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Old 02-26-2009, 10:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
killclimbz
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Well, it helps first and foremost that you live near an area that offers backcountry recreation. Somewhere in the West, Northern East Coast, or Canadian spots. Not to mention all of the possibilities in Euroland, Japan, Kashmir, etc.

Assuming that you are a Western US type, figuring out what areas are popular with the backcountry crowd is good. Then before you go out and looks for people to ride with, it helps if you have some knowledge. You can't expect someone to take you under their wing and teach you everything. So take a Level I course, read a book, etc. Avalanche.org has good information on various places that offer Level I courses and backcountry groups. It also gives links to regional avalanche forecasting centers around the US-Canada and the world. Check out your local regions reports on a daily basis. Find out what they are observing, reporting, and warning users about.

Level I courses are not cheap, so read a book first. It will also prepare you nicely for a level I course if you do. Staying Alive In Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper is still the gold standard these days for avalanche books. I read it once a season. Bruce is the director of the Utah Avalanche Center and one of the top 5 guys in the world imo. He also writes in a fairly entertaining way and keeps it in layman's terms for the most part. So it's easy to understand. It will also give you a good idea if you want to go to the next step and take a level I course.

If you are going to take the dive, you're also going to need to get the proper gear. A beacon, shovel, and probe are standard equipment. You need to carry that stuff and need to practice with it. A pack to carry your gear, some food, and extra items is also needed. You'll also have to decide on your mode of transport. Snowshoes, splitboard, snowmobile, etc. If you are earning your turns, a splitboard is far superior to snowshoes. Snowmobiles are great too, though they get stuck, and overall as a group, snowmobiler's are not very avy aware. It's getting better, but this year alone snowmobilers account far half of the avalanche deathes out there.

Finnally there are some forums out there that can help hook you up with partners. The forums at Backcountry mag are a good place to get more info. Top professionals in the field, and long time backcountry enthusiast hang out there. Splitboard.com is a site dedicated to backcountry snowboarding from the splitboarder's angle of course. Lot's of guys there from all over the world. TGR's forum can be a good place to pick up partners. Warning though, that place is a bit like swimming in shark infested waters. If you come off as an ignorant n00b, you'll get treated harshly.

Hope that helps you get started.
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