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Spearhead Traverse Packing List

Spearhead Traverse Packing List

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Knowing what to pack for a multi-day ski touring trip can be difficult. There wasn’t a huge amount of information I could find online. In the end, my Spearhead Traverse packing list was made up of an overnighter to Kees and Clare’s hut a month prior, lots of backcountry hiking trips and some notes from the guiding company, Altus Mountain Guides, we used.

If you’re planning on spending the weekend on the Spearhead Traverse or doing another similar ski touring trip, here’s what you should pack!

Backcountry Ski Gear List

spearhead traverse packing list

This ski touring packing list is broken down into several categories so you can run through it and check everything off once you’ve got it packed!

Skiing Equipment

You’d think you wouldn’t forget your ski gear, you’re going on a ski trip after all. But, if you’re someone with multiple pairs of skis, you’d be surprised how easy it is to pick up the wrong ones. When it comes to ski touring there are also several others things you’ll need to remember to pack!

Skis with touring bindings

First up, it’s your skis! If you’re doing an overnight ski touring trip then you’ve likely already done a few ski touring days and probably have your own skis.

If not, there are several stores where you can rent lightweight skis with touring bindings. In Whistler, there’s Escape Route and Valhalla in Squamish if you’re heading to Whistler from Vancouver.

My skis are light but I use frame bindings. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, I did manage to do the Spearhead Traverse with these heavier bindings which goes to show you don’t have to have the most expensive gear out there (although you’ll probably appreciate it!).

Ski boots

Don’t forget your ski boots either! I wouldn’t recommend renting touring boots for a multi-day ski touring trip as who knows what pain they’ll inflict on your feet?!

Most boots you’ll tour in will have a walk mood. Again, mine don’t and they’re pretty heavy, but they’re comfortable and were what I had.

Poles

Your choice whether you want to go collapsible or not. I have collapsible poles but didn’t end up changing the length of them much throughout our ski traverse.

Ski socks

I packed one pair of ski socks and then another pair of comfy socks that I put on once we’d reached camp to give the ski socks (and my feet!) time to dry out.

Ski crampons 

Ski crampons were recommended for our trip but we didn’t end up needing to use them. They attach near your bindings and will give you a bit more grip when you’re touring in icy conditions.

It’s better to have them and not use them than to need them and not have them.

Helmet

Most people wear a helmet when they ski these days and I don’t know why you wouldn’t. Make sure you take one with you!

Googles + different lenses

Remember your goggles and take another pair of lenses for low lights if you have them.

Ski straps

Ski straps have so many uses! They’re lightweight and easy to pack, make sure you take a couple with you.

Skins

Don’t forget your climbing skins for your skis! You won’t be getting uphill without them.

Climbing/Glacier Gear

spearhead traverse packing list 2

For the Spearhead Traverse and other ski touring trips like it, you’ll need climbing and glacier gear. This was provided for us by our guiding company and included:

  • A rope
  • Glacier harnesses
  • Crevasse kit (2 prussic, 2 locking biners, 2 non-locking biners) 
  • Ice Axe
  • Belay device

Avalanche Gear

You should never ski tour without your avalanche gear and make sure you know how to use it. Make sure you’ve got your:

  • Beacon (with new batteries)
  • Shovel
  • Probe
  • Spare batteries for your beacon

Clothing

spearhead traverse ski trip (5 of 29)

You won’t want to pack lots of different clothing items as it’ll just weigh you down. Here’s what was on my packing list for the Spearhead Traverse.

Gloves or mittens

I like to wear mittens for skiing downhill to keep my hands toasty.

Light gloves

You should also take some lightweight gloves for when you’re climbing and ski gloves are too much but it’s too cold to not wear gloves. I just use a pair I run in from MEC.

Thermals / Base Layer

I wore my base layer top as my main layer under my bib and used the thermal pants to stay warm once we’d arrived at camp.

Ski pants / bib

You’ll want something lightweight, without insulation (or not much!). I like my Flylow bib pants as there are lots of zips to let more air in and stay cool and the bibs have lots of pockets for snacks!

Ski jacket

My ski jacket is lightweight and I just layer up underneath. Depending on where you’re going, having a gore-tex layer may be vital (always good on the West Coast!).

Puffy jacket

Synthetic is preferred, especially if you’re expecting snow/rain while on your trip, since it dried out quicker.

Lightweight mid-layer

My mid-layer is the Patagonia R1 fleece. It’s way warmer than it looks!

Sunglasses or Glacier Glasses

You need good sunglasses at the very least and ideally glacier glasses which provide a bit more coverage around the side of your eyes. A few of us had pretty sore eyes after our weekend on the Spearhead since it was so sunny!

Hat / Baseball Cap

I took both a woolly hat for the evenings and wore a baseball cap during the day.

Underwear & Sports Bra

Self-explanatory!

Winter Camping Equipment

spearhead traverse ski trip (9 of 29)
Frosty tents

Since the Spearhead Traverse doesn’t have all its huts built yet, we camped for two nights. Here’s what we took.

3/4-Season sleeping bag

My sleeping bag is rated to -9C which might not be warm enough depending on what time of year you’re going. I was pretty chilly the first night, but the second night was much better.

Sleeping mat

Take a good lightweight sleeping mat and you’ll have a more comfortable, warmer night’s sleep!

3/4 Season tent

You’ll need a good tent that can stand up to wind and lock some heat in.

Hut booties

At the end of the day, you’ll be desperate to get those ski boots off and slip into something more comfortable. Hut booties pack down quite small and keep your feet toasty.

Water bottles

We each carried around 1.5 litres of water with us at all times. I used a small bottle I use for running and my Nalgene which doubled up as a hot water bottle overnight.

Spare t-shirt

I packed one t-shirt to switch into at camp and overnight. This gave me time for my base layer to dry out before the following day and putting on a dry layer helped keep me warm once we stopped touring.

Buff 

Buffs are always useful!

Battery pack + phone cable

if you’re relying on your phone for navigation and/or photos packing a battery pack is a good idea to keep your phone running.

Headlamp 

Make sure you’ve got a headlamp too.

Cooking equipment

Our guide provided the gas and stove but if you’re going unguided don’t forget to pack them yourself! You’ll also want a spoon/spork and a bowl or mug.

I like collapsible bowls and mugs as they take up less room in your pack.

Toiletries

You’ll want some basic hygiene items too.

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Baby wipes

Food – What to eat on the Spearhead Traverse

spearhead traverse ski trip (5 of 29)
inside the shelter

Knowing what and how much food to pack is difficult and it’s a bit of trial and error. We packed the following:

  • Instant oatmeal for breakfast with added trail mix. Instant coffee
  • Pre-made turkey & cheese bagels 
  • Snacks: Trail mix with M&Ms added, Hornby bars, homemade energy balls (oat, choc, peanut butter), Twix bars, cheese strings
  • Dinners: Dehydrated meals (Pad thai and mac & cheese!)

Misc. Items

A few other things you should bring!

First aid kit & Ski repair kit

Pack a first aid kit with some essentials including blister plasters, gauze and a splint. Between your group having some ski repair items (toe piece etc) is a great idea along with a multi-tool.

ID + cards

For when you get back down to Whistler and want to celebrate with a beer!

Garmin Inreach/SOS device

Someone in your group should have one a way of contacting emergency services in case you get in trouble. I use a Garmin Inreach mini.

Hand/feet warmers

A nice to have if you get cold easily.

Tarp

Our guide bought a tarp/bivy that was his shelter but also our dinner/chill out space in the evenings (see photo above)