Hardwater Kiting advocates responsible kiter conduct.
We offer this list as a guideline to help keep our snow kite areas safe, respectful and open.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.
You are ultimately responsible for your own safety.
KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENT.
Everyone, regardless of skill level or experience, should be completely familiar with the equipment they are using.
This means being aware of your kite's performance ranges as well as knowing it's safety systems and being able to activate them by reflex when needed.
To not know every detail of your gear is irresponsible and dangerous to yourself, others and everyone's access.
KNOW YOUR RIDING AREA.
The majority of the kiting in this region is on ice and it can be every bit the backcountry experience that
one finds kiting or skiing in the mountains.
Ice conditions should be researched like you would avalanche conditions. Lakes provide great riding areas but factors such as weather, pressure ridges, submerged islands, currents, springs, ice fishing holes, shallows or even schools of fish can have an effect on ice safety. Knowing ice conditions is like knowing avalanche conditions. Check ice reports, talk to locals and familiarize yourself with the areas. Hardwater Kiting posts regular condition reports but these are only guidelines. As with any backcountry experience, even after you have all the available information and know all the details there is always a risk. Check weather reports and be aware that these reports can change hourly in our mountain environment.
"When in doubt, don't head out."
Never venture out without having thorough knowledge of the current ice conditions.
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION
Remember, Snow kiters are the smallest user group in the north country.
Ice fishermen, snowmobiles, dogsleds and wildlife are far more prevalent and a negative interaction with any of these can put our kiting access in jeopardy.
Care must be taken to give them the space they need for their activity.
Be polite and courteous and please be sure to stay clear of these other users whenever possible.
Remember they were here first and we are all ambassadors to our sport.
Please, follow these simple guidelines.
DO NOT access private land without permission. (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT)
Much of the land based riding in the local area is by permission only and often requires a permit issued by the land owner for access. Always contact the land owner and get authorization in writing before accessing private land.
DO NOT ride through ice fishing areas or fly your kite/lines over fishermen and their gear.
DO NOT chase deer or other wildlife you may encounter on the ice.
DO NOT interfere with snowmobile traffic or land your kite in defined snowmobile corridors.
DO NOT fly near dogsledders, XC skiers or skaters.
DO NOT make a mess. Even though many of the other user groups may leave garbage behind we need to set a better example.
DO NOT go out alone if possible. Make sure someone knows where you are and when you'll be back.
DO NOT Fly your kite over people, no strafing, maintaining safe downwind distance in case of kite release etc...
We love dogs but they really don't belong running around loose in the kiting area.
Its not like letting your dog loose on the beach. Most of our areas are surrounded by private land owners who don't want random dogs running on their property but more importantly most of us have extremely sharp ski edges which can open a dog paw up instantly. Hidden hazards like ice screws can also injure a dog or even the ice itself can be dangerous to dogs. ACL tears can happen easily to an active dog on the ice not to mention ice shards which can cut paws. And unless your dog is a cold climate breed it's not a lot of fun for them or their paws to be on the ice in the wind for very long.
We love dogs, (more than we love most people) but please leave them at home.
If you must bring your dog be sure they are under your control at all times and be prepared to clean up after them if need be. Letting your dog defecate on people's kiting areas, especially out on the ice, is lame and unsanitary.
Dress accordingly. Wear the same clothing you would in any winter alpine environment. Wicking, technical layers will serve you very well kiting. Depending on the conditions you may layer the same way you would for XC skiing or for less wicking and more warmth.
Wear a Helmet. Let us repeat that, WEAR A HELMET.
Yes, this is New Hampshire the "Live Free and Die" no helmet law state.
But ice is harder than your head and mountain winds are unpredictable so precautions should to be taken. Many of the locals have at one time or another been saved by their helmet. Helmets not only protect you and keep you warm but they also make those around you more comfortable knowing that you're a safe kiter and you take this stuff seriously.
If you think wearing a helmet makes you look like a goofball and don't want to wear one, stay home. You aren't ready to be out here.
In eye's of the local kiters , NOT wearing a helmet makes you look like a goofball in addition to putting others in an uncomfortable position as they have to pick up the mess if you make a mistake and slap your skull off the ice.
Seriously, it 2017. There's no reason not to wear a helmet.
Be equipped to get back to the launch area.
If you're a snowboarder or skier planning on venturing far from your launch in conditions that you will have trouble walking in you need to have the right equipment to get you back if things go bad. In below freezing conditions with a wind chill a "walk of shame" can be a very dangerous situation if you aren't properly equipped.
For skiers planning to fly any distance from the launch some type of AT (alpine touring) binding and skins are critical in the event you have to pack the kite and get back on your own power.
For a boarder a pair of snowshoes or better yet a split board with skins is strongly recommended.
We always follow the "one in the air, one on your back" rule when touring.
Always check the forecast and bring the kite you will likely use and a smaller or bigger backup on your back for wind changes beyond your kite's power range. For LEI riders carrying an extra kite can be a problem.
Carry a GPS and/or map or better yet ride with the locals or hire a guide.
Many of the lakes in the area have large numbers of islands, (Winnipesaukee has over 200 islands) coves and channels and without in depth knowledge of the area its very easy to get lost.
Even with good knowledge of the area many islands look alike at ice level and it's easy to get disoriented.
