Thousand Dollar Joe Backcountry Skiing Gear– 2009 Edition

Post by blogger | January 28, 2009      

Rob Dellsy

In 2005 and 2006 Wild Snow profiled $1000 Joe, the budget backcountry skier. I met Joe the other day. He’d said he’d been seduced by the ski lifts to some extent. However, this year, given the economy, he can’t afford a lift pass and decided to get out in the backcountry more, with updated gear. But he still only had a grand for his shopping spree. Here is how he did it, with some choices.

– Kahru Jak – $200 –
– Rossignol Haute Route – $200 (It may be a women’s ski, but sack up.)
– Remount existing alpine skis – $30

– Garmont Megaride or something similar – $350 –

– Black Diamond GlideLite STS (55mm) – $40 – GearX
Climbing Skins Direct (Only around $100, skimp on something else?)

– Dynastar Legend L Naxo 11 – $230 – eBay (Ok, they’re not Lou’s favorite, but he says they’ll still work given that Joe is not a big guy. Also, this time of year you might be able to find Fritschis on Ebay for nearly that price.)

Basement/Attic/Dumpster. If they match, 10 points off.

– SnowClaw/BD Super Tour – $39 – EMS (w/ Student Discount, did we mention Joe studies once in a while?)
– CAMP on sale – $24.47 –

– Pieps 457 Opti 4 – $189.00 discounted at etailer (defunct link removed 2015).

– Ortovox Economic – $34.95 –

– Dump the books and go.

Total around a grand depending on shipping charges, use any remaining money for a binding mount, better skins or probe. Calling all Wildsnowers, any comment suggestions for Joe? Please provide links if possible.

(Guest blogger Rob Dellsy is a starving engineering student in Boston. He spends as much time as possible in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Western Massachusetts skiing, ice climbing, and just plain having fun in the snow.)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


59 Responses to “Thousand Dollar Joe Backcountry Skiing Gear– 2009 Edition”

  1. Aaron January 28th, 2009 8:47 am

    Joe is not going to have many willing partners packing that Pieps! 😉

    Nice writeup.

  2. Lou January 28th, 2009 9:00 am

    Um, I’d say that if Joe practices his beacon work, using a Pieps 457 would be fine.

  3. Rob January 28th, 2009 9:23 am

    I considered doing a $1500 Joe, but when you have a lot of gear to buy and not too much money to do it with, you have a make all sorts of sacrifices.

    The nice thing is that with and, to and extent you can get some really nice discounts. I tried to offer an alternative to everything I got on so that those of you who have, you know, a life, and don’t sit monitoring the site for deals can still put a kit together.
    – R

  4. Ken January 28th, 2009 9:24 am

    Regarding the pieps….you can also hike to Patagonia from Colorado and eventually get there. There are a small handful of people I know who could be trusted with a analog beacon. Basically, 99% of people do not practice enough with any beacon, let alone a cryptic old fashioned device with 1980 technology. Tell $1000 Joe to eat ramen noodles for a couple of more weeks and spend $180 more to get a Tracker (or equivalent) so his buddies don’t pay the price for his cheapness. -Ken

  5. jharr January 28th, 2009 9:40 am

    I presume the skis mentioned are over 55mm so with that setup he never be in place to need his pieps…

  6. Dostie January 28th, 2009 9:42 am

    If you’re starting from scratch, this is a reasonable outlook. Reality suggests that fewer pieces be bought per season, and a modicum of quality enters the picture. Few backcountry skiers start from ground zero, most are already skiers and have some of the pieces of the puzzle already.

    In that case, I suggest $1000Joe look first at bindings and climbing skins, using existing boots and skis. Safety comes next, so that also means a beacon, shovel, and probes. Not much need to skimp, and this might even allow paying full pop for one item while still outfitting yourself enough to get into the backcountry.

    The second season he/she could upgrade the boots, and pack, maybe even add an airbag pack (BCA’s Float 30 will retail for 5 Franklins next year).

  7. Pierce January 28th, 2009 9:44 am

    Don’t forget I got a pair of scarpa spirit 3’s on there for my wife for about $200 and a trick carbon fiber probe for $50. I think they still have decent skis and even a few pairs of touring bindings left. If you sign up for their “Deal Flyer” emails, you get a 20% and/or free shipping coupon about every other week. Fabulous place for deals on high-end technical clothing, base layers, gloves, goggles, etc, and for other camping and outdoor sports, too. Yeesh, I should work for these guys.

