Backcountry Awareness: Pre Trip Planning. By Doug Chatten
May 07, 2020
Thinking your tour through in its entirety as best you can helps to formulate a realistic & achievable experience. Due consideration will identify weaknesses which can be averted allowing you to maximise your day & increase your safety margin. Contingency plans are a must allowing you to have a Plan B if required & cater for unexpected accidents, illness or mechanical failure.
Many considerations are interconnected & will adversely affect one another so a mishap in one area could become a compounding problem.
Too arduous a route plan could exhaust lesser experienced group members who are on gear setups that are too heavy for that tour; ROUTE PLAN, GEAR, GROUP
A poorly fitting skin could see a group member with less technical experience fall on an icy climb & take a long slip. Without comms they would be unable to raise the alarm….they wished they’d brought that emergency shelter along; GEAR SELECTION, EXPERIENCE, COMMS, EMERGENCY GEAR
The following points are not a gear list but some of the considerations when planning for a backcountry mission
Realistic route plan to suit the group; how much time is available, is the group up to it
Contingency plans; no alternate plan could see you wanting in an uncomfortable situation, set your intentions & preferably only divert to your contingency plans
Forecasted weather conditions
Skill level, experience & endurance capabilities of your group considering your least experienced members
Equipment selection suited to proposed route; heavy-weight rig wouldn’t be suited to a long haul approach, if steep or icy you be needing your crampons
Equipment condition; a poorly fitting skin or old glue could see you wasting energy struggling on an icy ascent, do you have a repair kit.
Approach conditions & Access; what elevation is the snowline at, does your pack have good ski carry
Don’t over-engineer or gear your aspirations too highly. Consider what you want to achieve & be ready to reduce your intentions…..contingency plans! It's ok to turn back!!!
Trip Intentions; leave detailed info with a responsible person
Comms; phone, PLB, spare battery bank, GPS
Emergency Gear; you should have enough gear to endure for 24hrs. An insulation jacket, down or synthetic & a lightweight emergency shelter like the Vango Bothy bag & a shovel will serve you well if necessary
It is very important that aspiring backcountry enthusiasts undertake tours that suit their skill level, journeying not far from the trailhead & making a point of debriefing their experience & processing the results. As skills, knowledge & experience develop their safety margin is increased allowing them to undertake more complex tours.
Hurry slowly alpinists... How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
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“Snow-gum dieback—the phenomenon quietly eating away at our high-elevation woodlands—is very poorly understood. For example, it is completely unclear why some stands of trees are being virtually wiped out, while others, only 500 metres away, are virtually untouched. Are there underlying differences between sites with differing dieback severity, or is dieback severity a product of patterns in the spread of the insect responsible?”
Here is some camera phone footage of a storm that rolled in quickly and caused a surprising amount of change to the landscape. I couldn’t escape my tent so I’m glad it protected me from the weather. It was a bit scary but also very beautiful. Other tents around mine were torn to shreds. Always choose quality! 👌”