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Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14ers

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Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14ers

Postby bklapth » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:04 pm

What is the best way to transition from being an advanced intermediate resort skier into backcountry skiing and ultimately skiing peaks and 14ers?

Is there a good one-in-all introductory course around the Denver area that covers safety and gear and everything else you need to get started?

Thanks!

Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby MonGoose » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:12 pm

Have you taken an Avalanche Level 1 certification class? That's a great place to start. The class I took included two days of skiing in Rocky Mountain NP.

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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby Dave B » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:30 pm

MonGoose wrote:Have you taken an Avalanche Level 1 certification class? That's a great place to start. The class I took included two days of skiing in Rocky Mountain NP.


Yes, Avy I helps.

So does feeling confident is skiing the crappiest windblown snow you'll never find at intermediate resort slopes.
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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby Aug_Dog » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:32 am

Dave B wrote:
MonGoose wrote:Have you taken an Avalanche Level 1 certification class? That's a great place to start. The class I took included two days of skiing in Rocky Mountain NP.


Yes, Avy I helps.

So does feeling confident is skiing the crappiest windblown snow you'll never find at intermediate resort slopes.


ahem, Loveland? lol
Go get it

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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby Cruiser » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:10 am

An avy 1 class would be a good starting point. In the mean time you should track down a copy of "Snow Sense" by Fredston and Fesler. That'll make for some good summer reading.
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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:03 am

Aug_Dog wrote:
Dave B wrote:
MonGoose wrote:Have you taken an Avalanche Level 1 certification class? That's a great place to start. The class I took included two days of skiing in Rocky Mountain NP.


Yes, Avy I helps.

So does feeling confident is skiing the crappiest windblown snow you'll never find at intermediate resort slopes.


ahem, Loveland? lol


You may consider reading "The Avalanche Handbook" by Peter Schaerer & David McClung

+1 on summer reading

I would plan to have Avy 2 as a minimum under my belt before skiing peaks; not to be confused with some low angle BC skiing

I would suggest the following, if they are not already your practice"In Bounds" where you can "bail" while you learn:
Put a 2:1 beveled edge (aka race tune) on your skis and learn to ski your edges.
Ski as much crud, crap and "Loud Powder"(aka Ice) as you can.
Get out to your resorts early this year when the conditions are sketch and ski every nasty stretch you can.
Ski the frozen stuff in the early am with the "chicken heads" and "death cookies" on it.
Get dialed into condition changes as the day warms and or the snow "morphs"

That is where I would start before I took it BC.

Almost forgot......a WFR class. (Wilderness First Responder)

I'm thinking your plate is pretty full for now! Have fun!

Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby its_not_a_tuba » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:54 am

Avi I is absolutely necessary. After that I would recommend The Colorado Mountain Club's ski mountaineering course if you want more formal instruction.
"Wilderness settles peace on the soul because it needs no help. It is beyond human contrivance." -- E.O. Wilson

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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby ajkagy » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:14 am

avy 1 is all fine and great, but it won't do you any good without some sort of experience being out in the backcountry and/or being on your setup first. I would suggest going out with some competent experienced people first and get used to traveling through the backcountry, otherwise you won't get much from avy 1 other than a false sense of security. the friends of berthoud pass puts on a really nice intro class that can be a stepping stone to L1 when you get more experience.

like others have said, be able to ski ANY kind of snow as conditions will vary with elevation/aspect. Know how to use your gear, know how to dress for conditions...those should be common sense.
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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby Obese_goat » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:02 pm

Even though I am yet to shred a 14er, or take formal classes, which makes my response inadequate, incorrect, or even hypocritical. I will tell you what I know. Hopefully it helps. hopefully the real pros on the site don't tear me to shreds lol I freaking love the back-country, side-country, varying snow conditions, hidden huts, hidden gems, extra danger and unmarked obstacles of the natural environment. I love being where there are no ropes, signs, or patrollers telling you when and where you can or cannot go. I love building jumps, barbequing and poking smot while we session a booter but its really just you versus the mountain out there. That's the beauty of it. There is solitude and serenity out there if you know where to look. It may not be a first decent but it will be a first for you and there is nothing like earning your turns! I'm obviously hooked on steep and deep powder turns and the laughter that ensues afterwords. Seems like every body on this website has you covered if you have any questions about getting started. Like all the others before mentioned, I recommend the same. Enjoy studying snow safety, watching wind and weather patterns, understanding terrain traps, excelling at skiing varied snow conditions including early/late season garbage. You gotta love to ski rocks, steep ice, wind scour, sun cups, runoff ruts, avy debris, frozen corn, Slurpee slush, the always present unmarked obstacles like stumps or bare spots. Unfortunately it wont always be deep pow out there, but it will be one day. it's best to be familiar with an area and ready for when the day comes. Before you go into the great unknown, you must experience and have a passionate love for post holing up to your arm pits for hours!! Remember If you see a small bump in the snow its probably a large rock waiting to gouge your base, bust an edge, or break your hip.

