Professional Snowboarder

Editor’s Note: The reigning Freeride World Tour champion, Victor de Le Rue has spent countless hours in highly consequential terrain around the world. Recently, while filming for The North Face on location in British Columbia with Leanne Pelosi and Jake Blauvelt, a giant slab broke away from the face he was riding, sending him hurtling down the mountain (see the clip above). The Frenchman was lucky to come out virtually unscathed. He gave us his take on the ordeal and what he learned.

In the morning I had a pretty sick line. I was really stoked with it. And while all of our filmers and everyone were in position, I decided to go for a second run.

It was really mellow. Kind of nothing special. Just open and nice but nothing scary and nothing difficult. It was really just super easy.


So, I went with my line. I went with a little 360 and kept riding on the ridge-top, so pretty slow because it was kind of a bunch of roll-overs and with those, you can’t really see that well what’s in front of you.

Then, at some point, I saw that I triggered an avalanche about 15 meters (50 feet) below me and I’m like, “Holy fuck what should I do?” I thought about trying to go straight and escape, but this wasn’t an option because the slab was way too big and I wouldn’t have been able to traverse the whole thing. The second option was to try to stop and hope that the crack wouldn’t propagate above me.

I want to learn from all of my mistakes. And, obviously, if I got caught in an avalanche that means I made a mistake.

So, that’s what I did. I started to brake and it actually triggered above me, so the whole thing went and I had no speed and there wasn’t anything I could do at that point.

My first reflex then was to pull my ABS (avalanche airbag), because that was the only thing I could do. I really only had a tiny window to do this and I’m glad I reacted so quickly.


When I was caught in the slide, I was spinning. I couldn’t see anything. At certain points, I was flying weightless over cliffs. And then hitting the ground. Then flying again in the air but I couldn’t see anything. I think I dropped three cliffs total.

Then, I was just fighting, fighting to stay above the snow because once the avalanche stopped I didn’t want to be buried.

Once it did stop, I was on top and didn’t have any pain or anything. So, I was very thankful to be uninjured and in good shape after that.

When I got to the bottom everyone asked me if I was okay and luckily I was and didn’t need any medical attention.

Immediately after, I decided I wanted to do another run because I didn’t want to end the trip with an avalanche lingering in the back of my mind. So, I went for another run that was safer and I actually had a pretty cool banger and ended up with one of my favorite shots from the trip.

I want to learn from all of my mistakes. And, obviously, if I got caught in an avalanche that means I made a mistake.

What mistake was it? Well, looking back on it, in the morning we saw some signs. When we were looking at the face we could see that at the bottom there were some old cracks from natural avalanches. It had snowed over them so you could really only see small cracks, but you knew they were actually a bit bigger.

To me, that meant the bottom of the face was sketchy, but in my head, I was thinking that I didn’t care so much if the bottom was sketchy because if it’s at the bottom of the run then usually at that point I have enough speed to get away, or there aren’t any features so even if it goes it’ll spread wide.


In the end, though, the avalanche triggered toward the bottom of the run but right before a few tiny cliffs and when I had no speed and no escape. So, I would say that was a major mistake for me and something to learn from.

Sometimes you feel really powerful and that nothing can happen to you. I was kind of in that mood, and in the end, even on a small run, you can get trapped.

Thankfully, though, nothing bad happened and I’m still happy and healthy.


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