Solo Ski Touring
I have been thinking a lot lately about ski touring solo. Before some of you blow a gasket on how “stupid” and “dangerous” touring solo can be, take a moment. (Many people oblivious to backcountry travel, or travelling at all for that matter, would say the same thing about going anywhere at all).
The backcountry is inherently dangerous, but we manage risk by identifying, assessing and prioritizing risks accordingly. And everyone has his or her own risk tolerance or comfort level. I ride a motorcycle in the summer and often wonder how it is even legal because of how dangerous and high consequence it may be. I have a higher risk tolerance then some, but am not blind to the consequences that may result from my decisions and still mitigate risk the best I can. Regardless if I am out in the backcountry alone, with a friend or a group, there is no way to completely eliminate risk. This is part of the adventure… the risk versus reward. For me, solo touring is a time for contemplation, spiritual growth and self-examination. It is a chance to connect with nature in ways not possible in the presence of a crowd.
Ski touring with a group can present dangers beyond going alone; pack mentality, showboating, etc. But even the slightest problem solo could spell disaster; a twisted knee or broken equipment, for example. So ensure you have a backup plan, tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go – T.S. Eliot