As the backcountry ski season approaches, now’s a good time to dust off the cobwebs and remember what needs to get packed for that first ski trip of the winter!

Ever wonder what the professionals carry to stay safe in the mountains? Erik Leidecker is an internationally-certified IFMGA mountain guide and co-owner of SMG. Recently we got him to dump out his guide pack so we could take a closer look. Here’s what we found (check out the key below)…

  1. Apple iPhone 4s - uploaded with maps for navigation and has app for documenting snow profiles. Also used as camera and GPS.
  2. Guide Notebook - used to document the day’s tour plan, anticipated hazards, forecast weather and snow stability, and client information. Also contains emergency plan and contact info.
  3. K2 Avalanche Probe – designed for quick deployment, cm scale for snowpits.
  4. Black Diamond Snow Saw - essential for performing snow stability tests.
  5. Emergency Communications - A 2-way radio, SPOT PLB, and/or satellite phone are taken into the field in case the *%$# hits the fan.
  6. Cordelette, Slings, and Biners - Used for building a rescue sled or providing client protection in dicey spots.
  7. First Aid Kit – used in conjunction with Wilderness First Responder training.
  8. Ultralight Thermarest - provides insulation in an emergency.
  9. Repair Kit - multi-tool, screwdriver, pole splint, rubber straps, duct tape, etc.
  10. K2 Avalanche Shovel - super strong, assembles quickly, packs flat.
  11. Tarp – for building an emergency shelter or packaging an injured client.
  12. Spare Gloves - never a bad idea!
  13. Mammut Barryvox Pulse Avalanche Beacon - and LOTS of practice!!
  14. Snow Study Kit - crystal card, inclinometer, ruler, hand lens, cord.
  15. Smith Maze Helmet and Goggles - This is the lightest ski-certified helmet available and protects precious equipment from hard objects.
  16. Brooks Range Rescue Sled – combined with skis & poles, creates a strong sled for transporting an injured client.
  17. First Ascent Gloves – light, breathable pair for the up; warm pair for the down.

All this stuff gets crammed into a First Ascent Haines Pack or ABS Vario Airbag Pack, depending the objective and conditions.