Adrenaline, speed, and fresh powder – that’s what snowboarding is all about. But slashing up huge lines in the backcountry comes with some inherent risks.
Perhaps greatest of all… avalanche!
The raw, untamed beauty of the snow-covered mountains can swiftly turn sour when an avalanche is triggered. Hundreds of tonnes of compressed snow, travelling at ungodly speeds. It’s the stuff of nightmares!
But it doesn’t always end badly. There are occasions where riders manage to ride (or even style) it out safely. Here’s some rare footage of snowboarding in an avalanche. Don’t try this at home!
Travis Rice Surviving A HUGE Avalanche
Rider Outruns A Massive Backcountry Avalanche
Amateur Snowboarder Caught In an Avalanche
Skiing and Snowboarding in an Avalanche Compilation
So why am I sharing this with you?
Well, avalanche awareness is always important. Sadly, not all avalanches have the positive outcomes demonstrated above.
Before heading into risky terrain, check the conditions, check your gear and check your ego. If your gut tells you something ain’t right, stay on the groomers. Living to ride another day is far more important than hitting a potentially risky line or giving into peer pressure.
Before heading into the backcountry, make sure you have the right gear AND the knowledge on how to use it. Get yourself an easy to use avalanche beacon. Practice using it. Practice again. If (god forbid) you ever need to use it, it should be second nature.
Never ride alone! Some of the riders in the footage above seem to have been alone. Luckily, they weren’t fully submerged… otherwise it could have been a very different outcome.
If you are caught in an avalanche, stay on your feet as long as you can. Hit the gas in a diagonal line, aiming for an island of safety (if you have an airbag, pull it). If this isn’t possible, try to stay afloat by swimming with your arms. If you do go under, try to form an air pocket by keeping one arm in front of your face and the other above you.
Prevention is always the best management. Learn to read the conditions and the mountain. Understand slope gradient and how it relates to avalanche risk. Learn about avalanche beacons. Take an avalanche safety course. Read this article.
Avalanches are scary!
Snowboarders have no business riding in the backcountry without proper education and proper gear. Even with those, there are no guarantees when it comes to nature.
Aside from that, I hope you enjoyed the footage… sorry for the rant that followed. I just want you guys to be safe!