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Haute Route - Light is right... right?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm heading off shortly on a trip with 6 others and there are varying opinions on our packing list for the trip. Our guide suggested a 8-9kg pack as a maximum.

What's the general consensus on things like first aid kits? Should everyone carry a small one? Should it include sutures, splits, painkillers etc.?

Then there's spare hardware like screws, cable ties, leathermans, wire, duct tape etc.

What about towels, TP, maps, compass, survival bag?

On my first attempt my pack weighs 9kg without ice-axe, crampons, probe or shovel so I'm pretty nervous! That's including 2L of water and my hard shell, as well as all the usual stuff.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I would have thought your guide would tell you what he expects you to have and what he will provide - especially as regards first aid, map, etc.

It's then up to you decide what else you personally want to take.

If 9kg was his specified max I would want to be at a kilo under that to have a bit of "legroom".

Oh, and for these thoughts we need some pics and a TR

Very Happy wink Laughing snowHead
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@ronanh, Sounds like you've got too much stuff. How much you can leave behind is an individual choice.

Your guide should have the first aid kit, maps, spare parts and hopefully a rope which no doubt will be distributed across the group and should? be able to give you a kit list of what to bring, but if not then I'd suggest asking them. There's a kit list on http://www.alpine-guides.com/trips/haute-route-ski-tour/#equipment

I did it last year and added a small travel toothbrush and mini toothpaste to the standard kit list. Nothing else is actually necessary. I didn't bother with a towel or change of clothes etc, some of the huts don't have water for washing. If you really need a towel then the smallest camping style travel towel is just about adequate. About 50% of the people in the huts had spare clothes and wash bags etc but none of the guides. Everybody smells pretty bad by the end, just make sure your outer layers are windproof. If you are carrying it because its nice to have or just in case then you probably don't need it.

Austrian Alpine Club membership pays for itself in the hut discounts, which you'll need cash for, both Swiss Francs and Euros.

The views are stunning, I carried a separate camera. Someone with a pack of cards for the evenings in the hut is always useful. Its a wonderful trip, hope you have a good time.
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What was on the guides packing list? There's your starting point.

First Aid - if you are guided, you just need to carry something to sort yourself out (blisters, painkillers etc). Even my "winter panic bag" doesn't weight much.

"Hardware" - Your duct tape is wrapped round your poles, you've got a ski strap anyway and a few zip ties in your panic bag so it's all good. (what i would carry without a guide). Your guide will carry whatever repair kit he deems over and above that.

No towel, no idea what a TP is, I'd take a map and compass but I love maps and want to know where I am/going but there's probably no need, survival ba - I have a tiny SOL bag I have in my panic bag thought if I'm leading I take a bothy bag.

1L of water a day is fine imho. Drink a lot in the morning, a lot in the evening (though sometimes hard), keep of the beer and you'll be fine.

I don't know what else you've got in there for 9kg. Ditch anything that you wouldn't wear skiing during the day, that's all you need bar a "belay jacket". You'll smell and be dirty but who cares. 5 days hut to hutting is a 35L bag in my experience.

That Alpine Guides list doesn't have a headtorch, I'd take one.
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@galpinos, Well spotted, definitely take a head torch.
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After also doing it last year I would echo what the others have said. No need for any changes of clothes or evening wear. For first-aid just come blister plasters and headache pills should be enough as the guide will have a first aid kit and survival shelter for emergencies.
Spare hardware again, our guide had a selection of all this stuff along with spare skins, glue, wax.
So generally you can ditch all that and the maps.
For water it very much depends on you. I always carried at least a liter but I don't think there was a single day where I drank even close to a half liter on the snow, but I guess that will depend on how your body manages to handle its own hydration levels.

With gloves I generally wore a pair of nordic ski gloves for skining and some light weight leather work gloves over the top when skiing.
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Thanks a lot for the feedback. Will trim back the First Aid kit, and spare clothes. I think my bag is actually a little heavy (40L EVOC Patrol) but I'm stuck with that now.

Goggles & sunglasses? Or just one?

What about food? Can we buy snacks etc. in the huts? Will they fleece us? 5EUR for a mars bar?

What about cash? 40CHF per day reasonable?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Prob would go for both. Glasses will be more comfortable while skinning but I generally prefer goggles for down. Plus then may be better if low vis/flat light.

Snacks are not too bad in the huts and more preferable to carrying loads.
We also had some "Clif bloks energy chews" which seemed to be good when you needed a lift.

I assume you have already pre-paid for huts/board? In which case I would maybe take a little more. You will get to some of the huts quite early and may want to have lunch. Plus there is beer/wine money and bottled water to buy as most places will not have any running water.

n.b. I have the same pack. Not the lightest but I actually really like the design and its features.
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I take a small, lightweight pack towel. Also, I find earplugs essential for the huts as there's bound to be at least one person grunting and snoring.
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@ronanh, I'd go for both goggles and glasses and some extra cash is always good for the wine fund, I think our guide drank most of our wine supply unless @SnowPenguin, was quietly mixing it into his water bottle Laughing

Just looked back and I think we averaged about 120 CHF per person per day in the huts, but that included bed, food, packed lunch, water and wine.
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Embarassed sorry @captainslow, just re-made the connection. Sorry completely forget user-name/re-name combo. Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@SnowPenguin, rolling eyes Laughing Laughing Laughing say hi to the boss. Looks like I missed a good tour on Monday? with floss.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@ronanh, I did my first ever 3 day trip last year, we divvied up things like toothpaste, a tiny deoderant, baby wipes + phone charger so had one between all 4 of us. We all took our own snacks (gels, Clif Bloks etc) for every day+ some (inc me) took things like Zero One Hydration tablets. Took change of socks, base layer and underpants.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@captainslow, will do. I wouldn't know, stuck in Basel while she enjoys a nice holiday in Serre Chevalier.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Nice one folks thanks. Will try give some feedback when I return!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Earplugs - they're dead light too Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Kelskii wrote:
I take a small, lightweight pack towel. Also, I find earplugs essential for the huts as there's bound to be at least one person grunting and snoring.


