5 Steps on How to Drop Cliffs
This is quite literally as easy as falling off a log. We’re not going to beat around the bush, the cliff drop is the classic measure of everyone’s balls. Look at it and decide you can do it, or shit yourself and stroke your chin for a while before making excuses about the state of your ___________ (insert name of dicky body part here). Balls are what is going to make you want to attempt the cliff in the first place, however it will be your experience and mental judgement that will stop you clattering over the rocks or putting your knee through your lower jaw.
Cliff drops are all about your judgement and physics of snowboarding, which comes with a lot of experience a bit of natural talent. The only real skill that you can practice and bring to the table to raise your chances of success is a solid ability to stomp landings in powder. Controlling your board in a steep fast powder landing situation is pretty much the name of the game when it comes to riding out of cliffs and make no mistake it is almost the hardest part of the game to learn as any pro worth their salt will tell you.
First find your cliff, you are looking for something with a flat take-off, down hill is hard to control and uphill will send you into orbit. The rocks should be fairly sheer so that you don’t have to clear too much and the landing should be as long and as steep as possible. Sizing cliffs is very difficult, but working in metres I personally wouldn’t recommend anything over eight for your first go and five should do the job. Under no circumstances should your drop be attempted when there is anything less than a foot of powder unless you are looking at something around the three metre mark which is more commonly known as a rock drop, but wait, we digress into the realm of the trick name nazis.
Make sure you have enough snow and if you are in any doubt get someone with a probe to have a jab round the landing to check the depth. The hidden rock is a sure fire way to a broken back, do not pass go do not collect two hundred.
Don’t be afraid to have a wander round the edge of the cliff, it will help give you an idea of how much speed you will need to clear the rocks and it should get you used to being on top of the cliff. You can pat the snow on the edge down to clear excess powder as this always has the added ability to catch you on take off and throw you over the handle bars for your journey into the floor.
Once you are happy hike up far enough to get your speed and strap in.
Once you are riding up to the cliff you must be confident have your grab in mind, grabbing your board will stabilise you in the air and help keep your balance. You should already be very comfortable with the grab you are going to do so that it is second nature and will allow you to concentrate on the drop.
Your take off will dictate entirely your flight path so stay low and balanced as you run in. I always envisage that the landing is a dead flat piste and I am going to try and land dead flat on it. This means that your weight will be square over your board as you take off and will mean your weight is over the tail of the board as it lands, this will keep the nose clear and keep your momentum as you land.
You’re along for the ride now and all you can do is grab your board and make it feel and look as good as possible with a nice long grab. The key at this point is to keep your calm and gauge the distance to landing. Try not to sit down and bail, concentrate on extending your legs and keeping your weight centred over your board.
In reality after the second of hang time as you leave the cliff things will start to happen very quickly as you accelerate towards the landing so you will be relying heavily on instinct and as you get better experience.
The idea is to lay the tail down first, keep your weight centred and both legs strong, if the landing is too flat then you will impact heavily and explode because you lose your momentum. If your landing is steep you will absorb the impact gradually and be carried through by your momentum. This means that if all has gone well you will be travelling at speed, give yourself a second to adjust, do not try to turn or kill your speed as you will more than likely loose control. Ride out and gradually dump your speed with a huge powder slash all over your gawping friends and then go straight back to the top and try it with a backside three sixty.