  8. Scott January 28th, 2009 10:03 am

    Joe could save even more money by buying someone’s used alpine skis and mounting the Naxos on them. If Joe has skiing friends, that could be as low as 0$.

  9. Scott January 28th, 2009 10:14 am

    Oops, just noticed that Dostie already suggested that.

  10. J. Warren January 28th, 2009 10:17 am

    Skip the probe??? You have to kidding me. It’s an integral part of your rescue system. Anyone who has taken a decent avalanche class should no this one. Probe follows beacon, shovel follows probe it’s that simple. It would really suck to miss your buddy laying sideways in the snow by a few inches.

    I’m a fan of your site Lou but this kind of info is scary in my opinion. Buy a quality transceiver, a probe and a sturdy shovel period. Take a course! Make sure your ski gear is reliable. If you can’t or won’t spend the money take up another sport. Risk loosing at checkers not in avalanche country.

  11. Lou January 28th, 2009 10:30 am

    In dozens of beacon drills, I’ve found that using a single ski pole with basket removed is effective enough as a probe, and of course the type that fits two poles together is also nice. But I’ve of course been remanded to the courts for such a radical opinion! I mean, who would ever every say anything different than what’s taught in avy classes! Heresy is too weak a word.

    Seriously, why is everything taught in avy classes sacrosanct? The curriculum changes all the time, from what I gather.

    More, I’m of the opinion that a panicked person could easily be dinking around with a probe when they should just be shoveling like mad.

  12. Todd Beck January 28th, 2009 10:50 am

    I have to agree with Warren. Shovel, probe, beacon and a level 1 class should
    be #1 on you list. You can always find older skis, boots and bindings in consiment stores or on line. You can up grade next year for better stuff.
    Loe– nice idea for the blog.

  13. sven January 28th, 2009 10:51 am

    If Joe opts to hit the backcountry during only the safest windows and during the relatively safer spring months he would be fine with the Pieps and no probe. I know people out here in the Sierras whose entire backcountry season goes from roughly April to June or July and who can get away with the most rudimentary equipment. Yet, still ski some of the greatest lines out here.

  14. Lou January 28th, 2009 10:54 am

    Beacon = body finder. Mind = life saver.

  15. J. Warren January 28th, 2009 10:56 am

    Hi Lou, Thanks for the reply. I agree with the belief in overbearing push of avy courses and I also agree a single ski poll works in drills.

    Now imagine you good friend or family member laying sideways a meter (3 feet) down. The snow has set up hard from the warming and cooling effect of an avalanche. Even the best transceivers would give a wide circle of aprox. 1 meter as your pin point location. Do you want to dig like mad and miss. You have about 15 min. at the very max to get that loved one some air, or not. People have missed and lost that life saving time in the past.

    Regardless of your political stance on this every rescue situation needs some basic gear and a plan. Though courses are not perfect they alert newbies to situations that may not be obvious to them and gives them some basis for action. Without some training they will dig like mad, I just hope it’s in the right spot.

  16. J. Warren January 28th, 2009 11:06 am

    Of course any decent class will also teach avoidance as the number one sole objective, but when and how to avoid is not always easy and straight forward. Sometimes we make mistakes.

  17. Tony January 28th, 2009 11:15 am

    Joe, my kind of guy on a budget. Don’t go back to the resorts!!

  18. Sam Reese January 28th, 2009 11:22 am

    My gear this year:
    Scarpa Matrix: $150 (
    BD Mystics $99 ( (I like womens skis: soft, w/ soft tails)
    bca tracker: 250 (rei sale + tax)
    transfer 3 shovel: 25 or so bucks, prodeal through friend.
    CAMP probe: $15 on Tramdock
    Vertical ST 10: 290 on MammothGear
    Flicklock Traverse poles: 49 @ REI (gave free mounting of bindings)
    Skins: BD Glidelite 80’s in a Ascention 110 box at REI scratch and Dent return sale: $39 (I really am confused about this one return tag said “didn’t like color” they weren’t used)
    917… A bit high.

