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Do you leash? which one?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Explaining the Need for Snowboard Leashes
By: Dave Schutz

A common issue causing confrontations between snowboarders and patrollers involves the use of snowboard runaway leashes. As patrollers we know that these devices are intended to prevent the personal injuries and property damage that could result from a runaway snowboard.

However, because snowboard bindings don't have a "safety-release capability" like Alpine skis, their use is often considered an arbitrary and useless "hold-over from skiing" by snowboarders. Today's young people are the most sophisticated and skeptical that the world has ever seen. Their lives are filled with warnings for the dangers of everything from cigarettes to guns in school. Should we be surprised that some will cast a deaf ear to explanations about the need for leashes based upon "the dangers of runaway snowboards?"

From a snowboarder's perspective the rationale against using a safety leash is based upon the fact that snowboard bindings don't have a safety release function and thus don't need leashes because their bindings won't come off in a fall. In their minds only a failure of the binding's attachment screws could cause them to separate from the snowboard and set the scene for a runaway. In that extremely rare event, a leash attached to the binding would have no utility.

We need to be aware that a snowboard safety leash is primarily intended to prevent a "runaway" when the snowboarder is initially getting into or out of their bindings, AND when they are walking back up the slope in a snowboard park or half-pipe. These are the times when the unbuckled snowboarder is in an awkward position. One slip at these moments and the board can take-off down the slope alone........

The correct technique for getting into snowboard bindings has the safety leash being fastened BEFORE any attempt is made to step into, let alone buckle the binding. Likewise the leash should be the LAST item unfastened after both feet are removed from the their bindings.

Snowboard leashes vary from those that were once used on Alpine skis in a crucial aspect; length. A snowboard leash is designed to be fastened around the knee, NOT around the ankle. By designing the leash to be worn around the knee it has sufficient length so that it can remain fastened to the snowboarder while they are walking back up the slope. Thus, if the snowboarder slips/falls while walking back-up a slope, the snowboard doesn't become a runaway!

Thoughts about tact and relevancy; many people have never witnessed the personal injuries that can be caused by a runaway snowboard or ski. Hence they may not be able to relate to a patroller's safety directives based upon such examples. However, most snowboarders can readily relate to the concept of their cherished $500 snowboard being destroyed after crashing into a tree or rock on the side of the slope following a runaway. (In my patrol experience this example has often been the best motivator.)

Snowboarders, like all people, respond better to safety suggestions if they understand the reasons and rationale for our mountain's policies. For patrollers this means showing that we are not arbitrarily trying to reduce someone's fun of the mountain but rather taking essential actions to assure the enjoyment and safety of ALL of our customers.
post #2 of 27
This article is complete crap.

Sorry, 99% of the snowboard leashes out there do not attach around the knee. Most are just short little 6 inch things now. That is all that is required.

Teaching a snowboarder how to manage their board is more important than how to use a leash. You're just adding one more thing to go wrong.

I haven't used a leash in years, most Colorado resorts do not require them anymore.

The runaway board scenario is just as likely to happen when you are putting on the leash or putting on your bindings.

The original logic behind the leash was if the boarder should become seperated from the board in a crash or whatever. I've seen that scenario several times in the eighties. Guess what? The binding ripped out and the board took off. Ski patrol yelled at a guy for not having a leash, he picked up his foot with binding on and said "it's right here dude!".

That is about the most pointless article I have read about snowboarding in a long time. Thanks for the laugh!
post #3 of 27
I always wear a leash, i think they are required at the places i ride by maybe not. I don't really see the point. But it's an really minor inconvinence. so it doesn't worry me too much.
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Wow, tore the binding off! that must have been some there anywhere else to attach a leash?
post #5 of 27
In Colorado leashes are still required by state law. No particular type of leash is mandated. Enforcement at each resort varies and can vary even by lift. As my classes mainly use a beginner lift, they come under a higher level of scrutiny. I've had lifties deny lift usage to class members until I can borrow leashes from a supervisor. They have the authority to do this.

