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Beacon's, Probes and Recco's Oh My!

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
I was a girlscout when I was young(er)
Since then I've always tried to be prepared.......so,
I'm thinking that I may have an opportunity to get into some interesting skiing when I get out west this year.
Rio implies that he's going to educate me, but the real question is, "Is TC edcuatable?"

Rio suggested needing a peep, probe and shovel.

This thread has been a wealth of information for me
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=77553

If you were me and really wanted to be prepared to embrace this experience, what would you do?
post #2 of 67
Well, this is a very good price on the BCA DTS beacon, so it's worth putting on your shopping list:

https://www.mountaingear.com/pages/p...tem/102152/N/0

You can also buy Recco tags from MountainGear for $25 (pack of 2), and I see no downside to having them for resort skiing. They can only help. I wouldn't get them for backcountry skiing though, or use them in lieu of a beacon.

For a probe, it's worth spending a few extra bucks to shave a bit of weight without compromising length/strength/function. How easily the probe unfolds/deploys is a big consideration too. Most of the good ones can go from stowed to deployed with a flick.

There was a good thread on shovels recently that covered the topic well.

I'm only contributing this because I was in the same boat at one time. I'm not an expert by any means, but I'm sure the experts will weigh in.
post #3 of 67
TC, getting into some BC will be fun for you. A shovel, probe, and beacon are must have's. But make sure you get to spend some time using all three and that you feel comfortable using them before you go skiing and find you need them. Personally, I think the Recco's are a waste of money. Patrol does not carry the Recco transceiver on them so if you get buried they call for it and that can take quite awhile depending upon where you are in relation to the location of the transceiver. I generally consider Recco to be a tool to assist in body recovery. Every patroller carries a beacon and I am starting to wear mine inbounds because the rescue can begin faster. Now, if you have clothing with Recco already, great.

Avalanches and other backcountry dangers tend to lead to panic. Do some research, learn as much as you can, make sure you go out with a person with lots of experience, and do not go until you feel totally comfortable
post #4 of 67
TC, you need to ask yourself if you really are a complete enough skier to be in the backcountry.

Even with someone experienced, anything can happen. I've never skied with you and this is an honest question.
post #5 of 67
another thing you can do in 'the mitten' --- before you get out west---is find a snow science class or avalance basics class -- NSP has them if you can't find them through any other means
post #6 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
TC, you need to ask yourself if you really are a complete enough skier to be in the backcountry.
What does that mean - "complete enough"? Just curious.

Trekchick, the one thing you should do is get mentored. A solid, knowledgable, compatible person (or group) that will take you on and teach you some of the ropes. It's best to take thing progressively - start small and work your way up.
post #7 of 67

BC

Trekchick, REI here has free introductory BC classes. Learned some avalanche basics, gear, what to buy, what you need, operated Peips transceivers etc. Good 1 1/2 hr well worth the drive into Spokane. If they have an REI in your area.
post #8 of 67
Thread Starter 
Thanks all.
Pete, I have no REI here.
Lars, I've always been intrigued by BC but never had the balls to do it. Am I complete enough? We'll find out.
This was never a reality to me until Rio suggested that we ski an area that requires some BC Gear, even though its not technically BC.
My thought is to do this at the end of Big Sky ESA, therefore, those who may be taking me to the adventure side are also folks who will have skied with me for a few days and will be able to determine if I'm up to it.
.....you know me well enough to know that I am not going to be offended if "they" say that I'm not up to it.

If I were to get a check list of items I want, what would it be:
(Besides a class, which is on my list of must do's when I have an opportunity)
Beacon
Prope
Shovel

*I've been reading as much as I can, which has me a little scared and a little excited
post #9 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post
What does that mean - "complete enough"? Just curious.

Trekchick, the one thing you should do is get mentored. A solid, knowledgable, compatible person (or group) that will take you on and teach you some of the ropes. It's best to take thing progressively - start small and work your way up.
Bob, Complete skier? Ask yourself if you can ski anything, and I mean anything. 40 plus degree slopes with chutes, tight trees, with wind blown slab, bottomless powder etc? If you lose a ski are you able to get back up that 40 degree pitch and find it then put it on? If your guide gets hurt or worse, will you be able to assist him and get yourself out? There's a zillion more questions to ask yourself. It's a great experience but not a walk in the park. Even around ABasin, if you can't hike and ski the upper East Wall, you aren't ready to go other places. I've skied some of the backcountry between ABasin and Keystone and there's some of the steepest terrain I've ever skied. When you add in tight trees and rocks and cliffs and buried logs, it becomes much more extreme.
And doesn't matter how experienced your partner is. You can't expect him to babysit you especially if you get separated or he gets injured. Your cell phone might not have a signal either.

