It's kind of hard to believe, but I haven't been snowboarding in very nearly two years. I'm pretty sure that last trip with Rick and Mark and Tomasz was in February 2006, not very long before I moved to SOMA. And then after two dead batteries thanks to not driving my car for 6 months I went ahead and sold it, and haven't really had much of a way to snowboard since then. And in the meantime, traveling the world has pretty much filled in the gap as my hobby of choice.
But tomorrow, I'm going on a work snowboarding trip to Northstar and I'm pretty excited. I'm sure I'll suck for a good few hours, but I'm actually feeling pretty confident that most of it's going to come back nice and quick, and I'm already sort of brainstorming about taking another snowboarding trip before the season is over.
Once again we took a day trip following massive snow, only to be greeted by unseasonably sunny weather. At this rate I'm wondering if I'll even break 10 days this season, but I should still be able to at least make up the cost of the pass. At least we're not Washington, where there's apparently so little snow that the resorts are currently closed.
- Date(s): Sunday, January 30th.
- Who: Me, Rick, Trisha.
- We finally got our act together and actually drove up the night before. We stayed at the Best Western in Jackson, which was really pretty nice and only about $20 a head for the three of us, which is totally worth not getting up at 4:30 am. Instead we woke up at 7:15, after the sun had come up. If we ever manage to take a weekend trip this year, I think Jackson on Friday night and Minden on Saturday night would be the way to go.
- Even if it was a little warm, there was still a lot of nice snow to be found on the mountain. I didn't really jump very much, and instead rode what we felt like of the mountain. Eagle bowl and Sentinel bowl (especially one run to the left) were both especially nice. The drain wasn't bad, and the gully below sentinel was a lot of fun, too.
- I did manage to hurt myself more than average, but everything was minor: I cut underneath my thumbnail when I accidentally ran my nail through my pocket's zipper; I scratched the back of my hand on my pocket's velcro; I tweaked my ankle when I landed funny; I tweaked my wrist on another fall; I scraped my knee pretty painfully on some pretty hard ice when my two edge slipped out after a jump; And I tried to break my arm when I tried to push away from a tree going a lot faster than I realized.
- Most of my day was spent exploring how I actually felt about listening to music while snowboarding thanks to my new iPod shuffle. I liked it and I'm planning to do it more in the future, but there are definitely some details to mention:
All that said, I still liked riding with music enough to invest in making it an even better experience. There's nothing quite like a long run down Eagle bowl cutting through mounds of powder while listening to "Where is my mind?"
- My left ear bud was falling out all day, which was incredibly frustrating. I've already solved this problem by buying the Giro Nine.9 Audio, the purchase of which is what I was really evaluating. I'll have more to say about the helmet later.
- I was carrying the shuffle in my front jacket pocket, which was mostly alright, except for two problems:
I'm ultimately hoping to solve both of these problems with the shuffle armband, but apparently not anytime soon according the estimated wait time ("5-7 weeks" as of this writing). The season'll be over by then!
- During certain jumps I would manage to hit forward or back or play, which kind of ruined the experience.
- The buttons are a little too small to actually use when I'm trying to find the right button through the material of my jacket and my snowboard gloves, complicated further by the fact that the shuffle moved around in my pocket. I ended up taking my glove off to operate it most of the time.
- Somehow the solid state shuffle got into a weird beeping / skipping mode about three times when I jolted it on a landing. It's a solid state device, and that shouldn't happen! If it happens more, I may complain to Apple, because it was pretty annoying; None of the buttons would respond, and I had to stop, take off my glove, dig it out of my pocket, turn it off, wait a few seconds, and turn it back on. Not so good for a device targeted at active users.
It had snowed buckets the week before, and this was supposed to be a weekend trip, but there were three problems:
- I forgot it was a holiday weekend, which meant it was extra busy.
- The storm was over, and the temperature had suddenly jumped up to about 50, so I was pretty wiped out by mid-day.
- E-ming felt like he was coming down with something.
So at lunch we decided to turn it into a day trip, and that was probably fine.
- Date(s): Saturday, January 15th
- Who: Me, Eming.
- Getting up at 4:30 am still sucks, so we got up at like 5 and got out the door at about 6... So we got on the mountain at almost 10.
