Originally Posted by Snowolf
I personally find this position is a bit too absolutist. There are plenty of back country opportunities available where this gear is totally unnecessary. We have plenty of very low angle trails, forest service roads and trail system that offer safe terrain for people to ski and ride without being exposed to risk.
The Tohama Hut system out of Ashford, Wa. near Mt. Rainer for example, is a great place for people to tour without danger whether it be snow shoers, Nordic, Tele or splitters. On Mt Hood above Tilly Jane on Cooper Spur, there are hundreds of square acres of gentle, rolling, safe, open and super fun terrain to ride that is low angle and has never seen an avalanche since the mountain formed. I personally like Mt. St. Helens because there is great riding opportunities there that remain safe even when the Black Rose rears its ugly head. One of my favorite area used to be Lolo Pass on the Idaho/Montana border on US 12. It is a high country plataue that gets a shit load of great snow and has endless opportunities for real wilderness back country travel without exposure to avalanche hazards.
All over the west, not to mention places in the UP of Michigan, there are unlimited Nordic trails that offer plenty of treed and low angle terrain to play on. Plenty of Nordic skiers go into wilderness areas on overnight trips without the need of this gear.
I ride back country solo all over the PNW as well as Alaska. This gear is of little use when solo and only an airbag and a PLB would be worthwhile for solo back country riding. The difference is in education so that the back country rider knows what is safe and what is potentially dangerous. Also it is a matter of self control and sticking to using good decision making and not allowing yourself to get sucked into powder fever and violate your personal minimums. Part of what I do is teach aspiring back country riders to use good decission making skills and be able to accurately judge what terrain is safe for them and what requires gear and further education.
If you don't have the gear, you are not ready for the backcountry.
You can make choices after the fact about if you need it or not. If you don't own this gear, then the fact is you don't know what is safe or not. I don't know anyone with training that doesn't have this gear. I stand by my statement.