Good luck on your next adventure. I combed through your gear list on your website and (humbly) offer the following suggestions:
VBL Jacket -- consider an RBH Lightning Bug Jacket. I have a hooded one w/ pit zips and pockets for 6 ounces.
> SKURKA: Yeah, I know about that one. I have their original NTS jacket, which weighs in at about 14 oz without a hood. It's "too much" jacket (my opinion about most softshells in a backpacking context). But I'm really struggling to justify a $200 investment when I can get a 10-oz GoLite WP/B for free and then hose it down with McNett Thundershield (silicone spray that will seal the jacket and take the "B" out of WP/B) to basically get the same result.
Skis/Waxes -- unless you're adept in the black art of ski waxing, you might do well to look at a waxless ski such as the Karhu XCD GT. Wax experts make it look effortless, but for mere mortals (myself included) achieving the perfect wax application remains mythical for most conditions. ;)
> SKURKA: The skis are already bought and paid for. I listened to Townsend and others, and reflected on my own personal experience. It's a known fact that waxable skis are faster and more versatile than waxless -- when the user has the skills to do it right. Whenever I've bought gear that assumes I won't have the skills to do it right, I always regret it later because over time I always figure it out and then I need to buy new gear.
Ski Poles -- consider a longer pair of BPL Stix like your trekking poles to save 4 ounces over your Asnes. Will Reitveld and I just used them for a ski tour in the San Juans. They're bomber for skiing if you get the length right.
> SKURKA: the longest length for the STIX is 135, I believe, which is not long enough for touring when you're getting good glide. Plus, they're not available for purchase right now. These are good poles -- I'm happy with them.
Face Mask -- take a look at OR's new "Helmetclava". With the windstopper breathing port, I think they've finally achieved perfection with this update of their Ninjaclava. (65g)
> SKURKA: I think I have figured this out, but I'll start another discussion about it soon.
Shelter -- I'd take a look at MLD's Duomid for Winter instead of a bivy. Its steeper sides should shed snow better than the solomid. I agree w/ Roman's comments about bivies.
> SKURKA: I have both the DuoMid and the SoloMid, so I can use either. I am starting to lean more in the direction of a mid, as opposed to just a bivy. There are some good arguments in favor of them.
Water Bottle -- Instead of a single 3L Nalgene bottle, consider several smaller bottles. For a bit of a weight penalty, you gain flexibility and redundancy. I like to carry two 0.5L bottles plus a larger one to add up to whatever capacity I need. You can make hot water bottles to warm up...whatever body part needs warming. And...drumroll please...you can put the 0.5L bottles w/ hot water in your boots when you go to bed. The hot water will help dry out the boots overnight. In the morning, re-heat the bottles while you eat breakfast and put on toasty warm boots!!! :-)
> SKURKA: That's a slick idea, really like it, especially since I have leather boots and they inevitably will get wet (e.g. from overflow) and will need to dry out. I may do something like this. However, the problem with multiple bottles in really cold temperatures is that small bottles are more prone to freezing, as opposed to just one big bottle. Will think more about this...
Skins -- If you're carrying full-length skins, I'd ditch the kicker skins.
> SKURKA: I am going to carry kicker skins for the first 850 miles (flat or rolling terrain, cold) and then I'm going to trade them out for some full-length skins (AK Range, longer and steeper climbs, spring snowpack -- melts during day, freezes at night). It's hard to show this in the gear list -- they are both grouped under "winter."
Ski Strap -- My favorite is the velcro one from Swix. Carry at least 4. You can use them to hold on your skins if they get finicky. You can also lash on a branch under your skis to make them into snowshoes if you get into un-skiable conditions. (Thanks to Mike Clelland! for this one.)
> SKURKA: Good idea, thanks.
Ski Repair -- Consider bringing a Gimlet (tiny hand screw drill) to repair bindings. If your binding rips out of the ski, just drill new holes an inch away from the old ones and re-mount the binding. (Thanks to Chris Townsend for this one.)
> SKURKA: I have not figured this one out entirely yet. I do need a screwdriver that fits my binding screws (my multi-tool screwdriver doesn't fit well) and some extra screws. What's the likelihood of yanking an entire binding out of the ski? Is it so rare that it'll be better just to carry duct tape? I looked up a gimlet -- had never seen one before. Worth carrying I guess if it's a reasonable concern that the binding rips out.
PFD -- *IF* you want to go w/ a non-approved PFD, you need 7L of air capacity to get 16 pounds of floatation.
> SKURKA: Got it. 2 x 1L Platys + 2 x 2.4L Platys = 6.8L, or close enough.
Packraft Repair -- consider a bit of Tyvek tape for repairs.
> SKURKA: Yes, I need to pick some up, thanks for the reminder.
Leukotape -- After our tape disaster last Summer, I've had great success repackaging Leukotape onto FedEx mailing label backer paper. It doesn't kill the Leuko glue, and you can cut out funky-shaped "stickers" to tape whatever needs taping.
> SKURKA: I need to update that section of the gear list -- it's stolen from a trip that occurred before we figured out the Luekotape trick.
GPS -- Let me know how my old Geko works for you. BTW, it's a 301, not a 201. ;)
> SKURKA: Oops...
Have a great trip, my friend!
> SKURKA: Thanks for the feedback. Very helpful.