TIPS & CHECKLISTS FOR SKI TOURING BEGINNERS - ALPINE AWARENESS
In order to be able to enjoy a ski tour to the fullest and stay on the right (ski) track, awareness and caution are your most important companions, especially as a beginner to the sport of ski touring. The following checklists provide an overview of the "dos and don'ts" of ski touring, the perfect equipment to have with you, how to become a real planning pro while protecting flora and fauna and the uniform signage you can expect to see.
- Beginners should never go ski touring alone in off-piste terrain. For ski touring beginners, we recommend booking one of our local guides to lead the tour. Weekly taster sessions are held on the educational ski touring trail in Praxmar and these are included in the winter programme.
- Being able to ski or ride back down the mountain safely is an essential part of ski touring. Ski routes are not groomed or secured. Downhill skiing can be very exhausting, especially in difficult snow conditions. This is why on-piste ski tours are recommended, especially for beginners.
- Knowing the correct walking technique for the uphill section is important: the better your technique, the more energy you save with each step.
- No matter how flat the slope or how ideal the conditions: there is always an underlying risk of avalanche and other alpine hazards unless touring on marked ski pistes. The chances of surviving an avalanche are slim. It is not enough to carry avalanche equipment with you, it is essential that you know how to use it properly in an emergency. For this reason, attending an avalanche course is strongly recommended in order to acquire and regularly refresh your knowledge.
- Ski touring can be very strenuous, depending on the length and demands of the tour – beginners should therefore also have a certain level of stamina.
- Touring skis with touring bindings
- Ski touring boots
- Skins, crampons if required
- Adjustable telescoping poles
- Avalanche equipment: shovel, probe, avalanche transceiver
- Helmet & ski goggles for the descent, sunglasses for the ascent
- Snacks and enough non-alcoholic drinks, possibly a thermos flask with tea
- Functional winter clothing and a change of clothes for the descent
- Emergency kit: mobile phone, first aid kit, survival blanket
- Airbag backpack if required
- For all of the skiing and emergency equipment, you should expect costs of between € 1,500 and € 2,500. An attractive alternative is to rent ski touring equipment from one of the region's many sports shops.
- It is highly recommended that any new equipment be tested on an easy route before attempting a longer tour.
Good planning is half the battle, bad planning and things start to unravel. This is why a ski tour starts well before you put on your touring skis – because in order to be able to fully surrender to the ski touring experience on the day, it is important to consider a few important points in advance:
- The tour planning should be carried out the evening before the tour. Ideally, this should be done with all of the participants together. If this is not possible, all of the relevant information should be shared with the entire group right before the start of the tour.
- If you are starting early, you should pack your backpack the evening before so you can leave feeling relaxed after breakfast – and above all well prepared.
- Reading the weather and avalanche report is an essential part of planning a tour and must be done by all participants. All of the information about snow conditions, wind and precipitation must be compared with the actual conditions upon arrival.
- The ascent time can be estimated based on 300 vertical metres or 4 kilometres per hour. A third of the ascent time can be used as a benchmark for the descent.
- Regular breaks are essential for maintaining performance and concentration.
- It is important to always keep the entire group in mind: Is the plan OK for everyone? Are all of the participants able to manage the tour?
- All group members should have the telephone number of everyone else in the group. Just as important: the international emergency number 112 should be saved in every mobile phone – as well as the phone numbers for nearby mountain huts.
- SAAC and SnowHow offer workshops and avalanche camps throughout the winter to provide background information and practical tips for skiers when riding outside of secured ski areas. State-certified ski and mountain guides advise about alpine hazards in off-piste terrain.
Just as ski boots belong in perfectly fitting bindings, respect for flora and fauna is a key part of a perfect winter day in the great outdoors. Although ski tourers have already opted for a gentle form of winter sport, there are still several points to consider regarding contact with forested areas and forest dwellers – both when planning a tour and on the day. Here are the most important recommendations at a glance:
- Alpine awareness starts with environmentally-friendly travel: public transport or carpooling improves your carbon footprint.
- If travelling a long way, multi-day routes should be planned.
- In order to avoid disturbing forest dwellers such as wood grouse and red deer, marked routes should be used for both the ascent and descent.
- Tours through reforestation areas or young forests should be avoided to avoid disrupting natural development.
- Feeding animals should be avoided.
- Noise should be kept to a minimum.
- Animal tracks should not be followed.
- Information boards, signs and markings must always be observed.
- Tours during twilight should be avoided.
- Rubbish should be taken with you without exception and not left lying around.
- Dogs should always be kept on a leash.
Separate ascent routes for piste tourers serve to improve safety – both for ski tourers walking up and skiers coming down – and streamline the flow of skiers. In 2016, the Tyrolean Piste Touring Guidance System introduced uniform signage state-wide to help guide piste tourers along ski touring ascent routes. Further information is available on the Bergwelt Tirol and Land Tirol websites.