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Ask the Master: Five Essentials You Should Always Carry in the Mountains

What are the five essentials you should always carry in the mountains?

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What are the five essentials you should always carry in the mountains? —HC

Martin Volken, owner of Pro Guiding Service and Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, WA, is a certified IFMGA Swiss Mountain Guide and guides in North America and Europe. He has been a member of the AMGA examiner team since 2000.
Martin Volken, owner of Pro Guiding Service and Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, WA, is a certified IFMGA Swiss Mountain Guide and guides in North America and Europe. He has been a member of the AMGA examiner team since 2000.

As a mountain guide, my goals are to keep my clients and
myself safe, accomplish the objective and keep everyone reasonably comfortable, so I always pack:

1. Appropriate navigation tools. This could be a map, compass, altimeter, a dedicated GPS and or a downloaded map on your smartphone (take
good care of your battery life there!).

2. Communication tools, such as a cell phone, sat phone, Spot locater device or VHF radio.

3. A high quality first-aid kit.

4. A little more fuel than you think for overnight trips.

5. The above items are for incident prevention and emergency preparedness. From here, what you pack depends on the objective, so it is
hard for me to be too specific. I did develop a packing system that is bundled in threesomes. It is called the “threesome packing helper,” and is meant
to help you not forget anything.

  Maps, compass, altimeter

  Shovel, probe, transceiver

  Skins, ski crampons, repair kit

  Food, drink, extra layer

  Bivy bag, first aid, cell phone

  Under layer, mid layer, outer layer

  Hat, gloves, goggles

  Sunglasses, sunscreen, sun hat

  Harness, Ice axe, crampons

  Rope, Ice screws, rescue-gear kit

—Martin Volken


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