This week the mist has been hanging over Bozel lake in the morning and the Grand Bec is sporting a dusting of snow up top which means only one thing - winter is on its way!
With this in mind here are my top 5 bits of kit for the coming winter:
1 Whitedot Skis Ranger Carbonlite
Super-light, wide enough for great float in all snow conditions, but stiff enough to maintain great grip when the going gets firm, these skis became my go-to weapon of choice last winter. Stable at speed yet surprisingly manoeuvrable at slow speeds and in tight spots, the torsional stiffness also made them very comfortable on the uphill, particularly skinning on refrozen spring snow when often a wider ski can feel like it is about to break out sideways on every step.
2 Dynafit Mercury boots
The touring boot market has really come on leaps and bounds since my first pair of touring boots (red Denalis... fortunately I missed out on the TR9s and other delights!) and Dynafit really hit the spot with the Mercury - beefy enough to drive big skis hard, but with great ankle freedom in walk mode and all at just 1.7Kg per foot. The 3rd buckle (the missing link on the TLT5) gives for great holding power, keeping the heel locked in the pocket, and the simplicity of the walk/ski lock mechanism is great, particularly on wild & windy changeovers when you want to minimise faffing!
3 Silva Expedition 4 compass
No batteries to run out when you most need them, a compass (and map) is your best friend if you do get caught out in poor visibility. Of course it helps if you know how to use it properly, but then, you did learn how to navigate using a map and compass before buying that GPS, didn't you? And no, a smartphone is no substitute for a dedicated navigation device...
4 Terra Nova bothy bag
Not the smallest item in my pack but now a regular feature after this incident 2 years ago... Looking after an injured skier in a Norwegian blizzard hammered home the benefits of having a proper, decent-sized shelter. If you need to cover a casualty lying down + one rescuer then a 4 person version is the minimum to get really good coverage without having to move them too much (they will thank you if they have a broken pelvis...).
OK so its not really a piece of 'kit', but here is hoping for some fantastic light fluffy (and relatively stable) snow for this coming winter!
On the subject of kit, I now have a pair of Tech 250 crampons in transit from the USA so will post up a review as soon as they arrive and I can get out to test them out...
***Edit on 16th October***
To add to the above list, all I want for Christmas is an LED lightsuit!: