re British border killed on VB. He was with his fiancé on the trip we where in contact with her through out the horrible drama. Her fiancé Phil was off piste as mentioned. We are still finding out the details. It must have been unbelievable for her to have to witness this. All of our hearts go out to their families From Australia.
Although snowboards are great for riding the difficult snows found off piste this is an area where boarders are at a disadvantage. The lower section of the VB is quite flat but there are a lot of crevasses in places. If a boarder loses momentum there is nothing for it but to un-clip one or two feet and walk (some boarders use collapsible ski poles but this requires a bit of practice) and of course this puts a lot more stress on snow bridges. Sounds like an extremely rare but nasty accident, especially as the man was following the tracks of others, not just a simple crevasse fall.
We are, of course, extremely sorry for his friends and family. Once again the mountains have shown that they are stronger than any of us.
I´ve ridden a board for many years and last year I tried splitboard for the first time, it´s a great solution for off piste riding, first you can climb up easily by using skins but you can also split it when the terrain isn´t steep enough and you need to get through it, you just make skis and use poles like skiers ... Then that disadvantage disappears I guess.
Thanks for writing the summary and posting this sad story.
I think it’s not just snowboarders who can learn from it. Like I would not have been thinking that the Salle a Manger was a dangerous area. And it’s easy for skiers to get complacent about taking one or both skis off in an area like that—like when stopping for a snack. Also easy for a group of skiers to cluster together in one place for the good purpose of discussion decisions.
Makes me also think of popular routes where it’s easy for skiers to want to climb through a steeper section on foot instead of staying on skis—like the lower section of the climb from the Argentiere glacier up to the Col du Chardonnet, or the east side of the Fenetre de Saleina. Having really solid technique for skinning up steep slopes can be a safety advantage in seasons like this.
Those are excellent points Ken and give me something to think about when on glaciated terrain. I also suspect that a snowboarder climbing on snowshoes puts down more ground pressure than a skier on skins.
On a slightly unrelated note I was also looking back on an avalanche incident in 2004 involving a snowboarder climbing on snow shoes. The boarder was buried under 50cm of snow. A factor was that the boarder was unable to shed their sack and snowboard and got dragged under the snow. I can see a large board action as an anchor. Years ago when I started touring we always used to climb with loose straps when in potential avalanche zones.