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Old 11-18-2009   #11
Vail, Colorado
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 112
Figured Id weigh in on this. Every person is going to have their own little backcountry "kit" ranging from a stainless steel bong to a .45. The necessities are still a beacon shovel and probe, but also a good head on your shoulders (99% of avalanches are human triggered). The Avalung is nice but is a tool to keep you alive while under the snow...they get ripped out of peoples mouths a lot, fill with snow or are just forgotten during the heat of the moment. A new direction for this whole avalanche safety is staying on top of the snow instead of being buried...hence the Airbag backpacks. Several companies make them but BCA has one for half the price of others. Jut what ive seen, heres what ive learned:
Steel Shovel-Everyone in your party should have one. Do you want to be relying on a plastic shovel to dig you out?

Probe no shorter than 260cm- Get a thicker, well built one. The thin ultralight probes self destruct.

Beacon-Start looking at the 3 antennae (Piepes, Pulse, Ortovox S1 etc) models. The range and accuracy is far surperior over the old 2 antennae (BCA tracker) Word is the Tracker 2 will be released Dec 1st and will be BCA's three antennae.

Just the bare basics. Skin/ski/binding repair, first aid kit, firestarterter, bivy, spaceblanket duct tape and a can of guiness are what i carry on almost every trip. Guiness is great because it can be enjoyed, then the can could be used for repairs. No amount of gear or money spent is going to keep you alive without knowledge and experience. Enroll in a minimum 1 full day avalanche class with field work!!! Showing beacon searches and doing them are two different things as well as most other aspects of backcountry safety.
To safe snow and a deep year!

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Old 11-18-2009   #12
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 600
I have not been winter backcountry tripping for many years, but use to go after guiding hunters, after hunting season was over. Back then we used a 40 ft. to 50 ft. light weight polypropylene rope marked every 3 ft. with reflective/fluorescent/neon orange tape with a 4 inch lightweight, plastic whiffle ball attached to the end for a avalanche cord that floats on top of snow, in low light or dark conditions, you can use a flash light to illuminate the rope, plus in day light it also stands out. We also carried carbide chips to start fire, just add pee or water or place on snow to produce acetylene gas, add spark to make instant fire to ignite fire wood. For Shovel we used a G.I. folding trenching shovel, it is very strong. A 12 inch bow saw came in handy to cut tree limbs for shelter or cut fire wood from dead, dry branches. I know there is a lot of modern equipment out there but these items worked will back then. Also two or three friends to go with you is a must.

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Old 11-18-2009   #13
mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: '92
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 418
Silverton Avy school. Hands down the best lab setting of any avy school in the state.
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Old 11-18-2009   #14
ridgway, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 35

Beacon wars have been out there for decades. As a guide for decades here is my suggestion.
Mandatory Pack Contents:
First aid kit
Repair kit suitable for your gear
extra goggles/glasses/base layers
food/ water
Bivy bag
BCA beacons are no more the gold standard than an F150 is to a truck.
Peips,Ortovox and Barryvox all make better units, get the best you can afford and learn to use it by rote
Silverton Telluride and San juan Mountain Guides offer excellent courses AAI certified. You will need the level I course
Any AAI ( aka AAA) certified course will give you a basic understanding of snow evaluation, route finding,(up and down) and rescue protocol.
Learn safe Backcountry travel so your beacon is never turned to receive. If it is self rescue is your best resource including extrication, first aid and egress.Have a plan.If not you will re visit the site for a body recovery.
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Old 11-18-2009   #15
smurf's Avatar
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 118
Originally Posted by RDNEK View Post
Smurf once we get into the winter you have to come over to get sunday session of ridin in.. I am also going to be in gwood on and off over this winter so I will give you a call as I have some new terrian scouted out on the flat tops of all places.

Oh yea here is what I keep in my pack.. As you can see the "bulk" of it is wiskey, coors, ribs, and a .45...

The other guys have hit most of the stuff I carry...

We are out sometimes 30+ miles so I take a few other things. In my pack I also take glow sticks, zip ties, spott, a small tool kit for the sleds, water, knife, extra balaclava, simple 2 way wal-mart radio, syphon tube, gps, extra battries, a tow kit for when we have skidoos around, rope, ice axe, heat packs 2 large for your belly and back, and 4 small for your fingers and toes.. Also a dry pair of wool socks, dry 1st layer, and a down sweater... If or when you spend your night out these things come real handy..

JV, I'd love to hook up with you guys. I've seen the pix here on the buzz of what you guys ride and its the stuff I dream of eventually doing. Def look me up when you come over my way. I'll PM you my #.
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Old 11-18-2009   #16
ridgway, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 35

any AAA (aka AAI) certified course will do you well. You will require a level I
Silverton, Telluride, or San juan Mountain Guides in Ouray, Co are the best As more avalanches occur here than anywhere else in the contiguous U.S. Registration is easy to find on line.
Beacon wars have been going on for decades. BCA is by no means the "gold standard" any more than a F-150 is for trucks. It's there and fine.
I like as a guide the Ortovox S-1 for its intuitive ease of use.
Barryvox and Peips also make superior beacons.Think range on receive.
Go metal for a shovel.
Pack contents should include:
First Aid
Repair kit for your gear
Spare base layer and bivy sack
Compass, headlamp, batteries for beacon and lamp
28 beers/day/person
stove in case your ski pops freeze
G3 and Ortovox make excellent probes, calibrated for pits
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Old 11-18-2009   #17
moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2
The La Sal Avalanche Center in Moab has classes in January or February that tend to be a bit less expensive than other places just because we want to get people to take a course. They have great instructors and good avy terrain to learn about.
Check here: Utah Avalanche Center | Keeping you on top
They will post when soon.
People have mentioned it above, but having enough tools and extra pieces of bindings and glue, screws, steel wool (to put into screw holes and start fires, too) and duct tape and wire are all critical to get you out of the backcountry when your stuff breaks --as it will.
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Old 11-18-2009   #18
moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2
Oops here is the link

Utah Avalanche Center | Keeping you on top
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Old 11-18-2009   #19
Eagle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 185
Iíd add a small tarp for improvised shelter, blanket or evac litter.

AlsoÖ put your shovel INSIDE your pack, not dangling on the outside where itíll gash your head in a fall.

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