A ski tour in outlying terrain away from secured ski lifts in wintery landscapes is only advisable after your tour planning has mapped it out precisely. The better you "immerse" yourself in the tour beforehand, the fewer surprises await you once you get underway.
The very first thing is to illuminate the initial 3-point spearhead: "Goal" + "Who is coming along" + "Weather and other conditions". Each of these three things depends on the other elements. That means, not every goal can be reached with every companion...and vice versa. Weather and avalanche conditions, of course, always play a major role in your decisions.
Nowadays, the Internet helps to establish all the details with ease and precision. If you are not online, you can always ask the man in charge at the alpine refuge.
At www.lawine.at you can quickly and easily evaluate the overall avalanche situation.
Of course it is very important to be able to interpret the bulletin. Alpine Clubs or nationally certified guides can teach you how to do that.
What is your goal, after having analyzed both other components? To decide that, you need maps to be able to plan the routes of ascent and descent. The steepness of the terrain across which you plan to move is the decisive factor, apart from the avalanche dangers as posted in the current bulletin. In order to avoid feeling under pressure on the spot when obstacles appear or difficulties arise, you also need a ‘Plan B’, an alternative goal, so that you can respond to unexpected developments without stress. That way, the unknowns and unpredictables are already part of the agenda.
Depending on the backcountry tour selected, you then estimate the required ascent time and descent time, leaving a certain leeway. The most important rule of thumb for backcountry tours is: The early bird catches the worm.
It is also important to decide who will be along. What are the levels of knowledge and ability of my companions? Those are also factors which must be considered in your selection of a goal and a route.
When the goal and the persons of the tour are planned, the appropriate equipment has to be decided on and shared with the participants. Under all circumstances, the following emergency equipment should be packed: LVS transceiver (beacon), probe and shovel, bivouac sleeping bag, first aid kit and mobile telephone.
For correct orientation, a map, a compass and an altimeter are also necessary.
It’s also a good idea to have along a second (reserve) transceiver/beacon or at least extra batteries. That way, you can assist a companion who was forgetful or unprepared.
Text. Wolfgang Rohrmoser, Mountain Rescue Instructor Salzburg, Director of ÖBRD Rauris, Mountain and Skiing Guide
For more tips, please see: www.bergrettung-salzburg.at