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Old 02-01-2012, 01:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default I'm Taking an Intro to Backcountry Course

I guess with this post I am trying to get a bit of conversation going around the best ways to gain experience in the back country and how to increase knowledge to make more informed and safe choices.


I have minimal back country experience and what I have done includes snowshoeing in for the day to below treeline areas and getting in maybe 2-3 turns over a day. I've taken the AST I course and been reading the book Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain - Bruce Tremper to try keep what I've learned fresh in my mind.


This weekend I am participating in an Intro to Backcountry course where I intend to rent a split board for the first time. Details on the course can be found here. I think this will be helpful as I have never used skins before and have very minimal knowledge route finding.


It seems that the amount of knowledge to properly choose terrain and judge safety is so overwhelming I don't know that i would ever make the right choice on my own. At this point I feel that I should be worried about every slope as there are a million and one things that contribute to avalanches.


The next thing I have questions about is travel on a snowboard in the back country. The course gear recommendation says that Snow Boards can be used on this program however, due to the number of flat areas you are better off on skis. How do snowboarders usually deal with this? I imagine this is something you would have to put up with on most trips out.
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So you have taken a Level I course already?

The two modes of transportation most suited for backcountry riding is a splitboard or a snowmobile. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Route finding is a bit of an art, but for the most part if you keep an inclinometer out you can figure out your safe lines. Of course you need partners. Skinning is not hard. It's pretty much like snowshoeing. Of course you won't be that efficient at it at first, but it will come with time. I would avoid tackling steep switch back terrain at first. Just ask Linville about that one. Sorry Linville...

As far as this program goes. If you need to find partners, this may be a great way to do it. I think you'll be fine with a splitboard. You might have to consider splitting it and trying to ski out if it's flat enough. Not the greatest thing in the world unless you have skiing skills, but not impossible either.
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes I have taken the Avalanche Safety Training Level 1 and it was definitely helpful but it seems like it's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you need to know.

All I meant by finding routes on my own is doing it without a guide or someone else with much more experienced than me. I would not go out without a partner.

Having never used a splitboard is it quick enough to split it to ski format? Say for a flat section a few hundred feet or less? Do I let skiers go first and ride their tracks as far as I can?Could I bust out some collapsible poles and push myself along while still staying as a snowboard? I am worried about slowing down the group by having to switch between board and skis.

Last edited by Nostromos; 02-01-2012 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Let me know how that intro goes! I have been eying up that "course" at yamnuska as well. Trying to recruit a couple of my friends to do it this year. Just not sure I am in the physical condition to do it yet. Let me know how hard you find it.
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