Jeremy Jones is a big mountain riding expert. He’s put in the time, he’s ridden some of the most incredible lines on Earth, and he’s still around. In this article, Jeremy explains to us how he reduces his risk when in avalanche terrain. His advice is solid and needs to be headed by all backcountry skiers and riders.
by Jeremy Jones
“What happens if I get caught in an avalanche or take a fall on this face?” This thought is always with me when climbing up or riding down a mountain. I let my mind go to a dark place. “You will die, you will never see your kids again.” This may sound harsh or negative, but the consequences are real in the mountains and one bad call can erase a lifetime of good calls. Especially if the mistake is on a “dirty” line – meaning a line that has secondary exposure. Secondary exposure is anything that can kill you if you fall down the mountain or get caught in an avalanche. The exposure could be a stand of trees below you, large cliffs, sloping cliffs, crevasses, or a terrain trap that would quickly fill with snow if you are caught in an avalanche.
The first line of defense in staying safe in the mountains is picking clean lines. I have made a career out of picking steep, well featured lines that have clean out runs. I learned early on that instead of looking at the tops of the mountains and falling in love with beautiful lines with bad out runs. I first focus on the outruns. This is the key to any line. Figure out where the safe outruns are and go up from there. Once on top of a line the first thing I do is figure out where my exit is. By picking clean lines, I am able to take risks I would never be able to take over exposure. I would rather throttle a clean line then side slip down a dirty line. The cleaner the line, the bigger risks I will take.
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