by Seth Lightcap. posted on 26 December
Story By Jeremy Jones
Disclaimer: I am not an avalanche expert. I have made mistakes in the mountains and unfortunately may again. I am always trying to learn more about the mountains through mentors, classes and experience.
Time often plays a critical role in the mountains. Below are simple examples where paying attention to time can reduce your risk in the mountains. These are big picture ideas that will not help you analyze the dangers of an actual slope but they can help you decide when to plan backcountry trips.
I rode Mt.Timlin in the prime time window for big lines in Alaska - late-April. Photo - Jeff Curley
Time of year. The backcountry is generally more dangerous from November to February. The longer days in the spring give the snow more time to settle. It is common for a persistent weak layer to all but shut down any serious lines for the first few months of season. A small avalanche in a shalllow, early season snowpack can also be more dangerous because of the potential of getting dragged through rocks. Don’t be the early season hero that hurts themselves before spring. The best lines happen in March, April, May and often June. Early season is a time to get your legs strong.
The first time I rode this face in the Fairweather Range, AK we camped at the top of the peak so that we could drop in at the very first light of the day. For this descent, we started hiking at 3 am, topped out at 7 am and dropped by 7:30 am. Photo - Seth Lightcap
Time of day. I always like to ride serious lines in the morning and on a clear day. If something goes wrong you have all day to execute a rescue. A sprained ankle or broken leg can be a relatively minor rescue at 10 AM but can be life threatening at sunset because you will most likely have to spend the night in the mountains. Riding lines in the morning is also crucial because as the day warms up cornices become more likely to break, avalanche danger often increases, rock fall increases and you use more energy in the heat of the day then early in the morning.
The first day after a massive storm in the Eastern Alaska Range we stayed around camp and watched natural avalanches pour off all the peaks around us.
Time after a storm. 90% of Avalanches happen during or within 24 hours of a storm. If there is more then a foot of new snow I do not start really evaluating avalanche danger until two days after a storm. The first day after a storm I typically expect everything to slide and pretty much take the day off.
Tom Burt is one of my mountain mentors. He was the guide on the Deeper expedition to the Fairweather Range, AK in 2010. Between the two of us we had 45 years of experience riding in Alaska. Photo - Seth Lightcap
Time in the mountains. There is no substitute for time in the mountains. Avalanche courses can give you much needed knowledge for traveling safe in the mountains. But if you have only been traveling in serious terrain for a few years you are a beginner. Find mentors who have 15 or more years of time in the mountains. Ask questions, observe and listen.
Time on a trip. My worst injuries have come early in a trip. I am caught up in the excitement and forcing the issue. Looking back at my six years of shooting Deeper, Further and Higher I have realized that all the serious lines that you see in the film happen late in a trip between day 15 and day 25.
Corrugated was the last line we filmed for DEEPER and it went down on the last day of the 2010 AK expedition - Day 25. It took all the experiences we had that previous month to ride this line with confidence. Photo - Jeremy Jones
by Seth Lightcap. posted on 22 December
Take a road trip to Nowhere Nevada for a backcountry shred camping trip with Jeremy Jones, Taylor Carlton, Jimmy Goodman and the MTNMNY crew.
by Seth Lightcap. posted on 18 December
Whistler local Claudia Avon has earned the respect of her talented local riding community the best way you can - by f*#kin’ charging!
Claudia tears into terrain with a powerful and confident style and can ride it all - steeps, pillows, spines, even park jumps. It’s no surprise she’s got a ton of local fans. She’s a true all-around shredder who’s loved by all who know her. We’re thrilled to work with Claudia as a member of our new Freeride Collective team.
Claudia grew up riding the icy slopes of Mont St.Sauveur in Montreal, QC. She moved out to Whistler 8 years ago and has been shredding nonstop ever since, meanwhile learning the ways of the backcountry on splitboards and snowmobiles.
Check out Claudia’s 2014 full part and read on to learn more about her influences and favorite places to ride:
What snowboarders influenced you the most?
Not gonna lie, Jeremy Jones and Xavier de Le Rue have been the ones that have influenced me the most. Snowboarding for me is all about adventure, exploring new areas and riding natural terrain. I find it very inspiring to watch their adventures. That backcountry adventure riding style is definitely what I am aiming for.
Describe your dream line
Dream line, hard to say. I love adrenaline, so it would have to be a long and steep one. Nice spines with good snow would probably be the best description of it. But to be honest, I have fun every time I drop into a line, it doesn’t always have to be crazy for me to enjoy it. Sometimes the most cruisy terrain with good snow and good friends is the best line you ride all day.
What is your go to resort shred zone in Whistler?
When it’s too deep to safely go out in the backcountry I will go ride the resort. You have the best chance to find me on the Peak chair at Whistler. I have a secret pillow spot that not many people know about. I can lap those all day long and then come back the next day and still find fresh lines.
What are you passionate about other than snowboarding?
I’m really into building things and mechanics. I love to work with wood, that’s when I really let my creative side go off. I also just bought a welder to start to learn how to weld. Anything that has to be done on my truck, snowmobile, snowblower or anything else I own, I do it myself. Why not, it’s free learning and I am starting to get good at it. In the summer I am an excavator operator and I love it. Surfing is a big part of my life for me too. Whenever I can, I take off and go surfing. In the winter I absolutely love to play pond hockey and snowmobile.
What are your goals for the winter?
You know what, I don’t really have any specific lines or destinations on the list. I know what kind of terrain I want to ride and I’m leaving the options open. The goal this year is to just ride the best snow. Wherever is the best in the Western US and Canada I want to be there. I find it more exciting and surprising that way to make plans along with Mother Nature.
Watch more video from Claudia on her website - www.thejoyriderz.com
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