The Duffey, as with any backcountry ski tour, requires a certain level of preparation, respect for the mountain, and careful planning. The Duffey however, brings in a level of self-reliance you may have not experienced in other ski tour settings, no cell reception, remoteness, and limited traffic. With this, there are also breathtaking views, fresh turns, and a true sense of solitude in the mountains we love. We made a list of essentials you might want to consider when taking on this next level of touring.
- Avalanche Safety Gear – This goes without saying, but double check your shovel, transceiver, and probe are in good working order before you head into the backcountry.
- Map of the Duffey – Sounds obvious, as you should be doing route planning prior to your day trip, but don’t forget to pack your map of the Duffy for the actual adventure. We recommend John Baldwin’s detailed, water and tear proof map.
- Proper lunch, snacks, water – No one wants to be the person who’s bumming off friends for food, so make sure you’re prepared. We recommend packing a full lunch, along with more snacks than you think you need. Touring takes a lot of energy, and you need to adequately replenish it to have the most fun and make the best decisions in the backcountry.
- Helmet – We highly recommend still taking your helmet for a backcountry ski tour. Yes, you’ll save weight by leaving it at home, but you might save your brain if you take it.
- Adjustable poles – We love the G3 VIA Carbon Ski Poles for any touring adventure. Yes, you can get away with not having adjustable poles, but they make life so much easier when trekking up the hill. Steep sections, technical trees, and then the descent, so much simpler when you have one pole to do it all.
- Head lamp – Wait, you said day trip, right? Yes, this is definitely a precautionary packing item, but you never know what can happen on your first day in the Duffey. The ski out could take longer than you expect, and you’ll want to be prepared with a Petzl Actik Headlamp just in case.
- Extra layers – Don’t worry about the few extra grams of weight in your bag, you’ll be thankful when you have extra layers if the weather turns cold. We love the Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody as a lightweight, synthetic midlayer to wear on the ascent, or if it’s too warm, compactable enough to stow away in your pack. For those particularly cold days, pack the Cerium LT Down Hoody to easily unpack and throw on before you surf powder down the mountain. It’s a premium 850 fill-down that’s lightweight, durable, and strategically places synthetic insulation in moisture prone areas. As an aside, if you’re layering properly for the climb, you shouldn’t need an extra baselayer, but might be a good idea to throw an extra in your pack just in case. If you overheat and get too sweaty, you might be extremely happy to have a dry top for the ski out.
- Gloves for the climb – Longer and potentially more technical climbs than you’re used to, you probably won’t want to go sans glove, but will probably be too warm for your warm Hestra mittens. We recommend wearing liners for the ascent, ideally the Hestra Touch Point Active 5 Finger liner. They are warm and light, with touch screen fingers in case you need to pull the phone out for a stunner photo.
- Avalung – While we are hoping you’re being safe and touring when the avalanche bulletin is lit up with green banners across the board, it’s better to be safe than sorry when in avalanche terrain. The Avalung is lightweight, coming in at only 265 grams, and could potentially be a life saver. Just to note, it’s only compatible with Black Diamond backpacks. Check out this article from Powder Magazine for tips on using the Avalung.
- Extra batteries – In case your transceiver is battery powered, make sure you pack extra batteries in case they run out or run low. No one wants to drive all the way to the Duffey and realize they don’t have adequate battery power, so throw in extras just in case.
- Emergency Gear – There are several emergency items we recommend in addition to your avalanche safety gear. For starters, always pack a first aid kit. Check out the contents of this first aid kit to give you an idea of what you should be carrying in yours, and don’t forget to throw in an emergency bivvy bag. It’s also a good idea to carry a small repair kit with a few essentials: duct tape, zip ties, and spare screws for bindings and boots. Lasty, as mentioned earlier, you won’t have cell service when you’re out in the Duffey. In the worst case scenario, be prepared by purchasing a Garmin inReach to have the ability to send an emergency SOS to a 24/7 global monitoring system.
- Warm, dry clothes for the ride home – Depending on how far you’re traveling home, nothing is better than taking off the ski boots, gear, and slipping into warm and cozy clothes. Time to eat some food, prop the feet up, and revel in your day of adventure.
We hope this helps give you a better idea of what you should pack on your first trip to the Duffey. It’s always good to learn from your own experiences, but hopefully learning from ours will make your adventure that much better.