Keep in mind for Avy awareness and cert classes, you need to have a beacon, shovel, probe, so this can very well be a legitimate question. Let's tone down on the discouraging talk, at least until we know more.
REI often rents beacons. Also look for mountaineering shops, they often rent beacons too.
I intend to take an avalanche awareness/ cert course and would like to rent a beacon for my first time out.
I am fully aware of the equipment that I need to be prepared (I'm an experienced hiker, who grew up in rural Alaska...so I'm pretty brushed up on wilderness survival and risks associated with out of bounds travel).
Avalanche beacons, on the low end are $200. I would be in need of two (one for my husband or my brother, who ever was traveling/taking the course with me). So, considering I just bought all new gear this year, I'm trying to save a little money this year so I can buy quality beacons for next season.
I've checked with REI here in town and they don't have them... unless the customer service person I spoke with didn't know what she was talking about, since I know they teach an avalanche cert courses there through local ski groups.
I'm asking about rentals, looking to be prepared for when I am ready to go out.... which with any luck, will be later this season.
p.s. I'm a newb to this board, but not to snowboarding. I've been riding since I was 15... but haven't had the opportunity to get to many mountains with decent back country options until recently.
Being an expert rider means absolutely nothing in the backcountry. It does not tell you if a slope is dangerous or not. Keep that in mind. As far as a backcountry traveler goes you are a n00b.
Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to discourage you, just letting you know where your head needs to be. One of the most common reasons people are buried and killed is that they have a high skill level riding wise, but have no idea on how to read the terrain they are riding. Avalanches are indiscriminate, they will kill and expert rider or the novice. Just ask Craig Kelly, Jamil Kahn, and the many other pros who have been killed by them over the years.
If REI doesn't have them, look around at the Mountaineering stores. Unfortunately I don't know who is out there in Seattle, but I guarantee there are a fair amount of them. You are of course looking for operations that carry a backcountry ski line up. Shouldn't be hard to find.
Good luck, I like that you are thinking about the dangers out there. Definitely take the course and learn all you can. Reading Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper is a great prep read for your Level I or basic avy awareness course. Just take it slow, experience is what you are looking to obtain and right now you don't have much. Even after the course, you'll know fundamentals but still lack the experience part. It takes a few seasons to get there, but before you know it, you'll be a competent backcountry traveler. Trust me on that one...
Thanks for the info. I didn't mean to come off as cocky in any way, I just wanted to make the point that I've been in the sport for many years and have always really wanted to take an avy class and try it out. I've researched it a fair amount and understand it is a very dangerous venture. My grandpa was ski patrol at Baker for 13 years and has told me all of his horror stories (of course that was back in the day before beacons). I am really looking forward to taking this course and learning as much as I can about back country riding.
I'll be sure to check out that book. Thanks for all the help