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Learning to Splitboard | Episode Nine

Spring Storm Cycles

Video: Simon Coward

Hey there, Simon here from Splitboard HQ, checking in with episode nine of our learning to splitboard series. Today, we’re looking at the decision-making process following big storm cycles. It's been a thin snow year, and we’ve had lots of instabilities. Recently, we received a significant amount of snow, which everyone is excited about, but the avalanche hazard remains very elevated. Our focus is on finding good snow while using simple strategies to stay safe.

Starting in Mellow Terrain

Today, we're at a popular area near Sunshine Village, Wawa Ridge. I just want to remind everyone that I'm not a ski guide, but I’ve been doing this for a while and teach AST courses. Our goal is to start in very mellow terrain to gauge the conditions before gradually increasing the steepness. Along the way, we’ve observed some cornices and noticed they’re moving as expected based on the avalanche forecast.

Gathering Information from Small Terrain Features

We started on a small slope to get a feel for the snow. It's comfortable in lower angle terrain right now. Next, we tested a little cornice to see if it would move. Tom kicked off the cornice in a sheltered area, and we observed a crack propagating down the slope. This confirmed the presence of a connected slab formation, aligning with the avalanche forecast. Testing these small features gave us confidence in the accuracy of the forecast and underscored the need for caution in larger terrain.

Moving to Wawa Ridge Proper

After gathering initial information, we moved into the main area of Wawa Ridge. With diverse terrain options, we remained conservative, looking for a supported drop-in that was relatively low angle. We stayed closer to the trees before venturing into the main slope. By avoiding the start zone, we continued to gather valuable information while enjoying a fun, controlled run.

Tips for Staying Safe

Filming Your Buddies

When filming your friends riding, ensure you're not in the line of fire. Position yourself outside of their skiing or boarding path to avoid being caught in an avalanche if one occurs. This may not always be the optimal spot for filming, but safety comes first.

Stopping Mid Slope

When stopping mid-slope, always point your board downhill. This might feel strange in steeper terrain, but it allows you to quickly move again if needed. Pointing downhill is a safer position as you can react faster to any changes in conditions.

Wrapping Up a Successful Day

We’re now back in the car, safe and sound after progressing through increasingly challenging terrain without stepping into anything steep or dangerous. We had many discussions on how to enter bigger terrain safely and enjoyed some fun pillows in steep trees on our way out. All in all, a great day!