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Berthoud for Beginner

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am looking to get involved in the BC and feel Berthoud would be a great place to start (being as popular as it is). How necessary are beacons and other avalanche gear on Berthoud. I obviously know some areas of it are far more dangerous than others but I was wondering if people felt I could stay out of trouble and try out the BC without investing in the safety gear right away. Assume I have common sense and some basic avy safety background. Do all of those people I see on weekends have all the proper safety gear? Thanks.
post #2 of 10
Given your stated info, you'll never get any responsible advice to ski without beacons etc. in backcountry CO.

But do hook up with these people:
http://www.berthoudpass.org/

The executive director posts to Ttips and TGR and is good people. FOBP seems like a perfect fit to help with your goals.
post #3 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by drewski180 View Post
...
Do all of those people I see on weekends have all the proper safety gear?


That one made me laugh, drewski. Of COURSE they don't all have proper safety gear. A minor little detail like that isn't enough to stop some people from shreddin' the gnar.

More seriously, though, the answer to your main question is kind of problematic. I don't know Berthoud Pass other than from driving over it a few times, but I'm willing to bet that there are areas accessible from the pass that are perfectly safe to ski without a beacon. That's certainly the case here in the Tetons.

The problem is having enough experience and judgement to be able to tell WHERE it's safe and where it's not. Your level of knowledge may not be well developed enough yet to keep you in places that are safe enough without the gear. Plus, if you go out intending to only stay in the safe places, you have to be enormously aware of not succumbing to the temptation to ski that really good-looking line over there - where it's a little steeper and out in the open.

The safest answer to your question is that you really shouldn't go out unless you have all the gear and at least some of the training. The fuzzier truth, however, is that there's lots of safe skiing out there in the mountains if you know how to find it in the first place and stay there in the second.

I think Bob Lee's suggestion looks like a really good one.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
To both Bobs, I appreciate the advice and the Berthoud link should be very helpful. I didn't expect anyone to say I should be in the BC without a beacon but I'm glad you didn't totally blow off my question. I plan to take a full avy class before heading up and I will likely purchase a beacon (or ask my parents to, I'm sure they would be happy to knowing I'd be that much safer if something does happen). I will likely stay to the low angle stuff at first just to see how I enjoy working for my turns and if its something I do enjoy I'll go all out with safety and being properly informed. Thanks again, Drew.
post #5 of 10
Please purchase a beacon! It's worth the money and Berthoud has lots of slides. There are some areas on the pass, especially the old ski area that are low angle and fairly safe but...above there is steeper terrain that can give way. The highway gets closed every year from a slide.

I'm thrilled to hear that you are planning on taking an avy class and if you have some friends who are into the bc get with them. Another easy access area is St. Mary's although there is some weird parking stuff going on there
post #6 of 10
A few years ago Berthod had it's first death before most of us had snow. I rode my first slide very near to the pass on "the safest weekend of the the season". That place takes out cars from time to time. Once it did in a crew filming an avalanche. Yep, you need the whole shootin' match there, and most importantly, some knowledge and judgement.

Have fun out there!
post #7 of 10
If I am not mistaken, either last year or the year before there were 2 deaths at Berthoud in an early season avy. Both victims, as I recall, had beacons... but forgot them in their car.

Of course, the real key is not the beacon, but the judgment to avoid the danger in the first place.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by drewski180 View Post
I plan to take a full avy class before heading up and I will likely purchase a beacon.... I will likely stay to the low angle stuff at first just to see how I enjoy working for my turns and if its something I do enjoy I'll go all out with safety and being properly informed.
It is pretty bizarre that nobody here has stated the obvious. Wearing a beacon is totally useless (except for the purpose of recovering your body) unless you are part a group, everybody wearing beacons, carrying shovels and probes and knowing how to use them, and even better, taking care to minimize the risk of being caught in an avalanche in the first place.
post #9 of 10
Have to concur here. If you don't have gear and some training you are worthless to be in a group. If something happens to the other guy (you weren't planning on going solo were you?) you have absolutely no way to help them. In fact you actually make things worse by giving a false sense of help being nearby. It is a two way street out there in the BC. But it sounds like you have your head screwed on straight. Avy I will be good for ya.
post #10 of 10
Definitely check out the education resources at www.BerthoudPass.org
Edited by Pinner - 3/9/10 at 8:07pm
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