    Last Year, I had borrowed skins, dumpstered skis, silvretta 404’s I picked up for $20 bucks, stolen rental poles, a dumpstered jacket, returned pants, and my old alpine boots…. I think I had a 100 total invested, and got 25 days on it. I’ll never get that bang/buck again.

  19. Leroy January 28th, 2009 12:21 pm

    I’ve been getting 5-20 days per year on a set of Atomic Tourcaps, silvretta 404s, and scarpa denalis, and unknown BD skins all circa 1997 or so. They’ve taken me down Mt Shasta, through numerous chutes at Wolverine, and deep into the San Juans. Sure, I get lots of laughs at the TH, but the laughing generally stops when I skin past the kids in their fancy but heavy gear.

    It always amazes me that we in the ski community think we need new gear every season. I don’t buy a new raft every season, or a new fly rod every summer, or a new backpack every xmas…if it worked last year, it can certainly work this year. BC setups should be the same.

  20. nitsuj January 28th, 2009 12:35 pm

    Wow…the snowclaw and no probe?? I think he’ll be solo in the BC, but that’s OK as he can save the money on the beacon….

    I like where this post goes though, this has basically been what I’ve been doing since last May when I got a taste of BC up at Lassen. Decided I’d spend the summer/fall buying stuff on sale/cheap when I find it.

    Burton S-series – $300
    Burton Driver X boots – $130
    Cartel bindings – $90ish (already had, but including for the sake of the argument, and have seen last year’s model for less than the $90 I’m posting)
    Ortovox D3 – $89 (last year’s REI superclearance!)
    BD skins – $115 ( with eBay cashback)
    G3 probe – $30 (Mammoth Gear early season sale)
    BD Deploy 7 – $50ish at REI with coupon
    BD poles – Bought some demos from Mammoth Gear for $30 or so

    It should be noted that I’m notoriously cheap and thus a pretty good bargain shopper. Hell, my girl put together her resort ski package under $200, all new! K2 Missconducts $50ish at REI superclearance, bindings for $35 and boots for $30. It’s doable if you shop around and with a little luck on sizing.

  21. Rob January 28th, 2009 12:36 pm

    While I admit that it is certainly not ideal, I have been skiing for two or three years without any avy gear. Incidentally, the price included both a shovel and a probe, and reflects what I actually paid for both of them, combined. They were on clearance at the EMS in Cambridge, MA. If you add 15% back on, you get what a non-student would pay. Incidentally, if you know a few people at EMS, you can get the student discount long after you are a student.
    – R

  22. nitsuj January 28th, 2009 12:37 pm

    Oh, and I should add (at risk of losing some good deals in the future) that the REI returned gear sales are GREAT for finding deals. Have found BD flicklock poles for $5 – it’s amazing how easy some things are to fix but people are too lazy to attempt.

  23. Lou January 28th, 2009 12:50 pm

    Nitsuj, I should have said I’m not a fan of anything but a real shovel, though I do vary the size I carry by the season and how risky the tour is.

  24. Matt January 28th, 2009 1:22 pm

    Another vote for a proper shovel and a probe.
    I don’t know what the ski touring is like in New England, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with a partner that didn’t carry the proper gear.

    Lou – you may be picking your shovel based upon the situation but I question if a new-comer to the backcountry could adaquately do that. I think you have to know the rules before you break them.

    Other than that, I’m not sure how this set up will work – 55mm skins on Jaks? can’t see that working well

  25. db January 28th, 2009 1:33 pm

    I wonder what a Three Thousand Joe would rock??

  26. Lou January 28th, 2009 2:17 pm

    Along with the probe, does he have a first aid card? Gear is really such a small part of the equation. Personally, if my partner had full first aid cert and didn’t choose to carry a probe, I’d be fine with that. But the opposite is usually the case, which I find kind of strange knowing what avalanches do to the human body. I mean, if you say you must carrry a probe that means you’re committed to being prepared for an avalanche burial, right? So, along those lines, when did you last take a first aid class?

    All that said, have any of you guys practiced beacon drills while just using a ski pole as a probe, and a human sized target dummy? Seems like you’re talking a lot of theory and doctrine, rather than from experience.

  27. Bryce January 28th, 2009 2:20 pm

    Doesn’t Joe have some alpine boots left over from last year? Tour on those for a year — it’s not that bad — and put $100 of that toward a brand new $289 Tracker (with free probe). You got a beacon you can use, a probe and $170-$250 in the piggy bank to save for next year’s AT boots — when there might be some used Factors somewhere.

