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im getting in to BC too. i got a probe, a shovle a pack(not too big), avalanch transeaver. and those are just the musts. to be realy safe your going to need more. once you get more into it, and you will, i would sugest getting skins.
find a class, you'll know everything
i learned all of my bc knowledge from the internet and some from experienced local people and i have not gotten in trouble once since i started doing bc stuff when i was around 13. ill try to find all of the sites i used, there in a folder on my other computer and theres a bunch of really good info in there
i just read as much as possible and went to different sites until i could read something and know exactly what they are talking about. And when you know you feel comfotable enough to put a friend or another persons life in your hands
strong post. Classes or reading can never teach you ski cuts. Most incidents involve some form of group dynamics you can't teach stuff like that. The best thing you can have in the BC specially when begining is strong experienced partners and the best way to find and keep good partners is to be one.
Don't flake or be late to meetings/trailheads, Be in shape and able to break your share of trail, Have your rescue and 1st aid skills dialed, as well as your equipment. Be vocal with your obs and concerns, know when to turn it down a notch or back off from an intended line.
If you're gonna ask a lot of questions or taking safety breaks be holdin and packin/rollin the kine, Give partners a reason to want to tour/teach you, cause if you give them reasons to not call you they won't.
I am going to relate this to Hanggliding. And try to explain why having gear and reading just isnt enough. I used to instruct and guide hanggliding. Inexperienced eastern hanggliding pilots would come out west lookng for action and adventure. High altitude desert flying is ROCK AND ROLL. Powerful thermals, dust devils, the sierra wave, etc. These guys had read all about it...but they did not have some one hold thier hand and point shit to them so they hired me. There is shit that you have to be aware of that eastern pilots NEVER even think about (sound familiar)
Most of the time they could get by and survive (I have seen a lot of guys come out west solo and do this - and I can always spot 'em from a mile away. I just kind of wish them luck). However, I have saved more than one customers bacon when shit got a little intense. The point of this is reading is GREAT, having gear is awesome, but being with someone that is knowledgable is priceless.