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Avalanche Problem Web Series:
Part 1 – Wind Slab

How to Apply the Avalanche Forecast to Your Riding

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For splitboarders venturing into the backcountry, information can be the difference between an epic day and tragedy. In an effort to increase education and avalanche awareness, Spark R&D is presenting a 7-part web series called Avalanche Problems, which will explain the nationally standardized types of slides most commonly described in advisories by avalanche forecasters.

Understanding the characteristics of each type will help to determine where avalanches are likely to occur and what kind of terrain should be avoided. In today’s installment, we will cover Wind Slab Avalanches.

Wind slabs in a nutshell
wind-slabThese slabs are very common throughout the winter in just about every mountain range. They’re created by wind deposited snow and tend to live under cornices, below ridgelines, around the edges of gullies, and in most alpine terrain. After a wind event, your best bet is to avoid these types of terrain features and let them stabilize, which can take from a couple days to a week.

What exactly is a wind slab?
We often hear people speak of wind loading and wind slabs, so let’s talk about what exactly this is and how are they formed.

• When the wind blows snow across, or up the mountain, it gets deposited onto adjacent slopes, forming a slab (a cohesive unit or “chunk” of snow).
• As the snow grains are blown, they get broken into small particles. When these small grains come to rest, they pack tight together and form a nice slab of snow.
• The slope that the wind is blowing across and stripping snow from is called the windward slope. The side that the snow lands on, and is becoming loaded, is referred to as the leeward slope.
• The thickness can depend on the strength and duration of the wind, but also the amount of snow available for transport.

Where you might find a wind slab and how to avoid one:

• Typical areas include off ridgelines, below cornices (pointing towards the slab), around wind-slab-icongullies or ribs, and in any exposed alpine terrain.
• Most wind loading occurs in the alpine, at treeline, and in avalanche start zones (the tops of defined avalanche paths). During especially strong wind events, loading can be experienced mid slope and below treeline.
• Avoid leeward slopes and commonly wind loaded terrain features (mentioned above) during and post wind event.
• When venturing on slopes that do not appear to be wind loaded, keep in mind that loading can occur in pockets. Watch out for a change in surface texture.

How to look for and test a wind slab:

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Photo courtesy of Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center (sawtoothavalanche.com).

• Visually inspect slopes: Look for pillow-like features; feel for drum-like or hollow sounds; watch for shooting cracks; and assess if a slab exists on lower angle terrain.
• Look for loading patterns. Stripped snow on one slope means it landed somewhere else. Local wind patterns often provide visual clues.
• Pay attention to what direction the wind has been blowing by reading the avalanche forecast, and keeping up to date on the weather forecast.
• Wind slabs are typically in the upper surface of the snowpack, so tests to determine bonding and sensitivity can be done quickly.

Tips: Wind can rapidly change conditions and load snow up to 10 times faster than it can fall from the sky. If the wind is really blowing, the avalanche danger can go from mild to wild very quickly.

Disclaimer: Although characteristic, these descriptions are general, so make sure to read into any specifics mentioned on your local advisory. Also, this is just one piece of the puzzle, so remember to factor in the hazard rating and any field observations.

Find your local avalanche center: www.avalanche.org

Presented by Clark Corey
Splitboard Guide/Avalanche Educator

WIN a pair of MAGNETOS!

Spark has partnered up with Snowboard Mag on their weekly gear blast and we’re giving away a pair of Magnetos!

All you need to do is sign up for Snowboard Mag’s gear weekly newsletter here: snowboardmag.com/newsletter and all the details for winning will be in the Thursday gear blast that you’ll receive in your email. Good luck!!

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Just make sure you sign up before Wed, October 16th, 2013, 11:59pm MST.

A Carbon Neutral Detour in BC – Tamo Campos

Words By Tamo Campos

Our trip has taken quite the detour. We decided to come back through Vancouver instead of taking the ferry to Prince Rupert. The decision was mostly to save our diminished funds and secondly because one of the kids in Alert Bay brought up the point that driving on veggie oil is more sustainable than taking diesel ferries. We agree. So, on the road we go.

