How To Plan a day out in the Backcountry - Basics

Plan well, ride longer...

Properly planning and preparing for a tour minimises the risks you have going on a mountain and can prevent unpleasant situations and their possible outcomes.

This Blog is a Basic guideline of what you have to consider whilst sitting at home preparing for a tour happening in the next days.


We believe that careful planing, good preparation, knowledge about alpine risk, possible dangers and listening to your gut-feeling, can prevent a worst case scenario! Nevertheless owning the appropriate avalanche equipment and the knowledge how to use it in an emergency is essential for touring and freeriding. 

Touring and freeriding is on the uprise for a good reason but so should be the awareness of how to move  around and act in the mountains. 

Needed Tools for ''Pre Planning''

  • Checking the area and spots with best snow conditions
  • Avalanche Report from the area
  • Weather report
  • Topographic map/App from the Area
  • Additional planing tools
  • The Group
  • The needed Material

Area Check

Basically the area check is done by searching on the Internet where the best snow conditions and snowiest regions are located.  Key points to look at are; the snow layer, the amount of new snow, temperatures, wind directions and the weather forecast. These informations give you a rough idea where wind drifted snow might occur.

Avalanche Report

The avalanche report should be the first Tool when starting to plan a tour. It gives you information about the current Avalanche situation on the European scale from 1-5. It also provides you with informations about snow layers and potential weak layers,  how the weather influences the situation, which kind of avalanches can occur at certain heights and on which slope exposures you need to be especially careful. How easy an avalanche can be set off is also mentioned in the report. 

weather report

Weather can change very fast in the mountains therefore checking the weather forecast is very important for planning. Usually they are trustworthy, as modern computers and software used in combination with satellites produce huge amounts of data and information to forecast the weather for the next days!  Taking note of the weather change during the day and sun exposed slopes is relevant during the winter but especially important for spring conditions! 

Valley and Mountain temperature can help you pick the appropriate clothing and show how snow conditions might be changing from top to bottom.

Sun exposure and temperature are also relevant for time management.

Topographic map and app

Topographic maps online can often be handy but, when available, nothing beats an actual map. Important details to figure out on a map: Steepness of the slope for ascend and descent, how many vertical meters and kilometres? Which route to pick for the ascend and which angle the steepest part is in? Are there any surrounding hazards, for instance chances of an avalanches from higher above? How much time is necesary for the hike up, including short breaks? Where is the planned ride down and the steepest part in it? Are there any obvious and distinctive points for orientation on the way down? Where are safe meeting points to gather the group? How much time is needed for the entire tour? Where will the tour start and where will it finish?


All these points are extremely crucial to consider and clearly discuss in the group!! 

additional Planing tools

After the tour is chosen on a map,  it is time for additional planning tools like:

  • Stop or Go 
  • DAV Card
  • 3x3 reduction method (the best one but it takes practice and experience to use)

If those tools and the avalanche report give you a green light for the tour, then the next step is the group check. If avalanche report and any tool gives you red light, you might want to consider picking a different tour that day. 

The group check

Usually people who tour with each other know each other.  Riding skills and fitness of one another are therefore transparent. This is a benefit for the tour's time management. On the other hand, if group members are not familiar with each other, exact communication is required in advance about riding levels and hiking speed. 

Make sure the planned tour is altered to the fitness and riding skills of the weakest group member! Check if everyones equipment is in good condition and complete. 

Plan enough time! Note: often more breaks are necessary an extra time needed for unexpected situations. 

Material check

The Material check includes the equipment in the backpack, the equipment for riding/touring. The packing list varies depending on the mission you have planned.


Avalanche Rescue equipment: The bare minimum equipment one should carry on a Freeride day is a; Transceiver (Beacon) with 3 antennas, probe and shovel, first aid kit and a mobile phone. 


For touring you'll need to add following items : 

  • Avalanche Rescue Equipment
  • First aid Kit including Israeli Bandage
  • Map/GPS/App - (offline modus recommended in case there is no reception)
  • Biwak bag
  • Thermal Flask with warm drink
  • Camelbak
  • Snack for the way up
  • Snack for the top
  • Spare shirt or long sleeve (merino is advisable) 
  • Thin and thick gloves
  • Tool

For the Touring gear you need:

  • Splitboard
  • Skins
  • Touring Poles
  • Crampons

Remember that a Transceiver (Beacon) with 3 antenna, probe and shovel, first aid kit and a mobile phone should be used for any off-piste backcountry activity! 


You're now ready to tighten the screws on the bindings and the parts mounted on the Board and go. Nothing worse then a loose screw!;)

Ride to life another day...

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