One of the most incredible trips to take in the wintertime is to a backcountry cabin or yurt. These trips are phenomenal for a number of reasons, including that you’re completely unplugged from all technology, off the grid, and in an incredible skiing zone with your friends! But getting there can be a challenge, especially when you’re hauling in all your gear via a long and winding skin track. Here’s our *unprofessional* advice on a few things not to forget in order to make your trip an adventure to remember.
- Safety first
The number one priority in any backcountry adventure should always be safety. In addition to your avalanche gear (beacon, shovel, probe), navigation information, and avalanche reports, it’s vital to research information about emergency contacts and phone service bandwidth in the area you’ll be headed. Even minor injuries can be dangerous in the backcountry where you’re far from extra resources and medical care. Knowing your access to cell service can be vital to keeping a small incident small. Embrace being a student and ask experts and professionals for advice to learn why certain areas may be safer than others.
- Pack light – be stinky
A hut trip is not the time to aim for glamor – wearing the same clothes pretty much every day and night is the name of the game! Only pack what you need and try to avoid packing duplicates – except for socks. Bring a few pairs of those. Hang up your wet and sweaty socks and clothes in front of the fire to dry ‘em out and consider them fresh as new! Again, talk with someone who has been on a backcountry trip in the past to see what they overpacked and what they wished they had more of.
- Scheme the food
On a typical backcountry ski hut trip, you’re burning thousands of calories, potentially far more than you burn on a normal day. Therefore, food is FUEL in this situation. Snacks all day long and eat high carb, high protein meals three times a day. It’s likely you’ll have to eat even when you’re not hungry, but it’s worth avoiding the bonk! It can be tough to agree on food for a group but keeping it simple and always bringing extra is what’s important. You never want to be hungry.
- Group gear
Depending on where you’re going and what hut you’re visiting, there will be a certain amount of group gear available at the hut already or that you’ll need to bring in. This could include things like a hatchet for chopping wood, a stove, bedding and more. Make sure you read up on what your hut includes so you’ve got everything that you need.
- Repair tools
Similar to the way that small injuries can become big problems far away from resources, a minor binding snafu or lost piece of gear can be really detrimental on a hut trip. Take inventory of the gear that you’re bringing and pack all the essential repair tools for those items. The last thing that you want to do is end up with one missing screw and not be able to ski safely all weekend.
- Don’t forget something fun
The smallest of treats – candy, some homemade banana bread, a piñata – can bring an immense amount of joy to a tired-out backcountry crew. Even if you don’t anticipate needing a little extra sugar, bring it! Morale and stoke levels are sure to be instantly elevated.
- Be Respectful
It’s a privilege to visit backcountry yurts and huts located on public land. Treat the hut and all its resources with respect, abiding by the Leave No Trace principles and leave it better than you found it. The crews who build and maintain the hut work incredibly hard to keep it accessible to winter travelers and keeping the huts up and running is dependent upon how its visitors treat it.