On the road again.

On the road again.

The detour ended up being a blessing in disguise. On our road up to Squamish we met Dylan. He’s a ripper and runs his Toyota Landcruiser on veggie oil. Not only that he uses a system (made completely from thrift shop purchases) that gives him 20% better mileage. The magic consists of two salad prongs, electrical wire, baking soda and a thermos. He uses the excess electricity from the alternator to flow into the salad prongs, which sit in backing soda and water. The reaction creates hydrogen and oxygen (out of water), and then sends it into the air intake. He told us combustible engines only get 30% of the energy within the fuel that is burnt. The rest goes out your tail pipe!! Insane no. We’ve been looking up these systems and it looks really easy. (Soon as we find a good thrift shop Boris the bus will be getting some better millage!)

John approving of the system!

John approving of the system!

From Squamish, we cruised the Duffy lake into Quesnel. Just outside of Lilloet, we ran into our friend Sam driving the other direction..  He’s a 23 year old surfer that we met in Tofino some years back. He’s been living in Prince Rupert the past couple years with his daughter Hannah.

John taking about 30 seconds to convince Sam to turn the other way and join us on the trip.

John taking about 30 seconds to convince Sam to turn the other way and join us on the trip.

Sam’s been working in Grande Prairie the last couple months on a fracking rig! He originally got into the industry because of the money while not knowing much about it. Listening to his insight in the industry is heavy.

His stories of how ruthless the oil and gas industries are incredible. They’ve hit me hard and I’m beginning to realize how important it is to regulate this industry. I’ve had trouble sleeping after hearing stories of entire lakes and rivers being sucked dry in Northern BC and Alberta. One story struck especially hard. He told us how in every camp he’s worked at every single tap says “DO NOT DRINK WATER!”  He told us how everyone on the lease is forced to drink bottled water. This is the same industry that advertises as being cleaner burning and not affecting ground water.

That is simply not the case. It’s time we start doing what other countries are doing and ban Fracking until more studies can be done on the consequences on water. (Quebec has already put a moratorium in place)

After loading up grease from DQ, Mike’s Lounge and a Japanesse restaurant, we’ve finally made it Smithers. Everyone in the town is so progressive. Even the local snowboard shop has solar panels to get them off the grid. We chatted with the owner for a while and he explained that business owners would love to go green but they need help from consumers. “You buy sustainable products, we bring in more sustainable products.”

Off grid Shred shop?

Off grid Shred shop?

After checking out the shop, we set up a presentation at Smithers Secondary School. We didn’t have a clue how many kids would be there. It’s a school of over 800 and definitely had us nervous before chatting.  We presented on the risks of Fracking, pipelines and plastics while bringing up solutions we can all take part in.

Jasper and a jug of veggie grease presenting.

Jasper and a jug of veggie grease presenting.

The presentations went amazing! Kids we’re stoked and we later received an email from a teacher saying that their kids we’re pumped. It’s great to hear and at the same time we’re equally as moved by the work the kids are doing. Next week the kids have plans to get together to write letters to Stephen Harper about Northern Gateway!

We were pumped to finally make it to John’s Driftwood off the grid farm. We found it online before coming to town and the farm did not disappoint. The farm is off the grid through a combination of biomass, solar panels and waste veggie oil. As we rolled into the farm, we passed goats, chickens and Icelandic horses. Side by side with solar panels that is!

Sam and Jazzy enjoying the farm.

Sam and Jazzy enjoying the farm.

As John gave us the tour he took us inside to see his pride and joy, a biomass generator that creates biogas and heats the water lines with the exhaust. This is done if by composting wood chips!

As the afternoon rolled on, we were invited inside to eat renewable energy created Bretzels and goats milk. Our time at the farm was great. It’s easy to get drowned out in the downfall of our biggest energy companies (oil and gas) but what we realized at the farm is how exciting it is to be on the cutting edge of changing the way we see energy. It’s empowering to know what we can accomplish with forethought, planning and research. John, originally from Germany, moved to Smithers when his bus broke down in the area and he fell in love with the land. He told us about Canada’s energy policies in comparison to Europe or Scandinavia. Our model is one where business’s that do not profit within the first years are inefficient. Unlike Scandinavia where businesses are run based on 5 and 10 year profit margins. You can imagine the short cuts a business is willing to take when they need to make profits within the year.