That's what I mean
post #10 of 67
A lot of the posts here and in related threads basically assume sidecountry or similar terrain, often a guided or quasi-guided experience, terrain and snowpack that present moderate or higher avalanche danger (i.e. steep terrain, possibly with lots of objective hazards, etc. etc.), and a big focus on beacon/probe practice and use.

I wouldn't worry about the inbounds terrain at Big Sky. I'm sure you'll ski some other stuff first while there,

Consider though that you can find backcountry terrain that is easy, very low-risk, and well-suited to beginners. If you keep this in mind you don't need to be a great skier. If you needed to be a great skier the bc would be a lot less crowded. Consider also that statistically your beacon shovel and probe only give a very slim margin of safety over taking no gear so safe terrain makes a lot of sense. You won't find it on the internet though, and I'm not suggesting at all that it's possible to just walk up to a slope that "looks safe." Bob Lee's suggestion of getting mentored is the best way to go; as a tourist using a guide as a "mentor" and being clear what you want to learn, as opposed to just looking for a fun outdoors experience, can be one way to avoid the difficulty of finding an experienced "local" during the time confines of a trip.
post #11 of 67
Thread Starter 
CTCook, as you can imagine, I've done a lot of reading and find a ton of great input.

I have an adventurous spirit, but I also have some smarts. I'll let both parts of me balance a great time out there and let Rio be the voice of wisdom.

*Did you know, Rio charges a fee for picking up yard sales from his ski buddies? :
post #12 of 67
As long as you understand that this will not be backcountry, that's cool and like I said you should be fine.
post #13 of 67
Thread Starter 
The real idea is to nibble a bit with some in bounds area with some BC risk, which, (if I understand Rio correctly) is what we will likely be doing.


Just so happens REI sent me an email with some deals on BC gear and a video
Basics of Backcountry tips.
http://www.rei.com/gearmail/gm0102_3...9-_-btn_advice
post #14 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
Bob, Complete skier? Ask yourself if you can ski anything, and I mean anything. 40 plus degree slopes with chutes, tight trees, with wind blown slab, bottomless powder etc? If you lose a ski are you able to get back up that 40 degree pitch and find it then put it on? If your guide gets hurt or worse, will you be able to assist him and get yourself out? There's a zillion more questions to ask yourself. It's a great experience but not a walk in the park. Even around ABasin, if you can't hike and ski the upper East Wall, you aren't ready to go other places. I've skied some of the backcountry between ABasin and Keystone and there's some of the steepest terrain I've ever skied. When you add in tight trees and rocks and cliffs and buried logs, it becomes much more extreme.
And doesn't matter how experienced your partner is. You can't expect him to babysit you especially if you get separated or he gets injured. Your cell phone might not have a signal either.

That's what I mean
Jeebus. Not all - or even most - backcountry is like that. I've taken never-evers into the bc on gentle slopes with less strenuous access, and then if it appeals to them worked on up towards - but maybe never actually approaching - what you're talking about. And an ideal bc trip includes a group - not just one other person for the noob to rely on.

I personally like stuff like what you're talking about, but it's a mistake to think - or tell others - that all backcountry skiing is like that. Just IMHO.

Remember that respect !=fear.
post #15 of 67
So, I guess there's backcountry and then there's "Backcountry" I guess.

There in lies the problem. Taken lightly, puts everyone in jeopardy.

It's a walk in the park.
post #16 of 67
TC, I'm sure if you're with Rio, you'll be fine.

I was just concerned for you.
post #17 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
So, I guess there's backcountry and then there's "Backcountry" I guess.

There in lies the problem. Taken lightly, puts everyone in jeopardy.

It's a walk in the park.
Heh. You're working pretty hard to come across as superior here. You might try to learn a little more about me before you get dismissive. If perhaps you have made that effort, then I guess you're "that" type of person and I don't expect I'll be ripping skins with you. Your loss.
post #18 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
TC, I'm sure if you're with Rio, you'll be fine.

I was just concerned for you.
I know, Lars, I feel the love


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post
Heh. You're working pretty hard to come across as superior here. You might try to learn a little more about me before you get dismissive. If perhaps you have made that effort, then I guess you're "that" type of person and I don't expect I'll be ripping skins with you. Your loss.
Bob, I think lars has a concern for me because we're friends. But I'm glad you challenged him because it brought up some very good information.

Lars, MrTC wants me to "go over things" with him before my Big Sky trip.
post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
Bob, I think lars has a concern for me because we're friends.
Well, that's nice and all and I don't want you to think that I don't have concern for you, but I was actually taking issue with Lars for his attitude and self-importance concerning matters of 'backcountry'. His apparent baseline of 'backcountry' skiing is a little ridiculous. Apparently there is no meadow-skipping in his world. Gnar.
post #20 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post
... His apparent baseline of 'backcountry' skiing is a little ridiculous...
Or maybe naive. The view that suggesting an easy tour on safe terrain for a first "backcountry" experience is taking it lightly is certainly inverted. And the idea that there needs to be a large amount of underlying danger for something to be "Backcountry" certainly is not my idea of fun, and not something that very many bc users are looking for.

