The first plan for a successful ski tour is creating a detailed plan. It is important that you have a clear idea what you want to do. This will help you not be forced to improvise unnecessarily. Spontaneous changes in a tour could put you and your group at unnecessary risk. Heed the following points in prep:
Weather conditions: Our guide Javi always takes a look at the forecast before every tour. That allows him to get an idea of where and in which areas good conditions will be found, but also in which areas there is more protection in case bad weather moves in. The four most important indicators for this are: Visibility, wind, storms, and the temperatures. The latter is an especially key factor for judging the risk of avalanches. Javi always checks different weather forecasts to balance and judge the predictions to better judge the conditions.
Avalanche risk: The risk of avalanche cannot be underestimated in the open backcountry. So be sure to check out the reports of avalanche risk before every ski tour. These can be found most easily online at each avalanche warning systems.
Route planning: Only when you have found a suitable area with good conditions based on the weather and avalanche forecasts are you ready to start planning your tour. Choose a tour that is appropriate for your ability and that of your companions. Consider not only the ascent but also the descent. Be sure to download maps and GPS tracks so they are available offline.
Javi’s tip: Always get a look at the route on a topographic map to check the altitude and exposure. Ensure your route does not travel through any protected areas.
Determining timing: Plan sufficient time for your tour and in doing so consider the following factors: Performance ability of the weakest member of the group, elevation that needs to be surmounted, kilometers to be covered, expected trail-breaking or routes that go up and down. For technically difficult sections, you will need more time that on easy terrain. In addition, it is necessary to plan in time for breaks and a little extra time for unexpected delays.
Emergency planning: Before the start of the tour, consider how you will respond to unforeseen situations. Always have a plan B, C and D, in case your originally planned tour is not possible. Javi always shares his plans and his alternatives with friends or family, so they know where he is and when he expects to return.