With more seasons under his belt than most of us have had hot dinners, a stint on the Freeride World Tour and many hundreds of days riding in the backcountry James Stentiford knows a thing or two about riding off-piste. We caught up with James to get his top tips for staying safe while venturing off-piste and beyond. Here are Stentifords Six (top tips for riding in the backcountry).
1. If you want to ride off-piste get the right equipment and learn how to use it! Transceiver, shovel and probe are an absolute must. Make sure you ride with all three as a transceiver is useless unless you have a shovel and probe with you.
2. Do an avalanche course and practice a lot with your transceiver so you are comfortable using it if anything goes wrong. Lot's of resorts have transceiver parks now which are perfect for testing your skills and keeping them up to scratch.
3. Check the weather forecast and avalanche forecast before you go riding. With the internet it's easy to get up to speed with whats going on in the area you are going to ride.
4. Get local knowledge, talk to the locals and invest in a qualified guide. They'll know where the danger areas are and what has been happening on the mountain throughout the season.
5. Look for danger signs on the mountain. 1. Recent avalanche activity 2. Wind 3. Warming temps 4. Large amounts of new snow.
6. Finally if in doubt just turn back. It takes a lot more to turn away from riding something but it is always the right decision.
James Stentiford is one of the most successful and experienced Backcountry Snowboarders in the UK. With a professional career spanning two decades and over 20 years of mountain experience.