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How to snowboard on an avalanche

Because you just never know

How to snowboard on an avalanche
20 October 2010

When gravity bullies snow downhill, it can be a highly dangerous situation to be caught up in. But get everything right and you can ride an avalanche to safety. Freestyle snowboarder Dom Harington (appearing at the Relentless Freeze Festival, Battersea Power Station, 29-31 October; has the following sick (meaning bad, meaning good) advice...

Fig 1: “Once you hear the huge roar behind you, try not to panic. Quickly turn your head to look back at the avalanche, and judge the size, but keep going forward. Don’t stop, or slow down, even as you look backwards."

Fig 2: “Turn back so you’re facing forward, then aim your board towards any trees or the ridge of the mountain — whatever is nearest, just get there as quick as you can. An avalanche tends to follow the path of the mountain’s gully, so if you can get to the ridgeline, it’ll be less powerful. Trees will slow it, though you may hit them."

Fig 3: “As the avalanche hits you, try to dive forward, so you don’t tumble out of control. Next, try to swim upwards out of it. Use a backstroke motion, to carry yourself up to the top of the avalanche as it’s moving. Your board will still be on your feet, so it’s all in your arms."

Fig 4: “When you come to a stop, if you’ve managed to swim to the top, get on your board as quickly as your injuries let you, then board away. Chances are a second avalanche is due any minute.”