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Old 12-11-2008, 01:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Avalanche classes in Bay Area and the Sierras

I want to get into backcountry boarding this winter and I working on purchasing all the proper safety equipment (as finances allow), so the next step is to get some training. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I would like to take a seminar and on the snow safety courses. Preferably, I would like the seminar to be in the Bay Area to cut down on travel time. First question is: does anyone know where they might have seminars in the Bay Area?

Secondly, I will need to take a safety course on the snow. I know that Kirkwood, Sierra at Tahoe, and Bear Valley do it, but does anyone know where else they do it? My local mountain is Dodge Ridge, so I would prefer it there, but I have never seen it there. I found a few places on the avalanche safety center website, but I want to see if there are other ones out there also. Has anyone done the Mountain Adventures Seminars in the Bear Valley area? If so, how is it? This is the top contender for a class because of location to a free place to stay overnight.

Lastly, is there any books for avalanche safety that anyone would recommend? Any books specifically for Sierra backcountry that are recommendable?

If there is a thread on this website that I missed that tells me all the answers, let me know. Please post a link for the thread also.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-11-2008, 10:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You've come to the right spot for information. There are a few of use here who are seasoned backcountry users. I'll give you what advice I can.

First off, there are several useful topics and links stickied at the top of this forum. Check 'em out.

For your Level 1 course. You can probably find some informative seminars in the Bay, maybe a level 1 classroom day there, but you are going to need to get on snow. Go to Avalanche.org (WestWide Avalanche Network) for more info on this. They also have a link for the Sierra Avalanche Center. On the SAC web page they should have info on classes, guides and such.

As far as books go. I continue to stand by "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" by Bruce Tremper. Bruce is the head of the Utah Avalanche Center is a top 5 expert in the field. Not that the other authors of other books like "Snow Sense" aren't. It's just that Bruce presents the material in an interesting and very user friendly way. There is only one chapter in that I consider kind of boring. The rest range from interesting to entertaining. This book covers everything in a Level I course. If you read it before you take the class, you will be amazed at how much more you will learn.

I have no experience with the outfitter around Bear Valley. I would make sure they are accreditted. Look for any reviews you might find. Most of these operators are genuine and do this because they love the backcountry and the freedom in represents. They will also probably be closest to Dodge anyway. There is some fantastic backcountry in that region. I think it's worth your time to get the training now.
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Old 12-11-2008, 02:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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For your Level 1 course. You can probably find some informative seminars in the Bay, maybe a level 1 classroom day there, but you are going to need to get on snow. Go to Avalanche.org (WestWide Avalanche Network) for more info on this. They also have a link for the Sierra Avalanche Center. On the SAC web page they should have info on classes, guides and such.
Thanks for the info. I have known about the SAC website. This is where I found the schools. Thanks for the other website. It is my full intention to get on snow training. I am looking to go to a lecture just to get an idea of what it is all about and give me some insight before I get onto the mountain.

Quote:
As far as books go. I continue to stand by "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" by Bruce Tremper. Bruce is the head of the Utah Avalanche Center is a top 5 expert in the field. Not that the other authors of other books like "Snow Sense" aren't. It's just that Bruce presents the material in an interesting and very user friendly way. There is only one chapter in that I consider kind of boring. The rest range from interesting to entertaining. This book covers everything in a Level I course. If you read it before you take the class, you will be amazed at how much more you will learn.
This will go on my Christmas list this year! You pinpointed exactly why I wanted to get a book on the avalanche safety. It would be good to get some knowledge of avalanches before the class.

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I have no experience with the outfitter around Bear Valley. I would make sure they are accreditted. Look for any reviews you might find. Most of these operators are genuine and do this because they love the backcountry and the freedom in represents. They will also probably be closest to Dodge anyway. There is some fantastic backcountry in that region. I think it's worth your time to get the training now.
I just checked and yep, they are accredited with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). Do you have experience with any outfits in the Sierras?

Also, it sounds like you have experience with backcountry below Tahoe? Where have you been to? Are there any places in particular that you would recommend? Any places right around Dodge Ridge?
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Old 12-11-2008, 02:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I just checked and yep, they are accredited with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). Do you have experience with any outfits in the Sierras?
I don't. By the time I was into backcountry riding I was well planted in Colorado. AMGA certified is a good garuantee of quality though.


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Also, it sounds like you have experience with backcountry below Tahoe? Where have you been to? Are there any places in particular that you would recommend? Any places right around Dodge Ridge?
I haven't ridden any BC in Cali as mentioned. My loss. Being in the scene though, there are some spots that are well known in the world of backcountry. Sonora Pass being a huge spot. I think in the winter you would need a snowmobile to get to spots, come spring lot's of splitboarders are going back on that pass. There is some stuff right out of the parking area at Bear Valley. I suspect you could probably find things around Dodge Ridge (which is at the base of Sonora Pass if I remember correctly). You would just have to look at Forest Service maps to make sure the surrounding terrain is Forest Service or BLM lands. If so, you can have at it. Lot's of Cali splitboarders on Splitboard.com. You might check that site for more beta.
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Old 12-11-2008, 02:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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bro im probably going to take the one by bear valley this winter, plus at the resort this year they got a snow cat trailor and are starting to bus people to backcountry/hard to reach spots...so legit i can't wait!
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Old 12-11-2008, 04:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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bro im probably going to take the one by bear valley this winter, plus at the resort this year they got a snow cat trailor and are starting to bus people to backcountry/hard to reach spots...so legit i can't wait!
Sounds like a good plan. Do you know which dates you are going to do it on? Are you going to do the 2 or 3 day? I am definitely planning on doing it soon and my friend just needs to figure out his finances before he commits money to it. We are planning on going to the lecture that Mountain Adventure Seminars are holding next wednesday in Berkley. You should check it out. link here.
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Old 12-11-2008, 04:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Being in the scene though, there are some spots that are well known in the world of backcountry. Sonora Pass being a huge spot. I think in the winter you would need a snowmobile to get to spots, come spring lot's of splitboarders are going back on that pass. There is some stuff right out of the parking area at Bear Valley. I suspect you could probably find things around Dodge Ridge (which is at the base of Sonora Pass if I remember correctly). You would just have to look at Forest Service maps to make sure the surrounding terrain is Forest Service or BLM lands. If so, you can have at it. Lot's of Cali splitboarders on Splitboard.com. You might check that site for more beta.
Thanks for the info. I will take a look at that website shortly.
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Sounds like a good plan. Do you know which dates you are going to do it on? Are you going to do the 2 or 3 day? I am definitely planning on doing it soon and my friend just needs to figure out his finances before he commits money to it. We are planning on going to the lecture that Mountain Adventure Seminars are holding next wednesday in Berkley. You should check it out. link here.
shit, i may have a final wednesday, and if i dont i might have to take a trip up to bear, as theyre opening this weekend- ive been fiending pretty bad. ill def. get back to you on that though i really wanna get one of those seminars under my belt

Edit: i didn't realize the lecture was at 6:30, so even if i roll up to the mountain i can make it back for that, id be down to go
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