STUDY STUDY STUDY!
I plan on taking classes for avy certification levels 1-2, from CMC, friends of berthoud pass, CAIC or boulder Nordic club. I generally just talk to ski patrol for useful info. You can always roll the dice like me :shock: I don't have any formal training or certificates and always have to rent a beacon because they are quite pricey but i have been known to follow groups and classes that are already in progress. LMAO usually doesn't get me very far but I will collect some sort of advice or tips by poaching their lessons. Generally I'm free balling it out there which is absolutely retarded, but I will be buying a beacon this year. Go to the free lectures from CAIC when you can, and just read anything you can find on the CAIC website. Even the glossary rocks.
Understand how to make a snow pit profile, perform column test and evaluate/rate the slope stability and know when to say no! There is a time and place for everything. This is one of the hardest parts, especially after a big fresh 4ft dump of white stuff. We all get powder hungry and caught up in the moment trying to be THE bad ass amongst bad asses. Listen to your guts and instincts. Listen to your crew and the clues mother nature is giving you. Give the snowpack time to settle.
Study the CAIC website daily, study different snowpit profiles, check on current conditions and reports from the area you plan on going to.
Read accident reports and do anything you can to learn from others mistakes. Even in the summer, the website still receives hits from me.
Always hope for the best conditions but be prepared for the worst scenario. In a sense, expect that you could potentially could be staying the night against your will. Remember the same rules and common sense still apply from summer hikes as far as letting people know when and where you are going and coming back, extra food, extra water, extra layers are all essential. early starts and early finishes are super important, especially in the spring as the avalanche dragons begin to wake up.

medicine for mountaineering- JAMES A. WILKERSON
Staying Alive in avalanche terrain - Bruce temper
The Avalanche Handbook - David McClung
friendsofberthoudpass.org
boulder nordic, www.bouldernordic.org/
caic website- avalanche.state.co.us/
Colorado mountain club- http://www.cmc.org/join/joinnew.aspx
STUDY STUDY STUDY!


then.....

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!
Once your properly equipped with a beacon probe and shovel, Loveland pass is a good place to start. It is super close. 45 minutes away with good traffic. I refer to it as slackcountry since it is technically sidecountry in broville. The runs are not that steep or very long, you don't have to hike if you don't want to, and more than likely you will find yourself stoned and picking up other peoples trash at the end of the day. You can drop from the highway and go right back to your car or you can hike all the way to Torreys peak if your really feeling saucy. I've never done it but I want to. It's all accessed by hitchhiking or driving plus its moderately mellow slopes are a great intro into back country skiing and route finding. Once you start hiking up, the avalanche danger rises as the slope steepness increases. Pack your backpack for what your day is entailing. There are plenty of goods and plenty of exploring to do in the area. The ski resorts and medical help are far enough to make you to feel "out there" but not too far if the turds really hit the fan. Bonus points for love pass if you have to take a deuce you can poo in a bucket lined with a bag and haul it out later for man points (practice makes perfect, bonus points for outdoor 3 am bucket dumps while car camping in a kidnapper van) or you can cruise down to love or abay, torque that cable in comfort and then go grab a bloody mary and lunch afterwords lol Practice skiing every chance possible of course, and also practice for those, "what if scenarios."
Know how to check beacons to make sure they are working, Know how to use them properly and efficiently.
know how to properly and efficiently search for and excavate an avy victim using your beacon probe and shovel and know how, when, and where to call for help if it is ever needed.
STUDY, PRACTICE, STUDY, PRACTICE, STUDY, PRACTICE!

There is an endless amount of knowledge out there. Start stacking your knowledge (and gear) before the snow starts stacking up and you will have an epic season!! There is no shame in ripping up the resorts when mother nature is ready to rip the ground from under you in the back country. Be aware! Check the avalanche forecast with the CAIC daily or at least before you go. Take your damn headphones out or just leave your ipod in the car. They interfere with avalanche beacons plus you need to be even more aware of your surroundings and changing conditions if your heading into a winter wonderland.
“The mountain has left me feeling renewed, more content and positive than I’ve been for weeks, as if something has been given back after a long absence, as if my eyes have opened once again. For this time at least, I’ve let myself be rooted in the unshakable sanity of the senses, spared my mind the burden of too much thinking, turned myself outward to experience the world and inward to savor the pleasures it has given me.”
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― John Muir

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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby HikeforTurns » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:44 am

Here is what I would recommend.