  28. Justin January 28th, 2009 2:41 pm

    I enjoyed your take on putting together a BC setup on the cheap. I think that shopping for some used gear would leave plenty of room for “better” avy equipment. Certainly thats not stating anything but the obvious; however, I just wanted to share that a legit setup can be had on the cheap. Be patient and wait for those smoking deals.

    This is what I have managed to put together this year from scratch:

    – Skis: $60 from geartrade. Ninthward firstblood 180’s in great shape with the exception of some topsheet tears that need to be epoxied. Surprisingly little information exists on these in terms of user feedback. Couple folks have made the comment that they would appear to be a good candidate for a BC ski… I have decided to find out first hand if that’s true. I guess I will just have to deal with the ugly graphics.

    – Bindings: $75 from a buddy. Diamir t3’s that are in near perfect shape. yeah, it was a great deal.

    – Boots: $100 from trolling online forums. Garmont Adrenalins that are in surprisingly good condition.

    – Skins: $105 from Brand new full length/width skins… can’t beat the price.

    – Pole: $60 at REI. Black Diamond Syncline flicklock poles with trekking and skiing baskets.

    That’s a total of $400 just to get skiing. That leaves plenty for decent avy gear if you have a $1000 budget.

  29. Lou January 28th, 2009 2:44 pm

    Justin and all, excellent point about the used gear. I guess Joe is a snob and just wants new stuff (grin).

  30. Jon Miller January 28th, 2009 3:42 pm

    Just wanted to chime in on the great probe debate. I teach some of those dogmatic avy courses, and wanted to clear some things up. A ski pole does work as a probe, marginally. It isn’t as fast, and doesn’t go as deep. It is better than nothing though, and actually, I find that a normal ski pole is better than one of the screw together type “probe ski poles.” In my experience those are really slow to put together and can break. A real prob is fast to put together and durable, but it is a single purpose peice of gear.
    -It is my opinion, and the studies done by BCA and others bear this out, it is far better to pinpoint an avy victim with a probe THEN dig like mad. It lets you know exactly where they are and exactly how deep. That makes a big difference. You will move up to 2 tons of snow in a typical burial, better make it the correct 2 tons.
    -Lou hits on an important point. Practice as realistically as possible. If you just toss a beacon in the snow and find it, it’s easy. Bury a human sized object (better yet, smaller) DEEP and it gets harder. The harder practice is, the easier the real thing.
    -First aid classes are a great idea for backcountry users! They will be more useful than any peice of avy gear if you use your head and don’t get caught!

  31. Rob January 28th, 2009 4:12 pm

    Ya got me. =) That and while I could have shopped around on and similar sites, I wanted this setup to be somewhat reproduceable, which is also why I left alternatives to when I used it. I got some sweet pretrimmed BD skins on GearX, and while they leave closer to 10 mm clearance rather than the 5 mm I would have liked, they were also significantly about a third the price of uncut skins. I ended up just more expensive than Joe:
    Kahru Jaks ($200 – TD)
    Garmont Megaride ($350 – TD + ~$100 work)
    Dynafit TLT Comfort ($340 – Helm Sports)
    Black Diamond Ascension ($60 – GearX)
    Black Diamond Super Tour (~$20 – EMS)
    SnowClaw (~$20 – EMS)
    Backcountry Access Tracker (~$200 – EMS, once they are back in stock.)
    Black Diamond Speed 30 (Gift)
    Leki something or other treking poles/Salamon ski poles (Had both, but might upgrade if I can find something cheap, and light)

    Total: $1190

    I would like to add a set of technical crampons, though I can also borrow those, and a set of climbing tools, which I can similarly borrow in the mean time. The last thing I would need is a mountaineering axe and a 4 season tent and I am ready for anything mother nature can throw at me.
    – R

  32. J. Warren January 28th, 2009 5:34 pm

    Hey Lou:
    I think your point about a 1st aid training is very valid, but I think the point is: if you are going to skip the probe just leave it all at home. No transceiver, no shovel. Rely total on your avoidance abilities.

    Without a probe you may not find you partner. You can no more take it out than you can remove the shovel or the beacon. This is not dogma they just flat out work better together. A ski pole may work in shallow burial, but if they are deep, over 2 feet, they are toast.

