/ basic avalanche safety and gear
im hoping to do some touring for the first time this winter in the pyrenees, and some general winter climbing. Im hoping to do this with some ppl but imagine i wil also try some easy solo touring. Ive bought mountain guide book and one on avalanche saftey, but in terms of kit, what can ppl recomend best for all forms of satey when touring alone?
Avalanches aside, going alone into the winter hills (something I do all the time) you've got to accept even a relatively minor injury will be life threatening. Snap an ankle and you can't walk out, your in big trouble.
Might be worthwhile taking an avalanche awareness course.
I would highly recommend Bruce Tremper's book "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain". Also, his (and a great many other people's) frequent Youtube postings on field tests for Utah Avalanche Centre are highly informative
E.g. here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8o8NBQrdVs
A Youtube search on "Extended column test" will get you lots of hits to start off.
Also, this website is a great starting point, containing tutorials & stats:
Local knowledge could keep you out of trouble to a certain extent: try asking a local skier for some suggestions for some objectively safe ski tours.
> , what can ppl recomend best for all forms of satey when touring alone?
Somebody else to ski-tour with
And really there's no reasonably safe way to do any halfway-interesting ski tour with random _partners_ -- even with carrying the usual safety gear. A rather high percentage of skiers who get themselves into a situation where they need to be rescued by partners with avy beacons + shovels end up dying anyway.
And a substantial percentage of the supposedly-experienced random partners you find are more likely to get you into dangerous terrain than you would on you own soloing. (Because most of the truly experienced + smart + reasonably safe ski-tourers are not _looking_ to go out with a newby partner.)
Club outings are not as safe as they used to be: people die in avalanches on those too. (for one thing, club outings _routinely_ ignore the long-known findings about group dynamics-which the excellent Bruce Tremper book covers).
Therefore, if you want reasonable safety on your first winter holiday with backcountry ski touring in the Pyrenees, hire a professional Guide.
(But that's not as safe as it used to be either.)
Avalanche hazard is very very complicated. You must have a radical strategy to do backcountry ski touring with reasonable safety -- different from how most ski-tourers do it.
I've done over 1000 days of backcountry ski touring in Europe + North America (but never in the Pyrenees).
Several hundred of those days I went solo.
I have never been even partially buried.
I have taken three or four "rides" in shallow sluffs where I stayed completely on the surface. In all but one of those I was a visitor skiing out with a local supposed-expert who told me it was OK to ski it. The one where I was soloing, I was carried all of five meters before the little slide stopped.
I also have several long-time partners who live in different states in Europe + USA: each has done ski-touring over 1000 days, also with hundreds of those solo. Interesting that we've all hit on a similar strategy for avalanche safety (which is not what's taught in most courses). Out of thousands of days, one of those partners once got buried up to his knees (and not with me).
Therefore I do think it is possible to do interesting backcountry ski tours with reasonable safety, provided you have a radical strategy with lots + lots of intelligence + experience.
But I do not believe it that someone who practices ski-touring on the basis of one or two holiday weeks per year can do it with reasonable safety. The radical strategy for them must be to hire a professional Guide.
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