- It was hot, and again I was riding in just my fleece. So far this season, I've had spring skiing in November, December, and January. What's going to happen come April?
- But at least this time, there was some good snow to be had if you looked for it. Eagle bowl and Sentinel bowl were both pretty nice.
- I moved my front binding forward two holes, which turned out to have probably been too far, because it left my left shin in a lot of pain -- especially on the long traverse at the bottom of eagle bowl. I need to remember to move that back one screw before this weekend's day trip.
- We didn't jump too much, because there were kind of too many people around. We did ride the superpipe once, though, and that thing is scary! At the top the walls are pretty much vertical, AND icy. The correct way to deal with this is obviously to go up and *jump* and turn around, but that's scary because your body is parallel to the ground if you do that -- but it's icy and steep so edging the turn is also pretty damn hard. I'm not sure the superpipe is a skill I really need to acquire. =)
We were all excited about this day trip because it'd been snowing a lot early in the week, but then it heated up by the time we got there.
- Date(s): Saturday, December 11th, 2004.
- Who: Me, Trisha, E-ming, Rick.
- The snow certainly could have been better. The groomers were alright, but in the trees it was crusty in the morning thanks to overnight freezing, but anywhere the blazing morning sun shone quickly turned to an annoying slush.
- It probably hit about 50, which once again called for a fleece in the morning, which I took off in the afternoon. Yay spring skiing in December!
- It was so annoyingly hot that I convinced E-ming to go play in the mini-park with me, and we spent all afternoon taking videos. I'll upload them or something sooner or later, but that's a lower priority than Europe pictures. ;-)
- And that was basically the day. At this rate, I'm probably not going to go back up before January.
To make up for last season's abrupt termination, it
started snowing early and Kirkwood was able to open in like
October this year. But I wasn't ready to go up at that point,
and I barely managed to make it up for a day in mid-November.
- Date(s): Sunday, November 14th
- Who: Me, Mike, Eming, and we met Tyler at the mountain. We also ran
into Binky on the mountain.
- I forgot how terrible getting up at 4:30 in the morning for snowboarding was (especially since I went to sleep at like 2 am the night before), but once I got on the mountain it was alright. It was an annoyingly warm day, so I just wore my fleece instead of my real jacket, because my jacket is way too heavy -- I need to get a shell that I can wear as a top layer over other layers...
- The snow actually wasn't too terrible for being so early season, and I got my jumping legs back pretty quickly -- I was jumping off most of the things I was jumping off of at the end of last season, with very little hesitation. It was exciting. By the end of the day, I'd managed to land a few more 180s -- landing a single 180 was the big thing I accomplished at the end of last season, so being able to pick up on day one right where I left off last season felt good.
- And uh, that's about all I remember. That's what I get for going to Europe before writing this.
- Day trip tomorrow.
Honestly, I wasn't particularly excited about going snowboarding at this point, and had pretty much written the season off as over. It'd been "unseasonably hot" for the better part of March, but about 10 inches of snow drove us to give it one more shot. But after the weekend, I'm pretty much convinced that the season really is over. I'm not quite ready to put summer wax on my board, but it's only a technicality at this point.
- Date(s): Saturday, March 27th and Sunday, March 28th, 2004.
- Who: Me, Rick, and Tyler.
- Basically, the snow was so bad we went for intoxicated skiing. I rode on three beers both days.
- On Saturday, we left Berkeley at around 7:30, and got to Kirkwood around noon. Then Rick had to put his new bindings on, so it was around 1 by the time we got on the mountain.
- I killed time by drinking, so by the time we were ready to go I was ready to stop.
- I rode with my Lame t-shirt over my burton thermal, and I was still sweating like crazy. I think it was something like 53 out on Saturday, so by the end of the day I had a monster dehydration headache. I can't imagine why.
- On Sunday, we woke up at 7:30 again, but on account of being in Minden we got to Kirkwood at around 8:30.
- We were sober in the morning, and we spent most of it taking really fast runs down a nicely groomed Wall. It was probably the fastest I've ever gone on The Wall -- possibly the fastest I've ever gone. I wasn't quite straightlining it, but I had a non-trivial amount of speed.
- We stopped to snack around 11 because we were already cooking. I wasn't wearing my fleece, despite the fact that Tyler somehow convinced me I needed to bring it. He totally owes me a donut for that.
