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Old 02-26-2009, 08:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
hm1sfidc
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Question Backcountry

I would love to get into some of this backcountry snowboarding. I see these beautiful photos, great powder and killer turns out their. How does one get into backcountry? What I am asking is are their groups that one could join or get into? I'm a solo snowboarder, ya I have a few friends I hit the slopes with but they lack the experience and I hate to say it the drive to want to get off the slopes. I would love to go but, the thing holding me back is I am a single boarder, would prefer a few good buds to roll out with that have experience in BC boarding and willing to teach.

Last edited by hm1sfidc; 02-26-2009 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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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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Old 02-26-2009, 10:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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^ Much appreciated !
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
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.
Not to jack the thread but I just wanted to point out that those 8 snowmobilers that died near Fernie BC were all avalanche prepared with beacons, probes the works. If memory serves they even had one of those new satellite emergency transmitters with them.

So I guess I am just trying to state the obvious that even if you are trained and know how to use the gear making the proper decisions from the start is what saves lives. If they hadn't entered complex terrain on an high risk avalanche day they may still be around.
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Old 02-26-2009, 05:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Evidently they were not that avy aware. Having the gear is great, but the knowledge is also equally important.

The number one rule when traveling in avalanche terrain is to expose only one person at a time to dangerous areas. No matter how you slice it, they did not do this.

I see plenty of people who have avalanche gear, but don't have a clue on how to travel properly in avalanche terrain. Likewise, an avalanche doesn't care if you are an expert or not.
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