    This comes from more experience than I would like to admit. Some of those experiences being the hard way, unfortunately. Saving 50 buck and 300 grams doesn’t seem worth it.

  33. Greg January 28th, 2009 6:07 pm

    Even better than buying used equipment is renting from a club. For starving students it’s under $10 per day to rent skis, boots, poles, and skins from the local university outing club. (You can snag a nice backpack for $2 and maybe that ice axe and crampons too for another $5.) That’s less than the cost of gas to drive from Boston to NH and back. Even if you rent 50 times in a winter, you’ll still have $500 left over for top notch avy equipment + a helmet.

  34. Sam Reese January 28th, 2009 6:07 pm

    There’s this bizarre assumption that the first thing that a skier with BC gear is going to do is head for a giant open bowl, angle 35-45 degrees, immediately after a powder day, during high avy conditions… I find that highly unlikely.

    Even though I’m a noob to all this, I think of Doug Chabot’s line from a dozen more turns: “the bottom line, though, is if an avalanche happens, a mistake has been made… you blew it, and now you are just doing mop up work…”
    Spend some of that time you were dinking around on the internet waiting for Tramdock to refresh reading every article you can, check forcasts, and teach yourself whatever you can.

    I spent last spring, my first time in the BC, doing around 20 days of low angle skiing in the central Sierra or Tahoe basin, low avy conditions, on slopes less than 25 degrees, mostly treed areas, because I had no beacon or probe. Does that make me reckless?

    Back to the Cheap Gear rant, yet quite related, snow camping with practically summer gear is totally do-able if you choose your days right, and have a warm sleeping bag.. Or just come visit the Sierra.

  35. Matt Kinney January 28th, 2009 6:39 pm

    One could attend a bunch of free “awareness” classes and then learn the importance of slope angles. These classes are actually pretty good if you listen well and want to live. Then use your compass, measure angles and stay away from avalanche terrain til you can afford better gear and get more expereince. Go find a mentor(cheaper tham a guide!) to teach you some stuff on the trail. You can go at it slow cause its a lifetime sport. Experience comes pretty cheap.

    All to often we talk folks into a bunch of avy gear and a class and they go ski once or twice a season. I think one should wait for all that stuff til they are ready and sure they want to commit the time needed. I had been skiing the BC for years before I forked out $240 for a class. Prior to that I could only afford library books on the topic and shared rides and tokes,,,errrr stoke with mentors.

  36. Lou January 28th, 2009 6:49 pm

    I’d agree there is WAY too much emphasis on gear rather then judgment and style. Here at some of that is my fault, as doing gear reviews is easier than writing analysis of decision making processes, and trying to cover the philosophy or risk sports. But keep watching this space.

  37. J. Warren January 28th, 2009 7:00 pm

    The economics of this work pretty well. They take a course and buy the gear, then someone cheaper buys the gear when they stop using it for a rate. Paying for courses gives them a chance to learn something new and keeps guides employed. The more gear that goes out the more money manufacturing companies have for R&D. Circles in the powder, it’s all good.

  38. Randonnee January 28th, 2009 7:07 pm

    Ski in the spring on a granular snowpack and skip the avy hazard until one gains experience, training, and a transceiver. Skiing in refrozen granular snow usually would not require a probe or transceiver and shovel if one remembers…in a refrozen granular isothermic snowpack, it is way mushy if it can avalanche and the skiing is poor anyway. Transceiver, shovel, probe is not safety gear, it is failure gear.

    Probes and transceivers are dead-body-locators in burials a greater percentage of the time. Just read the accounts. Avalanche avoidance in winter or spring is the only safety.

    This mantra about probes is amazing. As I have retold previously, back in the day we had no probes to carry, unrolled the wire for our Skadi earpiece, recovered 2 to 3 ft deep transceiver packs buried in an avalanche path, and did 3 to 5 minute recoveries routinely. Transceiver pinpointing accurately eliminates the need to probe. It is just ridiculous and incompetent in my view to pull out a probe to slow a transceiver search and aggressive shoveling. There appears to be far to many educators without real avalanche experience to match the title, and some in the avalanche community drink the kool-aid of the gear-sellers. All of this fascination with rescue gear would seem to indicate weak understanding across the “community” of avalanche potential and the evaluation and behaviors required to avoid being caught in an avalanche.

