Avalanche and Backcountry Prep

19 11 2008

Don’t be a dummy. There’s a reason Colorado has the highest death-by-avalanche rate in the world. Now I’m not saying it’s because we’re a bunch of dummies, but by sheer volume of backcountry skiers in Colorado, surely we will win the title. However, preparation and the right gear increase your chances of surviving. DUH. But did you know that 3 out of 4 people die from being buried? Having a beacon significantly increases your chances of being found. Mostly, knowledge increases your chances of never getting caught in one to begin with.

What to buy: You know the tools:  probe, beacon, shovel. But did you ever think about what you’re friends are carrying? Your tools can be the best on the market, but it’s your ski-partners’ tools that are saving your life. Don’t skimp. Buy the good stuff. You don’t want that cheapo shovel you bought at a garage sale to be the reason you lost your best friend.

Get over it: Beacons are expensive and rarely go on sale. However, REI is having a sale Nov. 21-December 1 on the Backcountry Access Tracker Transceiver for $229 (originally $289). So there you go, on a silver platter. Don’t worry, I’ve already got mine.

Back to School: There are as many free avalanche courses in Colorado as there are dumb enough people not taking them.

Want to learn more? Then read a book! (these can be found at REI also)
Backcountry Skiing Berthoud Pass by Jonathan Lipp
Staying Alive by Bruce Tremper
Now, I am not a backcountry expert. This is my inaugural year. I’m buying skins, randonees, AT gear, and taking the courses. And I’m still scared. I’ll let you know how this all plays out for me this year, so stay tuned!