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Preparing for a Ski Touring Holiday

Get the Kit

If your ski touring trip doesn’t include equipment you will need to either hire or buy your own. If you are new to ski touring, it is advisable to hire kit for your first few tours, to get to know what style of boots, bindings and skis suit you best. 

Avalanche safety kit is essential for all ski tourers and most guided trips include it in the package. The bare minimum any ski tourer should carry with him is a shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver. It is very important you know how to use your avalanche transceiver properly and efficiently so take every opportunity you can to practice using it. Most tours will include a session early on to go over the basics and improve your searching skills. 

If you are traversing a glacier on your trip or doing any ski mountaineering, you will also need a harness, crevasse rescue equipment and rope, crampons and ice axe. Guided trips will usually provide this. 

Get the Clothing

A comfortable light weight helmet is highly recommended for ski touring. You will also need goggles and sunglasses. It is important that your sunglasses are category 4 and wrap around your eyes to stop the glare from the snow reaching your eyes from underneath. 

For clothing, a classic layering system is the best. It can get very warm skinning up, but can also be extremely cold depending on the weather conditions. The objective of your layering system is to try and regulate your body temperature with your clothes and the outside temperature conditions to reduce the amount of sweat you produce and keep warm and dry. 

A thin and thicker thermal, a couple of fleeces, duvet jacket and waterproof jacket, fleecy leggings and mountaineering or ski touring overtrousers, hat, balaclava, buff and a few glove options should be fine. 

If you are doing a tour where you are staying in refuges, you need to carry as little as possible to keep the weight down. Dress up to your warmest layer, put in a spare thermal, underwear and spare socks and that should be enough. 

Don’t forget your headtorch, a toothbrush, suncream, some tissues and lightweight facecloth. 

The right rucksack is also important. Make sure it has a way of attaching your skis to the side, that it is comfortable and big enough for all your kit. A 45 litre sack should be big enough. 

Get Fit

The best way to train for ski touring is of course by ski touring! However, for those of us not blessed with a snow covered mountain range in our back garden, we need to be a bit more creative!!! 

Being unfit when ski touring takes away all the pleasure and can be dangerous. It is no good arriving exhausted at the summit, you need that extra strength in your muscles when you have a long descent. 

A tired skier is more likely to fall and hurt themselves and will take more time getting down, putting themselves at risk from avalanches and exposure. 

Ski touring is a cardio sport with the majority of the day spent skinning uphill. However, muscular strength is needed in the arms and shoulders for poling up hill and in the legs for skiing down, especially in difficult snow conditions. 

It is really important to seek advice and follow a training program that is adapted to ski touring or other similar endurance sports if possible. Interval training interspersed with middle and long distance running or biking is an efficient way to increase your cardio capacity. Biking is also a particularly good form of exercise to help prepare your body as it uses similar leg muscles to skiing. 

Going to the gym my seem a long way from the freedom of the mountains you are preparing for but it is probably the best place to focus on the specific muscles you will need. Having the objective of your ski touring holiday to aim for will motivate you! 

Have a look at this blog for some specific gym exercises for ski touring.

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