With temperatures dropping and three weekends of snowfall behind us (and it’s barely mid October) our thoughts are turning to getting out on the snow. Sitting at home scanning endless dreamy social media photos can make the wait for the ski lifts to open seem like an eternity. For most of us we sit, wait and dream of snowboarding, then jump on a plane and arrive in resort ready to snowboard. It’s probably been at least 9 months since you last strapped into your board, so are you really ready to ride this winter?
Over the coming weeks we will drop more blog articles aimed at getting you ready to shred when the lifts open again, which you can read from the comfort of your own home.
In this article, we are focusing on building your knowledge for riding off-piste.
Whichever resort you’re in, the local mountain safety team works hard to ensure the pistes are safe for you to ride, but this is where their responsibility ends. As soon as you make the decision to leave the piste, your safety is in your own hands. Our IFMGA Mountain Guide (David Gladwin) has written about this before in a Morzine Source Magazine article ‘Staying Safe Just Off-Piste’. This is a great reminder of some of the things you need to be aware of if you and your friends are skipping over the other side of the piste barrier.
It’s easy to forget how dangerous riding off-piste can be, especially when all minds are focused on finding and riding perfect untracked lines, however from ‘just off the piste’ through to hiking and splitboarding far away from the nearest chairlift, being caught in an avalanche is the greatest single danger you could face.
From our ‘Intro to Off-Piste’ Course, through to our Backcountry Program running in locations including Norway, Japan, Le Grave, Zinal and Engelberg; a key aspect of these courses is to develop our clients mountain safety awareness. We aim to give our clients the knowledge and experience needed to reduce the risk of triggering or being caught in an avalanche. But it doesn’t end there, being safe in the mountains means continuously developing your knowledge, drawing from many sources including taking part in avalanche awareness courses, practicing using your search and rescue equipment before it’s needed and even sitting down at home and learning from books, videos and online resources.
So that brings us to the crux of this article, how can I learn about avalanche safety from the comfort of my own home, before I leave for the mountains? Luckily there is a great charitable organisation called ‘Know Before You Go‘, who run an online avalanche awareness program, their mantra: “Not much science, no warnings to stay out of the mountains, no formulas to memorize. In 1 hour, you will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.”
Not only is this a great introduction to avalanche awareness, but it’s free. With most of Europe back in lockdown, there’s no excuse, get the kettle on and sign up to the course to learn the basics to help keep yourself safe every time you go off piste. Follow the link in the image below to get your free avalanche awareness training:
At MINT Snowboarding we love the backcountry, and we’re lucky enough to have David Gladwin in our team, one of the few fully qualified international mountain guides and snowboard instructors in Europe. Over the years we’ve given our clients bucket list backcountry experiences all over the world. Whatever you want to learn, from newbie off piste to advanced backcountry, why not give us a call, email or just check out our website MINT Snowboarding If you want to know more about what we have to offer.