What Andrew McLean, Ski Mountaineer, Brings

McLean, 47, is one of the world's most accomplished backcountry skiers, with first descents on every continent—and more than 100 total. This spring, he's off to Greenland for a few more. Here's what he's packing.

Oct 22, 2008
Outside Magazine
Andrew McLean

Andrew McLean skiing the steeps in Iceland    Photo: photo by Matt Turley

1. A trash-compactor bag is good for emergencies and on expeditions. It can be used as a poncho, a shelter, or a place to stash a sleeping bag to keep it dry. If you get a black one, you can fill it with snow and tie the top off, and later that day the snow will be melted.

2. Digging someone out of an avalanche with a flimsy shovel was a huge eye-opener. I use a G3 Avitech [$74; genuineguidegear.com]. It has a good-size metal blade, high sides, and a flat back for making good snow pits. The shaft is machined, not all jangly and loose, and its handle is D-shaped, for more power or to clip to your pack.

3. On occasion, I'll take cheeseburgers on day trips. They kind of hit the spot. They travel really well and are totally indestructible. You're out there and everyone's macking down on granola and sprouts and stuff, and you pull out your Big Mac. People are like "That's disgusting. Let me try some."

4. I bring two-way radios on expeditions or on photo shoots. If you're going fast, you get separated, and it's good to use them just for communicating. Because they tend to get lost, I kind of like the cheapos, like the Motorola SX600R [$40; motorola.com].

5. I did a beacon review for Skiing Magazine, and the Pieps DSP avalanche transceiver [$450; libertymountain.com] was way ahead of everything else. It does a good job on multiple burials; you can lock in on one signal. It has the best range—nearly 70 meters—and it's intuitive and fast.