  39. Mac January 28th, 2009 7:30 pm

    I am slightly stunned at the anti-analoge beacon comments! I have a Pieps Opti 4, which I used on my avo 1 course.
    Out of the 20 students, only two others managed quicker search times on the terminal test – both used the F1 Focus.
    None of the students using flash digital transeivers achieved particularly good times. The three who failed all used digital transcievers with indicative numeric distances.
    So my point is: it’s less anout the kit than the bloke using it.


    PS In my neck of the woods, Peips Opti 4 $100 Pieps DSP $800.

  40. BC Bob January 28th, 2009 7:57 pm

    $1,000 Joe,
    Here’s the dream list:
    Digi camera $299
    Library card free
    Speedo $19
    Drinks at Sky Bar Remaining $618
    Keep your standard ski area rig and establish a boot track up the most hairball stuff you can find. Film as much as possible. Go to the local library computer and start promoting yourself on the web a.k.a. turn pro. Live the dream.

  41. Rob January 28th, 2009 11:21 pm

    As a sailor (in the warmer months, though I’ve also been known to ski on Saturday and sail on Sunday…in January), I know that there is a fantastic amount of research out there on the best way to conduct man-over-board recoveries, and such, and it is available to relatively casual users. Is it just me, or does skiing not have the same sort of literature devoted to avalanche recovery?
    – R

  42. ThomasB January 29th, 2009 12:26 am

    $1000!!! geez you guys in Colorado are breathing too much Vail air.
    Purchased my first beacon old F1 for $15
    Skis and bindings $200 max
    Shovel and beacon $75 new!

    There is nothing budget about Joe,I understand the need to promote consumerism to make a buck, but come on…..

  43. ThomasB January 29th, 2009 12:26 am

    oops I meant shovel and probe.

  44. Lou January 29th, 2009 6:44 am

    Mac, back when the digi beacons first came on the scene, I was able to consistently beat their search times using my analog Pieps in a grid search. More, way back in ancient times, Ramer sold an analog beacon that didn’t even have a volume control, and still worked great if you just practiced with it a bit. How well the electronic corpse finders work has a lot to do with the operator, rather than the snazy electronics.

  45. Lou January 29th, 2009 7:02 am

    Due to popular demand, we added an avy probe to the list (grin). I also did more research and added a few items so folks landing on this post will have some other ideas.

  46. Rando Swede January 29th, 2009 7:44 am

    Great comments!

    Off topic… Has anyone tried to wash their thermofit liners? Good results? Looking to do this after a cat took a liking to mine!

  47. Lou January 29th, 2009 7:48 am

    Been washing them for years. Trivial. Just stick em in the sink and have at it.

  48. Rob Staudinger January 29th, 2009 8:07 am

    Rando Swede: a number of people i know (including myself) are machine-washing their liners, usually at 30C using a gentle program (and without centrifugation). It’s recommended to put them in a cloth bag (old pillow sheet or whatever) while washing, so the aren’t thrown around as much.

  49. FrameNZ January 29th, 2009 8:43 am

    Anyone know of similar websites to Tramdock, GearX in the UK or Europe (preferably in English)?
    Currently working the newbie, low angle, tree’s, mentor (with language barriers) theory mentioned above, but can’t hurt to keep an eye out for some deals when I’m at the orifice.

  50. gringo January 29th, 2009 10:27 am

    BC Bob has got it!

  51. Lou January 29th, 2009 10:32 am

    Gringo, I agree, thanks BC Bob! (LOL)

  52. Back Country Burgess January 29th, 2009 12:02 pm

    I finally got some nice wide powder skis and for the skin? I just took my old narrow skins, split them down the middle and split the difference on the wide ski. Reused old skin saving me around 100 to put into a tranciever.

  53. Lou January 29th, 2009 12:24 pm

    Split skins work, just beware the wind when you take them off or you get a spaghetti pile like you wouldn’t believe.

