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Discussion Starter #1
So I want to get into backcountry this year, but realize I don't have backcountry experience or avy experience so I am looking at a course. Theclymb.com has a 3-Day Level 1 Avalanche Course for $400 and I was curious if anyone has used the San Juan Mountain Guides before or heard some info on them?
 

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Koi, I'll look into them for you. $400 for a level I though? That sounds like the standard rate to me. Maybe even a tad bit more. Are they using snowcats or some sort of transportation.

FOBP has two guide companies that we consult with, partly because they are recognized nationally as some of the best in the field. In the San Juans Silverton Avalanche School is top notch. For more front range operations Alpine World Ascents is world class. AWA has a permit to teach on Berthoud Pass. So in addition to learning your level I, you would learn some of the layout of Bert which would be a local area for you.

There are of course several guide services who are top notch in the state. San Juan Mountain Guides may be one of them. Usually the San Juan outfitters are.

Monarch Pass is really fun too. Been a couple of seasons since I've gone down there. That spot is a easy drive from the springs in comparison to going to the more popular front range areas. After you do your L1, we'll have to do a tour around there and I can show you the ins and outs of that pass. Bert is always on for me too. There are other spots of course.
 

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Okay so I have heard of SJMG's, and the have a solid rep. I didn't look at instructors but they are AAIRE which is step one. Also they do a 3 day L1 out of the Opus hut. Ummm fuck yeah. Is that what course this is? That would make sense to me. Regardless, pretty solid choice from what I see. I'll do a little more digging but they look good so far.
 

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Well, it's not the Opus hut. Not sure where I got that. Looks like they use Artist Cabin or Mountain Belle on Red Mountain or Aladdin's Lamp on Molas. Was able to find the offer on the Clymb and it is the Hut based L1. This is a great way to do your L1. Talk about total immersion.

My only advice is that I would try to get on one of the trips that are on Red Mountain. The January dates are fairly ideal. Should be enough snow to make it interesting and it will give you plenty of season in front of you to apply what you have learned in the field. You could gamble with the December dates, but it could be really thin and not that great.

Molass Pass for bc riding is limited from what I have seen and not that great. From talking with the guides at SAS it didn't sound like Molass was their main spot. It was Red. Molass seems to be more like a snowmobile zone from what I saw. Not to say it wouldn't have the goods but I'd research that hut more.
 

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Might want to find out how much touring is involved before comitting to something like this. Only saying since you said you have no bc experience. We had a couple bail from a class after only a couple hundred yards because the had never used a split before. The group was willing to help but they just left.
 

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Good point.

Most L1's around here don't involve a whole lot of hiking. 400 vertical climbed would be a lot actually. I know the stuff around the Artist Cabin and Mountain Belle are literally a few hundred feet from the highway and you just walk out the back door to get into your field terrain. That said, you should have a splitboard and be willing to put in decent tours. It'll help you get some turns in.

L2's bump up the touring factor quite a bit. We did about 1k vertical each day we went out in that class. Allowed for some fun turns and great field observations.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks a lot for the info...

I haven't used a split before, this is my cherry-popping year for it, and I want the avy stuff complete before I start heading up anywhere. Having said that, I hope I could get a little farther than a couple hundred yards, that seams like weak sauce to me.

Def going to look into the AWA, something closer to my geography is a plus.
 

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Some ski areas allow skinning in bounds, crested butter does maybe others in you area. If its steep enough to ride its steep enough to slide, but there are lots of flat places just to wonder around with the skis on your feet. Wouldn't be a bad idea.
 

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If its steep enough to ride its steep enough to slide, but there are lots of flat places just to wonder around with the skis on your feet. Wouldn't be a bad idea.
I got an internet lashing from someone who just wanted to nit pick for that adage. Kind of funny actually. All the old goats say it. And it is accurate.

Get your gear koi. I can take you out around Bert. It is a good place to cut your teeth and get turns. Well if it snows in time. I have a feeling it will. We can do some beacon training, basic protocols and safe tours. No L1, but some hands on for you in terrain that is pretty safe.

Plus there are some quirks with splitting you want to learn. First off switch your skis when in split mode right board half left foot. That one gets a lot of people. Everything is little but it makes a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
any particular binding for your splits you guys like? I have a bigger foot (size 13) and was curious if you guys use your normal bindings or split specific?
 

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I use split specific bindings. The response is a ton better than with the slider plate adapters. I am using sparks. Pretty awesome and simple. Very little problems in the field. If you are completely worried about the down, Karakorums give you the most lock down ride. They are a bit more problematic though. The trade off for the ride is that you have to do some cleaning in the field at times to get them to work. With Sparks it is generally slide them on the track once or twice to push out the snow/ice and lock them in.
 

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I use sparks as well. Simple and solid. Size large sparks will work with 13 boots. They have the new tesla tech this year, which gets rid of the pin and lessen the fiddle factor a bit. Should be able to find some used ones too, if you hunt around. Splitboard.com

With that said I started splitting on a tight budget and used regular bindings on plates for two years. It gets the job done. I would suggest using a binding with a metal base like ride. The base needs to be stiff since the edges are unsupported.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
wanted to hit you guys up again...so I threw down the cash for the split-I got the Jones Solution 168w (bigger guy & last year's model). Any particular skins you guys think I should avoid or go for?
 

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That one is a loaded question. I still believe the best climbing skins are the voile tractor skins. Which are rebranded Black Diamond ascension skins. IThe industry benchmark. I still think Voile sells them without tail kits. You'll want to add that. Spark tail kits are very nice and easy to put on. These are bulky to fold up

G3 high traction skins seem to be a great mix. I haven't tried them but may get a pair this season. I don't believe they climb quite as well but I know they glide better than the voile black diamond skins. That can be a big deal over a full day of touring. They also come with a tail kit. They fold up easier too

If you want to go cheaper you can get skins from climbing skins direct. You'll still need to add a tail kit but you can save $30-40. I have a pair I use. The guy who came up with Ascension skins makes these. They climb about the same as Ascension skins, glide a little better and fold up easier. You have to mod them tip to tail though and no water repellant was used on the skins. They get wet. You can hot wax them from time to time to avoid this. Which I recommend doing with any skins you have anyway. The late grwat Steve Romeo has a video on youtube on how to do this.

Since you have a wide board I believe you eant skins that are 140mm wide. You want to get as much wall to wall coverage as you can underfoot especially. If you don't go G3, buy their trim tool. It is like $4 and makes trimming you skins super quick and easy. The trim tool usually comes with their skins.
 
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