Bretzls made with renewable energy.

Bretzls made with renewable energy.

Cruising out of the farm we finally caught a storm. We spend an entire day up the backcountry around Smithers! Split-boarding up and shredding down, with sustainable pretzels in the pocked of course.

Was great to get back on the split boards. It’s such a beautiful experience climbing mountains on your own two feet. It gives you time to appreciate your surroundings. Most importantly it reminds us, with its beauty, why the natural world is worth fighting for.

Beautiful BC

Beautiful BC

What you can do after reading this.

1. Write a letter. Letters can have huge impacts!

We recently wrote letters about Site C from our bus while stealing Wifi in Vanderhoof. We can all do it so let’s let our elected officials know how we feel about Canada’s energy policies.

2. Diesel? Gasoline? Doesn’t matter! Install a hydrogen kit in your car.

3. Take five minutes of your day to goggle Kristianstad. It’s a modern city in Sweden that is on target to be fossil fuel free. It’s rad and gives us hope that there is another path we can take.

All the best.

Till the next time,

Jazzy ripping down a line.

Jazzy ripping down a line.

Beyond Boarding is an organization dedicated to spreading interest in humanitarian and environmental work within the snowboarding and surf community

www.beyondboarding.org
Words of advice? got something to tell us?
Our mailing address is:
beyondboarding@gmail.com

B4BC for Megs – A Fundraiser for Pro Snowboarder Megan Pischke

A Fundraising Benefit for Megan Pischke
April 17, 2013

3PM –  6PM après  |  7PM – 2:00AM event
Merlin’s Bar & Grill in Whistler Blackcomb, BC

Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) seeks your support in honoring and raising funds for one of our own, pro snowboarder and B4BC ambassador Megan Pischke. Megan, who has been leading B4BC’s Survivor ReTreats for the past 5 years, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is in need of support for her ongoing treatment and integrated health care.

Spark R&D has donated a custom pair of Blaze LTs for the silent auction. Please attend this event if you can, or consider donating if you cannot make it in person. Please stand in solidarity with Megan and her family, rally your friends and all you know, and give a little towards someone who gives so much to all of us!

More info on the event here: http://www.stayclassy.org/whistler-bc-canada/events/b4bc-4-megs-fundraiser-for-b4bcs-friend-pro-snowboarder-megan-pischke/e23910

Winter Returns to the East Coast

DTK Episode 3.2

From the guys at Rightside Productions: This rewinds back to a few of our mid-winter 2013 splitboarding missions. With a solid snowpack in place, we dug deeper into spots that had previously left us broken and battered. From posting up in a remote cabin to pre and post workday missions, we’ve been burning the headlamps at both ends to take full advantage of the best conditions the east coast has seen all winter. Boot up checkyourpins.com for photos and more, and stay tuned for the Chic Chocs in episode three.

Rightside Productions presents an East Coast Split Web Series

Episode 3.1: Into the Forest

Winter is short enough on the East Coast. Add multiple thaws, every form of frozen precip, and shrapnel-filled forests and it’s enough to make us wonder why we even bother. Episode 3.1 documents the first half of the season splitboarding in Vermont—a season that’s been full of highs and lows, but then again any day on snow is a good one.

www.checkyourpins.com

Spark Rider Marcin Jaskolka, Karkonosze in Poland

“CHIEFTAIN’S GOOD BUT HE’S A ROBBER”

Sticking your head out of the tent in the morning gives you a feeling something bad is approaching you at a speed of light. In a moment you realize it happens to be only a fog, so you immediately fasten your board.
The next beautiful day in mountains is about to happen.
Splitboarding, camping and a good mood!
Karkonosze are awesome, it is hard to find cliff drops here, but you will get a blend of deep powder turns, tree runs and a huge smile on your face after all day run.

Greetings from Japan
Marcin Jaskolka