Freerider’s Kitlist – Part Two
Words by Angelica Sykes – Competitive Freeride Athlete.
Hoping to take your off-piste skills to the next level and push yourself to bigger and better expeditions? Then, like me, you’ve probably wondered what would be on that kit list. The essentials you take out with you to the ‘real backcountry’ where there’s no lift nor piste in sight. So you stroll into the mountain guide’s office and demand to be taken to this mysterious land that you have yet to discover – but what should you take?
I’ve put together a quick-fire list of the additional pieces of equipment needed to compliment the transceiver, shovel and probe and will enhance your overall mountain experience.
This section is the most challenging to write as I could spend page after page talking about the benefits of having these extras in your backpack, but it honestly depends on what you have planned for that particular day. If you’re just planning a day shredding off piste with your mates then this simplified kit-list would probably suit your needs; however for the more hardcore, read on.
A site you trust is hard to come by as you want all the information at hand e.g., avalanche risk, wind direction and changing temperature ranges. Communicating within your group is also very important- what is everyone comfortable doing? Do you want to incorporate some scrambling, long distance hikes or even more experienced- climbing/ski touring or mountaineering?
However, above all, there should be someone in your group that knows the score – either an experienced mountain guide, a local, an instructor or someone who has experience reading terrain. This way they can teach the group how to best use the equipment safely and in a fun environment. If you’re in the market to add to your bag of tricks, I recommend the following:
1. Poles (Snowboarder specific)
I recommend Black Diamond walking poles, they are super light weight and have additional attachments depending on whether you’re walking on hard pack snow or rock face.
2. Ice Hacks
I have a Petzl Nomic Hack, it’s not only light but durable – this is a product that you will be able to have in your pack for years.
Another Black Diamond product which comes highly recommended – their walking harness is what a beginner back country lover would need. Until you’re ready for big ice climbing adventures, you won’t need a glacier harness just yet!
For skiers and snowboarder alike; when your old human feet won’t get you to where you need to go then crampons come to the rescue! They’ll provide you with that extra grip and are available for snowboarding boots too – you just need to do your research. I strongly recommend Grivel G10, (although not the lightest in the world) the material is sturdy and strong – they’re just asking to take a beating from a good scramble!
5. Ropes and Carabiners
In my opinion, the market leaders for rope are Mammut, but bear in mind that is ONLY for those planning on doing some hiking and low impact glacier travel– if you’re hoping to embark on a day of ski mountaineering then perhaps this simplified kit list isn’t for you as rope is simply not enough! Not only does the Mammut Glacier Line 8.3mm Climbing Rope feature a slim 8.3-millimetre diameter making it very light indeed, it’s also treated with SuperDry, preventing excess water weight during glacier travel.
With an impact force of just 6.5 kN, the Glacier Line will keep you sitting comfortably when hanging, waiting for someone to get you out of your little pickle. However, like I said, Mammut only recommends this rope for classical alpinism and glacial travel—not as your main line for mountaineering or rock climbing.
My last piece of advice would have to be to consider investing in an airbag – This can be fairly costly but there’s a wide range available on the market to suit all tastes. I could talk about the reasons for purchasing one of these bad boys until the cows come home, the principal ones being that all backpacks are emblazoned with the ABS or Snowpulse marking and are actually registered to retailers all over the world – permitting you to take it into any store to have it checked out or the canisters replaced.