Ski Touring During The Age Of COVID

Ski touring during the COVID-19 pandemic is not only possible, but can be a great way to get out and enjoy yourself. We all just need to put in a little more thought and preparation. We called on a few friends and experts to help understand how to explore the backcountry safely, even in the midst of the Coronavirus.

Carolyn Kelly-Smith (Emergency Physician) and Brian Jones (ACMG/IMFGA Mountain Guide) join G3 President, Oliver Steffen, to talk about how COVID-19 has changed how we approach the backcountry.

Here are a few basic guidelines if you're headed out for a day tour:

  • Choose to ski with people who are free of Coronavirus symptoms
  • Select more conservative objectives so you don't overwhelm the search and rescue and healthcare systems
  • Bring an extra "COVID first aid" kit with you in your pack consisting of an extra mask, hand sanitizer, and gloves in case you need to administer first aid
  • Consider driving yourself rather than carpooling; if carpooling is necessary, always wear a mask and use hand sanitizer
  • Keep your distance from other groups in the backcountry, and wear masks when you are close to others (even those in your own group)
  • It's important to note that neck gaiters are not adequate protection as a COVID mask with only 1 layer of fabric that can let droplets through (they are designed to be breathable) - multi-layer cloth or medical masks are the standard to protect against the spread of COVID

Planning on a hut trip this season? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get yourself and everything ready:

  • You will be exposed to your group members while on the trip, so make sure everyone monitors their health before the trip
  • If a group member is sick leading up to the trip, it's important that they are willing to drop out and stay home
  • Trip insurance may be a great option this year
  • Certain individuals and/or groups may also want to get tested for COVID before the trip
  • Make good decisions while traveling and wear masks when necessary
  • If possible, consider carrying your own tent for sleeping
  • Keep in touch after your trip in case anyone gets sick so you can do adequate contact tracing
  • It may be a good idea to quarantine upon returning home from your trip