Outside magazine, Travel Guide 1997-1998
Everyone heading into the back of beyond should remember T.I.P.S.: Transceiver, Instruction, Probe, and Shovel. Snow Sense ($8.95), an instruction book from the Alaska Mountain Safety Center, is a great primer on avalanche awareness.
A 457-kilohertz transceiver, such as the Ortovox F1 Focus ($250), should be carried by each member of the party. A telescoping probe like the Life-Link Sectional Avalanche Probe ($76) or the Variant Pole/Probe ($80) can shave precious minutes off the search for a buried avalanche victim (the telescoping probe extends to ten feet, one inch; the pole/probe to 6 feet, 11 inches). Finally, a strong, lightweight shovel — such as the Life-Link IIIDX ($45) with its Lexan blade — moves snow more efficiently than digging with your hands.
Lugging your board while post-holing through deep snow can take the fun out of deep-powder days. To get where you're going, don a pair of snowshoes such as the Atlas Summit 22 ($279) or Tubbs Altitude Sierra ($233). For a really plush ride, check out the K2 Traverse ($219), with its Clicker step-in snowshoe binding.
Choose a long, big-nosed snowboard for flotation through deep backcountry powder. The K2 Eldorado ($400) is a directional backcountry powder board that handles a variety of snow conditions. The Voile Split Decision ($625) transforms from directional snowboard into touring skis for those extra-long approaches. On your next backcountry heli trip, take along the Nitro Powder Gun 195 ($492). Keep it in the steep and deep and its swallowtail design provides a Cadillac-like ride.
Get a snowboard-specific backpack to schlep your gear. Day trippers should consider the 575-cubic-inch Heli Pack ($64) from Da Kine; this close-fitting pack carries just the essentials. The 2,300-cubic-inch K2 Pilchuck ($79) is great for long day hikes, while the 2,700-cubic-inch K2 Interglacier ($119) works for quick overnighters. A lightweight, no-frills way to carry a snowboard is with the Snowboard Carrier from Grab This: Aggressive Gear ($28-$34), a webbed harness system that fits on your shoulders like a backpack; stuff it in your pocket when it's not needed.