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Andy Cole, IFMGA guide

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August 2022 Issue

Andy Cole is chief guide at Aspiring Guides. He’s also a member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association and president of the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association. 

“‘What’s in my pack’ depends on the job or activity, but I love ski touring, so I’ll show what I take on a day trip with friends and whānau rather than guests.”

Pack 

The 45l Black Diamond Outlaw has lasted around 500 days of touring work with only a few buckle replacements. 

Headgear

A merino Mons Royale beanie with a Buff to hold it down. For the uphill, a well-vented baseball cap, but I don’t get too precious because it’s bound to blow off at some stage. Julbo non-polarised sunglasses allow viewing of device screens – especially my avalanche beacon screen. Sunglasses are essential because goggles will fog. Wrap-around styles are best and protect your face on downhills. 

I take goggles only for unexpected wind or low visibility. 

Gloves 

To start it’s leather ski gloves, but I also take Black Diamond Three Finger gloves to warm my hands up. They’re excellent but mostly too warm for New Zealand conditions. I’ll be trialling Hestra Heliski Guide gloves this season. I have given up on wind-stopper fleece gloves; they just don’t last. 

Clothing

A synthetic insulated jacket one size larger is a must for keeping warm when stopped. The double vents on each leg of my Flylow Chemical ski pants control the temps whilst climbing. I also use Mons Royale thermals and ski socks, an Outdoor Research Halogen Hoody and a The North Face Future Lite jacket.

Hydration 

It’s a small thermos for coffee and one or two 500ml Nalgene bottles with warm water. Foam covers, from the $2 shop, retain heat and prevent bottles sliding down the hill. (A good hack is to use the Nalgene bottles to preheat boots in the car, then putting spare gloves over the warm bottle inside your pack so they’re warm when needed.)

Avalanche kit

Barryvox S avalanche beacon, Black Diamond avalanche probe, a snow shovel and snow saw.

Ski gear

Ninety-five per cent of ski touring time is spent going uphill so I like pin binding with light flat tail skis, at least 100mm underfoot. I use Black Crows Navis Freebird skis with Fritchi Techton bindings and Black Crows Skins. Ski crampons also if conditions are firm.  I use Black Crows poles with straps removed and an MSR dish brush/scraper for removing ice or glue from skis. 

Emergency kit

Basic first aid kit and a Sam splint. A PLB, iPhone, charging cables and battery pack. RAB four-person bothy bag for emergency shelter. Repair kit including Black Diamond binding buddy, needle nose pliers and various screws and straps. It’s been a life-saving combination on multiple occasions.

Leatherman C33X pocket knife with a half serrated edge can be opened and closed one-handed with gloves on. 

A Petzl Actik headlamp and sometimes a Petzl Ride ice axe for problem-solving rather than climbing.