PLAN A BACKCOUNTRY HUT TRIP
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.
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.
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.