Alaska requires that backcountry travelers be prepared! In an effort to reduce exposure we have compiled a brief equipment and gear list. This list is only a guideline and can be altered to suit your preference. Depending on conditions you may not NEED or use every single item listed below. However, as all of you know Alaskan weather is unpredictable and it is best to be prepared for all types of conditions. During the workshop there will be periods as long as an hour that you will be standing still for a demonstration, or to view and discuss terrain and snow conditions. You will also be moving quite a bit so layering your outdoor clothing is recommended.
If you have any questions regarding this information please feel free to contact the AAS office. Since gear is constantly changing and considering the growing industry, a visit to a local outdoor shop such as REI, AMH, Ski AK, etc. can be incredibly beneficial.
TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT (the following items should be carried during ALL field portions of the course)
Beacon: You should have a single 457 kHz (international) frequency beacon. All beacons currently being sold on the market fit into this category. AAS has the BCA DTS and BCA Tracker 2 for sale. If you’re still operating with an older single antenna (analog) beacon we highly recommend upgrading to a digital beacon. Single antenna beacons are old technology and should not be used as a life saving device.
Probe: All commercially available probes are acceptable. AAS has probes on sale at good prices.
Shovel: Bring a small, lightweight grain-scoop type backcountry shovel.
Inclinometer: This can be included in a compass or as a single plastic card. The Lifelink or BCA inclinometers are not recommended. AAS has the Alaska Mountain Safety Center Inclinometer for sale.
TRAVEL: (Skis with skins, split board with skins, combination of snowboard and snowshoes or just snowshoes are acceptable)
Skis: A good pair of touring or mountaineering skis with steel edges. This can include randonee or telemark setups in combination with a pair of skins for traveling uphill. You should be familiar, and have experience with your set up prior to the course.
Snowshoes: They must have metal teeth for ascending and descending steep slopes.
Snowboard: If you decide to bring your snowboard for the descents during the course please bring a pair of snowshoes as well.
Splitboard: In combination with a pair of skins for traveling uphill. You should be familiar, and have experience with your set-up prior to the course.
Skins: for use with your skis or splitboard. Skins are very important to travel uphill. Make sure that they are trimmed to your skis and that they work well BEFORE arriving to your class.
Ski Poles: Useful for everyone.
DAY PACK ESSENTIALS (Please take the following items into the field each day of the course)
Backpack: This should be big enough to carry all of your gear for the field portions of the course. Thermos: For warm drinks during the frigid Alaskan field days.
Water bottle: In combination with a water bottle insulator.
Goggles: For warmth and protection during snow or wind storms.
Sunglasses: During sunny field days when the glare of the sun reflects off the snow.
Lunch Food: This should be field type food that does not freeze.
Headlamp: Who knows what could happen! It’s best to be prepared.
Extra Clothing: Be prepared for all types of weather: rain, snow, wind, or sun
Notebook and Pencil: For note taking during the field and classroom portions of the course.
CLOTHING: Do not bring cotton!
When cotton gets wet it retains its moisture content. This means it does not dry quickly, and leaves the user cold and wet. Poly-pro and wool dry out quicker and they do not loose their warmth even when damp. A winter environment is conducive to hypothermia, and you will miss out on class time if you are sitting inside because you are cold.
Long underwear: Polypro or wool tops and bottoms are recommended.
Warm outer layers: These layers should be wind and waterproof.
Warm socks: Polypro or wool are recommended. Do not bring cotton!
Glove liners: In combination with your gloves/mittens. These will help to keep your digits warm even when dealing with boots, getting into your pack, etc.
Parka: Your parka should fit over all of your other layers. This is extremely helpful when you’re standing in place for awhile when on the field portion.
Boots: Make sure they are warm and comfortable enough to allow you to stop traveling for as long as an hour!! No leather hiking boots! Having a good pair of boots is essential to being happy outside on cold days. If you have any doubts regarding your boots spend a day outside in cold temperatures testing them out before arriving at the course.
Hand/Foot warmers: These are helpful during the blustery cold days.
Moleskin for blisters