Finally, snow has fallen. The winter landscape is unbelievably beautiful and it is just too tempting to go out for a ski tour. “Mom! Dad! What we gonna do today?” A ski tour, what else? Ski tours with kids are nothing impossible. We have collected for you and your family or friends everything you need to know about ski touring with kids to make the winter adventure just perfect. Questions like what the proper equipment for kids is, how warm they should be dressed, how exhausting the tour should be and anything else that you need to consider when undertaking a ski tour will find an answer. We have answered everything you need to know to make the ski tour maximum fun.
What you need to know about ski tours with kids?
Christian Thiele, the author of the book “101 things a ski tourer needs to know” (available only in German) tells us, what is important, when it comes to ski tours with families. Just because the parents are absolutely addicted to ski tours, kids don’t always think the same. Thiele calls it a “project” to be on a ski tour with the whole family, where the big and small ones can enjoy themselves. Very important is, that the kids should not be forced. Rather the great outdoor adventure as a family, a rewarding cake and lots of fun should be the highlights. The ambition of the adults should not be projected to the small ones. Funny sides of a ski tour through the woods could be to observe the tracks of animals, which tiptoe through the magical winter wonderlands or just to enjoy some snacks out of the lunchbox – due to Walter Zörer, a nationally certified alpine and ski guide, who offers ski tours with kids.
Take a rest
Right on cue to the lunchbox, rests should be on your list. Thiele advises taking more rests than less. Even every 30 minutes a little rest is imaginable. A good idea is to take many short rests, kids recover very fast and too long rests could have the effect, that the small ones become hypothermic.
What needs to be considered in the planning?
How exhausting a ski tour can be, depends – obviously – on the fitness of the children. But not only. Topics like the snow situation and the length of the tour are crucial in the companion of children. To plan the tour in advance you can consider – according to Christian Thiele – approximately 250 to 300 height meters per hour uphill. Steep, icy hillsides under difficult conditions like crusting snow, what also challenges experienced ski tourers, are suggested to be avoided in companion with children. Children have less long legs, shorter skies, and weight less than adults, what makes ski touring really exhausting for them. If the kids are already used to backcountry conditions and are at least 10 years old, a ski tour to a near summit can be considered as well. Waler Zörer recommends, that the tour should not take longer than one and a half hours with around 400 height meters uphill. Please make sure, that every member of the group is equipped with a tracker beacon when heading out for backcountry adventures. Safety first.
Where to go?
To chose the right destination is very important. In the best case, the ski tour is near cable cars or ski runs. Why? Going uphill through the wood and enjoying downhill on the ski run is a very good solution. Here we have listed three ski tours, recommended by Christian Thiele. One is in Tyrol in Austria.
What matters is the right equipment
You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. It is very important that the children really want to go for a ski tour to make the family adventure an enjoyment for everyone. With blisters on the feet, a climbing skin what doesn’t stick to the ski or a heel lifter who is stepping up on its own is a fiasco for everyone, no matter if an adult or a child. Who doesn’t know this dilemma?
For the kids is a light gear with easy handling crucial to make the family ski tour a happy adventure. The less weight the gear of the children have, the easier their way uphill will be. But we are also aware of the fact, that a piece of good equipment goes ahead with costs.
On-piste ski with adapters for on-piste binding
There is the possibility to use the on-piste or all mountain ski of the child with an adapter in the alpine binding to make it an alpine touring binding. This method should be used, if you want to make sure the child is into ski touring or not. Those special inset bindings, called touring adapters, can be installed very fast and easy in the alpine binding. The kids can use their alpine ski boot with the binding adapter. Good advice is if either the boot got a hide and ride technology or the upper buckles shall be left open for a comfortable walking uphill. The binding adapter can easy be unrigged and packed in the backpack after the ski tour is over. Manufacturers like Kohla offer climbing skins what can be cut individually to your desired ski form.
