I want to cover something that could save you from serious injury, or possibly save your life. Every year at Mammoth Mountain I see people fall on the upper slopes and slide at up to 60 mph, 1500 feet down the moguled slopes. This is extremely dangerous, and I believe everyone should know how to self-arrest if they are going to ski the steep slopes at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.
I believe that you need to know how to stop yourself from becoming a victim of a long slide, especially when you ski the top of Mammoth Mountain. The first mistake I see people making when attempting to self-arrest is sliding head first. You do not want to slide head first because you cannot get stopped and whatever you hit, you will be hitting head first.
When you fall and are sliding head first, you need to drag a hand on one side of your body to get turned around so that you are sliding feet first and preferably on your belly, not your back. If you drag a hand and that doesn’t turn you around, sometimes you need to drag your hand on the other side of your body to get turned around so you are sliding feet first.
Once you are sliding feet first on your belly, you can use your skis, if they are still attached, to edge to a stop, or you can use your feet to sort of lightly kick your toes in to the slope to slow you down. Be careful not to kick in your toes too hard, or that could send you into a tumble.
I panic situations; I have even dug in my fingers into the slope with my body on top to slow me to a stop. I tried this as a last attempt to stop when I was sliding high speed towards a pile of rocks one time. To my amazement it worked, and saved me from a very serious injury.
The reason you need to learn this BEFORE you ski the steeps is you need to know exactly what to do, AND you need to be able to react to your fall very quickly before you pick up too much speed.
I have had 2 falls that could have been fatal at Mammoth Mountain if I did not know how to self-arrest to prevent a high speed impact between my body and a hard, stationary object. Learning this skill will help you prevent injury and may even save your life!
Please discuss this with your friends and family BEFORE you ski. It could save you from a preventable, critical injury.