As a backdrop people again should also remember that TC is talking about an inbounds skiing experience. There, skiing rowdier terrain that's already been controlled, that has patrol available quickly if you blow your knee or break a leg, that's either fully lift-served or has an easily visible bootpack or traverse with no decision-making as to route to access your descent involved, can be really fun. But precisely because of those elements it's not a backcountry experience. Not better or worse, just different.
post #21 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post
Heh. You're working pretty hard to come across as superior here. You might try to learn a little more about me before you get dismissive. If perhaps you have made that effort, then I guess you're "that" type of person and I don't expect I'll be ripping skins with you. Your loss.
Hey Bob? Whatever!

You don't know me from Adam so my so called "Attitude" doesn't enter into my concern for a Friend. OK?

I made my point about taking the BackCountry "lightly" reguardless of the terrain. Especially this season when even in bounds areas are unsafe at times.

I was privey to a young couple two years ago at ABasin who decided to explore some backcountry just outside the ropes and were found 8 hours later in the Creek by Rt.6 cold and scared by luckily unscathed. The point being, even what seems safe and easy sometimes turns into tragedy and people should understand this.

Maybe it's the Ski Patroller in me, maybe it's the prick in me. Maybe you just don't know me well enough. Frankly, If you think I'm the kind of guy you won't ski with that's your loss. Cause you'd be missing out on some good times.

The Backcountry shouldn't be taken lightly no matter what the terrain is. We read about what can happen every year. People snowshoeing with their dogs in meadows that get buried. As much as the experienced experts who get buried skiing some technical terrain.

So, how did concern for a friend turn into this?
post #22 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
Hey Bob? Whatever!
The power retort of 14 year olds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
You don't know me from Adam so my so called "Attitude" doesn't enter into my concern for a Friend. OK?
I would have to say that (ironically) you don't know me from Adam as well, and further I'd point out that it's a public forum. If you don't want outside feedback...well, take it private.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
I made my point about taking the BackCountry "lightly" reguardless of the terrain. Especially this season when even in bounds areas are unsafe at times.
SHow me where I take it lightly. I was responding to your "40 degree plus chute" and assorted nightmare conditions bullshit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
I was privey to a young couple two years ago at ABasin who decided to explore some backcountry just outside the ropes and were found 8 hours later in the Creek by Rt.6 cold and scared by luckily unscathed. The point being, even what seems safe and easy sometimes turns into tragedy and people should understand this.
I was privey to the couple that was lost outside of Santa Fe last year for three nights. Shrug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
Maybe it's the Ski Patroller in me, maybe it's the prick in me. Maybe you just don't know me well enough.
PKB and right back at you. I'm a full-time pro patroller myself, have been for a while, and I've been a prick forever. More shrug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
Frankly, If you think I'm the kind of guy you won't ski with that's your loss. Cause you'd be missing out on some good times.
Hey, get your own material. That was my line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
The Backcountry shouldn't be taken lightly no matter what the terrain is. We read about what can happen every year. People snowshoeing with their dogs in meadows that get buried. As much as the experienced experts who get buried skiing some technical terrain.
Duh. Climb down off your high horse and show me specifically where I implied anything different...if you can stop ranting and showing us how bad-ass you are for a few.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
So, how did concern for a friend turn into this?
Ask yourself that. I made my comments because you were full of...yourself.
post #23 of 67
Geeze, guys, backcountry IS backcountry! Just because it's a nice flat meadow, doesn't mean it isn't exposed to avalanche danger. Just because it's in the woods doesn't mean you're out of the woods! Anyone experienced in the backcountry should know this. But it's the inexperienced backcountry visitors, who lack the understanding and ability to identify risky terrain, who often put themselves at risk without even knowing it, even as they think they're trying to be safe in "just gentle terrain."

For what it's worth, dangerous avalanches are sliding in the mountains of Colorado in the last couple days, on slopes in the very low 30's of angle. Not exactly a flat meadow, but not the steep terrain that "anyone" might think was dangerous either.

The one thing all backcountry experiences have in common is that they are unpatrolled, and uncontrolled, and your survival--and that of your companions--is much more up to you and your own skills and judgment than to the ski patrol.

So while backcountry experiences may not need to involve the extreme challenges that Lars has described, it is still not a place where novices should tread unawares. "Statistics" are often made by those who don't heed Lars's warning.

Best regards,
Bob
post #24 of 67
The most important backcountry skiing gear isn't gear...it is knowledge about snow and snow slides. Someone in the group MUST have completed at least a Level 1 avalanche training course. Of course, Level 2 or Level 3 completion makes for a safer trip.