- Drinking ensued.
- We rode until around 2, when the bottom of the mountain was getting so slushy that it was just too much work to even consider going on. I think it was forecast to be around 60 on Sunday, and it certainly felt like it.
- The snow was so soft that I was literally kicking up a wave when I turned, and it splashed when it landed.
- It was not at all an appropriate weekend for jumping, so there was none of that.
So that's pretty much it for Snowboarding 2004. It was a lot of fun while it lasted. In theory I'll have videos to post at some point, if I ever get motivated.
Last weekend promised a lot: They were claiming anywhere from 72 to 98 new inches of snow from Monday to Thursday, so we were quite anxious for the weekend to arrive. Clearly Friday would have been the day, but we were good little worker bees and waited it out. Sadly, once we were there most of the good stuff was tracked out, but there was good snow to be found if you worked for it.
- Date(s): Saturday, February 28th and Sunday, February 29th, 2004.
- Who: Me, Rick, Tyler, Mike, and Alex 2.
- It was a seriously long weekend, and I can't remember a lot of it at this point. I'll just run down the highlights:
- By mid-morning Saturday, we ended up backside, where we started jumping off of the cornice above The Wave. The landing was very soft, and I'm feeling a little more confident about committing to that sort of drop. Some of them were pretty big, and dropping for that long still scares me.
- While Rick and Tyler hiked up 99 steps, Mike and Alex 2 and I went and dropped off the cliff under lift 4. They actually went off the highest point over the rock face, while I chickened out and went off the side where there was actually snow in case I totally bailed out. Which I did.
- After lunch, Mike and Alex 2 and I found a spot under Sentinel Bowl, where we took turns hiking and taking movies of each other. The most notable thing that happened here was I made three attempts at an actual jumping 180:
- The first attempt hit about 120 degrees before I landed, and then I fell over backwards.
- The second attempt was bad news: I only managed about 90, and when I hit the ground, I somehow managed to hit my head into my knee. No permanent damage done, but it sure hurt at the time.
- On the third attempt, I managed a full 180, and I mostly landed -- until I was leaning too far back, which caused my board's tail to slide out from me, which made for a pretty funny video.
- After we finished at Sentinel Bowl, we rode through the mini-park on the way back to the car, and I managed another stunning heel-edge trip and fall on my back/head. Once again, thank god for the helmet.
- On Sunday, we were actually on the slopes around 9:15, and we rode until they closed the lifts, making for a very full long day.
- Around mid-morning, we ended up on top of Cornice, and decided to hike up to the highest point reachable from there. The drop in some places along that ridge was so steep and sheer as to be borderline terrifying. Luckily, as it happened, the place we hiked too featured a less steep drop. I sucked on the drop in, though, so it felt like a bit of a waste. Here are some pictures I took from the top: Looking over the edge. Looking over the edge again. Looking towards The Wall. Tyler standing by the gear. That's the top of 6 on the top of that peak over there.
- I don't know how I got talked into it, but we traversed past the "Experts Only" sign on the top of the "Experts Only" lift, along the top of The Wall, over to a little chute/gap that looked a lot bigger from the lift than it turned out to be. It was very scary, but it was just wide enough that I was able to just ride my heel edge through the short gap. It was scary, but not too bad. I don't think I'll be going there again any time soon, though, if for no other reason than the traverse to get there was very rocky, even despite the supposed heavy snowfall.
- On the next ride up the wall, we noticed that there was a raincircle around the sun. I couldn't zoom out enough to get the whole thing, but a couple of shots came out nicely. I've never seen anything like it before.
- After that, we traversed to Sentinel Bowl, but when we got there, we decided to hike up to the peak above Sentinel/Palisades in search of some fresh powder, and freshies we found. Here was the view towards Palisades, and here was the view towards Sentinel, and here was the view behind the mountain. The hike was exhausting, but it was worth it.
- After lunch, Mike and Alex 2 and I once again found our spot under Sentinel, and hiked and took more movies. After bailing out several times, I actually executed and landed a 180, and I got it on video. I'll upload it sooner or later.
Anyway, it was a pretty awesome, but totally exhausting weekend. I'm still sore in places.
