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Berthoud Pass

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey guys I am planning to spend 7-10 days in Georgetown splitting my time between Copper and Winter Park with the chance of Eldora (Rocky Mountain Super Pass+). In my search for deep pow I came across a place called, which I'm sure locals are familiar with, Berthoud Pass. I have zero avalanche training and zero BC experience but desperately want to get into it. I have read that some of the slopes are safe without beacons and training. Obviously reading can only tell me so much so I'm coming to y'all to give it to me straight up. Do groups regularly go up? How unsafe is it to do alone? Does anyone want to go with me? Avy gear/training.....Ready! Set! Lay into me about my inexperience and stupidity for even asking!

post #2 of 11

um... yeah. Good luck with anyone giving you the go ahead on that.  You might, if you are very lucky find someone willing to take you under their wing but given you self professed lack of skills you aren't exactly a prime candidate for a useful extra member of a party.

 

I'm sure people do ski Berthoud uneqquipped, I'm equally sure that people also get caught in incidents through misadventure

 

Your best bet would be to participate in a clsss/session with these guys

 

http://berthoudpass.org/#sthash.YwGbO9V5.dpbs

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey, I told you to give it to me straight. Thank you! I will definitely look into classes. 

post #4 of 11

What Bob said. I would exercise extreme caution.  In fact, last night, one of the local Denver news channels talked about the current avalanche status/safety.  Part of the story included the video that @bounceswoosh had recently posted in another thread.  

post #5 of 11

Anything before spring in Colorado is notoriously unstable. I did a hut trip this weekend and we looked for low-angle (safe) pow - found the pow, but the angle was so low you couldn't actually ski it. Oops. There is a sweet spot where it's unlikely to slide but you can still ski it - that sweet spot is somewhere in the range of an easy blue. But there are a lot of ways you can screw up, like not taking into account what's above you, or terrain traps, or ... well, a lot of things.

 

I took Avy 1 last winter, and it was immensely valuable, particularly in teaching us how to read the CAIC reports and construct a plan that all parties agree to based on the report. http://avalanche.state.co.us/forecasts/backcountry-avalanche/vail-summit-county/

 

Persistent slab will be an issue all season, as it is every year here.

 

If you're serious about learning backcountry, take an Avy 1 class. You'll learn a lot and get practice doing beacon searches. Most importantly, you will be a contributing member of the party, rather than someone tagging along (all liability, no upside for the others in the group). Alternately, you could seek a guide whose job it is to do this sort of thing safely - these guys have a good reputation, and in fact I took my Avy 1 with them: http://coloradomountainschool.com/guiding-options/

 

I got talked into what was supposedly a relatively safe sidecountry adventure last spring. The skiing was amazing, and I enjoyed it with a small amount of anxiety, but after the fact my gut was in knots, not least for realizing that I'd blithely ignored everything I know about human factors to get after some pow. I endangered myself, and by not speaking up I may have helped endanger others who didn't have the education to know better. It was terrible realizing how easily I had ignored everything I'd just learned a couple of months before. After the fact, I did a lot of research on the area and the conditions, and I decided that if I'd been fully informed *and had all my gear* (I only had my beacon, not shovel and probe), I would have chosen to ski it - but if I'd been in a scenario where we all sat down and discussed the plan ahead of time, I would never have gone without that research and without my full kit.

 

Don't let the draw of powder get you, or others, killed. And don't get comfortable letting others make your safety choices for you.

post #6 of 11

Are you likely to use the avy gear and training a lot in the future? Do you have an AT/uphill ski setup?

 

If not, the more reasonably priced option is a day of snowcat skiing on Jones Pass which is right by Berthoud: http://www.powderaddiction.com/ . You'll get powder skis, avy gear, a basic safety class. If you find the whole thing super addicting, then is the time to invest. 

 

Beyond the price and knowledge cost of getting geared up -- you also need a partner in the backcountry -- especially that terrain. 

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmountain15 View Post
 

Hey guys I am planning to spend 7-10 days in Georgetown splitting my time between Copper and Winter Park with the chance of Eldora (Rocky Mountain Super Pass+). In my search for deep pow I came across a place called, which I'm sure locals are familiar with, Berthoud Pass. I have zero avalanche training and zero BC experience but desperately want to get into it. I have read that some of the slopes are safe without beacons and training. Obviously reading can only tell me so much so I'm coming to y'all to give it to me straight up. Do groups regularly go up? How unsafe is it to do alone? Does anyone want to go with me? Avy gear/training.....Ready! Set! Lay into me about my inexperience and stupidity for even asking!

Not going to rip on you for asking, but I will say that you should not go into the back country without training and a solid posse that you can trust. The snowpack in Colorado is quite unpredictable on a good day. If you are unfamiliar with local conditions and don't have the back country knowledge on top of that, you and everyone around you would be much safer inbounds at any of the areas on your pass. I would suggest that if you really want to get into the back country, take the Avy 1 class, read Snow Sense by Jill Fredston & Doug Fesler and The ABC's of Avalanche Safety by Ed LaChappel, practice digging pits and evaluating the snow. After you know what you are looking at and for, understand the consequences and understand the etiquette, practice, practice, practice with your beacon. You can't practice too much. Find a "Beacon Basin" and practice with multiple burial scenarios. Finding a single ping is tough enough, but 5 beacons beeping at the same time can be almost impossible in the very short amount of time you have to locate victims and get them some air. As an added note, if you ski with your dog, don't put a beacon on him. Although fido is part of the family and we love him, your ski buddy will appreciate that you dug him up instead of your dog. It all comes down to knowledge, experience, a lot of common sense and a solid group you can trust. Even with all of that, some days are a NO GO and you have to be able to recognize that. Safety first. Back country travel, regardless of the mode is always an exercise in managed risk. The more you know and experience, the better equipped you are to manage that risk. Have fun and stay safe.

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by offpiste View Post
 
As an added note, if you ski with your dog, don't put a beacon on him. Although fido is part of the family and we love him, your ski buddy will appreciate that you dug him up instead of your dog.

 

FWIW, Pieps makes a device that transmits on a different frequency, and you can switch your Pieps beacon to search for it. Useful for snowmobiles or dogs or whatever is with you that's important, but not as important as human lives.

 

http://www.pieps.com/en/product/pieps-tx600

post #9 of 11
Is there a place on Berthoud that you feel is pretty safe for solo touring or teaching a new bc skier? I was thinking Terrain Park (was a green run on the west side) or Bonanza (wide open blue on east)?

Or what about low slope areas at Caribou by Nederland?
post #10 of 11

Here are some links to maps of Berthoud Pass that show slope angle. Theoretically, if you stick to slopes less than 30 degrees the slide danger is small. However, it's always a good idea to have a partner because an avy is only one danger in the backcountry.

 

http://www.hillmap.com/m/ag1zfmhpbGxtYXAtaGRychULEghTYXZlZE1hcBiAgICIkOyqCww 

 

http://berthoudpass.org/BerthoudPass_BetaMap.html 

post #11 of 11
So if one looks at the slope angles shown on the hillmap.com site, the slopes east of Berthoud Pass don't even register as being over 25° and are mostly 20° and under.

Bonanza seems like a good, safe slope to learn backcountry skills? Skin up two switchbacks of the Mines Road and ski back down the wide open Bonanza?
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