Overall, it's better to educate people about safety in the first place. It's one way to prevent people getting hit with a snowboard and end up with 25 stitches in their back or the lift ticket building getting a nice big gouge in it.
post #6 of 27
I haven't been able to find anything under Colorado Law that states snowboards must have leashes. Not that I won't say it's not true, but my understanding is that it has always been an insurance thing. It's been at least 4 years since a read an article that stated most Colorado ski resorts do not require a leash anymore. I haven't had a problem with the lifties at Copper and Winterpark for years. In Utah I did have to break out the leash at a couple of resorts.
With the types of leashes people are using, short, you're not going to use them hiking around, it's better to stress board management.
Your scenario for a runaway board, for the most part applies to park and pipe, not getting ready to board a lift. When is the last time you had a 30 degree slope at the lift line? Some sort of ski brake device would be a better less intrusive design. If you step out of the front binding the brake engages, tips the board up whatever.


The person I saw rip the binding off happened in the late 80's. Board design was still in it's infancy. It was an Avalanche board and yeah all the screws ripped. I forget the hole pattern etc for those boards, but materials used and construction back then were not nearly as bomber as todays. I saw several people rip one binding off, mostly doing crappy park and pipe stuff that was offered then. One big cliff jump did the trick for another guy.

As you all can see I am definitely part of the leashes are crap camp. At best they make the dangerous scenarios mentioned 1% less likely to happen imo.
post #7 of 27
Always love to take them off when I can. Short ones are still a nag. Long ones can inadvertantently "ride down" on your leg if you're me and don't fasten them tightly enough, and then get caught under your edge while you're riding. Hypothetically of course.
post #8 of 27
Your Responsibility Code states:
"Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment."

A snowboard leash can prevent a runaway board in the situation where a strap breaks or when a step in binding fails while riding a lift. Although the odds of these events happening are miniscule, the cost is not great. If you think it makes sense to wear a seatbelt in a car, then you'll probably agree that wearing a leash is not a big deal.

The article may make more sense at a particular mountain. It contains some statements that do not universally apply. Of course, the article does happen to be 11 years old! A lot has changed since then. My home resort no longer requires riders to wear leashes, but we do provide short clip type leashes on our rental equipment.
post #9 of 27
Not that I'm a fan of leashes. Read section 33-44-109. Also posted below is from the current Eldora Ski Resort website (west of Boulder Colorado).




HOUSE BILL 04-1393 [Digest]

BY REPRESENTATIVE(S) White, Cadman, Garcia, Merrifield, Miller, Rippy, Rose, Spradley, Berry, Brophy, Carroll, Coleman, Crane, Frangas, Hall, Larson, Plant, Salazar, Smith, Weissmann, Wiens, and Williams S.;

also SENATOR(S) Taylor, Andrews, Chlouber, Entz, Fitz-Gerald, Isgar, Lamborn, McElhany, Groff, Grossman, Johnson S., Jones, May R., and Teck.


Concerning amendments to the Colorado "Ski Safety Act of 1979" to reflect evolution in the sport of skiing.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:

SECTION 1. 33-44-103 (2), (3.5), (6), (8), and (9), Colorado Revised Statutes, are amended, and the said 33-44-103 is further amended BY THE ADDITION OF THE FOLLOWING NEW SUBSECTIONS, to read:

33-44-103. Definitions. As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

(2) "Competitor" means a skier actually engaged in competition, or in practice therefor with the permission of the ski area operator on any slope or trail or portion thereof designated a special event, or training or practicing for competition or a special event on any portion of the area made available by the ski area operator. for the purpose of competition.

(3.1) "Extreme terrain" means any place within the ski area boundary that contains cliffs with a minimum twenty-foot rise over a fifteen-foot run, and slopes with a minimum fifty-degree average pitch over a one-hundred-foot run.

(3.3) "Freestyle terrain" includes, but is not limited to, terrain parks and terrain park features such as jumps, rails, fun boxes, and all other constructed and natural features, half-pipes, quarter-pipes, and freestyle-bump terrain.

(3.5) "Inherent dangers and risks of skiing" means those dangers or conditions which that are an integral part of the sport of skiing, including changing weather conditions; snow conditions as they exist or may change, such as ice, hard pack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, and machine-made snow; surface or subsurface conditions such as bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, extreme terrain, and trees, or other natural objects, and collisions with such natural objects; impact with lift towers, signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, water pipes, or other man-made structures and their components; variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, including but not limited to roads, freestyle terrain, jumps, and catwalks or other terrain modifications; collisions with other skiers; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities. The term "inherent dangers and risks of skiing" does not include the negligence of a ski area operator as set forth in section 33-44-104 (2). Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the liability of the ski area operator for injury caused by the use or operation of ski lifts.

