TMG: Backcountry Survival Checklist

Jun 4, 2010
Outside Magazine

Erik Leidecker, a member of the First Ascent ski guide team, IFMGA mountain guide, and owner of Sawtooth Mountain Guides, was one of the guest speakers at the Teva Mountain Games this weekend in Vail, Colorado. He spoke on Friday afternoon to offer tips on backcountry and mountain preparedness. (He happened to fill in for Peter Whittaker, who couldn't make it because he was down with the stomach flu.)

You should always be prepared before you go into the mountains, even if it's just for a day hike, Leidecker said. Deciding to simply stroll into the backcountry when the inspiration strikes won't cut it. Preparedness doesn't have to be difficult to wrap your head around. Here's a checklist that Leidecker recommends:

1. Take a wilderness first aid class: You can take a 16-hour course one weekend if you want to keep it short. You can also take a wilderness first responder class to add to your knowledge base.

2. Check the weather forecast and trail conditions: You can check the weather online and use Google Earth or National Geographic topo maps to do some recon.

3. Tell someone where you're going: You should alert someone to the fact that you're going on a hike and let them know when and where, just in case something happens.

4. Pack essentials: Leidecker recommends bringing the following items in your pack--lip balm, sunscreen, a multitool, navigation tools (compass, map, altimeter, GPS), food (carry it for energy and bring a little more than you think you'll need), water (keep in mind, every liter equals two lbs), filters and purifiers, clothing layers (base layer, soft shell, rain shell, hat, light gloves), lighting (headlamp, batteries, lighter, duct tape--a good fire starter--matches), first-aid kit (blood stoppers, band aids, gauze, aspirin, splints, iodine), tarp or space blanket, and emergency devices (cell, sat phone, SPOT, VHF radio).

--Aileen Torres

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