Early season rituals - avy edition

Analisa

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Curious what others’ early season avalanche rituals look like. I tend to hit an avalanche awareness class in November or December, and then hold a beacon rescue day and a route selection skills session for my local women’s outdoor group, but I think there’s some room for improvement - like taking my beacon out to a park and checking that the range is still good & the antennae aren’t bent. And I’ll be hitting SAFE AS this winter (if Stevens is open), but it’s been 4 years since my AIARE 1, so probably time to think about a level 2 or a refresher.

What all do you do to brush up at the start of the season?
 

Slim

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Well, I am just taking a AVY I course this season, so ask me next year ;-)

But for you @Analisa , would the rescue course be a good idea? They recommend that every 2 years or so, and it’s a prerequisite if you wanted to do the AIARE II course:
“Avalanche Rescue is a prerequisite for the AIARE II. It is highly recommended that participants gain at least one season’s worth of backcountry travel”

Otherwise, you are in WA right? If you have a group of like minded people, how about just hiring a guide for a day and focusing on the topics you feel are most relevant to you?

Serious question: Why go to an “awareness” class if you already have further training? I was under the impression that those classes were there to help people realize the fact that avalanches could happen, what the risks are, what the forecast means etc., all things you already know?
 

jmeb

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- Fresh batteries
- "Staying Alive" goes on the night stand
- Local avy awareness night with advocate group
- Sign up for some continuing education (this year its the Companion Rescue course, next year it'll be WFA).
- Recovery (search, probe, dig) drills on a day with medicore skiing and lots of people
- Dig small pits often when touring.
 
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Analisa

Analisa

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@Slim - good call on the rescue course. Completely missed that they added it to the pre-reqs when they announced the course addition this year. And the guide portion - my boyfriend & one of our ski friends were both really keen on hiring their instructor for a ski day, but we never set a date and pulled the trigger.

In terms of the Awareness course, I help run an org that hosts one in my area. But we're very lucky to have personal friendships with a forecaster who also worked on the change in the avy ed structure, so I've gotten something out of it almost every year I go. Message is largely the same, but the way he talks to the content & examples he picks changes every year.
 

Monique

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And I’ll be hitting SAFE AS this winter
Have you gone to one before? I did it several years ago at Copper - it was either right before or right after my Avy 1. Really great reinforcement, but also a different focus. And we practiced some realistically-stressful multiple body burials - with Jackie Paaso yelling at us, "WHERE ARE MY FRIENDS? WHY HAVEN'T YOU FOUND MY FRIENDS?" in an alarmingly genuine fashion. Very different from calmly searching for a buried beacon nearby.
 

Pequenita

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AAIRE 2 is moving towards a professional focus, and has in the past been more about snow science. I think the refresher is a newer addition to the lineup and geared towards backcountry enthusiasts, rather than guides (like AAIRE 2).

A lesson on what to do post incident would probably also be helpful, especially if it’s been a while since WFA or similar training.
 
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Analisa

Analisa

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AAIRE 2 is moving towards a professional focus, and has in the past been more about snow science. I think the refresher is a newer addition to the lineup and geared towards backcountry enthusiasts, rather than guides (like AAIRE 2).

A lesson on what to do post incident would probably also be helpful, especially if it’s been a while since WFA or similar training.
They split it a year or two ago - there’s a 2-rec class and a separate professional track. And agree I’m definitely overdue for a WFA or WFR!
 

pais alto

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A lesson on what to do post incident would probably also be helpful, especially if it’s been a while since WFA or similar training.
Which is to say CPR, as well as WFA or some outdoor first aid course.
 

Monique

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Which is to say CPR, as well as WFA or some outdoor first aid course.
I was surprised that they didn't teach CPR in my WFA. That was sort of "do it on your own time."
 
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Analisa

Analisa

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Have you gone to one before? I did it several years ago at Copper - it was either right before or right after my Avy 1. Really great reinforcement, but also a different focus. And we practiced some realistically-stressful multiple body burials - with Jackie Paaso yelling at us, "WHERE ARE MY FRIENDS? WHY HAVEN'T YOU FOUND MY FRIENDS?" in an alarmingly genuine fashion. Very different from calmly searching for a buried beacon nearby.
This weekend was my first one, but I was so impressed with the course! Especially considering most of the pros have their L1s and don’t teach avy education on a regular basis. And damn - having Lel Tone critique my companion rescue skills was so nerve wracking but incredibly helpful!
 

