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Old 03-04-2010, 07:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default BC "Starter Kit"

So, I'm nowhere near ready for BC now, but it is an aspiration. Lining up courses and wanting to start purchasing the safety equipment, beacon, probe, axe, etc. (I have a shovel and a whistle.)

Kill - Is the Avalung fairly standard now, or becoming standard? I'd like to eventually get one of those as well.

Can you guys recommend a good beginner snow safety lineup? I am hoping to be solid and knowledgeable enough to venture out, very modestly, by this time next season, but I'd like to pick up some items this spring (especially if they go on sale) so that the next time I venture, even mildly off trail, I'll be prepared.

I missed the last Avy 1 of the season at June (going on right now ), but there is one coming in Kirkwood, but requires split board, which they rent. I'm not sure what to expect with a split board???

So far the plan is ($$$ willing):

Avy 1 March 15
Ice Axe/Crampons April 15

What other beginner courses/reading can you recommend?

Thanks!
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Snow Sense: a guide to evaluating snow avalanche hazard. by Jill Fredston & Doug Fesler

beacon shovel probe. i like ortovox. good small pack.

dig pits after every snow event/every time you're out

get reliable, competent partners

learn to use your beacon and practice practice practice

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Old 03-05-2010, 09:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Beacon, shovel, probe, and an adequate pack to carry your gear (in addition to the avy gear think lunch, water, extra layer, and board carry) with.

An Avalung is a nice extra. I have one that I wear everytime I am out. Not needed, but if you get buried it could make the wait a whole lot more pleasant. Another option is to get an airbag. Those things work. The survival rate in an avalanche with airbag users is over 90%. You just don't get buried when those are deployed. Pricey though. I don't have one, but in a year or two I probably will. Xavier De La Rue was in a monster avalanche, the type that no one survives, and deployed on of those. He pretty much walked away from it. Amazing.

Snow sense is a good book, but the n00b I'd recommend Bruce Tremper's book "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain". Bruce is a fairly entertaining writer and lays out the basics in a simplistic easy to understand way. In addition he is one of the top 5 avalanche guru's in the world. Then again so are Jill and Doug. Definitely get a book and read it. You'll be that much more on top of the game when you take your avy class.

Splitboarding is easy. When in ski mode for skinning, it's pretty much like having big snowshoes on. Don't stress over it.

For a beacon, make sure you get one that has three antennas and that it is digital. Do not buy an analog beacon. Analogs take too much practice and I'll smoke anyone using an analog beacon with my digital beacon. Plain and simple. Three antenna digital beacons make pin pointing way easier. The Pieps DSP, Tracker 2, Barryovox Pulse, Ortovox D3, and Ortovox S1 are all three antenna beacons. In the class I lead a few weeks ago, everyone in the group went with the hype and had the BCA Tracker, a two antenna beacon. One guy had a Pieps DSP. When we went to beacon practice, the guy with the DSP and 4 others had never used their beacons to search. Two of them had experience with their Trackers. The guy with the DSP absolutely smoked everyone with the tracker. Pinpointing was super quick because of the third antenna. The best beacon is the one you know how to use, so practice with whatever beacon you get a lot.

After you take your level I, get a crew going and get out there and practice, often. Field experience is where you'll gain the wisdom and knowledge to be a savvy back country user.
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Great, thanks for the info. Right now I just have to focus on getting the education. Finding a partner/crew (esp one I trust) is going to be a little more difficult. Right now I only know one dude, but he's faaar more advanced than me and I'd only slow him down. My dude is mildly interested in BC, but his heart isn't in it and he doesn't want to pay for classes. I told him he can't ride with me if I can potentially save his life and he can't save mine.

But - baby steps! I'm a while away in terms of preparedness, but I'll get there!
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Buying a Beacon

So I'm pretty much just about ready to buy my beacon. It just makes more sense to me to take the Avy I with the beacon I am actually going to be using. $$ is an issue right now, so I've been trying to find the best quality at the lowest price... Come down to 2 choices right now:

I can get the Orvotox D3 for $251.96 here Ortovox D3 Avalanche Beacon from Backcountry.com

Or here for $321.99 which comes with a Viole Shovel/Saw combo
Ortovox D3 Digital Avalanche Beacon Transceiver Shovel - eBay (item 280440176777 end time Mar-17-10 15:48:34 PDT)

or the Tracker 2 with a free probe for $334.99 BCA Tracker 2 Avalanche Beacon DTS Transceiver & Probe - eBay (item 360240462579 end time Apr-02-10 15:58:06 PDT)

It seems like the 3D has a longer Range and transmit life, but the Tracker 2 is more accurate .I know they are both solid from what you guys have all posted. At this stage of the game for me is the 3D going to suffice, or is it really worth it to squeeze out the extra bill to get the Tracker 2? Oh - and is that shovel/saw really worth the xtra $75.00? 2 lbs seems heavy to add to a pack, but still trying to figure all this shit out! I'm always so long winded (sorry).
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Old 03-11-2010, 09:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The D3 and the Tracker 2 are practically the same exact beacon. I haven't done a range comparison between the two, but the D3 and the original tracker had about the same range. Out of all the beacons I have tested the D3 was by far the best at pin pointing. It basically put me right on top of the buried beacon every time I used it. I would get a probe strike on the first or second probe. I didn't get to try it with a deep burial, but in a continental snow pack that's hard to do without a big pile of avy debris. Transmit life should not be an issue. I've left a beacon on for over a week on fresh batteries and when I pulled it out of my gear bag, I still had over 70% battery strength. All beacons have a long transmit life.

Skip the snow saw combo and get a good metal shovel with an extendable shaft. Voile, Black Diamond, G3, Ortovox, BCA all make quality metal shovels. I prefer the T handle grip vs the D handle. It's more compact and takes up less room in the pack.

For your snow pack (deep maritime snow pack) get a 300 cm probe. It could save a life.

Snow saws, rutschblock cords, and avalungs are nice, but not necessary at this point in your experience.
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Old 03-11-2010, 01:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Right on Kill! Thank you. I'll add this to my "file".
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Old 03-11-2010, 02:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ummm. I'm going to ask an airhead question because this thought just occurred to me....How do I practice if I only have one beacon?
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Old 03-11-2010, 02:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmashred View Post
Ummm. I'm going to ask an airhead question because this thought just occurred to me....How do I practice if I only have one beacon?
You'll need another beacon.

Fortunately BCA has also set up beacon basins at several resorts. Mammoth is on that list. All you need to do is bring your beacon and probe to the resort. The probe is used to get the strike to verify you have pin pointed the buried beacon. Then you move on.
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Old 03-11-2010, 02:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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THAT'S RAD! I never would have known that. I'm giddy now...

THANK YOU!
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