Safety tips for splitboard travelers

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Safety tips for splitboard travelers
Splitboarding in Pirigallo Chile Photo Ellen Incelli | Mountain Weekly News

We all need a little review from time to time and a quick personal check-in to ensure we are making safe decisions. In my past two articles, I covered five essentials to carry with you in the backcountry and what necessities to make certain are in your backcountry backpack. My hope with this article is not to give you a review of your Avalanche I course, but to outline a few reminders of things that should become habits.

Pre-trip Planning

Attention to detail before you head into the mountains should always be step one. Know your hiking/riding partner(s)- do your goals and objectives coincide with each other’s? Do you know your partner’s snow education and medical training, also do your levels of risk line up or does one of you generally take a greater risk with decisions? How many are in your group, is it a solo day or have you invited so many friends it’s turned into a Warren Miller party? Make sure you understand and have the latest avalanche report and snow data and agree with your partner(s) on the concerns for the day; ensure there is an open line of communication with those you will be making decisions with. Last but not least, tell a contact in town your trip plan and call that contact when you are safely back at your car.

Tips for On-the-snow

Some days, excitement can cloud the training and knowledge we have studied and paid good money to acquire. The following are a couple reminders and suggestions on how to keep yourself and your party safe out in the hills.

Leave sufficient space between you and your hiking partners when traveling through avalanche terrain.

Here is a sight too often seen in the backcountry of an entire group traversing through a potential slide path. Not giving the hiker in front sufficient time to traverse before beginning your own crossing, can place added stress on the slope and put the entire party in danger.

Turkey Chute GTNP Rider Ellen Incelli

Turkey Chute GTNP Rider Ellen Incelli

Choose a realistic safe zone

Some lines make it challenging to pick a safe zone; couloirs, convex terrain shapes and terrain traps can make a truly safe waiting zone near impossible. Remember on occasion the best option is to ride your entire line and get out of any potential danger before the next rider drops in.

For lines that leave you at the bottom, without eyes on your partner or too far away for verbal information, consider the usefulness of a set of radios for clear communication like the BCA Link system.

My last suggestion to fit into such a short piece for all you splitboarders out there is to ride with a pole in hand. Whether you choose a Black Diamond Whippet, aiding success with self-arrests or simply one of your collapsible touring poles, having a pole allows you to travel faster through any flats or terrain traps.

I hope you have either read good reminders or found a few new ideas or techniques to keep you safe out there. There’s still some white stuff on the ground, so stay safe and get after it this spring season!

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