Ed’s letter, issue 129

I learnt a lot reading Martin Chester’s wise words on how to stash your skis and use your ice axe and crampons when a mountain hike is called for (see page 70 of issue 129).

With backcountry skiing, like with many things, following a system and being organised leads to greater freedom and fun and less faffing and fiddling – not to mention safer passage.

Martin’s tips lean to the technical, but I have at least as many conundrums relating to more mundane bits and bobs when skinning or hiking. I’ve devised one or two systems that work for me, but I’m still usually the one saying: “Can you just hang on a sec while I deal with/locate my hankie/hat/goggles?”

Like Martin, I carry extra ties, but my proper Velcro ones tend to wriggle to the bottom of my pack so I keep a couple of heavy-duty hair ties round my wrist. These make brilliant A-frame ties (they’re less effective for securing poles) and double up as… hair ties. In spring I need somewhere to put my fleece gloves while skinning (I find taking them off vital for temp control) and my favourite place is tucked into the waistband of my pack.

My camera, an old Olympus Tough the size of a pack of cards, is kept down my front under my base layer, the wrist strap hanging out. This not only makes it easy to whip out whether or not my shell/down jacket/bodywarmer is on, but also allows it to charge by body warmth. Not an option for the bra-less, I’m afraid.

Other items are trickier. As I haven’t perfected (or, in fact, attempted) the mountain man’s ‘nose-spit’ I need tissues. Kept in the ski pant front-hip pocket they deteriorate with movement and warmth. Up the sleeve could be a goer, or in that miniscule hard-to-unzip pouch on my day-pack waistband. Lipsalve turns to mush if in too warm a pocket but needs to be easy to apply with minimal time-wasting.

The other bit of kit that always goes missing, whether kept in pocket or pack, is the goggle-bag/cleaner. I’ve never had one that isn’t black, but wouldn’t a fluorescent option be more practical?

Perhaps these items, plus suncream, could live in a slimline bum-bag, under transceiver, pack waistband and harness of course, but that would make them somewhat inaccessible…

We all have our ways of sorting out these bits and pieces: look at the skimo racers with their second pair of skins tucked down their fronts (page 52) or our friend the telemark speed rider Maxence Cavalade who barrels round at 120kph with a Canon 5D strapped to his leg (page 80). What are your tricks for the uphill and down? Tell us through the usual channels (Facebook, Twitter, skeeks@fall-line.co.uk).