(6) "Ski area" means all ski slopes or trails and all other places within the ski area boundary, marked in accordance with section 33-44-107 (6), under the control of a ski area operator and administered as a single enterprise within this state.

(8) "Skier" means any person using a ski area for the purpose of skiing, for the purpose of which includes, without limitation, sliding downhill or jumping on snow or ice on skis, a toboggan, a sled, a tube, a ski-bob snowbike, a snowboard, or any other device; or for the purpose of using any of the facilities of the ski area, including but not limited to ski slopes and trails.

(9) "Ski slopes or trails" means all ski slopes or trails and adjoining skiable terrain, including all their edges and features, and those areas designated by the ski area operator to be used by skiers for any of the purposes enumerated in subsection (8) of this section. Such designation shall be set forth on trail maps, if provided, and designated by signs indicating to the skiing public the intent that such areas be used by skiers for the purpose of skiing. Nothing in this subsection (9) or in subsection (8) of this section, however, shall imply that ski slopes or trails may not be restricted for use by persons using skis only or for use by persons using any other device described in subsection (8) of this section.

SECTION 2. 33-44-107 (2) (d), Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

33-44-107. Duties of ski area operators - signs and notices required for skiers' information. (2) A sign shall be placed in such a position as to be recognizable as a sign to skiers proceeding to the uphill loading point of each base area lift depicting and explaining signs and symbols which the skier may encounter at the ski area as follows:

(d) Danger areas, designated by a red exclamation point inside a yellow triangle with a red band around the triangle and the word "Danger" printed beneath the emblem. Danger areas do not include areas presenting inherent dangers and risks of skiing. The ski area's extreme terrain shall be signed at the commonly used access designated with two black diamonds containing the letters "E" in one and "X" in the other in white and the words "extreme terrain". The ski area's specified freestyle terrain areas shall be designated with an orange oval.

SECTION 3. 33-44-108 (2), Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

33-44-108. Ski area operators - additional duties. (2) Whenever maintenance equipment is being employed to maintain or groom any ski slope or trail while such ski slope or trail is open to the public, the ski area operator shall place or cause to be placed a conspicuous notice to that effect at or near the top of that ski slope or trail. This requirement shall not apply to maintenance equipment transiting to or from a grooming project.

SECTION 4. 33-44-109 (6) and (10), Colorado Revised Statutes, are amended to read:

33-44-109. Duties of skiers - penalties. (6) Each ski or snowboard used by a skier while skiing shall be equipped with a strap or other device capable of stopping the ski or snowboard should the ski or snowboard become unattached from the skier. This requirement shall not apply to cross country skis.

(10) No skier involved in a collision with another skier or person in which an injury results shall leave the vicinity of the collision before giving his or her name and current address to an employee of the ski area operator or a member of the voluntary ski patrol, except for the purpose of securing aid for a person injured in the collision; in which event the person so leaving the scene of the collision shall give his or her name and current address as required by this subsection (10) after securing such aid.

SECTION 5. 33-44-110, Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

33-44-110. Competition and freestyle terrain. (1) The ski area operator shall, prior to the beginning of a competition, allow each competitor a reasonable visual inspection of the course or area where the competition is to be held use of any portion of the area made available by the ski area operator, allow each competitor an opportunity to reasonably visually inspect the course, venue, or area.

(2) The competitor shall be held to assume the risk of all course, venue, or area conditions, including, but not limited to, weather and snow conditions; obstacles; course or feature location, construction, or layout; and obstacles which a visual inspection should have revealed freestyle terrain configuration and conditions; and other courses, layouts, or configurations of the area to be used. No liability shall attach to a ski area operator for injury or death of to any competitor proximately caused by such assumed risk course, venue, or area conditions that a visual inspection should have revealed or by collisions with other competitors.

SECTION 6. Applicability. This act shall apply to acts occurring on or after the effective date of this act.

SECTION 7. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.

Approved: May 28, 2004


Capital letters indicate new material added to existing statutes; dashes through words indicate deletions from existing statutes and such material not part of act.