Tricia

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With backcountry skiing on the rise, I thought it would be a good time to bump threads like this.
 

Slim

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We are still in pre-season, not early season, but come early season, for me it includes following the snowpack development for places I’m considering skiing.
 

4ster

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New shoes for me.
287B2151-DDA8-489D-A67D-6AF0242D0A9D.jpeg

I’ve been in the same old Nordica AT boots for 25+ yrs. & although they have been fine for the majority of backcountry skiing I do, they are awfully soft & worn.
6A65049F-ACB3-45F8-9963-EA357FE54787.jpeg

Prior to this I was in leather tele boots.
Over the past decade I have tried a few other true AT boots, Garmont & Technica/Lowa but even with modifications they didn’t work for me. I got the new Langes in anticipation of being shut out on lift service & forced into the backcountry when conditions are less than stellar. I figure they will be a little more powerful for the crud & crust I will encounter. Also, with a walk mode & grippy sole I can more easily hike some of the terrain that I previously accessed by Tram or Cat that may not be available this year.

I also just purchased my first set of tech bindings which these boots will accommodate, now what skis to mount them on:huh:


I for one am not looking forward to the anticipated increase in new backcountry users this season. I have had a number of inquiries from friends and acquaintances asking about skis, bindings, boots & skins but avalanche gear, etiquette & safety don’t come up till I mention it.

Personally, I have never been a huge fan of wintertime backcountry powder skiing & much prefer the ease of lift served, somewhat mitigated terrain. Maybe my tolerance for risk has lessened with age but it seems like the more I know the more scared I get & really enjoy the nice weather & stressless stable snow of springtime.
B972087A-2BCE-4357-AB31-1F6BF584A87A.jpeg
 
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ZionPow

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Attend Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop in early November.
New batteries in transceiver.
Deploy and repack Mammut Avy backpack and install new compressed air cartridge.
Complete annual ATF explosives training at patrol refresher.
Start daily partner rescue (transceiver search) practice when the resort opens.
Participate in periodic "immediate search" scenarios with co-workers.
Attend National Avalanche School Pro field course (I completed the 5 day classroom course last season).
Hopefully practice avy mitigation techniques many days this season :cool:
 

Rod9301

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We are still in pre-season, not early season, but come early season, for me it includes following the snowpack development for places I’m considering skiing.
This is the most important thing you can do, v especially when you have early season snow, followed by cold nights
 

Slim

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This is the most important thing you can do, v especially when you have early season snow, followed by cold nights
which is pretty much always. Early winter is long nights, so as soon as it is clear the night time temp is just going to drop way down.
Yeah, I think it was on Cripplecreek’s blog, last year, where I read something along the lines of ‘very early season snow seems like a great thing, but actually it’s just a persistent weak layer in making”.
makes sense if you think about it, early snow means warm ground, so thin, early season snow is huge temperature difference over tiny distance.
 

Mattadvproject

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For me, that would normally be to start monitoring the weather and subsequent formation of the snowpack in the overseas destinations I would usually be going to (especially Gulmarg and Gudauri with their continental snowpacks). This year might be different in that I might not be going overseas, so my backcountry time might be here locally. The challenge there is I'm new to the Granby area and haven't done any BC here apart from Berthoud Pass (I want nothing to do with Berthoud Pass this year!).

So, I'm definitely watching the weather here (hoping any early season snow melts out which a lot of it has) and then start to keep a journal of storms, temps and wind direction. I need to figure out where I want to ski locally, my focus will be on finding areas that are quieter (predicting a busy season in the BC around here).

Next, even before the snow falls, I can start to dial in my beacon skills and be really dialed by the time there is enough snow to ski (then there is enough snow to slide). I want to work on my companion rescue skills in terms of emergency sled use and really dial that in with any new partners. Keep working on the fitness and start getting some decent skins in.

I do need to get some tournequets for the med kit, otherwise gear is looking good. I think that should cover it....
 
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