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What do you do after work?

Is there anything more frustrating than watching it snow while sitting behind your desk at work? By the time the weekend rolls around and you are actually free to go skiing, all of your favorite spots will already be tracked out! A good headlamp allows you to go for a tour even if you work all day long…

December 9 2016

Ski touring

Are you a "before work" or "after work" kind of person?

Certain powder hounds have found the answer by either skiing at night or waking up early to head out on "dawn patrol." These are quick outings to enjoy fresh tracks either just before or just after work, using a powerful headlamp to light up the way. The old strategy consisted of starting in the dark with a "normal" headlamp, and then waiting for daybreak to descend. The problem is that when the snow is truly fantastic, stopping to go to work can feel like a modern day form of torture. However, a powerful headlamp provides outstanding visibility when skiing in the dark, allowing you to enjoy nighttime tours and stop when you have truly had enough.

The night as your playground!

© Boris Dufour

At night, during a snowstorm, the atmosphere is truly magical. The falling flakes seem instinctively drawn to the light of a headlamp, the crystals sparkle in front as you break trail, branches covered in white gold light up like tinsel, and ominous shadows linger all around. Once a few meters into a snow-covered forest, you feel isolated, remote, and alone in the halo of your headlamp or lit up by friends sharing the adventure. After just a few steps, even with the city lights still visible, an impenetrable wall of darkness lies between you and civilization. In the night's silence, coupled with the intrinsic silence of snow, sounds disappear, the air stands still, the shortest of excursions feels like an expedition into the unknown, and the smallest of hills like an adventure.

The dark makes risk assessment more difficult

© Boris Dufour

Venturing into the mountains at night is a very enjoyable experience, but should not be taken lightly. In addition to the usual dangers associated with winter excursions, you need to be much more cautious with regard to avalanche danger. Darkness makes all visual assessments from a distance much more complicated and even impossible. In the dark, it is difficult to determine the steepnees of the surrounding slopes, and whether not they are set up to slide. Studying the map carefully may provide some answers, and should always be combined with a thorough review of the day's all-important snow and avalanche risk report. Pay close attention to changes in weather as well, since you will not be able to see any wind blowing across the ridgelines, another sign that danger awaits. To avoid these complications, one solution is to ski marked trails or even a ski area's groomed runs. However, this carries its own set of dangers, since grooming operations usually occur at night. In addition, avalanche control takes place in the early morning for the upcoming day of skiing, and offers no guarantees for the following night. Either way, gather as much information as possible before heading out, and for your first nighttime excursions, seeking advice from high-mountain guides in the area is never a bad idea. 

Finding your stride, seeing the light

© Boris Dufour

Once you have answered all questions regarding safety and access, it is time to enjoy your outing to the fullest. Whether ascending at an easy pace while chatting with friends, or lengthening your stride to increase your heart rate, to each their own style and tempo as long as no one is left alone in the frigid forest. On the descent, visibility is important to enjoy turn after turn without squinting, and to see any obstacles lying ahead. Goggles or sunglasses with clear or untinted lenses are critical pieces of gear. Without one or the other, the cold night air in winter can turn a pleasant descent into a nightmare. For a fast activity like skiing, you should also use a powerful headlamp with a focused beam, like the NAO+ or the ULTRA RUSH. With at least 500 lumens, you will be able to ski as if it were the middle of the day, and even light up the way ahead for your friends. 

Daytime visibility

© Boris Dufour

A small yet important detail, there are several ways to attach headlamp to helmet (the latter also adds an extra element of safety). Opt for a remote battery that you can keep in a warm pocket, increasing battery life and lightening the load on your head. Remember to charge your batteries before leaving, and to carry a backup emergency headlamp in your pack; you never know, if the snow is mind-blowingly good, you just might want to stay out a little longer.

So, are you a "before work" or "after work" kind of person?

© Boris Dufour


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