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Old 10-03-2011, 07:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default advice on BC gear please

I am looking to get into the BC properly this year.
I will be taking avalanche training before doing so.
I spend a lot of time off piste here in Japan but have yet to do full on BC.
We always ride one at a time stay in visual contact and avoid the off piste unless conditions are very very good.
We also avoid dangerous terrain (to the best of our knowledge and that shared with other shredders).

I want to get the basic kit for off piste riding i.e beacon, shovel and probe. Once I have got used to using it and practiced I will look into a split board. (Jones hovercraft looks nice).

Options are limited here in Japan unless you pay full price which is way more than the US prices.
I have been looking at black diamond probe (3m) and shovel. With a tracker beacon (bca トラッカーDTS the Japanese says tracker which I think is the brand) or an arva.

If there are any brands you recommend or recommend I avoid?

That info would be welcome as well as any general advice.

thanks.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have a pieps beacon which I find super easy to use and reliable. For the shovel, I have a BD deploy shovel which collapses pretty good and it pretty light. I really like it. I would also recommend getting an avalung. I don't know how much they are there, but could by you extra time if you got caught.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Arva is a beacon brand made by Nic-Impex out of France and has a ton of backcountry pedigree. I have an Arva Evolution that I used for years. It is a great beacon. Unfortunately it is over 5 years old and has some issues that no longer make it worthy of backcountry use. It's still great for throwing in a pack and doing S&R drills. Regardless they make solid gear. I got to play with their 3 antenna beacon from a couple of years ago and it was very nice.

The Tracker DTS is the old standard. It's a two antenna beacon. As mentioned above, you want a 3 antenna beacon. It limits the spikes making pinpointing a lot easier, and that is very important. The Tracker 2 is a three antenna beacon and after an initial glitch with the first release, is a great beacon. The problem they had was resolved with a software update.

The Pieps DSP is pretty much the standard for 3 antenna beacons. They came out with it first and have a great track record. It also has the best range when in receive. It's a solid beacon. It's also what I am currently using.

A 3 meter probe is a good idea for the snow pack in Japan. Deep burials are not uncommon.

For a shovel, make sure it's metal. BD, Voile, Nic-Impex all make quality shovels. I like shovels with extendable shafts and a pointed nose on the blade. Makes chopping ice a bit easier.

An Avalung is also a good item to have. I rock one. If you do get buried, and you manage to get it in your mouth, it'll make the wait more agonizing but you should be conscious when your buddies dig you out.

Airbags are also great. With an airbag pack, if you go for a ride, you probably won't be buried, at the very least a good portion of you will be above the snow and you'll be quickly retrieved. Xavier De La Rue survived a monster avalanche by deploying his airbag. They work and they work quite well. Expensive, but if you get caught in an avalanche, I'd bet you'd be willing to pay a mortgage for a house to have one in that instant. Pretty sure I'll be rocking one at some point this year.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice. It can be very deep here. Last year was intense (but huge fun too).
I looked in to the pieps DSP and its the equivalent of 800 dollars here.
When it comes to safety I believe in getting the best stuff you can for obvious reasons.
Still no reason to pay more for the same thing if its cheaper somewhere else.

About how much would that be in the US?

have an uncle there who I could pay and have it sent as its not heavy.

Again thanks
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Don't get me wrong. All three beacons I mentioned are great beacons. No matter which one you get you still need to practice with it. A lot. You should be able to locate and dig out a buried beacon in a pack in under four minutes, maybe five if you can bury it deeply. The only way you can pull that off is if you practice with it.

If you can find a buried beacon in four minutes and under, that gives you another 10 minutes or so to dig out your buried buddy. Recovering a person in under 15 minutes gives them the best chance for survival. Keep in mind for the average burial, you have to shovel out around 2 tons of snow. You're going to need some time to do that, and you're going to be very tired if it's just you. I also highly recommend practicing strategic shoveling so that you know the most efficient way to remove snow from your victim. Plus it will allow you to set up a triage area at the same time.
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Arva & Pieps both make good beacons. The BCA Tracker 2 and Ortovotx 3+ are two more new 3 antennae transceivers that work great.
Make sure you get a shovel with a large blade. Extendable handles are nice (shorter in pack / longer when in use).
I recommend the Ogio Flak jacket. You can't carry as much gear as a backpack, but it can hold everything you need. It keep things really balanced (especially nice for snowboarders) and is very comfy. Hard to find because people love them. Check snowmobile sites.
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Old 10-10-2011, 03:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ogio flak Jacket is nice. Great for sidecountry users. If you are doing all day tours a back pack is going to serve you better. So it really depends on the type of backcountry riding you are planning on doing.

I forgot about the 3+. That is also a very nice three antenna beacon. One of the best if not the best pin point functions out there.
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Old 10-12-2011, 01:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The only advice I have is the simpler the better. As a BC novice (I'm one too) the fewer things you have to think about and the fewer things you have that can potentially screw up, the better off you're going to be if you have to use them in an emergency situation. People with more experience can take advantage of more bells and whistles, but for novices those bells and whistles are more likely to get us into trouble in the panic of a rescue situation.

Whatever you buy, practice with it and get to the point that using it is just second nature.
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Old 10-12-2011, 10:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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this is a highjacking, just wondering how long the probe should be? i will be in the canadain rockies if that matters.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If youre in or near niseko, a nice idea is to head to kutchan for your probe and shovel. Youll usually find some better bargains than you might get in niseko itself. Actually shovels and probes arent all that expensive to buy, but possibly a fortune (comparatively) to ship. Id just pick them up in japan. (but do heed the advice to pick up one that can cut through solid lumps of very very hard snow (almost ice). The last thing you need is your cheap plastic shovel snapping in that kind of situation).

The beacon itself will range from $230 range through to about $450. Its pretty tough getting them second hand if youre outside the US. I have the tracker, it spikes but youll quickly get the hang of it if you practice a bit and get the feel for flux lines. Its fine search is AWESOME though. Or maybe mine is

Its weak point is multiple burials and the fact the damn thing kept ninja switching back to transmit, (my fault for forgetting really, but it needs to give you an electric shock or something for being a fool).

Last edited by ippy; 10-12-2011 at 11:02 PM.
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