1. Read all the avy books you can get your hands on. Also read "Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering". Wilderness medicine and first aid books are good reads as well. Take an avalanche awareness class

2. Buy the necessary equipment and learn how to use it. Skinning up ski areas is good for this, many ski areas have beacon parks as well.

3. Find experienced friends/partners who are willing to take you out in the backcountry in the winter and start showing you methods of safe travel in avalanche terrain, how to identify layers in the snowpack, using your beacon, etc.

4. Start poking around in June or July on easy to moderate corn snow after avy danger has subsided (beware of cornices). Loveland Pass or Berthoud Pass, Grays Peak, etc.

5. Take an Avy 1 course

6. Repeat steps 3 and 4

Taking an Avy level 2 course before spending several seasons in the BC is a waste of time and money.

A good dose of general mountaineering experience will go along way as well. Seeing as this is your first post, we have no idea what your current level of experience is.

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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby rickinco123 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:48 am

As far as skiing technique goes, you will have a really slow learning curve in the backcountry. Keep resort skiing and seek out crappy snow. Any of the resorts that have South facing slopes will usually have what you need. A-basin (back), Vail(back), Loveland and Copper ( back).

Get with some good skiers and follow them. All great skiiers I know got that way by doing lots of drills ( hop turns, ski on one ski, garlands etc, etc ) You can improve other ways but like most every other sport, if you want to get better you gotta drill. If you can learn to ski without twisting your shoulders into your turn, you will have more efficiency, fun and ski better than 99% of the skiers out there.

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Re: Moving from Resort skiing to backcountry and skiing 14er

Postby Jordan Schwartz » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:31 pm

2 seasons ago I started backcountry snowboarding and in-bounds skiing, this past year we brought out the AT set up and haven't seen the board too much. What I have learned so far from all of this is:
1. No matter how prepared you are, stuff happens. A knee jerk reaction is a bad thing. Carefully weigh the situation and options and make sure it feels right
2. 2nd pair of gloves is a great idea ALWAYS
3. No matter how much I know, I can always learn and must remain teachable
4. If I am driving up to the pass, RMNP or some other area and see slides on terrain like I am planning on skiing, it is time to re-think routes and possibly scratch the day

A few pearls:
1. As everybody has stated, take an AVY I class. This will teach you enough to be dangerous. Also, the only certification is AVY III, no disrespect, but I do not
trust anybody who states they have an AVY I or II certification. No such things, just the classes.
2. Get involved with a local back country enthusiast group. Being in Denver, I would seek out Friends of Berthoud Pass as stated earlier. (FriendsOfBerthoudPass.org)
Shaan and the gang their are amazing and are always willing to work with people who want to get into the backcountry
3. Go and talk with some of the people at the wilderness shops about the latest and greatest gear, their experiences, their plans. Wilderness Exchange and
Bentgate pretty much require most of their employees to be enthusiasts and if they aren't they get their pretty quickly.
4. Read as many books as you can:
a. Backcountry Skiing: Berthoud Pass is a great guide to get you familiar with the Berthoud Zone. Front Range Ascents and Powder Ghost Towns: Epic
Backcountry Runs in Colorado's Lost Ski Resorts are two great ones. Going to a shut down resort that is no longer maintained is slightly safer (though not
quite) and will be great practice.
b. Ready as many snowsafety books as you can get your hands on. I know there is about 20 different ones in the Colorado Library System (I have read most
of them), and they are great about inter library transfers.
c. Wilderness first responder books are amazing, but the classes are better.

This is just a bit. The best way to learn is to practice. If you don't have a beacon yet, go to a store and ask them to try 'em out. Which ever one you can use the easiest and most accurately, is your beacon regardless of price. I am a huge fan of my BCA tracker DTS. I have tried the new peips, mamut, ortovox and even the Tracker 2. My DTS is what is best for me and is what I will continue to use. While buying a used one is a great thought, you don't know the care that has been taken with it and if the antenna has been broken on the inside. Buy new, use it for 5 years, buy a new one.

That is my 2 cents, I hope it helped out a little.

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