STEP 1: PACK HEAVY TO LIGHT
Load heavier items (fuel, stove) at the bottom of your pack and lighten the load as you near the top. The more weight you have against your lower back, the more centered you'll feel on your skis.
STEP 2: GET A GOOD FIT
Make sure your pack is adjusted to your body, compressed as snugly as possible against your back without compromising your mobility. If the pack sways, it will throw you off balance. On climbs, I'll adjust my pack to sit on my hips, and then readjust on descents so I carry more load on my shoulders. That way, my hips can move through turns.
STEP 3: KNOW THE SNOW
Spring snow can come in fluffy, and then grow heavy as temperatures warm. The key to skiing dense, variable snow with a heavy pack is to stay low while keeping your upper body pointed down the fall line. Widen your stance for stability.
STEP 4: KNOW THE JACKSON HOLE ROLL
It's no fun to take a digger with a huge load on your back. If you're falling forward, save yourself some agony and commit to the fall. Try to tumble downhill onto your pack, kicking your legs overhead and rolling up onto your feet, if possible. (We call this maneuver the Jackson Hole Roll.)
Heavy pack + variable conditions = survival turns. Click here for last month's Get Schooled if you need a refresher.
Ski with a Big Pack