Forums Trip Reports mini report, near Donner CA
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  • #568628
    6 Posts

    although i’m a noob to splitting (went a few times near Grenoble, FR) I finally got my wife to try it out last weekend. we only have one split board so I was on snowshoes (don’t worry, I didn’t destroy any skin tracks). We headed up to Negro Canyon for some low angle earned turns

    barely steep enough to get going!

    It wasn’t ideal: super sticky snow, low angle and way too many snowmobilers, but it was still awesome and I think she’s hooked!!

    336 Posts

    I’m still trying to get my wife into the backcountry/split frame of mind. She’s a solid intermediate rider, and loves a little powder, but has some trouble on the heavier really deep stuff sometimes…

    Anyway, I basically drag her off-piste as much as I can at resorts, exposing her to a lot of different conditions trying to get her more comfy with the idea..

    Anything in particular you did to get her out there with you? Her idea, yours? Any avy training, etc? I only have avy gear for myself at this point, but have a second split already that she could use…

    Things to do…. Glad to see more couples out there doing it in the woods… So to say…

    Hope to be there soon as well….

    Greg - NoKnees

    6 Posts

    it wasn’t too hard to get her out there — she likes being away from the crowds as well… but it was still my idea 🙂

    neither of us has any formal avy training, and i’m hoping to get her interested enough that we can take an avy class together. We also have only one set of avy gear.

    hoping to get up there again on saturday. We might try donner ridge this time.

    2486 Posts

    Dude , WHAT THE HELL ARE THINKING? No avy gear and your in the BC? Not to be a dick but should re-examine what you are doing. Looking at the terrain you are in you are taking HUGE risks. If I were you I would wait untill I had 2 sets of avy gear and both of you have taken an avy one class. Sorry to yell but we had an “inncident” this weekend. The risk is VERY REAL and yes you can lose your life.
    Picture yourself standing waist deep in snow that just slid…..Its silent …no sounds… yell for youe wife who was just standing by you….no response…….no response……no response…..

    Are you sure you want to take such a risk?????

    6 Posts

    I didnt realize the risk was so high on low angle terrain! Most of what we were riding on was snowmobile tracks (there was a constant stream of them) , but if you’re telling me that even negro canyon is a slide risk we’ll definitely hold off any any future outings… I actually had asked someone if there was a place that was low enough angle not to slide and he pointed me to donner ridge and this place.

    1514 Posts

    Hi Max,

    You can rent avy gear at Marmot Mountain Works in Berkeley or at the Backcountry Store in Truckee. You can take Avy I classes through Lake Tahoe Community College for ~$26. You can buy Bruce Trempor’s book for $12 at Amazon. If you are just counting on someone else to tell you whether a slope is risky then you are putting your life in someone else’s hands. It is much better to actively participate in that evaluation. It sounds like your slope was relatively low risk. But you never know for sure which slope will rip. The situation p420 describes can become real in an instant and its scary as hell.

    Putting the poo in swimming pool since 1968.


    Whoa!!! To be the naysayer here…. I guess max and every single other snow slider should go buy avy gear before they even step foot on another slope “on resort” or not. What’s the difference between what they were riding and any other ungroomed blue run at a resort? Not a damn thing.

    Now, if he wants to take her “out” there into the backcountry then for sure – get your avy gear, learn how to use it, take a course, etc. But remember this; even the vastly experienced bc gurus can lose their lives.

    141 Posts

    If your in the backcountry, beacons should be beeping and attached ot the bodies of all members of your group. Everyone should be carring probes and shovels. Most avalances occur at 25-45 degrees but that is not to say slides can not happen at lower angles. Its $300 for the beacon another hundo for the shovel and probe. As visa says your & your wifes life are pricless. I don’t mean to lecture either but P420 has a good point. Remeber to practice with the beacons too.

    6 Posts

    thanks guys.. I own and have read that book as well as one other but have been looking for a good place to take an avy course. I know that it seems foolish, but I wanted to see if she would like it before signing us up for an avy course and buying another transceiever etc.

    107 Posts

    (This is not a lecture)

    Max, most likely you were as safe as houses: low angle and tracked out by bile. But that doesn’t matter much – its a bad habit to get into (not taking gear). On the flip side, taking gear is a good habit to get into. It becomes second nature that way, a constant in your snow life. However don’t forget: what gear you take is your choice, its not a mandatory aspect of a religion. Having said that, if you want to be fair to yourself and your wife then you should be making gear choices based on knowledge of the avalanche phenomenon and its risks (and possible devastating costs, eg, at home alone one evening minus one suffocated wife)

    But lets not forget why we do it: fun! Its cool to hear that she liked it and good to hear others sharing the BC adventure with their partners as well. For me and my girl its a huge part of our relationship. And its something that never really existed outside of the relationship, especially for her. Its our journey together. I hope you two have just as much joy.

    ps – it would have been pretty fucking miserable if half the active community had died on the weekend at Scrubfest. Sounds like some luck was involved.

    2486 Posts

    Lauging at you clowns wrote

    What’s the difference between what they were riding and any other ungroomed blue run at a resort? Not a damn thing.

    Whats the difference? First inbounds you have patrollers. In the event of a slide they come running.
    They also have pre bombed the slope if its a hazard
    They also have snowmobiles which would allow them to move up and down a slope in a hurry .
    Some but not all resorts have a Rico system if they need it. Most inbounds clothing sold today has a Rico sender in the clothing.
    Patrollers are trained in probing and have lots of Shovels
    So …their is a huge difference.
    Maybe I sound fatherly but on Saturday afternoon I was unable to move due to all the snow around my skis and I thought for sure my partner was dying…………………..I tends to make one a bit more aware

    But then again…its your choice

    And Im not laughing at anyone

    1514 Posts

    Oh yeah – max I forgot to welcome to you and the sport in general. It’s really fun. Also, you can rent splitboards at The Backcountry Store if you want an extra setup to go out there with your wife.

