Why wear a helmet when ski touring?
Whether a high-mountain guide or new to ski touring, you have probably asked yourself this very question. Although widely adopted by alpine skiers at the resort as a necessary piece of safety gear, systematically wearing a helmet while ski touring has yet to catch on with backcountry skiers, primarily due to weight, lack of ventilation, and the bulky nature of most head protection. Yet when the snowpack is thin, sticks and especially stones never lie too far beneath the surface, creating a potentially dangerous situation in the event of a fall. When ascending a couloir, rock fall also presents a serious risk. With all this in mind, putting on a helmet when ski touring or ski mountaineering seems more than reasonable.
January 30 2019
Video interview with Vivian Bruchez: Why wear a helmet when ski touring?
A helmet for ski touring that addresses skier demands
Ski touring involves a considerable physical effort on the ascent, and requires the right gear. Only a lightweight, well-ventilated helmet is comfortable to wear for the entire outing, both when skinning up and skiing down.
All throughout a tour, whether on the climb or the descent, skiers may be exposed to the following risks:
- rock fall:
As with mountaineering, skiers may be exposed to rock or ice fall, such as when climbing up a steep couloir.
- side, front, and rear impacts:
A fall on the ascent, whether on a steep or icy slope, or above a rocky outcrop.
A fall on the descent caused by such terrain hazards as rocks, trees, blocks of ice, crevasses, avalanches...
New CE certification for helmets designed for ski touring
While there are dual-certified helmets for mountaineering (EN 12492) and downhill skiing (EN 1077), the standards for downhill skiing result in a helmet that is uncomfortable to use when touring due to lack of ventilation, weight, and overall bulkiness. As for helmets that are only certified for mountaineering, they do not offer sufficient protection for impacts around the front, side, and back of the head.
To create the ideal balance between ventilation and protection, and to encourage skiers to wear a helmet when touring, Petzl worked with a certification organization to introduce the first CE-certified helmet for ski touring by using:
- the standard for mountaineering helmets (EN 12492) to protect against rock fall and to ensure maximum ventilation,
- enhanced protection against lateral, frontal, and rear impacts (Petzl's TOP AND SIDE PROTECTION label).
Learn more about Petzl’s helmets
METEOR: Goggles or a visor provide this helmet with a clean style that works perfectly for any backcountry tour or ski-mountaineering adventure.
SIROCCO: Designed for those who seek extremely lightweight head protection with excellent ventilation, the SIROCCO performs well on any backcountry tour or ski-mountaineering adventure.
Neither helmet is suited for on-piste skiing at the resort since they do not comply with the EN-1077 standard for alpine skiing.
Learn more about our TOP and SIDE PROTECTION label:
|Watch the video|