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Where to start?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

First of all I might be too much ahead of time trying to think about side/backcountry/hike terrain since I started skiing last season, going into my second season now.


But I'm just fascinated about backcountry and exploring new terrain. I have been reading a lot, books, blogs, articles and whatever I can find available, going to some of the early season resort events about safety and that kinda stuff...


Now I'm really struggling on taking any field class, even basic 1 day class about rescue, beacon usage, rescue, snow condition. Since all of them require you to have touring gear, I don't feel comfortable spending money at this point since I still have long ways to go before actually start using the gear. 


So I'm trying to figure out what's the best way to get educated without buying too much stuff since I don't even know what to buy at this point, and what would be a priority list if I have to setup one to buy stuff. So I have a few questions for you guys!


1 - Am I just too ahead of myself and should hold back and go skiing resort for a few seasons before thinking about education and touring?


2 - What should I buy first? I believe I should probably start with beacon/shovel/probe since probably this is all I need before trying hike to terrain inbounds so probably the first thing I will need.


3 - Is it worth to rent equipment so I can take classes this point?

post #2 of 7

1- Yes


2- Skis and boots




I don't know how to skin dive but I would want to learn to how to swim first. Then snorkel, then dive. 


But keep following your dream smile.gif

post #3 of 7

1.  I would ordinarily say "No" here, but you do need to develop an 'eye' for what are and what aren't skiable lines, as well as developing turning skills high enough to cope with immensely variable terrain.     


So I will agree with wooley and vote 'Yes, unless you think you might put in more than 30 days this year' in which case owning touring gear would help you have fun at the very end of the season.


2.   Walkable boots and beacon shovel probe set.   If you're going to bootpack anyway, you will want the BSP  



3.  Agree with wooley - Not right now.

post #4 of 7

And above all have fun.  If you are not averse to some physical effort them I'm sure you will get hooked.  I still ski in-bounds from time to time (Iove running gates) but nothing beats heading into the backcountry for a soul skiing experience.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the feedback!

post #6 of 7

I definitely don't think you're getting too far ahead of yourself.  If you are comfortable skiing ungroomed terrain/variable snow conditions, have a clear understanding of your skiing ability / limitations, have a good head on your shoulders, and are willing to learn there is plenty of fun for you in the backcountry. 


Just like in resorts there is a wide variety of terrain to enjoy ranging from flat to extreme.  Prior to getting into skiing I spent most of my free time rock, ice and alpine climbing.  Backcountry and ski mountaineering is what attracted me to the sport and consequently I spent many days my first season skiing in the backcountry.  To mitigate risk, I always made sure to choose terrain that was well within my ability level and until I got more familiar picking lines, I would make sure to skin up the terrain I planned to ski so I minimized any surprises when it came to steepness, snow conditions, obstacles etc. 


Regarding education, I would hold off on it unless you plan to actually put what you learn to practice this year.  Becoming efficient at rescue, reading terrain, knowing how to interpret/verify avalanche forecasts in the field, and understanding the limits of your avy education are learned through repetition and experience.  Avalanche courses and books simply introduce these concepts; learning them and becoming efficient is on you.   


I agree with cantunamuch that getting walkable boots and a BSP would be a good first step since bootpacking and snowshoes are an alternative to touring skis and skins for getting around (although not nearly as enjoyable).  Also many avalanche courses allow students to do the field work portion of their classes in snowshoes since not all winter backcountry users are skiers after all.  Also having a BSP allows you to practice avalanche rescue scenarios with ski partners.

post #7 of 7

Some very solid advice you received so far. Only thing I would add is that at most resorts you don't need avalanche gear for in bounds hike to terrain as that is still avalanche controlled. There are varying opinions on carrying gear in-bounds but the vast majority of people do not. Keep in mind that only applies to terrain that is truly in-bounds and not lift accessible side-country.

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