A recent lawsuit (defunct link removed 2015) was decided in the favor of snowboard binding makers who’s contraptions lock you in with no easy egress in the event of an emergency. The story is all too common: vibrant wonderful young person gets upside down in a tree well, head buried in powder, snowboard trapped above them. With tension on the bindings and difficulty reaching the latches while in a contorted position, they struggle and suffocate. More, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s a Freddy Kruger nightmare being caught in an avalanche with a snowboard locked to both feet, limiting your ability to fight and dragging you down like cement boots.
Should snowboard bindings be easier to release, especially in the case of a trapped snowboard or backcountry avalanche?
Quite a few riders have told me YES, you should be able to easily activate some sort of mechanism that’ll separate you from the big heavy slab tying your feet together. Some snowboarders have home-brewed devices that allow “ejection” in the event of an avalanche or trapped board. It looks like that’ll have to continue. In light of the lawsuit being won by the binding makers, I doubt we’ll be seeing safer snowboard bindings anytime soon.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.