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Where to start?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I've been skiing now for 15 years and I can say I pretty much have the mountain technique down (for the most part) but I really want to start heading into the back mountains and untracked territories etc. but I'm not 100% on where to start. Should I just be going under ropes at resorts for the time being or should I head somewhere else. I know alot about back country safety and first aid etc. so I definetly would not be going alone.. thats just dumb. Any tips?


Thanks

~Sean


P.S. TGR's newest film Lost and Found is sick!
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
Also, I tele as well if that helps in the getting there factor... I'm much more experienced on alpine though so I'd probably start off with that
post #3 of 18
bro, please start with vocabulary - you'll need to know the lingo to ensure you're new buddies (and you'll need them) don't think you're a dork

mountain technique = not sure what you mean - maybe you mean area lift access skiing

back mountains = I think you really are trying to say backcountry

going under ropes = we're going to be watching out for trolls because we're "cutting ropes" today to hit our secret stash

back country safety = avy science, reading weather, route selection, reading terrain, orienteering, incident command, the list goes on and i'm kinda wondering what "knowing a lot" means - talk to me

for now - baby steps ...vocab - work the vocab
think about an avy class - look online for one.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eNick View Post
mountain technique = not sure what you mean - maybe you mean area lift access skiing
I was talking about lift accessed and the few times I've hiked with my cousins in the mountains near the house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eNick View Post
back mountains = I think you really are trying to say backcountry
Yea I meant back country but also specifically going to the backside of some lift serviced mountains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eNick View Post
going under ropes = we're going to be watching out for trolls because we're "cutting ropes" today to hit our secret stash
Same as above, I mean OB... leaving the lift serviced boundries... only done it once

Quote:
Originally Posted by eNick View Post
back country safety = avy science, reading weather, route selection, reading terrain, orienteering, incident command, the list goes on and i'm kinda wondering what "knowing a lot" means - talk to me
I know: Avalanche safety and everything that goes with that (beacons, probes, etc.), I know *how* to cut cornices but I wouldnt trust myself with doing that yet, I'm preparing to get my WFR certification so I know wilderness safety and first aid through that, and I know a bit about picking lines but I probably wouldn't trust myself with that yet either. What else should I know?



As for an avy class... yea I've been looking around for one for maybe this winter if not early spring or next winter. Any suggestions? Thanks for the reply... sorry my vocab isnt up to par
post #5 of 18
Hey Tehmasterplan,

Not to worry. Good on you for wanting to expand your horizons. There are many here more experienced than I am but then maybe they are too experienced for what i'm infering you are looking for.

From what I've obsreved, there are a number of options for putting your toe in the water without jumping off the deep end with a bunch of dudes you may not know:
  • A number of mountains have back country access with guides (whistler, Crested Butte, Aspen i'm sure there are others).
  • Cat skiing will provide you with backcountry experience with the safety of a guide. not all are super expensive. around here monarch has daily cat skiing as does purgatory or durango or whatever they are calling it these days.
  • Some places like Keystone, Copper, Cooper and Targhee have cat accessed terrain, some free, some by the ride etc.
  • There are clinics available through all mountain ski pros in Tahoe or the backcountry clinic at jackson hole.
  • Finally, you can go to Silverton and go with a guide at first and then without when you gain confidence.
Advice to take avy class seems sound too and you might meet some folks there you could ski with later.

good luck and keep us posted at the end of the season on what you decided to do.
post #6 of 18
PS: keep in mind that when you go through a backcountry access gate at a ski resort, unless it's in bounds backcountry, you are going into the real deal and it is not one iota safer than if you parked your car on some pass and hiked out.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks alot for your response mom... any idea how to convince my mother to let her baby go do some backcountry She says not till I'm 21 and have my own insurance... which is understandable... yet all my cousins are 17-20 and they do it!
post #8 of 18
Answer in one is to buddy up with someone more experienced than you. If you are respectful and wiling to make an effort, most BC skiers are more than happy to show a newbie the ropes.
post #9 of 18
bro, i'll play... backcountry winter travel is really cool stuff - but it's not for everyone.

first thing outta the way - cutting ropes - not cool

here's my take:
backcountry skiing is really not about cutting cornices ...really. i'm not saying that people don't address that type of terrain ...they do. but if you want to grow old and still be skiing the backcountry, then you're going to spend the bulk of your time (i'm talking 90%) planning outings with regard to weather, snowpack data, route selection and timing; practicing with you beacon, probe and shovel, with regard to mock scenarios ...with your backcountry buddies; hiking ...some backcountry terrain will take hours to access via ped mode and other terrain takes less time (or may choose the snomo mode of transport); digging pits in regards to snow science, evaluation, decision making, recording your findings and keeping a log; leadership in regards to who makes the call on what happens next if the decision is not a popular decision; there's a lot more but this is enough to keep you busy for many, many hours.

backcountry winter travel is very rich and complex hobby

a joke:
what do you do when a person in your party shows up at the trail head without a shovel?

give him yours
post #10 of 18
Take an accredited avy level 1 class. That's the best place to start, maybe the only place to start. Don't leave the area without it.