  54. Cory January 29th, 2009 1:16 pm

    My first b/c setup (on a college budget).

    poles-free (used the same ones that I used for downhill)

    boots- $25 leather snowdrifts plus $5 downhill boots from the thrift store which were cut down to provide a plastic cuff (sorry kids…no plastic boots then).

    skis- $15 used rossi G3 205’s

    bindings- $50 (ouch) voile 3pins (plus hand me down voile plates)

    snake skins- free (because the guy before me realized how much they sucked, so he gave them to me…they still ride around in my bag as a back-up)

    safety gear- $0 didn’t use it*…I was lucky and never got caught (finally, built it up over the years)

    *at this point all the people who think that gear will save them are freaking…so it goes. I accepted the risks then (just as I do now). I’d rather be skiing with someone who uses their head to keep them out of more risky situations than to be with someone who spends $1000’s, gets caught in a slide and expects me to dig ’em out.

  55. ScottN January 30th, 2009 7:34 pm

    Being a relative noob BC skier, I recently took a Level 1 avy course, and a comment was made that they have just taught us enough to make us dangerous. I agree totally that having all the “safety” gear doesn’t a rescuer make, especially if you don’t know how to use it. Applied knowledge is key, and that takes practice. Yet, its interesting how recent avalanche fatalities seemed to be fairly experienced BC skiers. What gives?

    Also, Lou’s comment about having first aid training was great. So you find the guy, and he’s not breathing, broken bones, shock, etc. What are you gonna do? Good point Lou!

  56. Randonnee January 30th, 2009 8:10 pm

    A competent person with solid understanding of avalanching, in my view, can tell you in 10 minutes the absolute parameters required to avoid an avalanche. Just read the above mentioned website for that information. Beyond that, if one chooses to enter avalanche terrain, study and understanding of the daily Official Avalanche Hazard Forecast and adhering to its guidelines will keep one out of trouble. In my view, when I compare accidents to Hazard Forecasts, the accident would not have occurred in virtually all of the incidents had the recommendations been followed.

    Quote- “comment was made that they have just taught us enough to make us dangerous.”

    What am amazing statement. In response, why should one attend that class?
    The weaker the knowlege the more the bs and shaky understanding- this may be the description of such sentiment.

    How much time in this course was devoted to beacon searches and rescue? Whatever that was, it was to embrace the added 10% chance of burial survival with competent partner rescue. My point is gadget fascination, rescue fascination, and marketing move the focus from understanding the avalanche problem and absolutes for decision making. Yes, absolutes exist in avalanching, one starts there and extrapolates.

    Here is a tip for you that should be valuable.Go to a Class A avalanche ski area on a big day after avalanche control that had results. Study the results, study what slid, how deep, how far, what aspect, what angle, what stratigraphy and snow characteristics. Know the complete snow / telemetry history before going ( or before going touring). Apply yourself and decide conservatively. There are days of excellent stability, and there are days to stay away from hazardous slopes.

  57. Mark January 31st, 2009 7:07 am

    While I’ll agree that the Tracker is considerably easier to use than an old Opti Finder (I have one of each), several of you commenters seem to imply that newer tech, and more of it, will make the difference in rescuing a buried friend. I fear that most of us fall into this trap in our tech-saturated world. Hasn’t the Tracker been essentially unchanged for several years? Perhaps we all should rush out and buy a new DSP or S-1? By the way, the S-1 would render $1000 dollar Joe a $500 dollar shopper.

  58. Lou January 31st, 2009 7:18 am

    I really think the tech of the Tracker is adequate, but have to admit that I’ve been paying a lot more attention to mine and other folk’s behavior, trying to ascertain the likelihood of multiple burials. Conclusion is that even while taking care with this issue, there are times (albeit infrequent) that my groups could receive a multiple burial. It’s just tough to totally eliminate the possibility of a multiple burial without breaking the group far far apart both on the up and down.

    So, consolation is that ALL beacons will probably soon be competent with multiple burial scenarios. So the whole debate about beacons with this feature will be moot.

    Only problem, any multiple burial is probably going to result in multiple death — no matter what beacon. I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous to be getting so persnickety about how beacons work for multiple burials, when the real problem is how the heck does one dig all those people up alive?

    Thus, instead of buying new beacons, I’m looking even harder at my own behavior and trying to improve.

  59. Rob Staudinger January 31st, 2009 9:37 am

    On the topic of Tracker, i have one and am not quite satisfied. It always adds about 10-20% of distance in search exercise and gear check. Want to get a Pieps DSP anyway. Also, minor pet peeve, the tracker is rather thick, even moreso with its holster, and thus not very comfortable to carry.

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