Not only children’s gear is outgrown very fast. Also, the on-piste skis from the previous winter season collect dust pretty quick when they are not used anymore. Especially for kids who are real ski tour beginners the on-piste ski of last year can be modified into a touring ski for this winter. Same game again – a touring adapter can be installed in the old alpine binding. Either an old climbing skin can be used or a self-cut climbing skin can be put on the ski. Christian Thiele suggests a ski length of around 10 centimeters fewer than the length of the on-piste skis. Why? Too long or heavy skis can be a real fun killer for the kids.
The right touring ski with the right touring binding
In case your little ones really love to go for a ski tour and this is more the rule rather than the exception, you should consider that a good gear is worth it. There are a lot of ski models especially for kids. Also, the right binding plays a role. The binding should have a release value from 2 – 7 (Z-Value), what is for very light ski tourers. There is the talk of so-called pin or tech bindings, which have a frameless technology. These bindings require compatible shoes. There are children’s boots, but also small women boots can be used.
The advantage of a frame binding is that the alpine boot can be used. Again, the easiest for kids to walk uphill is with a boot with hike and ride technology.
HOW SHOULD THE SMALL ONES BE DRESSED?
What should the kids wear to avoid freezing or excessive sweating? Ideally, they should wear a quick-drying base layer. The mode during the ski tour is not competition, therefore in most cases, normal ski pants are completely enough. There are, of course, special ski touring pants for kids. During uphill, a fleece or functional pullover is perfect. When it comes to downhill, first of all, the sweaty clothes need to be changed. A common ski jacket is completely fine for skiing downhill. A beanie and sunglasses are a good idea while walking uphill. For downhill, the helmet and a ski google are a must. Kids should not carry heavy stuff. But there are backpacks for children, so they can carry super light things like gloves. Remember: every child wants to do what the adults do.
Recommendations and rules for on-piste ski tours from an expert
All adult should consider the rules when it comes to ski tours. Even more important this is in the companion of children. We have summed up – in cooperation with Dynafit and Patrick Jost, a nationally certified ski and alpine guide – all important checkpoints that should be considered when doing an on-piste tour. Patrick Jost is furthermore owner of the Hindelanger Bergführerbüro, a member of the VDBS and the review board in the TU Munich for nationally certified ski and alpine guides.
Advice 1: Check local regulations
Inform yourself about the country-specific and local regulations concerning stoppages and warning information. Ideally, you and your family are choosing a ski tour where there is no ski touring prohibition. The best bet is to use declared ski touring routes. Always avoid closed ski slopes.
Advice 2: Thoughtfulness uphill and downhill
Please keep in mind during your ski tour, that the regular ski bustle takes always the priority. A peaceful coexistence of ski tourers, alpine skiers, snowboarders, and nature is determining. The sense of responsibility and the thoughtfulness needs to receive attention. Everyone understands that you want to go next to your child, but on a ski slope, this is not possible. Going behind each other is the best solution. Always remain at the edge of the slope and try to avoid traversing it, especially with the little ones.
Advice 3: Watch out in the dark
Grooming Work is often done during the nightfall or night. Please inform yourself before heading to the tour which slopes are going to be groomed when. Grooming machines are often fixed on cable winches – pay attention here. Basically, everyone who is ski touring in the nightfall or night should make himself visible, may it be with a headlamp or reflecting clothes to avoid accidents.
Advice 4: Take care of nature and animals
A ski tour is most fun with a sufficient snow situation. If the snow cover is too thin, your tour can cause severe damage to the vegetation. Furthermore, the soil cover may be flawed. With the nightfall, the world of the animal’s rules, therefore, keep in mind to be silent. Last but not least: don’t forget your trash – mother nature is thankful.
Advice 5? Pay the fees
Parking for free is not everywhere possible. Also for ski tourers occurring fees for parking, tollways or fees for a ski touring ticket shall be paid. Let’s be fair.
Now, you are well informed what to consider for your next family ski tour. You only need to pack your backpack, climbing skins, clothes to change, tea and some snacks and the outdoor family adventure can start. Hooray!
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