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Faff Minimisation Technique

Guide with morning coffee
during mild faff outbreak
in the Bernese Oberland

The more kit we have, the more potential there is to faff. Ski touring, with its myriad of small specialist bits of stuff, is particularly prone to faff outbreaks. So we need to have some techniques to minimise faff and thus prevent blood pressure and heart problems with guides ;-)

First of all, what is faffing exactly?

The word is derived from the Italian "farfalle". You may know this as a type of pasta that resembles a butterfly. A butterfly is an insect that flaps around looking pretty but achieving absolutely nothing. There is a verb in Italian, "faffare" meaning "to faff", which can be conjugated thus:
Faffo - I faff
Faffa - you/she/he/it faffs
Faffiamo - we faff
and my favourite
Sta faffando - you/she/he/it is in the process of faffing

In reality, the faffmeister (he says, dropping briefly into German) spends an inordinate amount of time doing the most basic things: putting boots on in the morning, havign a drink or a bite to eat, and often can't find small but essential bits of kit just when they're required while simultaneously fiddling with stuff that will have no beneficial effect whatsoever.

So - how do we minimise faff?
Plan ahead - pack all but essential items in your pack the night before when you're reasonably alert (apart from the glass or two of red) as opposed to the early hours in pre-departure chaos.

Know where everything is - both in the hut during the night, and in your pack or pockets during the day. Which conveniently leads to:

Keep stuff as handy as it needs to be - so stuff you're going to need early in the day is at the top of the pack. Stuff you're going to need on a regular basis can be in the top pocket. And food bars that might be needed at any time are in your jacket pockets, so without breaking step you can get a bar when you get an attack of the munchies an hour after leaving the hut.

Remember there are some things that are certain to happen - the sun coming up, for example. So keep your shades handy, even with a pre-dawn start. Try to put on sun cream before leaving the hut so that's one less thing to worry about.

Try to do all your faffing in one go - so if you need to change clothes, then have a drink, a bite to eat, apply more suncream. take a photo, read the text that just came in etc. all at the same time. Preferably coordinated with a skin change when ski touring.

Like reducing your carbon footprint, reducing your faff will give you an inner sense of satisfaction while at the same time benefiting huge numbers of people. Especially your guide ;)