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Both Sides of the Rope

Both Sides of the Rope

Features
posted: 03/20/2003

With more ski resorts opening gates into their backcountry, accessing untracked powder and solitary slopes is easier than ever. But just because you're skiing next to the resort doesn't mean the slopes have been controlled for avalanches. That means it's important to ski with experienced backcountry skiers and carry the right equipment. It could save your life. Here's a look at gear that won't cramp your style inbounds and is essential off-piste.BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS Stash Pack, $110 Designed for both inbounds and lift-accessed backcountry skiing, the Stash Pack is lightweight and chairlift-friendly. An inside pocket secures a probe and a shovel, leaving enough room for food and an extra clothing layer-even when the 70-ounce bladder is full. Its neoprene-covered hose and bite valve stash inside an insulated shoulder strap to prevent freezing. 800-670-8735; bcaccess.comBACKCOUNTRY ACCESS Tracker, $300 The Tracker is arguably the easiest-to-use avalanche beacon on the market. A digital display shows the distance and direction of another beacon's signal, analog beeps change in pitch according to distance, and the Tracker's dual receiving antennas shorten search times. 800-670-8735; bcaccess.comG3 240Tech Probe, $87 The 240Tech Probe assembles easily-useful for measuring snow, crucial in a rescue. It reaches 240 centimeters deep and breaks down into 40-centimeter segments for easy storage. The kicker? It's lightweight-9.2 ounces-and durable. 866-924-9048; genuineguidegear.comVOILÉ Mini Shovel, $40 Shovels are invaluable for digging snowpits and rescuing avalanche victims, and handy for digging out a seat for lunch. The Voilé Mini is compact, breaking down into two pieces to fit in a pack. Both the telescoping handle and the blade are high-grade aluminum, which makes the shovel strong yet light. 800-670-8622; voile-usa.comLIFE-LINK Variant Carbon Fiber Poles, $140 Backcountry rule No. 1: Earn your turns. Life-Link's Variant poles make the job a bit easier. If you want to extend the pole for climbing, adjust the length by twisting the upper shaft; then shorten it for the descent. Remove the powder baskets, and the light and durable Variant doubles as an avalanche probe. 800-443-8620; life-link.comLIFE-LINK Variant Carbon Fiber Poles, $140 Backcountry rule No. 1: Earn your turns. Life-Link's Variant poles make the job a bit easier. If you want to extend the pole for climbing, adjust the length by twisting the upper shaft; then shorten it for the descent. Remove the powder baskets, and the light and durable Variant doubles as an avalanche probe. 800-443-8620; life-link.comFRITSCHI Freeride Binding, $250 The Fritschi Freeride blends the mobility of a free-heel telemark binding with the security and durability of an alpine binding. The Freeride allows you to unlock your heel for climbing or traversing and secure it for descending. Mount the Freeride on almost any ski and use with your alpine boots for lift-accessed backcountry use. With a DIN setting up to 12, it's also sturdy enough for fast, aggressive inbounds skiing. 801-278-5533; blackdiamondequipment.com

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