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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
Snowboarding safety
Anyone who has been snowboarding can tell about the time they nearly had an accident.

And those that have spent more than just a holiday in the mountains will tell you how fatally dangerous they can be.

So we asked British snowboarder Jessica Venables for a few freeriding dos and don'ts.


Always go with somebody that knows the mountain well. If you're not familiar with the terrain - don't go.

I've been exploring before but if I don't know the area, I go with somebody who does otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble.

Jessica's fast facts
Jessica Venables
Born: 28 April 1978
Nationality: British
Lives: Chamonix, France
Style: Fluid

If I'm going off-piste I always wear a transceiver and a backpack with all the necessary safety equipment.

A transceiver transmits a radio signal so it allows you to find someone in an avalanche or they can find you.

At the beginning of each winter I'll practise in a snow field with my friends by burying the transceiver and then trying to find it again to see if it works okay.

I also climb a lot in the summer and that's helped me a lot with snowboarding.

When I'm in a steep couloir it doesn't bother me to put on my crampons and take an ice pick and climb down or up with my snowboard on my backpack.

If I'm going up on the glacier I take my crampons, my ice pick, my rope and harness and if I'm going hiking I'll take my snow shoes.

Sometimes we'll go to the backcountry and we'll take a rope and harness in case we have to abseil.

Whatever way we go it's definitely worth the hike. Sometimes you might descend 2000m with fresh snow all the way.


If you go off piste snowboarding never cut across the slope above somebody because you could set off an avalanche.

Freeriding jargon
Freeriding: Generally off-piste snowboarding without the man-made stuff
Off-piste: Ungroomed ski runs like glaciers or tree runs
Backcountry: More rugged terrain which isn't patrolled
Powder: Deep virgin snow that hasn't been touched
Couloir: The narrow chute formed by rocks at the top of the mountain
Bowl: Often what a couloir opens out into. A wide-open section at the top of the mountain

Never follow tracks if you don't know where they go. I've seen so many people get in trouble following tracks.

For example two years ago we were going down a glacier and there was a big jump over a crevasse. Me and my friends all made it but somebody followed us.

It was quite a big jump - they didn't make it over and they died. That was following tracks. I never do it.

And never ride all together. Take it in turns to go first and stop in the safest places that you know.

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