Most snowboarders will agree that riding chutes is one of the most exhilarating things that can be done on a mountain. Riding a chute is a lot like flying through a canyon or white water rafting. You will be moving at a high rate of speed through a narrow passage.
There are two types of chutes, man made ones and the real thing. The real chute is an avalanche run that passes through a narrow gully of rock usually high up on a mountain. A man made version is similar in shape and size however it is usually created by digging a path through deep snow or using natural elements, such as trees, to frame the walls of the run. Most people will agree that the real chutes are much better than a simulated chute and that nothing beats the rush of riding one.
The riding of chutes requires special skills and equipment as well as knowledge of the surrounding area. The first, and most important thing is to be sure that you are not in an avalanche prone area. Ski hills will groom the chutes within the boundaries to ensure they are safe for riding.
Chute riding essentials
Since riding a chute involves much higher speeds and varying conditions from ice to powder, you will need some specialized gear. A freecarve snowboard is longer, narrower and has a straighter effective edge than a regular snowboard. Also, the bindings will be mounted at a higher angle thus pointing you much more forward than normal. This unique design allows you to move faster and have much greater control and stability at higher speeds and on tough surfaces such as ice. However, this type of snowboard is also more unstable and tough to turn at low speeds.
Practice Practice Practice
The first step towards riding a chute is practicing the skills you will be relying upon. One simple way to practice is to ride through passages lined with trees and/or rocks. This will give a sense of the feeling and speed you will encounter when riding a chute as well as allowing you to learn to judge when to turn to avoid and accident. A key element of riding chutes is being able to quickly turn sharp corners in any direction.
Assessing the terrain
The next step, after getting to the top of the chute you intend to ride, is to assess the terrain and plan your path. Look for landmarks that you will use to identify points where you wish to turn or places to avoid. When you are confident with the path that you wish to follow it is time to enter the chute.
Riding the chute requires utmost confidence about what you are doing. When you decide to launch you must not be timid, rather go for it as hard as you can. Before launching make sure that any rider in the chute has cleared the chute. Having a slow rider in the chute may force them to go faster than they are comfortable with thus endangering you and themselves.
Knowing your turns
When riding in the chute keep in mind the common sense things. For example, make your carved turns at the widest points in the chute. If you must turn in a narrower section, use a skidded turn or a jump turn. When in the narrowest sections do not slow down. Traverse as quickly as possible though that area.
Riding chutes can be one of the most exhilarating snowboarding experiences if you have the right skills and equipment. Before attempting make sure you are confident in your abilities. You will be greatly rewarded and very satisfied once you have made your first run.