My Riding Journal – Jon Jean
This year I decided to keep a riding journal of my days sledding. It’s fun to be able to look back on specific days and highlights that happened through out the season.
In my daily reports I include things like where I’m riding, what elevations, who I am with, the weather forecast for the day, the avalanche forecast and so forth. I make weather and snow observations, things like foot penetration, snow depth and avalanche activity. I also include pictures and videos. I’ve had my share of ups and downs this season! Here’s how a few of my more memorable days went down.
My Riding Journal
The pow has been pretty consistent this season in Revelstoke. Winter started off with an epic November and by my second day riding—November 8th—there was already 1.5 meters snow depth at 1800 meters in elevation on Frisby Ridge. We were having a really fun day until I hit a rock and smashed my S- and E-modules. It was an early set back, but I was back at it enjoying even more November pow only 10 days later.
That was a memorable one. Rob Alford, Keith Curtis, Kyle Finlay and I had an absolutely epic & deep bluebird day, where Keith and I ended up dropping a cliff in tandem.
Also on Day 8, I found a nice hit over a rock.
December 29 is an other deep day I wont forget. On the day before, Morgan Gamache and I broke trail in waist deep snow and by the time we got to the alpine we were out of gas. We went back the next day and it sure paid off for us. We had a huge zone all to ourselves all day and managed to get a lot of great footage. I was able to hit 3 drops in one line which was something I had never been able to line up before!
February 16 started off awesome, with about 50-60cm of fresh snow up in the sub-alpine. Life was great until the snow down below treeline caught us by surprise. I walked away unharmed from a fairly large, wet snow point-release slide. My sled wasn’t so lucky, it ended up being an insurance write-off. This is how it went down:
Rob Alford, Derrick Neill and I were coming down a steep route around 1700m and didn’t anticipate the snow to completely switch on us so rapidly from nice pow to 20cm of heavy, wet snow on top of an ice crust. We should have been more observant of temperatures on the way up. By the time the snow switched on us it was too late to turn around and climb back up. Alford managed to get down first and radioed us to look for a different route because there was a head-high log blocking the route he took down. The route I found started off really steep for about 5 feet, then leveled out at around 35-40 degrees. I figured I could dig a ski and slow down but as soon as I started going, all the snow glued together like a 20-foot wide snowplow, and I tried really hard to slow down but was only picking up speed, sliding on the ice crust. I had to let go of my sled. Luckily, I managed to dig my fingers and the toes of my boots into the bed layer to stay in place while some snow slid over me. I stayed at the top and my sled slid for about 200ft before smashing into some trees at about 40km/hr, then kept going for about another 100ft. Rob and I got my sled out and he walked back up to help Derek. They got themselves and Derek’s sled down safely.
There was no mention of anything like this happening on the avalanche forecast and the rating was moderate in the treeline where this happened. It goes to show the importance of making your own observations as your day progresses. For me it was a humbling experience, a lesson from Mother Nature that I will never forget.
I finally got my new sled, which brings us to now, and there is still a lot of riding left to do this season! Getting after it!