General Snowkiting Safety
In Snowkiting you can ride in two areas: the mountains and flat areas.
In the mountains the biggest risk are the capricious winds and avalanches.
On flat grounds it's basically like riding on the water. There are just more hindrances and the ground is much harder.
In general you can say that snowkiting is more dangerous then kiteboarding.
(frozen lake, field, etc., covered by snow)
1. Make sure you take the right size of kite. If you get dragged towards an obstacle like a tree etc. this will happen faster then on the water because on snow your body doesn't have as much grip as on the water.
In general for beginning the sport you can take a size smaller compared to the size you would take on the water for the same winds. This is possible because you won't sink.
You will be able to stand up and make your way forward without always taking care about having enough speed for staying on the board.
2. If you're riding skies, check your bindings. For beginners they should open a little bit easier, for advanced people a little bit harder than or as hard as you would have them on the piste.
3. Ensure you have a good working quick release. On the tube kites you should have a fifth-line-system. On the foils you should have a line to grab or a safety leash that let's the kite drop powerless.
4. Always watch out for the obstacles on the spot (high-voltage lines, trees, streets)
5. Even on flat areas you should keep an eye on the winds. When it's pretty turbulent, rather wait another day. Otherwise you could get a lift up and fall down or get pulled into an obstacle.
6) Watch out for the others. It's not that good to be on the land and to be pulled by two kites at the same time towards an obstacle. We have the same rules on the snow as on the water.
1. Take all the rules above.
2. Normally it's really hard to say how the winds are blowing. 30m above your head the wind can blow the other way then it does 1m above you. If you're not sure whether the winds are good or not, ask others or paragliders. They usually can give you a report about the conditions.
3. If it was snowing for the night or longer make sure you won't leave the sure spot and ride in the steep slopes where avalanches could easily be activated.
4. When a helicopter is going to land, or pass closely by you, take your kite down! Otherwise you'll have a big, big lift! And the pilots usually don't care about you.
5. When you want to go flying similar to a paraglide (Wind is blowing uphill, you ride up to the top and fly down against the wind) you should:
- be a good rider and already be able to jump and control your kite in the air
- be able to do kiteloops for landing a flight when you get too fast flying backwards
- CHECK ALL YOUR LINES BEFORE YOU GO
- DOUBLE-SAFE BY USING A CLIMBING HARNESS AS A SECOND COVERAGE FROM ANYTHING BREAKING AT YOUR HARNESS
The biggest risk by going flying is not anything breaking at your lines etc. but the kite collapsing. When you're 20m above ground and your kite flaps you will pretty surely crash. So before you go, watch out for the winds and local thermals. Ask the locals before you take off and make sure the wind is steady and not too strong. Take a kite bigger then 10m cause otherwise you'll get pretty fast. (Only if the wind is not too strong of course).
6. When you go on a tour, take an avalanche - beeper with you. (You can usually rent them at the local alpine shops)
Please remember that the points mentioned above are a help for you guys to better understand what you have to take care about in the sport of snowkiting. They're no guaranty that nothing will happen, in case you follow them. Everybody has to take care by himself, for himself and about the image of the sport.
Ride safe and have fun!
Written by Sebastian Bubmann, Flysurfer Teamrider, Junior Snowkite World Champion 2004 and 2005