    Laughster – sorry man, there are a few new born-again evangelical avalanche safety nazis on these days.

    A blue run at a resort has been highly compacted by skiers all season. It won’t have the pockets of hollow, rotten snow at the bottom of the pack that can develop in wild conditions. In fact Lake Tahoe has had a dry season and a very cold January – ideal conditions for the formation of rotton snow. But max wouldn’t know anything about that without gettin’ some edumacation. Also, resorts do avalanche control and they won’t open a run until until the snow experts at the resort are satisfied that instabilities are taken care of.

    You can rent a beacon, shovel, and probe for $16 at the Backcountry Store, not a crazy expensive way to get started. You can go on guided intro to backcountry expeditions via Alpine Skills in Truckee which is an easy way to pick up some skills. Definitely look into the Lake Tahoe Community College avy course. $26. Did I say $26? Yes I did. $26.

    Putting the poo in swimming pool since 1968.

    6 Posts

    thanks a lot SanFrantastico…
    I didnt know about the rentals — in France no one rented so I didn’t even think to look. It’s a moot point since we’ll be buying a beacon, probe and shovel now. Thanks also for the beta on Apine Skills and lake tahoe community college — we’ll def. be taking that class! Do you happen to have the course # for it BTW? I couldnt find it on a cursory look at

    107 Posts

    on Saturday afternoon I was unable to move due to all the snow around my skis and I thought for sure my partner was dying…

    Jeez, I am nervously expecting a backlash here, but not wanting one… oh well here goes:

    Man, respectfully, it sounds like you made a much bigger error in judgement that Max did, especially given relative experience levels (my guess). Max actively sought low angle terrain that was heavily used by high impact things like biles. A sensible thing to do considering his group, their objectives and the recent weather he was dealing with. You guys went into Tiger territory and got bitten, luckily not eaten.

    (I hate rules. I’m not an avalanche safety evangelist… but I do take it really seriously and that’s because I want to, not because I was told to)

    1514 Posts

    Hey Damian,

    Yeah – we did make a much bigger error in judgement – no doubt about it. I got caught up in the fun of scrubfest and I bent a whole lot of my personal avy rules that are normally more rigid. Before the slope broke I was very nervous about our situation and just hoping to get through the tour so I could start a new day with my avy rules rigidly in place again. When the slope cracked open and swallowed me up all I had left in terms of hope for my continued living was the transceiver strapped to my chest. I wouldn’t want anyone to be down there without that. But ultimately it’s a personal choice. At any rate, I’ll always encourage people to carry the gear and get an education on the subject.

    max – check here: and search for the keyword avalanche. It looks like all the courses on their winter schedule have gone by, but they’ll be posting a spring schedule soon. You can also try emailing Rose Hackett – she coordinates their wilderness program.

    Putting the poo in swimming pool since 1968.

    2486 Posts

    Point taken Damian. You are 100% correct. The signs were there. Questions were asked and mistakes were made. We all got lucky. And I will walk away a bit smatter. And hopefully I can pass on some knowledge. And hopefully I wont be in that position again…..but the dragon is always there. Case in point last season at Mammopth Mountain they had an inbounds slide after patroll had done control work all morning. About 1 pm it got hot , someone made a turn and it all came down. So it can happen and it will happen. Just try to expect it. And prepair.
    Biggest thing I learned is if it does happen and someone is burried , can you move around?
    Im looking at carrying some verts just soif Im the one standing I want to be able to walk on the surface of the debri so I can search

    140 Posts

    Just to strike a little more fear (trust me, it’s good for you), there were reports last weekend of naturally occurring slides on 30 degree slopes…so yeah it was bad out there. Also even though you were by snomo tracks it still doesn’t deem the area safe…5 ft. of terrain can make a big difference (look at the pic on pg 14 of staying alive for a good example)

    263 Posts

    First, congratulations on getting your wife out into the backcountry and its cool that you both had a great time. It is an awesome sport and I am always stoked to hear that other girls are getting out and rippin. Props to your wife for being a tough backcountry betty.

    Next, my two cents: avalanche danger has been pretty high in the sierras recently. If you want to check conditions this is a good website with lots of information on the current snowpack and stability

    And like SF said there are a lot of places that rent beacon, probe, shovels, and splitboards, if your not ready to make the investment. I think Vertical Sports in South Lake rents them.

    Also this link has a lot of good information:
    It is written by Dick Penniman, an avalanche safety guru. It goes over the 5 bullseye signs of avalanche danger.

    Taking a course is a great idea, since it sounds like you guys plan to be spending more time in the backcountry. Some of the Tahoe ski resorts have weekend avalanche courses (Kirkwood does), and REI does too, but those are really pricey compared to the LTCC one that SF mentioned.

    After what happened in Wyoming, I think I will be brushing up on my snowpack evaluation and avalanche safety skills. It can happen to anybody. Really glad that nobody was seriously hurt or worse.


    Splitboarding is the answer unless Splitbooting is the answer, either way we're going snowboarding because America!

    2486 Posts

    And I am so sorry for being Rude Max. Welcome to the forum . And I hope you and your wife grab this sport and go. Its great to be out there. Just be careful

    107 Posts

    Thanks for no one getting edgy at that post of mine. It wasn’t intended rudely, glad it wasn’t taken that way. And don’t be under any illusions: I am inexperienced in this stuff and make errors often.

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