The fall colors are here, and winter is approaching. The first snow has already fallen up north. That means the ski season will soon kick off. For me, it often signifies the start of an intense winter season. A season where many days are spent in an avalanche terrain.
Avalanches themselves are not necessarily dangerous. Avalanches are a natural phenomenon during the winter in mountain terrain. However, if we happen to enjoy Ski Touring, it means that we often venture into steep terrain. This means that we willingly expose ourselves to avalanche risk. Steep terrain in winter should be taken very seriously. Any terrain with a slope greater than 25 degrees is potential avalanche terrain and should be treated with great respect. An avalanche doesn't need to be larger than 10x10 meters and approximately 30 centimetres deep to be extremely dangerous for a skier. In Finland, ski-related avalanche accidents are not so common because our mountain terrain is not very high and steep. However, many Finns go abroad to ski, where the mountains are taller, larger, and steeper. This means that more and more Finns are encountering the risk of avalanches.
To navigate mountain terrain in winter, we must have knowledge about many things, including avalanches, first aid, mountain terrain, safety equipment, and so on. Mountains are incredibly beautiful and exciting to be in during the winter, but the environment can also be extremely dangerous. Of course, we ourselves choose how technical and dangerous the terrain we move in is. But regardless of where and how we move in the mountains, we need to have knowledge about them. I encourage everyone who enjoys skiing off-piste to take an avalanche course.
Equipment in Ski Touring
Equipment is a jungle! There are so many ski options to choose from, and most skiers have slightly different preferences. However, I like to have Ski Touring skis that are relatively lightweight but still a "proper ski." I often choose a ski that is the same length as myself or 10 cm shorter. The ski can preferably have a width underfoot of something between 90-95mm. I find that such a ski is easy to handle uphill and provides good stability downhill. I almost exclusively use some type of tech binding and a boot with a good walking mode and stiffness in skiing mode. I have worked with skiing for over 20 years, and the choice of equipment is always just as tricky. There are probably as many opinions as there are skiers when it comes to equipment. You have to be willing to test different experiment until you find what you like.
A bit about the equipment I have in my backpack:
- Backpack 35-40 litres
- Warm clothing
- First aid kit
- Mobile phone / satellite phone / InReach
- Avalanche gear, transceiver, probe, shovel, avalanche airbag
- Food for more than one day
- Helmet, skis, climbing skins
- Repair tools
- Map, compass, GPS
Enjoy the outdoors and stay safe at the mountains,