Changing Season, Changing Gear

changing season, changing gear

By Trevor Husted

Ah yes, the changing of the seasons…which happens, well, every season. To help you embrace new adventure beginnings, we are back with another blog post to help you get geared up for the sunny summer days ahead. It may have been just yesterday (literally) when you were skiing or splitboarding full throttle, sure that ski season would never come to end. When reality sets in, it’s time to focus on switching over to summer climbing/mountaineering season. You are probably in for a bit of gear shuffle. If you heeded the wisdom of some of our previous blog posts GUIDE SKILLS: WHAT’S IN THE KIT, HOW TO: CLEAN & STORE YOUR SUMMER GEAR , your summer gear awaits sparkly clean and finely tuned. For the rest of you, this may not be the case and the process of organizing and switching over may feel like pulling teeth. It doesn’t have to be so difficult, together we can make the process flow smooth and with precision. In an effort to assist, let’s break it on down to get a feel for how to approach this seemingly simple task.

Every efficient organizing process starts with an inventory breakdown, this is the ‘where am I and where am I going mindset.’ Some things may stay, some may go – don’t be too attached (trust us everything is going to be ok). Let’s take a gander at each item and get an idea for how things may change from what you got going on in winter to summertime when the living is easy.


This is typically an easy swap.  In the winter and spring, you most likely had a backcountry skiing specific bag or an avalanche airbag, and these can get stowed away until next winter. It’s time to bring in the big dogs. Most standard backcountry ski bags are usually around 25-45 liters.  A new season means upping the ante with the liters.  Multi-day climbing trips are often the norm.  Plan to roll with a 55 liter or up bag (dependent on days in the field). Also, a mountaineering specific bag is helpful as it likely have a separate area to stow away crampons with hooks, buckles for ice axe(s), as well as a variety of straps on the outside to attach extra gear, and in some cases a removable floating lid (the top part of a backpack) which can be detached and stuck in the main vessel of the pack for better organization and consolidation on summit days.

Repair / Spare Kit 

auto draft

Repair and spare kits may vary just a tad between the two seasons. Winter touring repair kits may include everything from ski straps to skin wax to screws and bailing wire. Splitboarders may even have more stuff in these kits as they are typically dealing with more moving parts. Keep it simple and ditch any of those clunky or heavy items that will not benefit you when mountaineering. Zip-ties are lightweight, duct tape is essential, ski straps are extremely versatile, and a lightweight Leatherman can also do wonders if you are caught in a bind with misbehaving gear.

Winter Kit:
-Small lightweight Leatherman/Multi-tool
-Paracord (1-2 ft)
-Duct Tape
-5-6 Zip-ties (various sizes)
-Bailing wire (about 6-10 inches coiled up)
-Skin Wax (helping with touring skin glide)
-Hose clamps (2-3)
-Small metal pipe section (can be used with hose clamps to repair broken pole)
-Voile Ski straps (4-6)
-Extra pole basket (in case somebody loses one in the field)
-Small ski tool with attachments for star, Philips, flat screws, etc.
-Different sized screws, nuts, washers for skis, splitboards, boots
-Glide on wax (for the downhill when skis/splitboard base gets globbed up)

Summer Kit:
-Small lightweight Leatherman/Multi-tool
-Paracord (1-2 ft)
-Duct Tape
-5-6 Zip-ties (various sizes)
-Bailing wire (about 6-10 inches coiled up)
-Voile Ski straps (2-3)
-Gear Fabric Tape (for torn down jackets, tents, or sleeping bags)
-Sleeping Pad Repair

First Aid

Accidents tend to be relatively universal within the realms of winter and summer action sports (thank you orthopedic surgeons). While there may be some subtle discrepancies as far as types of injuries goes, first aid kits will predominantly stay the same. Depending on distance from definitive care as well as days in field may have an influence on whether you potentially add some extra items to your trauma/first aid kit. Take the time between season’s to reassess the kit to see if it needs any updates or perhaps it could use a re-up depending on how many items used in the winter months.  Need guidance?  Check out this blog post about first aid kits.

Avalanche Rescue Gear

The great thing about avalanche gear is that it is compatible with summer activities – that is if you are planning on traveling on glaciers or in the snow. In most cases with the change in the seasons means a more stable snowpack and less likelihood of avalanches (this doesn’t mean that avalanches don’t exist in the summer season). The shovel and probe are important items to include in your mountaineering kit. A shovel is multi-faceted and can be used in all types of situations from leveling out a camp site, digging snow anchors, to building a snow kitchen and so fourth. A probe can be a wonderful tool for gauging what is going on under the surface of a glacier, for example if there is some uncertainty in a snow bridge, an avalanche probe can be used to asses the depth and as to whether a crossing is safe or not. Avalanche transceivers are an item that isn’t always necessary in the summer. Use of transceivers will correlate with hazard, on a mountain like Tahoma (Rainier), it is required by the National Park Service for guided groups to carry them. Nonetheless, if you are going to carry a transceiver you should know how to use it properly.


Most other changeover items should be relatively explanatory such tools like ropes, mountaineering gear (i.e. cordelette, sling, carabiners, etc.), helmets that may or may not have been a part of your winter equipment and will be added in or subbed out. This could also include different wardrobe choices (i.e. gloves, jacket, pants, etc.) as well as trading out ski or snowboard boots for double or single (or both) mountaineering boots. Multi-day trips also means including potentially different styles of tents and sleeping bags dependent on if you were doing winter based ski objectives in a cold or more mild environment and what sort of climate you will be welcomed with come summer. All and all the changes are manageable yet one of the best changes of summer is the welcoming of sunny skies and plenty of opportunities for consumption of vitamin D.


  • So you’re thinking about applying to the BIPOC Guide Development Program?

    By Sof Petros (she/they) So you’re thinking about applying to the 2024 Alpine Ascents x Edgeworks BIPOC Guide Development Program? My name is Sof Petros (she/they), I’m a rock climbing guide and instructor based in Snohomish, WA and a graduate of the inaugural 2023 cohort of this BIPOC Guide Development Program. I was truly so […]

  • Top 5 Questions: Mexico Volcanoes

    With our first Mexico Volcanoes trip of the winter season fast approaching, we sat down with guide Hannah McGowan for her words of wisdom when it comes to this iconic climbing trip. Mexico Volcanoes:  Top 5 Questions What’s the food like? Simply put, the food on this expedition is awesome! We eat at a variety […]

  • Reading the Weather: How to Use History, Experience, and Forecasting to your Advantage

    by Elias Zane-Holt Weather! What a dynamic and ethereal thing. As I sat down to share my thoughts with you all, I had two key epiphanies. First, I think we tend to underestimate the impact of weather on our daily lives. Weather is constantly affecting our mood, and swaying our critical choice making each day– […]

Partners & Accreditations

Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
© Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved. Alpine Ascents International