non-Euro look, more a climbing-Mt. Rainier -twenty-years-ago-look… the Patagonia fishing shirts with 30% cotton, forget the name, look reasonably stylish, I wore one sipping an espresso in Venice and no one kicked me out…

  21. Greg April 16th, 2009 6:28 pm

    For sun protection with an athletic cut think about using a watersports rash guard. NRS has a model called the “Guide Shirt” that’s essentially a lightweight, stretchy zip turtleneck.

  22. Lou April 16th, 2009 7:16 pm

    Nick, if you use Cytomax try different dilutions to find out what your gut likes. I use a lighter mix than they recommend.

  23. Lost Coz April 16th, 2009 8:37 pm

    One more shirt option for you:

    For protecting the back of your neck, check out the Cloudveil Clutch Polo. It has a collar you can flip up to get the worst of the sun off, and then you can flip it down for a cool, slightly-hip mountain-town style. (Well, I don’t work in fashion, but that’s what they tell me:). And you can wear it while climbing, too! I do like the tech polos…

  24. Jason Gregg April 16th, 2009 8:38 pm

    I’m glad your trip went so well. Been fun reading the reports and it’s gotten my psyched for mine starting Monday.

    On the subject of rucksacks, I thought the M/L Alias would work perfect. When I loaded it up I found the check valve or whatever they call that hard thing in the left shoulder strap dug into my neck in an incredibly uncomfortable way. I’m 5′ 10″ and the big Alias would be impossible to tour with for me, though I’m pretty sure the S/M puts the hardware back behind my shoulder, but it gives up size.

    So now I’ve got an old Khamsin 30L that is about the size of the smaller Alias I could maybe use or a brand new Cerzio 35L that is superlight and the perfect size and that’s what I’m thinking I’ll take. That and the Camp 95 harness better not explode on me!! Generally I’m not hard on gear but I’ll have my fingers crossed with that pack, thinking I’ll use my hut shoes between the skis and it when I A-frame it.

  25. Ivo Popov April 17th, 2009 3:44 am

    WOW you’ve brought a mouse on your trip

  26. Lou April 17th, 2009 4:39 am

    Jason, in the Avalung that’s the Non Rebreathing Valve (just a device used mostly in medical equipment) and it’s indeed kind of a bulky hard object, though it seems to be located in a way that it doesn’t bother most folks. Too bad it’s not working for you. I think any lightweight rucksack that’s not too large will work fine. And yeah, being careful of ski damage is the key with any lightweight backpack. Even the heavy fabric of the Alias gets worn. My son sewed a protection patch on his Alias so diagonal ski carry wouldn’t wear through the fabric.

    Ivo, yep, working with Photoshop is a bit tedious with the mini-touchpad on the Acer, so I use that miniature USB mouse.

  27. Lou April 17th, 2009 5:15 am

    The best shirts I’m seeing look to be the Patagonia Runshade and the NRS guide (long sleeved). Runshade has a funky zippered pocket on the lower side that might be uncomfortable for sleeping or wearing a pack. NRS looks better but I’m not sure if the fabric is light enough. Research is ongoing. I’m wanting a zip front to that nixes some of the other polos that have buttons. And I want to get away from the baggy fishing shirt look.

  28. miles randell April 17th, 2009 10:51 am

    Just got back from the Haute Route yesterday. Found my Patagonia down sweater (hoodie) to be perfect for the chilly downtime. One of the coldest places was actually inside Valsorrey hut! It packs very small and is the lightest puffy in my closet. The hood is a great addition for added warmth. Great piece of kit!!!
    Miles.
    P.S. Lou’s bang on about hand sanitizer. I’m really glad I brought some. Pretty much invaluable as the huts we were at didn’t have running water to wash your hands.

  29. Tucker April 17th, 2009 12:06 pm

    Lou, I’ve worn the Runshade shirt w/ a BD Covert pack while hiking and skiing Mt. Washington (with and without a jacket over the shirt), no issues w/ the pocket. I also where the shirt regularly while Mtn biking w/ a small pack, again, no issues.

    It’s handy to put your car key, though…

  30. Chris Webster April 17th, 2009 4:54 pm

    Not very minimalist there Lou! I just bring wine and trade for gear I need on the spot.

  31. ScottN April 17th, 2009 6:45 pm

    Lou – check out the OR Vert pant. Minimalist soft cordura pant. Breathes well. A little stretchy. Super light. Good wind resistance. I wear mine just about all the time, unless its really dumping out.

  32. brian hessling April 17th, 2009 8:35 pm

    I’m a novice b.c. skier and reading the wild snow website has definitely stoked the fire. Lou, your book Wild Snow is a major inspiration and thats what has me writing this. I found the passage on Fritz Stammberger fascinating. To the degree that I even tracked down a copy of Janice Penningtons’ book. I guess my question is, has anyone else done a serious bio on Frtiz? I realize this will appear as a random question but I didnt know where else to post it. Thanks!

  33. Lou April 18th, 2009 5:00 am

    Hi Brian, nope, not much else out there about Fritz. He was really something.

  34. Lou April 18th, 2009 1:53 pm

    Chris, good idea, but isn’t wine kinda heavy?

  35. Geoff April 18th, 2009 3:24 pm

    Hi Lou,
    thanks for the trip reports! Definitely brings back some good memories. However, I’m a little puzzled about your impressions of the European guides. When I worked at the Jamtal hut, the Bergführer were very friendly and never cared if anyone followed their skin track. I often saw foreign guides follow in the tracks of local guides, and even once saw a foreign guide ask the in-house guide for his GPS coordinates. The only time a guide got mad at me was after I skied a beautiful steep powder slope in view of his group, which was on some flat sun-baked tour–I think he was jealous, because apparently his insurance didn’t allow him to take his clients on anything steeper than 25-30%!

  36. Lou April 18th, 2009 3:52 pm

    Geoff, don’t worry, those impressions are mostly just from stories related from other guys. I thought it all to be quite amusing, all the mystic surrounding the guides… during our trip there were so many people milling around it was tough to know who the guides were and were not, though occasionally it was pretty obvious, like that guy who had his clients hung from the cross (grin). Overall, the attitude and culture on the Silvretta was super friendly, that’s one thing that made the trip special. I’d definitely like to head back up there, though perhaps not during Easter…

  37. Jason Gregg April 19th, 2009 10:41 am

    Lou can you say something about the ski pole you used. I recall it was a simple non-adjustable type. I assume you do use adjustable ones some time but not on a trip like this, why?

  38. Lou April 19th, 2009 2:17 pm

    I just buy a pair of carbon poles on sale at Sports Authority or the other sporting goods discount store downvalley from us, then cut to length, retrofit with grips, tips and baskets that I like (mostly stuff from Life-Link I swap from one pole to the next). They’re strong, light, cheap, and don’t have that adjustment catch that most people never use other than to get caught on things or to cause the pole to collapse. Unless you actually adjust your adjustable poles, what’s the point other than to spend money on something you then have to worry about getting stolen or broken? When I’m using Black Diamond Whippets I use adjustable poles, otherwise I’m usually using my super duper custom carbons!

    Now, all that said, we do have a cool pair of K2′s alu adjustable poles here, that have a scale on them to check slope angle, and what looks like a very sleek and reliable cam/catch. We’ll be reviewing those sooner or later, and yeah, you might see me out using them (grin). Also, we do like the BD carbon/alu adjustables when we want an adjustable — they’re what Lisa uses.

  39. Mark April 19th, 2009 9:11 pm

    Lou, I’ve got an EMS Techwick top that is amazing. It is light enough for summer use, but is good for sun coverage with mock t-neck: http://tinyurl.com/c2c6ys I use it for everything. Only thing better might be a Merino wool top from Icebreaker or Ibex, etc., but I’m trying to hold off spending that kind of coin until Techwick wears out.

  40. Dan Powers April 22nd, 2009 7:35 pm

    We just got back from a Euro trip as well. I used a BD Alias pack that I had modified so the top pocket was extendable. That took care of any volume issues I might have had. One trip we toured with our shoes as we were ending up in a different valley, and the pack was still plenty big. No computer though. The pack was great as both a hut trip pack and as a compressible day pack for off piste lift skiing.

    Loved the Euro hut tour thing and can’t wait to go back.

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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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