Module 2: Gear Requirements

The official NSP prerequisite for the course is, "Ability to travel through steep, ungroomed, snow-covered terrain, under adverse weather conditions." To accomplish this safely and efficiently (both up and down), especially for the demanding tours in prior course years, and for two days in a row, requires modern ski touring gear.

Specifically, you need a setup based around the "Tech" binding interface:  whether the original Dynafit (many many models, also rebranded by Fischer, Look/Rossignol, Movement), or its competition from Atomic/Salomon (Backland Tour/Light/MTN), ATK (RT, Raider 12 & 14), Fritschi (Vipec), G3 (Onyx/Ruby, Ion 10/12/LT12), Kreuzspitze (GT), Marker (Kingpin 10/13), Plum (WEPA, Guide, Yak), Trab (TR2), or various race-oriented models from ATK (also rebranded as Fischer, Hagan, La Sportiva, Movement), Dynafit, Kreuzspitze, Pierre Gignoux, Plum, and Trab.

For skis, many different choices are reasonable for Mt Washington's variable conditions, but the ideal is a waist width from somewhere around the low to mid 80s up to the low 90s, and with some sort of rockered or early-rise tip geometry.
For more details, check out the very helpful product comparison charts at Skimo.co (by far the most comprehensive ski touring retailer, and hence the reason for the discontinuation of this course website's previously maintained spreadsheet for boot and binding choices).

Either bring all of the necessary equipment in the gear checklist to the Module 1 Fall Session if you are already all set, or at least be prepared to discuss what gear you intend to buy (and then email confirmation and pictures of your final gear setup by the deadline listed on the student checklist).

For students who do not yet own modern rescue gear (three-antenna beacon, dedicated sectional probe at least 230cm long, metal-blade shovel), the instructors will provide demo gear at the Module 1 Fall Session to help with your purchase selection.

Even if you do not yet have all of this gear, bring to the Module 1 Fall Session at least a day pack and winter clothing, so that you can practice unzipping your outer layers to access a beacon, then opening your pack to access, remove, and assemble a probe and shovel, all while wearing gloves in potentially bitterly cold weather. (Every second counts in avalanche rescue, and even small delays in accessing, removing, and/or assembling rescue gear can be deadly!) You will also go on an hour-long hike with this pack in the late afternoon to assess your physical ability to travel through mountainous terrain. And the hike will occur under any weather conditions, with the sole exception of dangerously high winds.

Some highlights and additional comments on the previously referenced gear checklist:
  • "Sharps" - ski crampons, boot crampons, ski pole self-arrest grip (or ice axe) - will probably be needed if we are able to ski (and safely return from!) the Chandler Ridge snowfield.  However, we will have an alternative route for those not so equipped.  Therefore, if you already have such gear (and are skilled in its use!), plan to bring it with you (with the final decision made the morning of the tour).  But if you do not already have such gear, then no need to acquire it only for the course.
  • A helmet is required to be worn at all times when in potential avalanche terrain.
  • A clinometer is required, whether a stand-alone "slope meter" (possibly available for purchase at the Fall Session) or built into a magnetic compass.
  • Maps available for the Presidentials are summarized here.
  • Notetaking is encouraged in the field, for which you must have some sort of waterproof note pad, preferably one designed for avalanche safety (e.g., AIARE field book).

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