The Rules of Riding Out of Bounds

Come on, admit it–there have been times when you’ve slipped under that ropeat the mountain in spite of a large sign warning that the area was out ofbounds. It’s easy enough to do. Big, open, untracked fields of snow surroundedby cliffs, chutes, and danger become especially appetizing when they aredeclared off-limits.

While SOL doesn’t want to sound like your mother, or promote this behavior(because of course, we have never participated in any kind of illegal activities)we would like to offer you a few thoughts before you venture off-piste intouncharted territories.

1. Take a buddy. Don’t travel out of bounds alone.

2. Don’t go places you don’t know without someone whoknows. If you are unfamiliar with the resort or have never been out of boundsat the area, be sure to go with someone who knows the terrain. A knowledgeableguide will not only be able to avoid flat spots, and point out the goods,but will also know the quickest way back to civilization if needed.

3. Be a Piep geek. Always carry an avalanche transceiver,especially after a snow storm when you know danger is high. And if you goout of bounds make sure it’s set on transmit. This sound stupid, but youdon’t know how many people have ridden out of bounds all day and never turnedtheir Pieps on. Be sure to think about how much juice your battery has left.No batteries, no transceiver, no point in carrying it, right?

4. Having a transceiver is not enough. Learn how touse it by practicing in the parking lot before you hit the lifts. Throw itinto the snow and make your friends find it. That could be you in the snow,so you’ll probably want everyone to know how to use them.

5. Know what the weather is doing. If a storm is movingin, and you’re dropping into an area that the ski patrol may not be ableto dig you out of until spring, don’t do it. Think about it for a second.High altitude and sudden temperature drops go hand-in-hand at resorts. Ifthe conditions are shifting you should know how they will affect the restof your day.

6. Assess the avalanche danger of the area. When wasthe last time there was a slide? What are snow conditions like. There shouldbe an avalanche hotline in the area or ask your friendly neighborhood skipatroller what the danger is on the mountain.

7. Snacks. Always carry some kind of food on you. Energybars or candy bars, fruit leather, nuts, beef jerky. You’ll be stoked tohave this when you are riding the lifts later on if you don’t need it sooner.

8. Dress warmly. Take that extra layer and tuck it intoa pocket or tie it around your waist under your jacket, so it doesn’t getwet. Sweating a little from being too hot is way better than getting hypothermiawhen an unexpected wind starts howling.

9. Always carry something bright. A red hat, orangevest, or yellow jacket can help people find you. Something colorful can betied to a branch or left on the snow to alert people as to your whereabouts.

10. Bring a pocket tool and a few screws. Have you everdiscovered a missing screw mid-way down the mountain? A pocket tool doesn’tweigh much and can save you from a long walk out if something comes loose.