By Sean (Iron Maiden for life!) Johnson
Sponsors: Vans, Iris
Resides in: North Vancouver, B.C.
Spends his summers: Flyfishing, motocrossing, filming mountain biking, and licking his wounds.
Spends his winters: Snowboarding, snowmobiling, and wrecking himself.
Cornices are one of the most dangerous aspects of snowboarding. They are huge slabs of snow, weighing thousands of pounds, waiting to break off and crush you like an ant. So, instead of taking a rip off your bong and wandering out on a cornice to check your line, dude, you should consider the following: Is the cornice overhanging? How is the stability of the snow in the area? And if something goes wrong, are you prepared to deal with it? If the cornice is overhanging, stay the hell away from it. If the snow is unstable in the area, it’s not worth the risk. And if you aren’t prepared, just forget about the idea of jumping off one.
But if everything lines up and you’re ready to make the drop, follow the steps below:
1. Take an avalanche-safety course so you can find out how dangerous cornices really are. Then, decide for yourself if you want to jump off one. You should never proceed with step two unless you have done step one.
2. Get invited on a heli trip with TransWorld to the Ruby Mountains.
3. Phone your sponsor and tell them not to boot you off the team. They say they know what’s best even though you’ve been snowboarding for fifteen years and they’ve only been in the industry for four. Explain to them you know you’re getting old, and although you don’t really enjoy hip-hop, you’re still going to get a lot done on this heli trip.
4. Spot your line from the helicopter and check with your guide. The guide explains the snowpack is very stable. You can see the cornice is not overhanging and the run-out looks fairly clean.
5. Make sure you know exactly where you’re going before you start, because you won’t be able to see your landing until you’re at the point of no return. Throw a few snowballs at the spot you want to land on, and have your buddy (or guide) see if where the snowballs landed looks safe.
6. Jump off the cornice and pray to God it doesn’t break loose.
7. Land clean, and straight-line the run out. Do not stop under the cornice after you’ve landed!
8. Get home from one of the best heli trips of your life, and get a letter (not a phone call) from your sponsor notifying you that you’ve been fired. The letter explains that if you listened to more hip-hop you’d be more marketable to them, and they’re sorry about all the bones you’ve broken for them, the concussions you’ve suffered, the arthritis in your back, and the many painful and expensive treatments you’ll have to endure in the future. You’re on your own now, buddy–good luck! Snowboarding rips!