mikej959 wrote:Thanks for all the replies with your advice and experiences. I realize winter conditions are less then ideal and there is a different set of risks that one may take. I still plan on going and I understand I must limit myself based on many factors that have been brought up. I feel that weather is going to be a big factor to take in to consideration and I plan to monitor it closely.
You may know all of this already, but in case you don't, here are a few things to consider:
1. Don't be in a mindset of "I'm going no matter what." That is a bad attitude no matter the time of year. Mountains are always a contingent outing. If the weather forecast ends up looking terrible, be prepared to not do it.
2. You run the risk of finding yourself in a whiteout. Have a plan. At a minimum, a GPS/phone with a track and a backup battery are necessary. Willow wands aren't a bad idea, either. Personally, I think a backup battery bank for a phone should be the eleventh essential.
3. Have the ten essentials, and know that you have enough gear that you could survive a night or two on the mountain if you had to. To me, this is true year-round, but it takes a bit more planning in the winter.
4. Use the maps at CalTopo.com and select "Slope Angle Shading." Slopes over 30 degrees are the ones you want to avoid if there is any avy risk. Print off a topo map of the entire area and bring it with you, along with a compass. Know how to use that compass.
5. Check the CAIC before you go. Depending on when you go in November, they may or may not be doing regional avy forecasts. But they will (and already are) give out statewide forecasts. If they are doing regional forecasts, low or moderate risk is what you want. Unless you are certain that you are taking a route that avoids avalanche danger, and you are certain that you can stay on that route, moderate or higher risk is probably too much risk for a beginner.
6. Take some sort of foot traction gear, like Yaktrax or Microspikes.