PLAN A BACK­COUN­TRY HUT TRIP

Transworld Snowboarding - - CONTENTS - HOW TO // WORDS TYLER MACLEOD

Snow­board­ing has al­ways co­in­cided with ad­ven­ture. This is what beck­oned us to stand side­ways in the first place. From that first time we hiked up a snow-cov­ered hill at a lo­cal golf course, to the ini­tial chair ride at an un­fa­mil­iar re­sort, there’s a thrill af­fixed to new ex­pe­ri­ences that can’t be ig­nored.

It’s easy to be con­sumed by the mun­dane each win­ter, but there’s a way to reignite that youth­ful, ad­ven­tur­ous spirit this sea­son:

Plan a back­coun­try hut trip.

Be­tween the thrill of ex­plor­ing new ter­rain and the an­tics sure to en­sue when gath­er­ing your friends in what’s es­sen­tially a tree­house for adults, a hut trip epit­o­mizes the ad­ven­tur­ous spirit that drives all snow­board­ers.

Plus, what bet­ter ex­cuse to switch your phone to air­plane mode for a few days?

ASSEM­BLE A CREW

The right crew is per­ti­nent. You prob­a­bly have friends who are as com­fort­able with trekking poles and a climb­ing skins as they are with a spat­ula and fry­ing pan. These are the ideal types to bring along. More than any­thing, in­vite the peo­ple you could spend a few days and nights in the wilder­ness with, who will also have your back in the event of an emer­gency.

LOCK DOWN A HUT

There are a num­ber of hut as­so­ci­a­tions across the coun­try, many of which have web­sites for on­line book­ing. Most re­quire a reser­va­tion well in ad­vance, while some op­er­ate on a lot­tery sys­tem. If pos­si­ble, con­sider plan­ning a trip mid­week to min­i­mize the amount of com­pe­ti­tion with other groups. Re­gard­less, con­sider a lo­ca­tion that is op­ti­mal for your crew. If you’re pri­or­i­tiz­ing night­time fes­tiv­i­ties over tour­ing, look for an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble lo­ca­tion that doesn’t re­quire a lengthy ap­proach. With all of that in mind, get dates locked down as soon as pos­si­ble, fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with the book­ing process, then make it hap­pen.

GET YOUR GEAR IN OR­DER

You’ll be deep in the back­coun­try, away from civ­i­liza­tion and, likely, cell ser­vice, so it’s vi­tal to get your gear di­aled well in ad­vance. Make a check­list, not just for your­self, but for the whole crew. Cre­at­ing a spread­sheet that every­one can work off of is a great ap­proach. List out ev­ery­thing you will need—things like a first aid kit, bat­ter­ies, a de­vice to crank tunes, and maybe some whiskey. The hut will prob­a­bly come equipped with some es­sen­tials, so see what’s in­cluded when book­ing. Re­al­ize that some­one will still for­get some­thing—so don’t hes­i­tate to dou­ble and triple check. But, if some­one still man­ages not to re­mem­ber his pants, well, that’s on him.

PACK AC­CORD­INGLY

As easy as it is to over­pack, it’s just as easy to un­der­pack. Make the ab­so­lute es­sen­tials your pri­or­ity—things like your bea­con, probe, shovel, skins, lay­ers, gloves, ra­dios, head­lamp, am­ple food, and so forth. Then con­sider items less vi­tal. For some, those may be the speaker and whiskey; for oth­ers, those may be al­most as es­sen­tial. If you’ve got a buddy with a sled, and the ap­proach is sled-ac­ces­si­ble, con­sider of­fer­ing him some in­cen­tive to shut­tle the lessthan-es­sen­tial gear from the trail­head to the hut. This be­comes even more per­ti­nent if you’re fo­cused on those latenight fes­tiv­i­ties. In that case, you won’t want to run out of bev­er­ages.

PLAN OUT MEALS

Plan­ning meals is a must. What are you go­ing to eat? Do you want to cook full gourmet meals, or are you plan­ning on go­ing the freeze-dried route? Will you have to treat your wa­ter, pack it in, or is it avail­able at the hut? It re­ally comes down to your crew and the sort of ex­pe­ri­ence every­one is af­ter. If it’s a small crew of self­suf­fi­cient bud­dies, then you can prob­a­bly get away with a low-key eat­ing reg­i­men. But if you’ve got a big crew all over the spec­trum, con­sider the more gourmet route. This is where those bud­dies with the sleds can be he­roes once again. What­ever you de­cide, con­sider cut­ting down on waste, time, and weight, by re­mov­ing food from pack­ag­ing and prep­ping what you can at home.

AS­SIGN DU­TIES

This can co­in­cide with the gear check­list you drafted with the crew. Most likely, every­one will want to pitch in and feel they are con­tribut­ing to the cause, so des­ig­nate some du­ties. Maybe one per­son is in charge of do­ing the gro­cery shop­ping, while an­other takes care of ac­quir­ing the li­ba­tions. Some­one else can take the lead on re­sources for en­ter­tain­ment— what­ever that means to your group. By as­sign­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, it helps build ca­ma­raderie among the crew well be­fore you em­bark on your trip. This proves es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial when you have new ac­quain­tances com­ing to­gether.

PLAN FOR THE UN­EX­PECTED

As much as you don’t want to con­sider the worst, it’s es­sen­tial that you do. Take into con­sid­er­a­tion things like whether the zone has back­coun­try pa­trollers, and if so, what chan­nel their ra­dios are set to. Know where the near­est town is, where the near­est hos­pi­tal is, and where you can po­ten­tially find cell ser­vice. De­vise a plan of ac­tion with your crew be­fore your trip and be­fore each and ev­ery tour. Out­side of your group, com­mu­ni­cate with friends and fam­ily to let them know where you’re go­ing, how long you’ll be gone, and how to get in con­tact in the event that some­thing hap­pens.

USE IT AS AN AVALANCHE RE­FRESHER

Be­fore you em­bark on any back­coun­try ad­ven­ture, it’s im­por­tant to have up-to-date avalanche safety knowl­edge. If pos­si­ble, take the op­por­tu­nity to rally the crew to­gether for hands-on prac­tice, like bea­con drills or mock res­cue sce­nar­ios. Have fun with it, and en­sure you’re pre­pared in the event of an emer­gency. Pick up some read­ing ma­te­ri­als from your lo­cal library, watch videos on­line, and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­sur­ing you, and those with you, have a safe and en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

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