Originally Posted by Smear
Yes, it's a good idea to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Or at least leave a note in the car, tent, cabin or whatever your starting point is. It's also a good idea to bring a partner or two, preferably someone with experience, knowledge, training and the right attitudes. Avy training is of course good for you and basic avy gear is also smart if avalanches are a possibility, preferably also a ABS pack and a personal locator beacon and even pdiddy's survival kit. And if you are not very experienced of course the best thing to do is to hire a guide.
But even if you fail at all of the above, then still in my perspective the right thing to do is to just get out there anyway. But of course don't take any more risks than you feel like, especially with the added risk put on by failing all of the above.
So if you end up going alone, without telling anyone where you are, without the gear mentioned above and without any more avy knowledge than knowing that a below 30 degree slope(*) isn't likely to slide. And all you feel like doing under those circumstances is doing laps on a short low angle slope not too far away from the road, skiing very cautiously not to risk getting hurt, then you still might have good time and a useful experience. Or you might end up being bored and find out that that was not an experience worth repeating. Who knows..
(*) And that is plenty steep for most people to have fun in most snow conditions.
Originally Posted by JoeUT
If there's one thing I've learned in years of writing and commenting on the Internet, it's that just because something works for me doesn't make it good advice to dole out to others. Sometimes you do inadvisable shit and get away with it, and sometimes going against the grain truly works for you personally, but that doesn't mean you should be indiscriminate in telling others to follow in your footsteps.
The OP seems so unprepared, I figured he must be trolling. A guy from Virginia with no backcountry experience and no equipment soliciting advice on CO destinations on the Internet, instead of from his friend and friend's friends who actually live there, all in an early season that appears to be quite dangerous (haven't followed CO conditions, but a two-sec search reveals an avalanche advisory for today and tomorrow following storming, sounds similar to what we have here).
While "just get out there" might be a strategy that's worked for you for decades on a different continent, it's AWFUL advice to give to this particular OP over the Internet. Hopefully he's just trolling because some advise here has only served to confirm his own bad ideas.
Perhaps I thought that you guys needed some perspectives from another continent . And I just felt like opposing a bit to the check list approach to backcountry safety. I can try to clarify.
I come from a region
(*) where skinning up mountains for scenery or turns is a very common activity. Most physically active people in the region does that to some extent, a bit like the role of cross country skiing is in other parts of the country. Young, old, middle aged, schoolchildren, oldtimers that still hang on to their tele gear from the nighties or people with shiny new equipment etc go out in the backcounty. Some do it a lot, others only in very nice weather and in the typical ski holidays of easter and the weekends in may. Expecting all of these to have 3-days avy course, advanced snow evaluation skills and gear like beacons and airbag packs, before they even get started with backcountry skiing as a hobby, is expecting a bit to much in my opinion. The typical traditional way most of them relate to avalanche danger is to stay off the steeper mountains in typical midwinter conditions and save those for spring when the conditions are more predictable.
My interpretation of the OP post is that he is asking for tips on routes and locations where there is ok skiing and riding, but that are reasonably safe for avalanches. This would be places with where all of the route is less than 30 degrees, but still has continuous downhill and not long approach. I've never been in Colorado but I imagine that those routes has exist there somewhere. This is also the type of routes one would typically do if one would want to go alone or if you want to go backcountry skiing together with children
Staying of the steeper mountains and routes until spring is not the answer for everyone. Some of us also want to take our chances also on midwinter snowpack, and then some snow evaluation skills to avoid doing stupid stuff in the most stupid conditions and self rescue training and equipment, is the key to increase the margins a little bit. This will never be completely safe and learning enough in the snow evaluations skills is a life long process not something learned in a 3 day course. My only ambition is to know enough to avoid doing downright stupid stuff. Even with gear, training and experience this will involve more risk than the low angle until spring approach mentioned above.
My advice to the OP is to start out on the low angle stuff and build experience from there. Get a guide book and start on the easier routes that are described as safe from avalanches, learn to use the inclinometer and map, and don't get lost. Add gear and avy training when you can.
(*) I understand that our coastal snowpack is very different from the inland snowpack in colorado. We have inland snowpack with stable cold weather and sometimes long lasting weak layers in other parts of the country.