With the news that Kirkwood has received 44 to 58 inches of new snow in the last couple of days, the details of last weekend's day trip really aren't very exciting anymore... but there were a couple of items worth mentioning.
- Date(s): Sunday, February 22nd.
- Who: Trisha, me.
- The day was pretty nice: It was lightly snowing all day, but it wasn't too cold: most of the snow that landed on my melted. The snow at the beginning of the day was soft pack, and by the end of the day there were 4-6 inches of fresh powder on top of that.
- Our day was pretty simple. We spent most of our time on the reut or at the mini terrain park, with a couple of trips down Zach's, and a trip down Sentinel for lunch.
- Off the reut, we took a lot of runs to the right and into one of the gullys, which made for a sequence of 3-4 fun jumps (though one of them in the gully had exposed rocks near the landing, so I didn't do that one after the first time).
- I also took a few runs in the trees next to the reut, once they wrapped up the race course for the day.
- In the mini-park everything was rollers except for one useful jump off the edge of a banked turn. But that one jump was pretty nice, and I was getting so much air off of it that the impact of landing almost flattened me a few times. I had to absorb the landings with my entire body. I more or less managed to land most of those jumps, though I was landing so hard that I ended up putting my hands on the ground for balance.
- As long as I was getting that much air, I figured I'd try something fancy, so I made two grab attempts. The first time I just missed the edge of the board when I grabbed, and the second time my hand hit the edge of my board but I didn't grab on. I landed both attempts.
- Of course, it figures that after all those big jumps I'd go and hurt myself on a stupid roller: I had a lot of speed after the big jump and ollied off one of the rollers, but I ended up doing something stupid, and somehow tripped on my heel edge and fell onto my back, hitting my head really hard. Thank god I wear a helmet, but I still saw some serious stars. After that, I was done for the day.
In other news, I apparently think New Zealand accents are really hot. Who knew?
Rick was in town in, and it snowed some more. What better reason than that did we need to go up to the mountain?
- Date(s): Saturday February 7th and Sunday February 8th.
- Who: Tyler, Rick, and me.
- The snow was bad in places, but surprisingly soft overall. We had some fun under Sentinel, went up The Wall, went over to Eagle Bowl, etc.
- The most notable thing we did Saturday was to spend probably 5 or 6 runs jumping over the cornice to the skiers right of Cornice. I actually landed and rode out at most one jump, but in most of the other cases I at least recovered fairly well. I took no serious tumbles -- which is significant, considering the drop was at least 10 feet, and in places was probably significantly more. It was definitely scary, but it was a lot of fun, too.
- After the cornice jumps, we were traversing skiers right to some other jumps we found that we liked -- unfortunately, they were near some rocks, and on one jump I didn't get much air and landed on said rocks and ended up cutting my new board. It's not that big of a cut, but it's still depressing.
- I spent the afternoon taking easy runs, playing in the mini-terrain park, jumping over and over.
- We got the exciting stuff out of the way first thing in the morning (which was more like 10 am, since we got kind of a late start). In particular, we went up Cornice to Chamoix (which we like calling "cha-mon-ix" -- don't ask), then over Cornice's cornice.
- The notably exciting items here were:
- Under Chamoix, we found ourselves in some trees overlooking a gully. Unexpectedly, Tyler dropped into the gully, passing between a couple of trees and then jumping into the gully. Not one to be outdone, Rick did the same. Not one to be left behind, I went ahead and did it, too. But my arm brushed the branches, and I ended up falling on the landing and kind of hurt my shoulder (yet again). To be clear here, we were still on snow when we passed the trees -- they were just relatively close together.
- After that, we found ourselves at the gully under Cornice. Tyler and Rick both bailed out on hitting the stump, so I went over the stump (my first time) and was quite surprised by the size of that drop. I totally bailed on the landing, mainly because I got scared by the drop and twisted. Oh well. I'm not really sure how keen I am to try that stump again, but maybe on a powder day....
- Then we just went over the same cornice we spent awhile jumping off of on Saturday, only none of us landed particularly well. Tyler, in particular, ate a lot of shit, double ejected from his skis, and ended up quite far from his skis. Luckily Rick hadn't jumped at that point, so he was able to recover the skis and carry them down.
- After that, nothing else we did Sunday was that interesting. There were probably runs up The Wall and to Sentinel Bowl, but same-old, same-old.
