Doug Chatten, Professional Ski Patroller and Mont Ambassador, has had plenty of experience when it comes to on-snow camping. Read on for his guide to a comfortable night on the slopes.
My preferred style of overnight ski touring is combining gear & clothing in a lightweight minimalistic sleeping system so I’m not wasting energy on the approach. I like to head for the steeps where I can ski & climb & give the Mont team some real product feedback.
When bivvying on the steeps I fashion a dog box; a pit across the slope which keeps me arrested particularly in icy conditions. A wind spine amongst some good rock anchors on a steep slope makes a good site. At one end I have a foot well with a bench in front so I can sit up, get organised & cook. It adds a new dimension to ski in ski out accommodation & provides for some spectacular sunsets. A Helium sleeping bag and Warmlite sleeping mat under the open sky provides adequate comfort & warmth.
The following is a clothing list for a mid-winter trip, from this I have choices to regulate my sleeping system by how much I wear at night
Travelling light doesn’t provide the sanctuary of a base camp, is reliant on suitable weather conditions, a disciplined approach, quality gear and clothing, keeping busy, being fit, fuelled up, hydrated & maintaining a realistic schedule. If any of these factors are missing you need to reschedule or fatten up your kit! If one thing’s for sure I never compromise on the quality of my gear, that’s why I choose Mont.
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As summer approaches, I keep looking through my list of past walks to see which ones I want to do again.
In September 1986 I walked from Lake St Clair, up past Little Hugel to Mt Hugel. I then continued down the western slopes to Lake Hermione, followed a valley up to Lake Petrarch and walked back down to Lake St Clair. A good partly offtrack bushwalk. This time I only had two days, so the plan was to camp next to a tarn up on the Mt Hugel plateau.
One of the biggest jobs at Mont is customer service, with the inbox sometimes a little overwhelming! But the emails are overwhelmingly positive; questions about our gear, emails about how well a customers gear worked, and fun stories and photos from the wild.
It isn’t all smiles, though, negative emails do occasionally pop up. But not to let that get us down, often these emails highlight a failure of communication on our part or provide information for us to reflect upon and improve.