Sorry about that Toofy Grin

As you know I always pack light and never go above 18 kg for a multiday trip Embarassed

Merino wool should be compulsory on multiday ski touring trips, stops you being able to taste people in the air. wink
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
kitenski wrote:
@ronanh, I did my first ever 3 day trip last year, we divvied up things like toothpaste, a tiny deoderant, baby wipes + phone charger so had one between all 4 of us. We all took our own snacks (gels, Clif Bloks etc) for every day+ some (inc me) took things like Zero One Hydration tablets. Took change of socks, base layer and underpants.


I would suggest dropping the expensive energy products, they're really not good for you outside of environments like cycle races, triathlons etc and really quite bad over a number of days for your digestive system. You would be better off eating real food. The huts will sell sandwiches and picnic lunches, one each or split a few between you. Your hydration solutions can be replaced by a coke at the huts, it's got the same stuff in albeit with some added chemical tooth remover. Gels and hydration solutions are great for an emergency but they shouldn't be your snacks. A small Tupperware box with dried fruit, nuts, M&M's, a couple of haribo would be better for snacks.

ronanh wrote:

What about food? Can we buy snacks etc. in the huts? Will they fleece us? 5EUR for a mars bar?


The huts, and their guardians, are trying to make a living. Mars bars are quite expensive when they're delivered by helicopter. It's slightly galling to have clients rock up in huts with a few grands worth of gear who then won't buy anything Very Happy It makes the guardian less inclined to give the guide or leader a free drink which is quite serious Happy
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ise wrote:
The huts, and their guardians, are trying to make a living. Mars bars are quite expensive when they're delivered by helicopter. It's slightly galling to have clients rock up in huts with a few grands worth of gear who then won't buy anything Very Happy It makes the guardian less inclined to give the guide or leader a free drink which is quite serious Happy


Point taken! Thanks!

What about helmets? Looking at a few trip videos and pictures, it looks like about 1 in 10 folks are wearing one. Out of my group, we would all usually wear one 100% of the time in regular backcountry/in-bounds skiing.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'm not doing a helmet debate, but we use Camp Speeds

http://www.camp-usa.com/products/helmets/speed-2/
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I am normally the same with helmets and took one on HR however if I did it again I would leave it behind.
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thanks I might see can I rent a lightweight one like that.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
One thing that hasn't been mentioned is a cap or sunhat. As a folically challenged gent, it can get pretty hot skinning and wearing a beanie can get pretty uncomfortable so some kind of hat to avoid sunburn is handy.
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Helmets are always an issue when touring and it's really down to you as your choice.

Last week on a six day tour (three refuges) out of the seven three went with helmets and one made the choice not to for the first time.

And one guy went with an ABS pack which was way too heavy and he regretted that.

I carried a power pack which was good for charging phone for the week as well as a tablet so I could edit photos from my camera in the evening.

Other "luxury" were a pair of "Dudes" (very light shoes) as I feared a very long walk out at the end and was able to put my ski boot insoles in to make them more sturdy.

One thing that has been mentioned on here which I did not have but would recommend, sterile wipes.

I had a 45lt bag carried 1.5lt bladder boot and ski crampons, harness / carabiner, axe. Hard shell and puffa jacket, wind proof gilet, three buffs as per what @galpinos, mentioned, wool hat, sunnies and googles, merino Tshirt, merino LJ's, merino base layer, another top, touring trousers, and light weight touring pants (which I did not really need), head torch, ear plugs, ibuprofen / tramadol, swiss army knife, and petite leatherman and two pairs socks, lightweight gloves and cold weather gloves.
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@Weathercam, No ice screws/prussics/mini traxion/ropeman or were you on a no glacier route?
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@galpinos, down in the Mercantour, Alpes Maritimes, in the process of writing it up, for five of the six days did not see any other skiers and had the refuge(s) to ourselves Cool

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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Weathercam wrote:
@galpinos, down in the Mercantour, Alpes Maritimes, in the process of writing it up, for five of the six days did not see any other skiers and had the refuge(s) to ourselves Cool


I'd be very interested. Aborted out planned trip to the Mercantour this year due to pneumonia but it's on the cards for next winter. Looking forward to the write up.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Deffo sun hat, prob with a clip or lanyard so it doesn't disappear if blown off. One of our group had to abandon the trip after day 2 because he was so sunburnt.

And I got pretty badly burnt on wrists, throat and neck, when skinning in the sunshine. I ended up cutting the sleeves off a backup layer so I could use them as extensions to cover the gap between gloves and top. Improvised a bandanna to cover throat.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
If it's sunny glacier type sunglasses or other sunglasses that don't let much sun in around the sides. Suncream on the underside of your nose otherwise the reflected sun from the snow could burn it. Sunblock & Lipbalm for the lips too.

Cut your toe nails as short as possible before the trip, blister plasters (e.g. compeed)
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@Tomahawk Tone, good point! I also got sun burn on the back of my hands after taking gloves off. I was the only one with a floppy hat that others really wished they had...

Last tip, learn to love kick turns!

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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi, I did the Haute route last year and I definitely took too much! The guide literally tipped my bag up before we left the hotel and left it all there! I ended up using a lot less than I thought I would, and it would have definitely mad some of those ascents easier if I didn't bring as much. No joke, I wore the same base layer mid layer and shell every day through sunshine and blizzard, absolutely perfect.
This article here sums it up well: http://whitleytravels.com/10-things-must-bring-haute-route/
Have fun!!
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