Tips from Pro Skiers

Four ski pros share advice for looking good--and staying safe--in the backcountry.

Prep Your Gear | Select a Safe Route

Ski Strong and Smart | Maintain and Repair Your Ski Gear

Tips from Pro Skiers


Big-mountain guide Henderson has honed a no-fail tool kit for on-the- snow repairs. With it, he’s been able to MacGyver almost anything. “I once splinted a broken ski with a six-inch length of pole,” he says. “The kid was able to ski out.”

>> Henderson’s tool kit: Three long rubber ski straps, one three-foot piece of bailing wire, a spare binding toepiece, at least 50 yards of duct tape stored in a zip-top bag, and a multitool like Dakine’s Torque ($10;


“Figure out your pace so you’re not sweating,” says Hill. “That will kill you.” Hill set a record by skinning up (and skiing down) more than 2 million vertical feet in 2010. Heed his moisture-management tips:

>> Stay consistent. Hold a sustainable effort, but snack often and break for at least 10 minutes every hour. Strong skiers may climb 1,000 feet per hour and ski up to 2.5 mph across flats.

>> Swap layers. Add warmth when resting and shed layers to climb.


The 17-year Squaw Valley ski patroller and avy forecaster suggests three back- country safety tips:

>> Communicate. Each group mem- ber will notice—and call attention to— different risks.

>> Make small groups. Cap crews at five, and split big groups according to skill level and goals.

>> Be flexible. Have several alternate route plans to avoid taking single- minded risks.


“Plan like a guide,” says Schonwald, a professional ski mountaineering guide. He offers these tips for successful trip prep:

>> Pick a zone. Map several tours in one area and revisit that terrain all season. You’ll develop routes you can ski in almost all snow conditions.

>> Build in a buffer. Tack two hours onto your plan so you won’t need your headlamp if something goes wrong.