Sadly, the weekend left me sore again, but really, considering all the kind of crazy jumping we did, that's not out of the question. I had a lot of fun, especially with the cornice jumping -- I want to go spend awhile doing that on a powder day, I think. But thanks to not going this weekend, I'll probably be sore again after next weekend, too.
After two weekends off, I finally got back to the mountain, thanks mainly to Kevin and Trisha already being there for the google ski trip. I drove up on Friday night with Kevin's friends Crystal and Rachel, where we rendezvoused with Kevin, Trisha, and Karen. We stayed at Kevin's uncle's awesome condo with a fantastic view of the lake on Friday and Saturday night. And since we were already in North Lake, I was able to convince Trisha to go to Alpine, so I was able to get a bit of a break from the 'wood.
- Date(s): Saturday, January 31st and Sunday, February 1st, 2004.
- Who: Trisha, me. Kevin, Rachel, Karen, and Crystal were also at the cabin.
- Saturday at Alpine:
- I hadn't been to Alpine before, and going to a new resort is often a lot of fun, so I enjoyed the day despite the bright sun and the packed groomed snow.
- We managed to explore most of the resort, taking a few trips up to the summit, exploring the backside, and so on. For the most part, though, we stayed between Summit Six Chair and Hot Wheels Chair.
- The snow on the backside was almost too icy to be worth it, especially since we took a stupid route to get there: Instead of traversing over the ridge from the top of Alpine Bowl Chair, we traversed through the trees at the top of Sherwood. And worse, we initially got to the backside by taking "Ray's Rut" -- a well named run if I ever saw one.
- It was a fantastically clear day, which made for an awesome view of the lake (and the Tahoe area in general) from the top of Lakeview chair. Now I really want to go back to Alpine once I get a new digital camera.
- On the backside of the mountain there were several people parasailing. They were taking off from the side of the mountain -- they must have skied there -- and after that I never saw any of them land. I'm not really sure where they went, actually. I almost got run over by one of them taking off when he couldn't get off the ground and just got pulled down the mountain by his sail.
- One thing that took me awhile to get used to about Alpine is that even though they have less vertical than Kirkwood, a lot of their runs felt longer because I believe that the mountain is less steep. While it was nice to have longer runs, the flip side of that was that there were more flats.
- Trisha pointed out that "advertising works." We knew that Alpine had $39 lift tickets, and that's why we went there instead of some of the other north lake options: we weren't even sure how much most of them were, beyond knowing that Squaw was $59.
- Admittedly Alpine was a little busy, but it wasn't unbearably bad if you took the effort to avoid the main runs.
- All in all, I enjoyed Alpine, and had a good experience, and I wouldn't mind going back. However, if it was much busier than it was that day, it might be too unpleasant to deal with.
- Sunday at Kirkwood:
- Kirkwood is Kirkwood is Kirkwood. We followed a relatively standard flight path, from 7 to 5 to 11 to 6 to 6 to Sentinel and so on.
- The snow at Kirkwood was a little softer than Alpine's, and better, it was snowing lightly all day. Unfortunately, around the end of the day, it got foggy and started snowing more and the viz got unpleasantly bad, making the contours of the snow very difficult to deal with.
- I was feeling very jumpy thanks to being on my home turf, and it being day 2 on my new board (more on that later), so I did a lot of jumps, and overall I think I did a pretty good job of landing them.
- I did the jump at the top of Zach's above the trees several times (landed the first time, fell while slowing down after landing the second time). I also found a pretty good stump jump directly under the Cornice lift that I hit big and landed and got a few cheers from the lift. All of the jumps off the catwalks to the left of Sentinel were really big, and I landed all of them, though I stopped quickly after each one. And jumping into the gully under Sentinel and the hoppy bits in there were a lot of fun. I really really want to get some videos of me now, because I feel like I'm a lot better than I was in the videos from a year ago.
