Post subject: New to Bay Area & splitboarding - AIARE Level 1 course?
Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 4:19 am
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:45 pm Posts: 17
I recently moved to the California Bay Area from the east coast for grad school. I've been loving the mountain biking out here so far, but now it's almost winter and I hear talk of powder, so.....
I'd really like to get into splitboarding this winter around Tahoe. Actually I've been eyeing a splitboard for years, and now there's snow and terrain good enough to get excited about it. I've been snowboarding back east for 18 years and would consider myself a competent rider.
However I have zero experience in avalanche terrain, zero experience on a splitboard (used to cross-country ski...), and know barely anyone here interested in such activities (my wife has been snowboarding a few years, but is more risk-averse and doesn't feel confident enough for splitboarding yet).
So my question is, is it typical, advised, and/or absolutely essential to take a Level AIARE course before setting foot on a splitboard around Tahoe? I definitely lack confidence to do any solo trips, so I would need to cajole someone into showing me the ropes. My guess is that, as it stands, no one would be caught dead out there with someone like me correct? And it would be irresponsible of me to even think about it. Am I right?
What I'm a bit confused about is that most of the Level 1 course descriptions seem to envisage prior experience, i.e., one needs to be able to travel proficiently for 5-6 hour outings for a few days in a row. This doesn't sound like they want someone who's trying out their splitboard for the first time.
Another part of the issue is that the courses are pretty expensive given my student budget, and that I'm already going to need to buy a bunch of gear. I've just checked and the LTCC courses are full, so that's out. But again, is this essentially a situation of, if you can't afford a Level 1 course, wait until you can and don't set foot out there before that?
I guess I should also mention, if it makes any difference, that what I'm really trying to do is get away from lift lines, lift tickets (so expensive here...), grooming, etc... I'd like snowboarding to be more like the hiking and mountain biking I love. It wouldn't bother me in the slightest if all I get to ride this year is fairly low-angle powder in the trees. That's what I lived for back east! It wouldn't bother me if I didn't get to ride gnarly couloirs at 12,000 feet or whatever, right away. Hell, I'd even be pretty happy to just build a jump and land in powder all day. You get the picture: powder snow, beautiful surroundings, and away from the crowds is paradise as it is.
You really do need to get avy gear (i.e. transceiver, probe, shovel) and know how to use it before venturing out of bounds.
The LTCC AIARE classes have filled up by there's still room for 2 more in WLD128R, Dave Beck's one-day Avalanche Avoidance and Rescue class on Saturday January 9.
There may be a way for you to be wait-listed in case someone drops out of the AIARE Level 1 classes -- email our own dishwasher-dave at firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave teaches the Level 2 class and the multiday touring class at the college).
Three-day AIARE Level 1 is also taught at Alpine Skills International (ASI) in Truckee. There's a class this weekend and another next weekend and I believe they have openings. Cost is $395.
You don't need to be an accomplished splitboarder to take the AIARE class--your resort board and a pair of snowshoes would do. Both the college and ASI can provide you with snowshoes if all you have is your resort board.
If you have a splitboard touring setup (board, poles, skins), there are mellow places to learn how to use the gear without risking your life--anywhere from using the gear inbounds to not-too-gnarly tours like Powderhouse off Luther Pass.
I have an extra Prior Backcountry 165 I've been thinking of selling if you're in the Tahoe area. Just haven't gotten around to taking pictures and advertising it, and wouldn't want the hassle of mailing it to someone.
Post subject: Re: New to Bay Area & splitboarding - AIARE Level 1 course?
Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:36 pm
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:45 pm Posts: 17
Thanks for all the great advice. I'm going to try to split my current board (2002 Burton Rippey) to leave myself enough money for a Level 1 course. Better to be safe than have the latest and greatest board. Turns out I have a couple friends with accommodations at Tahoe who are interested in taking a course with me.
Once again, thanks for the advice. I might follow up later for more information about those mellow spots.