Release Date: 01/26/07

At Eldora we are continuing our National Skier Safety Awareness Week campaign to educate guests and let them know that approved restraints are required on both boards and skis. This law was designed with your safety in mind. Staff at Eldora will be monitoring to ensure that all boards and skis have restraints so that we can make the slopes as safe as possible.

33-44-109. Duties of skiers...
(6) Each ski OR SNOWBOARD used by a skier while skiing shall be equipped with a strap or other device capable of stopping the ski OR SNOWBOARD should the ski OR SNOWBOARD become unattached from the skier. This requirement shall not apply to cross country skis.
post #10 of 27
Seems that it may be on the books then. Kind of funny when you watch the pros in the halfpipe events etc. No leashes on those boards.

Also the statement "should the snowboard become unattached" goes back to the whole binding ripping off thing yet again. Sigh, a leash won't prevent that. If it attached to something else besides the binding I would be more inclined to lean towards it's usefulness.
post #11 of 27
Hmm - one could argue that the second binding would qualify as a strap or other device. Then again, one could also argue that boards should either have brakes like skis or have straps connected directly to the board in order to be compliant with this law.
post #12 of 27
I agree that the way leashes are currently set up is pointless with snowboard binding being non-releaseable. I've also seen bindings rip off and the board take off with earlier equipment. It should be attached to the board not the binding if that's the purpose it's supposed to serve. I think this law could use some clarification/rewriting. This however is beyond the scope of my expertise.

The lifties that operate the Gemini lift at Winter Park for downloading from the top of the lift to the base do routinely check for leashes. Wearing a uniform and leading students holds you to a higher standard (or scrutiny). Also when downloading the leash is attached to the wrist as we hold onto the board and walk off the lift at the bottom. It would be disastrous to have a board fall from the lift onto a guest.
post #13 of 27
No kidding, though I have downloaded Gemni before with my GF when she was learning. No one asked us for a leash. Then again we weren't kids going down the lift.

Another thing that irks me. Ski brakes work fine, but if a ski comes off on the lift it's not going to stop until it hits the ground. I have seen this happen. Not sure if it was horsing around on the lift or someone accidentally kicked off the other persons ski, but it does happen. Same disasterous results could have happend but thankfully didn't. Generally having a ski attached by a leash is a very, very bad idea...
post #14 of 27

I've been hit by a ski that came off a person riding the chair. All I can say is that I'm glad it hit me instead of the student that I was trying to shoo out from underneath the chair. Most of the time I see a ski fall off of someone riding the chair it's because it's a kid playing around. In my case, some little bugger was probably trying to scrape snow into us.

I skied for many years with leashes on skis. Back then they were called safety straps. Despite the purported safety of ski brakes over leashes, I've personally been injured worse by the former than the latter. Then there's the aggravation of losing skis in powder or leaving them WAYYYYYYYY back up the hill. Safety straps weren't such a bad thing.
post #15 of 27
Hahaha, nice rusty! Still if I was a skier, I really wouldn't want my ski's attached by a leash. Recoil injuries are so much more likely to happen. In general I don't think they are needed for alpiners or Telekooks either.
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
So I walk into US Outdoor and ask for a leash. So the guy takes me to a locked cabinet with these short (6" to 8") fancy bling bling things and I ask him about the long, around the leg things. He says, oh those, I can give you one if you want. The binding people send us those free.What do I know....
post #17 of 27
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
Hahaha, nice rusty! Still if I was a skier, I really wouldn't want my ski's attached by a leash. Recoil injuries are so much more likely to happen. In general I don't think they are needed for alpiners or Telekooks either.
The two times I've been cut by a ski:
1) a one inch gash across the knee (wearing a safety strap)
2) a thee inch gash across the forehead (ski brakes)

(for the record - I've had many more falls wearing straps than using brakes)

#1 was on rental gear where the strap was not able to be fit properly
#2 was before I started wearing a helmet
The "sales pitch" at the time of ski brake introduction was that it was more dangerous to have the skis travelling with you during a fall than to separate yourself from the ski. IN MY CASE, #2 proved that to not always be the case. I'd much rather be cut on the lower body than the upper body.
post #18 of 27
I had K2 Clicker Step-ins up until this year. I used to use a leash that strapped above my calf. I figured there was some chance of the boot unlatching from the binding.