- I was also practicing standing 180s while moving very slowly on flats. At one point I managed three 180s in a row (all regular to goofy -- I still fall if I try goofy to regular) with some a tiny bit of forward momentum on the flat above 7. And uh... They were probably technically more like 150s, and possibly 120s or maybe just 90s in some cases, but hey, it's a start. =)
- Everything was going great until I traversed from Cornice to The Drain, and feeling over-confident, I jumped off of a rock -- that turned out to be at least a 10 foot drop by the time my forward momentum came into play. I didn't totally wipe out or anything, but I was surprised by the height of the drop and fell over when I landed and unfortunately twisted my shoulder again. Yes, the same shoulder I hurt at Bachelor. Yes, it still hurts. I'm going to have to be more careful about this, because the sore shoulder ruined the rest of my afternoon, because I couldn't move my arm to keep my balance like I'm used to.
- Sadly, taking two weekends off left me sore in places all week. Clearly I shouldn't take a break from snowboarding... it's just not worth it. ;-)
- I so totally need new shoes. My Doc's probably wouldn't be the best shoes for snow in the first place, but they're 5+ years old and have 0 tread left, which means I'm going to wind up dead on my butt if I'm not careful. (This is not a request for you to get me shoes for my birthday or something, so please don't even think about it.)
- The drive home on Sunday night was tiring and stressful, because the roads were icy, and it was foggy, and it was rain/sleet/snowing depending on the temperature of any given spot, but we mode it home in one piece.
Anyway, I mentioned that I got an Arbor Element 154 a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't get a chance to ride it until this weekend. I felt comfortable on the board, and never felt like it didn't have the control I needed. It was definitely a lot easier to turn than my Custom 156, and it was also a lot lighter, which meant that jumping -- while not as easy as on Trisha's board -- was much easier than on my old board. The only real problem I had with it was some stability issues at high speeds, but I think that may have been because the edges could have been sharper.
I'm really kind of torn about whether or not to keep the board, so for now I think I'm going to need to ride it one more weekend before I can really make a decision. Notably, I need to decide if it's stable enough at speed, and if it keeps an edge when carving fast.
It sure is pretty, though.
After picking up and tremendously Robot Food's Lame DVD earlier this month, I ordered Afterbang from their site. When I received the package, I found not only my DVD, but also a Lame t-shirt and some robot food stickers.
Anyway, both DVDs are great, and free stuff is cool, so if you're looking for some good snowboard porn, I'd check out the Robot Food movies. I'd suggest Afterbang before Lame, both because it's cheaper and because I liked the music better.
Amazingly, this weekend last year was only my 2nd and 3rd days at the mountain, but this weekend this year already put me at day 10.
- Date(s): Saturday, January 10th, 2004.
- Who: Trisha, me.
- It hadn't snowed very much since new years, so the conditions were packed and groomed. On top of that, it was sunny and warm out, though there was some wind blasting over the ridge. In actuality, the conditions weren't too terrible, but compared to the wonderful powder at Mt. Bachelor, it just seemed a lot worse than it really was.
- I went backside for the first time this season, but it was too crowded to make the slow lift worth it. Worse, the snow was either groomers or frozen powder. So instead, we decided to stick to the shorter faster lifts to optimize our time spent on the slopes.
- Several runs down The Reut, several runs down Sentinel Bowl, several runs down Solitude, and stayed as far away from Zachary's as possible (because it sucks even on powder days).
- We spent most of the afternoon running on Hole 'N Wall, riding through the mini-terrain park. There were several nice jumps in there to practice on, and we even just spent awhile hiking back up the park four or five times.
- I feel like I'm getting really comfortable jumping. I rode Trisha's (shorter) snowboard for awhile, and it was amazing how much lighter it was, and how much easier that made it to jump. Of course, the shorter board also made landing harder, because it was a lot less stable.
- Most importantly, I saw two guys riding Arbor Snowboards, and they both spoke very highly of them. More importantly, one of them formerly rode a Burton Custom, and he said he liked his Arbor A-Frame better than he liked his Custom.
- These exchanges led to me pick up an Arbor Element at REI, which I'll be trying out tomorrow. Thanks to REI's 100% return policy (yes, I can return it even if the snowboard has been ridden), I'll very carefully evaluate it tomorrow and decide whether or not I want to keep it. I'm a little concerned about the size, because I got a 154 compared to the 156 I've been riding, but it's less stiff than my Custom, which is one of the things I didn't like as much about the Custom. Look for more thorough comments on the board next week.
- Unfortunately, it hasn't exactly snowed since last weekend, so we're only going to take a day trip tomorrow.