Then get a highly experienced mentor who has the training - and not just someone who ducks ropes a lot and gets away with it. The avy class should give you adequate standards to judge a potential mentor's capabilities. In many areas you can rent mentors - they're called guides.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Didn't think i would get hostility asking this question.. i know im new to this

Thanks everyone for your responses... sorry i dont know enough about the subject eNick


and Bob, any suggestions for a good guide somewhere or an avy class your recommend?
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tehmasterplan View Post
... and Bob, any suggestions for a good guide somewhere or an avy class your recommend?
Here's a source for avy education:
http://www.backcountrymagazine.com/avi_links.html

Also:
http://avtraining.org/
http://avalanche.org/
http://www.avalanche-center.org/

It's not going to be a Fast-&-EZ process, so patience and a respect for knowledge and consequences will help you here. If you find yourself getting impatient, take a few moments and read some of this:
http://www.avalanche-center.org/Incidents/
Edit to add: Hmmm looks like that has been reserved for members only, but try this:
http://avalanche.state.co.us/Accidents/UnitedStates/
and being as you mention Montana in your Location tag, try this:
http://www.mtavalanche.com/accidents/.

As for guided trips, it all depends on where you are. Where did you want to go bc skiing?
http://www.google.com/search?q=backc...+skiing+guides
http://www.google.com/search?q=ski+m...neering+guides
http://www.google.com/search?q=ski+m...g+guided+trips

And don't take what eNick wrote too hard - he's only looking out for your best interests. Far too many nooBs have come to grief heading out into the bc unprepared after getting stoked by things like the latest TGR flick. He's just a little salty is all.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yea I understand the severity of it thats why im here. A family friend died in an avalanche and one has also been paralyzed from it thats why I'm looking for the best places to start... I'm going to bookmark those pages thanks a ton!
post #14 of 18
I'm guessing you got some less than positive feedback because your first post mentioned how much you knew about backcountry 'safety', but your vocabulary demonstrated something different.

Stoked you wanna get back there. It's gonna be tough. You'll love it. You'll know you like it, but you won't know how much until you spend 20 minutes in a lift line and end up sitting next to someone telling you how hard they were killing it. Then, all you'll think about is being alone on a ridge with your friends.

Start with your avy 1. Bob Peter's links kill it. It's not super close to Red Lodge, but Exum Mountain Guides are a good place to get your avy 1. http://www.exumguides.com/winter/avalanche.shtml

avalanche.org is also a good resource. You can find incident reports that are a good teaching tool. They are a much better teaching tool if you've been through your 1 and can recognize mistakes/red flags. It also has links to the avalanche forcasting centers around the country/world. The avy forecast is a good tool to check before you go.

Montana has a fairly unpredicatable snowpack. Definately get your Avy 1.

You will also need to spend some money on gear. You're gonna need a beacon $300-$450, a probe $30-$90, and a shovel ($50-$100) at the very least. Sounds spendy, but you won't ever think about it if a slide happens. These things are only useful if you practice. Jackson Hole has a great beacon practice area.

Plus touring gear. You can get away with alpine boots, skins, and trekkers on your lift riding skis for the first year. But you aren't gonna like it that much. If you want to give yourself a shot of liking it, you're gonna need a dedicated backcountry set up.

Definately don't be afraid to turn back if conditions aren't right. I've walked off more than a few hills. It still counts as a good day. The dogs had fun. I still got some exercise. I was still up in the mountains.

Oh, and if you happen to be snowshoeing at first, do not boot the skin track.

Have fun.

The first coupla years will be a pain in the butt, conditioning-wise. Then, some crazy sick sort of feeling will come over you, when you actually like the climb as much (okay, almost) as the ride. After all, you're gonna be skinning more than skiing, you better embrace it.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yea I predict a long hard road with an extremely fruitful outcome! Right now I have an ortovox beacon (http://www.ortovox.com/typo7/index.php?id=475&L=1) that I hope is good enough and a pretty solid Dakine shovel that I've used in my backyard and on the lift accessed mountain before.. Think i will need something more? Also in terms of probes... I've been looking around for some cheap ones, pretty sure my cousin might have an extra he'd be willing to give up. Thanks for the tip, I'll start looking into getting a separate gear set up once i have the money and really get into it more, right now im riding on terrible skis for powder... they're all mountain skis (K2 Apache Recons) so I dont expect they will fair well in the back country.. I am looking for some used cheap skis to start off with in some smaller stuff. I am teleing on some Black Diamond Havocs that seem to float pretty well for a heavier ski and contrary to alot of their reviews.


Thanks alot!
post #16 of 18
eNick the d#&k... sorry - i'll work on that

nice beacon ...triple antenna is trick

i'd be real good if someone in your group had one of these


and one of these


they'll be real handy for rutschblock carving
post #17 of 18
Here's something you can do right now for only $14. Buy Bruce Tremper's book Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. This is pretty easy reading and covers a lot of what you will later hear in the Avy courses. Its a nice beginning to understanding the subject and safety. I like the book because it emphasizes good decision-making rather than just rescue skills.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Here's something you can do right now for only $14. Buy Bruce Tremper's book Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. This is pretty easy reading and covers a lot of what you will later hear in the Avy courses. Its a nice beginning to understanding the subject and safety. I like the book because it emphasizes good decision-making rather than just rescue skills.
x2

Bruce is da man. Great book and if you read this before taking a level 1 course, you'll be way ahead of the game.
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