This article is about all those who plan to hit the open mountain or are yet inexperienced out there. It will help you get the most of it while avoiding the risks which are way higher than those on the standard race on the designated slopes.
Shredding the powder is a dream for a lot of people that want to learn how to ski or snowboard. Many even want to learn to ski or snowboard just to be able to go in the open mountain or climb some high peak and dive into the vast snow ocean that lies underneath. The feeling is sensational – very special and personal for everyone. But most people share that what they feel is the ultimate freedom. The mind is clear and calm and you find peace (in a much better way that the other meaning of this phrase).
Standing on the edge of the peak, sometimes after walking for hours in deep snow – this is hardly understandable for the most people. ‘Why don’t you just stay on the designated tracks?’ they say. Freeriding is not a common way to ski or snowboard – it is actually one of the most extreme sports one can imagine. And whoever tried it or has the intention of trying it need to keep in mind a couple of things or otherwise it can get messy.
- Always check the weather forecast not earlier than the day before your freeride session. Weather forecasts are not accurate for more than 2-3 days and especially in the open mountain where the climate is changing much more dynamically, you need to be extra careful and prepared. In case the conditions are not suitable, cancel the session
- If the freeride session is on, make sure you are well-prepared. And a warm jacket + good hat and helmet are not enough. You need to take additional equipment that will aid you to check for avalanches and also help you in case an actual avalanche is triggered. Often the lack of the right signaling equipment prevents the mountain guards from finding you in time and it can cost lives
- Make sure you know where you are going and have some indications of the route you will be taking. Failure to do so may result in serious misjudgments and disorientation, which may get you lost or arriving in the wrong place. Sometimes the fog is so thick that you do not see anything in 1 meter ahead of you. In such a scenario, it may be worth waiting a while for the fog to get cleared so that you can get back on track and not risk to lost your orientation
- Bring some fresh water and some sweets. You should not worry for your weight – usually such sessions drain so much energy and calories that you will have to recuperate them for day later. These will be extremely helpful in the unlucky event of being lost or just too tired to continue. It surely did the job for some of on a couple of occasions.
- In case you are new to or not so familiar with the particular mountain (or you are not Travis Rise), make sure you have a skilled guide who knows well the spot and the surroundings.
- The team of SnowCamp Bulgaria has participated in numerous freeride sessions around some of the top freeride and deserted spots on Earth. We faced many challenges and learnt new skills and built experience both the good and the bad way. One of the most important lessons for us that we want to share with you is to never underestimate the mountain, especially in deserted areas and far away from resorts or living people. Don’t be overconfident and never forget that you are not bigger than the mountain and it can crash you in a matter of seconds. Pushing the limits of oneself is admirable and full of adrenaline and great moments but you always need to think where you have to draw the line.
We trust that freeriding is truly one of most amazing and rewarding activities people can get hold of. Following these simple guidelines should help you have an enjoyable and yet safe time out there and be prepared for the worse, while taking the most of the best!