I got some K2 Cinch bindings and Burton Driver X boots this year. The K2 Cinch came with a short 6" strap with a metal clip. Unfortunately I couldn't find a good place to snap this onto the Burton boots. The boots just have little cords rather then laces. After trying to mess with this leash a few times out, I took it off. I figured that was almost no way for the binding to release from the boot without me doing it. I've been riding at various Summit country Colorado resorts without a leash.
post #19 of 27
post #20 of 27
I have a big long leash, and I love it. It's great for hanging my board from my shoulder when I'm walking around in the parking lot or hiking something.
post #21 of 27
Originally Posted by AndrewSwitch View Post
I have a big long leash, and I love it. It's great for hanging my board from my shoulder when I'm walking around in the parking lot or hiking something.
what are you hiking
if it's anything except the park you
should have a backpack with a shovel and a probe
and you should have a beacon on
post #22 of 27
^^^^ Not necessarily true. Lot's of resorts have "hike to" terrain. Quasi backcountry that's maintained by ski patrol. Vasquez Cirque, Mirkwood Basin, Highlands bowl to name a few...
post #23 of 27
Not necessarily false either. My first day at Chugach Powder Guides was beacon training in the morning, then off to Alyeska for resort skiing for the rest of the day. I had brought my own beacon. When we finished training and were putting the beacons away, the conversation went:

That's your's, right?
You skiing the resort today?
Ahhhh, you might want to, ah, keep that on.
There was an inbounds slide here last week that partially buried a couple folks. Since they weren't sure everyone was accounted for the resort had to close for a few hours to probe the debris pile. The cornices in the bowl are still pretty big.
: Errrrr, okay. (Memo to self - what kind of place is this?)

Your mileage may vary. But I thought we were talking about leashes? A long leash (e.g. wrap around the leg type) that can hook up from one binding to the other makes for a mighty convenient carry handle.
post #24 of 27
Avalanches do happen in bounds. Though it is a much more rare event. Still, in the last two years, A-Basin had an inbounds avalanche (wet slide) that killed a snowboarder.

Baker required that you have a beacon, probe, shovel, and a buddy with the same to ride Chair 6 (I believe that was the chair) this past season during one of the crazy dump cycles. This was for non hike to terrain along with the hike to stuff.

In general though, you do not need a beacon when riding inbounds at a resort. Nothing wrong with wearing one either...
post #25 of 27
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
^^^^ Not necessarily true. Lot's of resorts have "hike to" terrain. Quasi backcountry that's maintained by ski patrol. Vasquez Cirque, Mirkwood Basin, Highlands bowl to name a few...
True, and I agree with yours and rustys statements above about slides happening in bounds. I do agree that wearing a beacon in bounds can be overkill.

I don't want to assume what the above hiker is doing, that's why I asked what he's hiking. I did notice that he's from soda springs, ca, which is basically sugar bowl ski area. Two slackcountry options there include cold stream canyon just off the sierra crest, and the lake run off donner peak down to donner lake. Both are big time avy areas around those parts. I've seen a lot of bros hiking with no clue to both of those spots. One of the more recent avy deaths around here was off of a peak in the cold stream canyon area.

But I do agree that there is a lot of slackcountry that is fairly safe.
post #26 of 27
I'm hiking the Judah and Crow's Nest peaks. So inbounds and patrolled. Ski patrol is nice enough to put in the boot pack up the northern aspect of Crow's Nest. Have also done some inbounds hiking at other resorts - the best places frequently take a little extra work.
post #27 of 27
Originally Posted by splitter View Post
what are you hiking
if it's anything except the park you
should have a backpack with a shovel and a probe
and you should have a beacon on
I think it's so comfortable to wear the board in the long leash over my shoulder, so I don't bother to strap the board on my backpack on short end easy hikes.
A couple of friends have lost their boards down the mountain when carry whith no leash! Not fun at all to have to wait for them or ride alone. One board got scattered against a tree ( luckily it was a Burton BUT not my Fish...)
I guess all the dope and attitude in the snowboard scene makes it hard to understand the benefits of usable leashes.
Short leashes is a reeeal baaad joke on softbindings!!! (marks the true morons on snow!)
On plates, it can avoid broken bones in case of binding failure

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