What’s in my bag? Packing for an AMGA Ski Guide Course

Instructor Jeff Ward’s passion for skiing is contagious. Photo by KT Miller.

Preparation for a ski guide course is a multi-faceted process.  From fine-tuning your fitness to prepping complex tour plans, it is important to show up prepared for these courses.  Correct equipment selection is a vital part of preparation process as proper gear selection can help a student succeed in a challenging course by providing them with the necessary tools to complete the task.

My ski guide pack is similar to a carpenter’s tool belt.  Everything has its place on the tool belt.  Likewise, I always keep my pack organized.   Most tools can be used for multiple things and often certain gear and tools can be also used as rescue equipment.  For example, 25 inch voile ski straps can double as a repair for broken bindings and are utilized in my rescue sled.  Similar to a carpenter’s tool belt, weight is an important consideration.  It’s important to have the right tool for the job – but you can’t bring the kitchen sink.  An additional three or four pounds in my pack will make a big difference over a long season at work.

Ski guiding is similar to rock guiding in terms of gear selection.   You wouldn’t show up to a rock guide course in Red Rocks with 1 pair of rock shoes.  You would have a pair for sport climbing, trad climbing, and long multi-pitch routes.  Likewise, it is important to show up for a ski guide course with different types of skis and boots for the given objection.  Ideally, you would want a ski set up for off-piste guiding days close to the ski resort along with a set up for ski touring and ski mountaineering guiding days.

Below is a list of equipment I normally bring to a Ski Guide Course.  (Of course I’m not using all of it on the same day).


Photo by Jonathan Spitzer

Ski Gear

  • DPS Wailer 106 Tour 1 skis (185 cm)
  • DPRS Wailer 112 Tour 1 skis (184 cm)
  • Dynafit TLT Superlite 2.0 Bindings with Breaks
  • Black Diamond Razor Carbon Ski Poles
  • Dynafit TLT 7 Performance Ski Boots
  • Dynafit Speed Skins
  • Dynafit Ski Crampons (size 110)
  • Ortovox Ultra Light Shovel with Metal Blade
  • Mammut Barryvox Pulse Avalanche Beacon
  • BCA Snow Saw
  • Ortovox Carbon Fiber 240 Probe
  • Repair Kit – duct tape, extra batteries, ski binding tool, extra basket, file, hose clamps, bailing wire, skin repair items
  • Snow Study Kit – thermometer, short ruler, metal snow grain card, mini loop, rutschblock cord


  • Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32
  • Black Diamond Halo 28 Jet Force
  • Black Diamond Cirque 45

Rescue Gear

  • Petzl e+Lite Headlamp
  • Brooks Range Drag Bag/Rescue Sled – custom build to also work as a bivy tarp
  • Ultralight Inertia X Lite Sleeping Pad
  • First Aid Kit in Waterproof mask with NuMask for CPR
  • 4 Ski Straps
  • Yaesu VHF Radio
  • Delorme InReach Device
  • AIARE Field Book
  • Head and Hand Gear
  • Giro Ski Helmet (with MIPS technology)
  • Oakley Ski Goggles with two different colored lenses
  • Buff
  • Julbo Dirt 2.0 Sunglasses
  • OR Loadstar Gloves
  • Black Diamond Rambler Gloves
  • Black Diamond Ultralight Mitt

Technical Equipment

  • Black Diamond Couloir Harness
  • Petzl RAD rope or 20 meter half rope
  • Camp Corsa Nanotech ice axe
  • Camp XLC Nanotech crampon
  • Cordalette
  • Triple Length Spectra Sling
  • Prusiks
  • 3 Locking carabiners
  • 5 non-locking carabiners
  • Belay Device


  • OR Soft Shell Pant
  • OR Vest
  • OR Hardshell
  • Arc’teryx Puffy Jacket
  • Arc’teryx Soft Shell
  • Patagonia Ski Socks

Miscellaneous Items

  • Yeti Thermos


Jonathan Spitzer – American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide and AMGA Instructor Team Member

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