A Common Sense Checklist for the Backcountry

By Chad in Newport

The leaves have come off, the wood is stacked, and sound of rifle fire is ringing through the valley. It means one thing, it will soon be time ski; the best time of year to travel through the woods. Your free to glide wherever you deem negotiable. Inevitably, weʼll be reading about the wrong turns and questionable choices made that led to latest rescue. In an effort to curb the potential headlines, we have come up with a preseason checklist of questions to ask yourself before heading into the backcountry.

Now look, weʼre not professionals. We havenʼt attended any type of certification program or get recognized by any formal emergency service. In fact, the only skill we have for sure is the ability to ski doubled over for hours waiting for our 3-year-old to actually develop some type of postural control. These questions are an appeal for something it seems is in short supply: a dose of common sense.

1. If you needed directions to even get to the mountain, is it a good idea to ski in the exact opposite direction of the only building you can see for miles?

2. Youʼve been using a trail map all day to get around the mountain, why wouldnʼt you use one where there are no trails?

3. If you wouldnʼt follow a random person into a deserted building, why would you follow someone’s tracks?

4. If its 3 degrees at noon, it will be -30 at midnight. Do you know how cold -30 really is?

5. Is the flashlight app on your phone going to be enough to navigate by when the sun goes down? Will the battery even last in the cold? (Do they have fire starter apps now?)

6. If have never spent a night alone in the woods, why wait until the dead of winter to try?

7. If you wouldnʼt make a tee time an hour before sunset, why would you plan an extended adventure at the same time?

8. If the guy at the bar told you it takes two hours, you should plan on four. Do you still want to go? Please refer to Number 7 immediately upon a decision.

9. Is it such a secret where your going that you canʼt notify anyone where you are heading?

10. You have the equipment to go down a mountain, but do you have the  equipment to get up a mountain?

We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable winter season. There is nothing more exciting than the exploration into the woods of New England in winter with skis or snowboard. Just be smart.

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