If the weather turns and visibility becomes reduced it can be nearly impossible to find your way and it can be very easy to get into trouble.
Conditions can change rapidly and it's easy to get lost.
A GPS can help lead you back. We recommend a purpose built GPS unit as many places in this region lack cell phone coverage.
If you can find a local to ride with that is an option but the locals here are spread far and wide and very few if any are active in any forums or social media and as such are hard to make contact with. In general locals are open to riding with visitors but only if the visitors are experienced snow kiters. Otherwise you are simply expecting them to babysit you.
If you want to learn the area and how to ride here the best option is to hire a HWK guide who knows the area and will help you get the most out of your session.
At Hardwater Kiting a huge part of the work we do is scouting and inspection of the areas we take our clients in an effort to provide the safest and most enjoyable riding experience possible.
Hiring a guide is really the best option for more dedicated kite skiers .
The Launch Area.
Ice screws are important pieces of equipment. No serious lake based snow kiter would be caught without one.
We recommend "one to show and one to go" as in having an ice screw to launch off and one on your person to use in case of an emergency out on the ice.
An ice screw can turn a potentially dangerous kite mare on the lake into nothing more than a mere nuisance.
Know how to use the ice screw. Install it completely and know how to attach the kite's depower and safety systems to it.
NON-LEI RIDERS, DO NOT ATTACH THE CHICKEN LOOP TO THE ICE SCREW.
Be sure to flag the screw. Flagging does a few things, one it lets every user group know where your screw is and allows them to avoid it and It also give you an indicator or wind speed and direction at your anchor. Not to mention being able to find it when the snow is blowing in.
Where to launch.
Don't block other kiters, don't set up downwind of another kiter's anchor and though We recommend against it, if you have to set up upwind someone be sure to be at least 300m away. This will decrease the risk a bit in the event you have to cut a kite loose. If you arrive after others have set up launches be sure to set up away from the others with enough space to accommodate the distance of a line length should the winds change direction. If someone has an anchor in place do not launch or land on that anchor without the owner's permission.
If you are not using your kite.
Secure the leash/brakes to the ice screw and secure the wing with snow. If you are going to be anchored for a while wrap up your lines to avoid issues with kiters and snowmobiles.
Most kites intended for snow use are equipped with colored lines. Leaving your kite lines on the snow for periods of time is unavoidable.
If you are primarily a water rider and using the same kite you use in summer we recommend installing colored lines to avoid issues with other kiters slashing your lines by accidently riding over them due to being white and invisible on snow. It's rare but if you leave a kite with white lines unattended and they get skied over accidently then the unfortunate reality is you are to blame.
Not the other kiter.
YOUR MOTHER ISN'T KITING HERE and we aren't on the beach. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO KEEP THE AREA CLEAR.
In any of the local area snow kite spots be prepared to self land.
Unlike many areas with a kite community that started in kite surfing, the local snow kite community got their start on snow and essentially in a vacuum. We didn't know that people assisted with launching and landing kites and now, as a matter of self sufficiency, we all self launch and self land.
If in an emergency you need assistance landing, the universal tap on the head signal is known here so don't be afraid to ask for assistance but don't expect anyone to automatically assist your landing .
Know the Right of Way rules.
Snow kiting has higher speeds and closing rates than water riding and this makes knowing who has the right of way especially important.
Kiters exiting the launch area have right of way.
Kiters riding to their right (aka starboard) have the right of way.
If interacting with kite skiers, the skier with their right arm UPWIND has the right of way.
If overtaking another kiter heading in the same direction, the slower kiter has the right of way.
Upwind kiters must keep their kite high and above the kiter downwind of them. The downwind kiter must keep their kite lowwhen interacting with a kiter up wind of them. Think "Up high, Down low"
Jumping kiters must maintain a buffer 50m downwind and 30m upwind. This is to provide room for down wind drift and kite movement. Jumping kiters must give right of way to non-jumping.
When interacting with other mobile lake users, assume they don't know the right of way rules and simply make every effort to avoid collisions.
Man made jumps.
If you build jumps mark them so they can be seen and take them down when you're done.
These jumps can be extremely hazardous to snow kiters and other users, especially snowmobiles moving at high rates of speed in flat light or at night.
Please refrain from "tagging" signs and structures at kiting areas with stickers and pack out what you pack in.
Unlike riding at your local ski area where it's common to tag lift towers etc. with stickers from your favorite brands, shops or whatever, stickering signs at local fields and lakes is viewed as defacing public property and we've lost and nearly lost areas because of it.
Also many of the areas we ride are not maintained in winter months.
Don't leave trash behind with the expectation that someone will clean it up.
We apologize (a little) if we seem like we're trying to be the " KITE POLICE ", it's not our intention and we hate piles of rules but we hate seeing our riding areas shut down and we hate to see kiters get hurt.
The above guidelines are intended to protect kiters, bystanders and overall access that we have and see it open to kiters for years to come.
The areas we ride are the areas we and others live in. Please treat them with due respect.
Failure to respect the area, land owners and other user groups, snow kiting gets shut down. Regulation isn't even an option. So we have a choice, we either respect and maintain a sensible code of conduct and be a self regulating user group or get regulated by those who don't participate in the sport.
Or worse get shut out of an area completely.
Or worse get shut out of an area completely.