A study I read about recently shows that a beacon adds about 5% to 7% increased chance of survival for a buried avalanche victim. 5 to 7 percent ain't much...not skiing where you might get buried is much better. Yes, carry a beacon and buy your partner an excellent probe and shovel. Be sure your partner is fully trained in locating a buried beacon. But, don't count on the gizmos.
post #25 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
But, don't count on the gizmos.
Good reminder. Those are for use after the slide. They do not help with safety/prevention.
post #26 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
Geeze, guys, backcountry IS backcountry! Just because it's a nice flat meadow, doesn't mean it isn't exposed to avalanche danger. Just because it's in the woods doesn't mean you're out of the woods! Anyone experienced in the backcountry should know this. But it's the inexperienced backcountry visitors, who lack the understanding and ability to identify risky terrain, who often put themselves at risk without even knowing it, even as they think they're trying to be safe in "just gentle terrain."

For what it's worth, dangerous avalanches are sliding in the mountains of Colorado in the last couple days, on slopes in the very low 30's of angle. Not exactly a flat meadow, but not the steep terrain that "anyone" might think was dangerous either.

The one thing all backcountry experiences have in common is that they are unpatrolled, and uncontrolled, and your survival--and that of your companions--is much more up to you and your own skills and judgment than to the ski patrol.

So while backcountry experiences may not need to involve the extreme challenges that Lars has described, it is still not a place where novices should tread unawares. "Statistics" are often made by those who don't heed Lars's warning.

Best regards,
Bob
What?!? What is this? Are you addressing me? Then please point out where/when I said or implied that backcountry skiing isn't dangerous.

What I did was give Lars a hard time about his bullshit doom-and-gloom ability requirements for a person's first bc trip here (emphasis added):
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
...Complete skier? Ask yourself if you can ski anything, and I mean anything. 40 plus degree slopes with chutes, tight trees, with wind blown slab, bottomless powder etc? If you lose a ski are you able to get back up that 40 degree pitch and find it then put it on? ...
Also for his crap implying that I think bc is "a walk in the park."

Don't be preaching to me about the dangers and rigors of bc skiing. In addition to the background I already mentioned, I have advanced AAIRE avy training, I've spent 10-20 days a year or more since 1973 bc skiing in the big mountains of the west and I run an avalanche information web site.

And personally, if the skills that Lars listed above were required for a given trip I would never take someone to that for their first bc trip...for reasons that should be obvious.

Hope I was clear enough this time.
post #27 of 67
Did I say I was addressing you, Bob? I don't think this is about you at all! Don't get so testy! (I'm reminded of a certain Carly Simon song....)

Would it impact the validity of what I wrote, were it about you?

Relax, man. You certainly appear to have credentials and experience, and your opinions are surely worth hearing. But you're not the only one with opinions, and most posts on this thread appear to me to be directed to TrekChick's original inquiry. As they should be!

It's worth noting, too, that TrekChick's question was not, "what do I need to know and have to go into the backcountry with an extremely experienced, well-trained, well-equipped guide (such as yourself)?" I'm not so concerned about people who do that!

Best regards,
Bob
post #28 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
Did I say I was addressing you, Bob? I don't think this is about you at all! Don't get so testy! (I'm reminded of a certain Carly Simon song....)

Would it impact the validity of what I wrote, were it about you?
You're not answering the question I asked, are you? And if it were about me, then my answer to you would certainly be valid. If it wasn't addressed to me, then it was something of a non-sequiter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
It's worth noting, too, that TrekChick's question was not, "what do I need to know and have to go into the backcountry with an extremely experienced, well-trained, well-equipped guide (such as yourself)?" I'm not so concerned about people who do that!
Which would make your original reply even more of a non-sequiter. But her question was:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick
If you were me and really wanted to be prepared to embrace this experience, what would you do?
Amusingly enough, my original answer to TC was "get mentored." Not inappropriate, imo.

But again, that doesn't address Lars' posts that I took exception to. Perhaps, if you have issues with the exchanges between he and I, you could address those.
post #29 of 67
Quote:
Amusingly enough, my original answer to TC was "get mentored." Not inappropriate, imo.
Not inappropriate at all, Bob. Good advice, even--did anyone suggest otherwise, or disagree with you?

I'm sorry, Bob--did you ask me a question?

I'd very much prefer not to argue with you just for the sake of arguing, Bob. TrekChick asked a good question, and she's gotten, in my opinion, a lot of good replies to consider--yours included, when you've stuck to the topic. The rest of this is a waste of time, and I have no desire--or intention--to continue with it. Carry on, if you choose!

Best regards,
Bob
post #30 of 67

BC

Trekchick, Rio's offer sounds good to me too.
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