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Best way to get into BC?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone!

 

I'm a 24 year old aspiring to be a back country skier looking to get even more hardcore into skiing. I've been skiing with my family for 20 years but took 4 years off thru college, and just discovered the sidecountry in the last two years. I've worked a lot skiing alone to have much better form than before, and after a pretty fall filled first day or two can get a reasonable pace thru New England's woods. Steep terrain doesn't both me too much till there are dense trees, or sheer ice. (Side question: are the glades denser out here?)

 

The problem is, most of my friends are not at my ski ability level/comfort level with some of the gnarlier terrain I go to, and I often find myself skiing alone. I've spent several days this year exploring the woods at Stowe and Jay alone (though I was much happier with the snow last year) but prefer to ski with people. The one friend I have that is good enough took all his vacation time to go to Colorado and Utah on trips I couldn't make this year. 

 

I'm just curious how you guys all got into back country skiing and how I would go about exploring it? Should I just continue exploring the woods on my own? I don't mind skiing alone, and it seems like a lot of people do it, but it just seems to go against all safety warnings that are always quoted. 

 

I just keep watching ski movies and saying over and over again "I want to do that." So I just thought I'd ask advice on how you guys got into the BC, so I can learn to do "that" 

post #2 of 12

I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice here. I started BC skiing at age 58 when my son took me on a snowmobile/ski touring day trip in the Cascades. He gave me a beacon to wear so he could find me in a slide but he knew I'd never be able to get to him so he picked the place to go based on the safety of the aspect and terrain. He started skiing in the back country at about your age with people who had experience and ended up taking enough BC courses and trips that today, when guides are traveling through they often hook up with him for a safe tour. He lives in the mountains and knows the snow history so well that he knows what the avy report will be before it's published. I started reading all that I could to get an education but I still depend on him for route finding and letting me know when it is super safe to go out on my own.

 

I'm sure everyone skis solo at times. It's a risk. I used to XC ski at night in the Adarondaks while on business trips until I realized that if I got hurt I would likely die so I stopped. I convinced my son to call me before heading out solo so I would know where he was and to call me when he got back. That way, even though we wouldn't be able to rescue him if he got hurt, we could more easily locate the body for a proper burial.

 

Before going out solo, you should ask yourself "How far can I crawl through the snow with a broken leg?" and don't go any farther than that from the trail head.

post #3 of 12

I ski alone at times, too, but I'm very conservative when I do.  Not conservative enough, though, as I have set off a slide when out by myself.  Fortunately for me I didn't go for a ride.  Fortunately.

 

I got into BC skiing when I moved back home to northeastern Nevada and the nearest resorts were 4+ hours of driving away.  We have a (very) small community ski hill here and when I joined the patrol a couple of other folks there skied in the BC.  That lead to an NSP Avy 1 class and a bit more legitimacy with the local ski crowd. The climbing/MTB/BC skiing community here is pretty tight-knit and so we all end up recreating together fairly regularly.  I have a couple of regular partners now that I have been skiing with for several years, and a few other folks I go up with from time to time.

 

My suggestion would be to hie thyself to an avy class if you've not yet taken one, as you'll meet other folks interested in learning about the local snowpack.  If you participate in other sports like MTB or climbing, ask some of those folks if they're into touring.  There's a lot of crossover, in my experience.

post #4 of 12

I got into backcountry skiing after I stopped racing many years ago.  Turns out I wasn't as fast as some of the other speed-suit guys so I looked for something new.  Many years later I'm still addicted.

 

As for skiing solo, I'm going to be a bit hypocritical.  Don't do it.  Okay, I do it sometimes.  But don't do it.

 

Going out solo is just flat dangerous so many things can happen.  If you must, leave detailed trip plans with somebody very reliable and give them a time you'll definitely be back with instructions to call Search and Rescue when you're late.  Make the time reasonable.  If you know you can ski an area in six hours, give yourself an extra 2 hour buffer.  This is better than nothing but not ideal.  When I do go out alone I tend to stick to gentler, flatter terrain.  When I'm considering a difficult peak or a very challenging area I have a very close knit group I will go with.  

 

To get into this aspect of the sport, take some avalanche classes.  You just might meet some ski buddies there and you'll learn a lot about backcountry safety.  Ski safely my friend

post #5 of 12

I was about 45 when I started skiing BC but I don't go that often. I took an Avy I class last year and it was well worth it. I met some great  guys in the class that tour fairly regularly and I'm sure I could tag along on a tour with them any time. I feel comfortable with their judgement and I think we would make a good BC touring group. Besides taking an avy class, I would recommend checking out some of the BC-specific web forums. Epicski is a great forum with some good folks but it isn't really geared towards BC. One you might want to check out is T4T. It's mostly New England based and the folks on there tour a lot. There's also some other forums of NE folks. When I go solo I try to go places where there are other people around. I'll go to Tuckerman's or GOS in the spring and try to make sure I'm not the last one out. You really should tour with a partner and carry the gear...first aid, cell phone, avy gear and probably some basic survival gear (space blanket, fire starter, etc) and probably a GPS. If you insist on touring alone, you might decide on a personal locator beacon like a SPOT.

post #6 of 12

Best way to get into BC?

