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Old 01-26-2014, 01:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Lake Tahoe Backcountry - Newbie

Hey everyone -

Just moved to San Francisco from the East Coast. I've been snowboarding for nearly 20 years, locally in Vermont and many, many trips out west. I consider myself to be an "expert" rider and live for steep, fresh lines. Now that I'm out west, I'd love to get into backcountry riding, but definitely want to make sure I'm doing it the right way and safely.

Obviously, Tahoe is struggling right now in terms of snow, but I thought it would be a great time to get educated, take an avalanche safety course, etc.

Does anyone know of a good (hopefully not super expensive) place to take a backcountry safety course either in the Bay Area or in Tahoe? Also, are there any backcountry groups or trips that I'd be able to hook up with?

Thanks!
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Old 01-26-2014, 07:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sierra Avalanche Center has a list of course providers at their site.

You want to take a Level I avalanche course. Make sure that it is one that follows the AAIRE curriculum.

Good news, bad news. There are plenty of providers that offer this course. Bad news is that for an AAIRE L1, the cost is generally around $350. It is a fair price though and worth your money. Your life is worth a lot more and the education is the foundation for you to have the knowledge to keep living it.

Several places, typically mountaineering shops should have an Avalanche Awareness class offered. Which are typically free. The quality of them varies with who is offering it. A decent awareness class should cover the types of avalanches, components of a slab avalanche, weather concerns, safe travel protocols, and companion rescue.
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Old 01-26-2014, 07:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm sure this is a stretch but if you want to do it in snow, this is a good one.

https://threesistersbackcountry.com/education/
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Old 01-26-2014, 08:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Any L1 course should have on snow time. I am pretty sure it is required by AAIRE and AAA (American Avalanche Association).

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Old 01-26-2014, 12:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
Any L1 course should have on snow time. I am pretty sure it is required by AAIRE and AAA (American Avalanche Association).

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I know. Supposed to be ironic haha bad joke.
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Old 01-26-2014, 11:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the speedy response guys-- much appreciated.

How does Tahoe backcountry compare to CO or Utah? Also, do you know if there are any clubs, groups or guides to link up with? I think I may like to get a taste of what's out here before investing in 3-day course.

Thanks again!
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You'll have to wait to next season then cos there ain't nothing up there at the moment...
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridinbend View Post
I know. Supposed to be ironic haha bad joke.
Ha! My bad.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dbrownie19 View Post
Thanks for the speedy response guys-- much appreciated.

How does Tahoe backcountry compare to CO or Utah? Also, do you know if there are any clubs, groups or guides to link up with? I think I may like to get a taste of what's out here before investing in 3-day course.

Thanks again!
The snow packs are of a different nature in Utah and Colorado. The L1 would cover the basics but it is also tailored to the snowpack in the region. You would miss a lot taking it out of state imo.

I know it hasn't been great in the PNW either but they did have snow last time I checked. Similar snow pack to the Sierras there. If you wanted to travel to take your L1, that would be the spot.
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Old 04-30-2014, 05:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have lived in Reno, NV for the past 3 winters. I know at the Vail resorts they do a really good job of blasting for avalanches before they open the mountains. When the storms are really good, the top parts of the mountains are usually closed due to high winds.

As far as "back country" goes, just get a good powder board that is capable of being ridden on the groomed trails as well. I purchased the Ride Slack Country online for far less than they wanted in the stores and it seriously has been an amazing board.

Heavenly has some great places for tree's, Kirkwood does as well. The best part is that most of it is chair accessible (although to get to the really good stuff you will have to hike). If you do get hurt, there are usually a fair amount of people so screaming for help is a viable option and as long as you stay "in bounds" ski patrol will come to get you.

Tahoe doesn't really get the amount of snow Denver gets, but it is great during a good storm and the day after. Make sure you have chains and 4wd or the people at the road blocks will not let you pass.
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