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Thursday March 30, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Xavier de le Rue and Sam Anthamatten break the rules and shake off their guards to check out some cheeky lines on the Changbaishan Volcano, in China.

In the next DIY adventure series Xavier de le Rue heads to the active Changbaishan Volcano in China, in an adventure that doesn't end well with the authorities.

Freeriders Xavier de le Rue and his colleague Sam Anthamatten decided to check out some slopes in China as possible competitive faces for the Freeride World Tour.

With poor snow conditions in Europe and so not much incentive to remain at home, the duo packed their bags and headed East to Changbai Mountain.

Changbaishan “Ever White Mountain” Volcanois has an illustrious claim to fame.

It is known as the “Holy Mountain of the Revolution” in North Korea and this is where Kim-Jong Il was apparently born under a double rainbow. 

Both the North Koreans and the Chinese view the volcano as sacred, and there is an on-going sensitive border dispute.

North Korea claims the whole of large lake or caldera, called Heaven Lake, as its own. 

There is constant surveillance of our intrepid explorers and the region is heavily patrolled with tourist guards or 'guides' as they prefer to be called, so its not a place to mess around, which it appears is what Xavier and Sam intended to do.

Check out their adventure and exploits in the video below:


The weather was windy and cold during the first couple of days after they arrived with extreme gusts of wind reaching 100kmph and temperatures dropping as low as -40°C.

Xavier and Sam and Xavier's wife Beanie, concentrated on exploring the lower sections of the mountain and discovered the scary snowpack.

The consequence of the extremely low temperatures and wind resulted in a thick crust over a layer of fresh powder and all this sat on an extremely deep layer of marbles, ready to avalanche at the lightest contact.

By day three the sun appeared, the wind calmed down to 50kmph and so it was time to go higher up.

Knowing the snow conditions, wind, overhanging cornices, the team made a cheeky escape from the watchful eyes of their guards and their translator Diana, to find an icy traverse in search of a safer, more protected entry into the volcano.
Armed with headcams and drones, they rode conservative lines down to the frozen lake and stood in the middle half way between China and North Korea.

On the lakeOn the lake
















Sam and Xavier stood on the frozen lake with ice as thick as a meter in places and looked back up at the mountain at their lines and impressive couloirs.

They had found the sweet spot.

Standing on a frozen lake in a volcanic craterStanding on a frozen lake in a volcanic crater














Changbaishan is a national park and entry is only possible through government controlled gates, and so its probably a good idea to stick to the rules.

The volcano is classed as active.

Having shaken off their guards the team traversed out to the West Gate and worked their way down through disused tunnels to meet their translator, Diana.

Diana it seems had not had a good day having discovered the crew had departed unaccompanied into the volcano.

The Police, Military and Environmental Agency were informed of their naughty misadventurs and they were banned from setting foot on Changbaishan Mountain again, and banned within a 100km radius.

They were forced to leave because they had broken the rules.

They packed their bags and took the first flight to Beijing taking in some culinary challenges instead, involving scorpions, snakes and silkworms.

We certainly don't fancy the look of the snake on the skewer!

Heading downHeading down













Standing on a frozen lake in a volcanic craterStanding on a frozen lake in a volcanic crater













Remote staircaseRemote staircase
















Street FoodStreet Food















Street FoodStreet Food
















Changbaishan volcano has seen small eruptions in recent years, the most recent in 1903 and 1999.

Although Changbaishan does not seem in danger of imminent eruption, researchers say unrest suggests an explosion may be expected in the next couple of decades.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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