 

I park my car and proceed on foot or skins......    wink.gif

post #7 of 12

Once you have mastered basic skiing skills (off-piste skills), and are in very good physical condition, with all the right equipment and clothing,  book a week a Powder Creek Lodge in British Columbia with a certified guide.  You will have to form a group or convince a group to let you join; or look for a backcountry course.  You may have to book 1-2 years in advance.  It is one of the best places in the world to ski powder.  Plenty of avalanche hazard.  Terrain ranging from mild to extreme.  I took a week-long backcountry route-finding, avalanche prep, and snow-study course there; fantastic.  You helicopter in and out and earn your turns from the lodge.  Spending a week with a guide can teach you about route-finding, snow pits, avalanche potential, skinning on skis, and ski techniques for deep snow.  You can read up and watch videos before you go. Won't cost more than a couple of grand. Or check with a guide service, like proguiding.com and sign up for an instructional trip or course (a day to several days) and then go skiing on a scheduled trip with some organization like Seattle Mountaineers (it is always nice to take a trip out west).  I wouldn't know, but there should be some skiing clubs in VT there do some bc skiing.  But seriously, taking some serious instruction from a certified professional, just like from PSIA ski instructor, advances you quickly.

post #8 of 12

I started out with Alpine Trekkers and a set of cheap skins i could use on a variety of skis. It was night and day when the fritschi freeride came out. What a difference. The last few years, I've been skiing on Dynafit. Again a whole new world!

First thing you should do is get some Avalanche awareness and backcountry travel techniques under your belt. Learn about the mountains. Be safe, then get face shots.

post #9 of 12

Best way to get into BC?

I prefer highway 1, or Vancouver airport, if your coming from Seatle, you might want to try State route 9 north.

 

Sorry, couldn't resist.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Best way to get into BC?

I prefer highway 1, or Vancouver airport, if your coming from Seatle, you might want to try State route 9 north.

 

Sorry, couldn't resist.


I was thinking of that too! I live in the BCsmile.gif

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by wooley12 View Post

...

 

I'm sure everyone skis solo at times. It's a risk. I used to XC ski at night in the Adarondaks while on business trips until I realized that if I got hurt I would likely die so I stopped. I convinced my son to call me before heading out solo so I would know where he was and to call me when he got back. That way, even though we wouldn't be able to rescue him if he got hurt, we could more easily locate the body for a proper burial.

 

Before going out solo, you should ask yourself "How far can I crawl through the snow with a broken leg?" and don't go any farther than that from the trail head.

Yeah, being willing to self-rescue is an important thing to think about, as is giving itineraries.

 

Re: guides and guided experiences, they are double-edged swords in terms of actually being self-sufficient.  They can give great lifetime experiences and also a good deal of local knowledge.  For skiing, if you do not have a detailed knowledge of the local snowpack and terrain, you're limited as to where you can go and a guide is a ready-made source of this, and usually a better source than a local you hook up with socially.  Most areas, as a tourist, there's still so much to do this is not a big deal, but you do need to be in a mindset of understanding you're a tourist. 

 

Several posts have noted the crossover between MTB, climbing, and bc skiing communities.  It does tend to be significant.  Being social in these groups can yield big dividends in all sorts of ways.  Understanding that initial trips with people are sort of like job interviews can help, too.  Be on time, be in shape, be honest about your ability level, play well with others, give a little to get a little. 

 



 

 

post #12 of 12

I ski as much BC as possible and with your location you should try skiing some real east coast bc... tucks has been decent (for this year atleast) over the past few weeks and is looking primo for this weekend.  A little snow up there today and tomorrow should help. Left gully has been great for beginners (brought my gf up there to pop her bc cherry last weekend). The sherburn trail is pretty beat and you cannot skin up it from the bottom, so that means you have to hike. Its a great vibe up their and you are never skiing alone in the spring because there are so many people up there. I'll be there on Sunday with a big group of friends so maybe we will see you there!

 

Also, if you are getting serious about BC, look into getting a bc setup. Check out DPS Skis and PMGear skis for lightweight carbon options, also check out dynafit bindings and boots, they rock. If you are looking for more of a step in style binding try fritschi or marker dukes/tours. You will also need skins that are cut to fit. 

 

I will be posting a bunch of bc gear up here once I have 15 posts including a super light pair of DPS Wailer 95s with fritschis and skins so check em out if your interested.

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