The Austrian, Otztal ski tour is one of the most enjoyable ski tours out there and a fantastic choice if it’s your first ‘hut to hut’ ski tour experience.
As you’re skiing at the end of winter / the beginning of spring you’re likely to encounter all seasons. You may find yourself in a t-shirt as you skin up your next objective but at reaching the summit you’ll need in every layer possible as the conditions would have changed. The secret to a trip like this is layers, and lots of them.
KEY CLOTHING ITEMS
2 BASE LAYER TOPS
You’ll wear this everyday as your first layer so it’s worth bringing a minimum of two so you always have a dry one to wear. We recommend moisture wicking material as you will work up a sweat on the uphills but you want that moisture to disappear so it doesn’t freeze when you stop at the top. Something Like: The ‘Ove’ or ‘Mar’ by Jottnar but ideally long-sleeve.
1 INSULATED MID LAYER
There are a few options here depending on your preferences but this needs to be either a warm fleece or a thicker base layer item. This is one of your key insulating layers so something comfortable and technical is recommended. Something like: The ‘Erling’ or ‘Heimdall’ from Jottnar.
1 SYNTHETIC DOWN JACKET
A synthetic down jacket comes in handy when an extra layer of warmth is required, which ca also be removed easily when too warm. You will also use it for wearing in the evenings at the huts or popping outside for a view of the night sky. Synthetic down is more breathable than feather down jackets. This jacket will likely sit in your bag for the ascents, but be pulled on at the top and perhaps also worn for the ski down if you’re in the shade. Something like: The ‘Asger’ or ‘Floyen’ jackets from Jottnar are ideal.
1 HARDSHELL WATERPROOF JACKET
A hardshell jacket of Gore-Tex, or similar standard, is one of your key pieces of kit. Make sure it’s big enough to wear over multiple layers and that it comes with a hood. You’ll use this if the weather becomes a little wild and you need protection from wind and snow. Something like: The ‘Hodr’, ‘Grim’ or ‘Odin’ Jottnar hardshell jacket.
1 LIGHTWEIGHT, DURABLE SKI TOURING PANT
You will spend all week in these ski pants so make sure they have zips on the side of each leg, to ventilate on the ascents. They must be Hardshell of Gore-Tex or similar standard, to keep you dry and protected in all conditions. Something Like: The ‘Magan’ or ‘Vanir’ from Jottnar works well.
1 BASE LAYER LEGGINGS
Make sure you’ve got some three quarter length or full leg, lightweight leggings to keep you warm and toasty if the forecast is particularly chilly. These are also useful to wear in the huts.
3 HATS / FACE COVERINGS
1 sun cap, 1 warm hat that covers your ears and 1 buff. The idea should be that if needed, you can cover every part of of your face in bad weather.
You’ll need Cat. 4 glacier sunglasses with wrap around protection to stop the sunlight reflection off the snow. You’ll also need ski goggles that can be thrown on if it’s windy and for some of the descents.
You will need a thin, yet durable, soft-shell glove for most of the ascents and a thick warm glove that are ideally Gore-Tex for descents and when it’s cold. Avoid mittens as these are often a little bulky and clumsy.
We recommend between 35-45 litres pack but it all depends on how you like to pack and what you like to bring. It should be large enough to carry all your equipment from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn but lightweight so you’re keeping weight down. The backpack must have an ice axe loop, so look for something specific to mountaineering / ski mountaineering. Something like: The Osprey Mutant 38 Litre
TOURING SKIS AND BINDINGS (CAN BE RENTED)
Ski touring skis must be lightweight. The width of the ski should be somewhere between 80 – 105mm. You need to have ski touring specific bindings fitted to the ski. If you’re bringing your own set up, make sure you have had it professionally fitted and you have experience using the skis and bindings. Something Like: Faction Agent 2.0 or Black Crows Orb skis and Plum Pika bindings.
SKI TOURING SKINS AND SKI CRAMPONS (CAN BE RENTED)
The skins stick on the bottom of your skis and help you glide uphill, whilst the ski crampons clip into your bindings and help provide stability on steep ski touring terrain. We recommend something like: Black Diamond Glidelite Climbing Skins. The ski crampons will be sold or rented as part of the ski touring binding. Do not mix brands as they might not fit.
ADJUSTABLE SKI POLES (CAN BE RENTED)
Ski poles where you can adjust the length are useful on the ascents where you may want a longer pole before shortening for the descent. They are also useful to pack away during travel. Something Like: Black Diamond Expedition 2 Ski Poles
SKI BOOTS (CAN BE RENTED)
Lightweight is essential as you don’t want to be lugging a heavy pair or boots up each climb. Walk mode is an essential function, as well as pin binding compatibility. The modern ski touring boots come with strong enough flex to make the ski descents easy and enjoyable. Something Like: Scarpa F1
AVALANCHE KIT (CAN BE RENTED)
Transceiver, shovel (not plastic) and probe. You can buy all three in a kit, or rent locally. Something Like: Black Diamond Recon Avy Set
ICE AXE (CAN BE RENTED)
Lightweight ski touring ice axe. Something Like: Black Diamond Raven Ultra
BOOT CRAMPONS (CAN BE RENTED)
Semi-automatic 10 or 12 point crampons. Something like Black Diamond Neve Crampons
HARNESS (CAN BE RENTED)
This should be lightweight, comfortable with fully adjustable leg loops and large enough to fit over all clothing. Something Like: The Black Diamond ‘Couloir’ harness is great.