Well, winter is over and spring is (finally) here for real on the east coast. Despite the low snow numbers here this season, it was still my best season ever. Still scored, and I go out more days than I ever have. Looking forward to next year, but for now I’ll be enjoying a slightly warmer ocean. Cheers!
I just got back from an epic few days snowboarding in Colorado. Before this, Pennsylvania is probably the farthest west I’ve ever been to snowboard. Let me tell you, nothing on the east coast compares to the Rockies. Winter Park is actually made up of seven different areas, each about the size of an average east coast mountain. Each area has different terrain, from moguls to glades to bowls to chutes.
If you ask locals, they’ll all tell you different when it comes to the best time of year to ride or ski in Colorado. I’ve heard mid March is usually a great time to score some powder, but according to the locals this year was a little odd. Every local I spoke to mentioned the sub-par winter and meager snow conditions. They complained about the ice and suggested I sleep in (and drink some beers) to give everything enough time to soften up. I thought to myself, nothing out here in the west could be as bad as east coast ice.
On the first morning, I woke up to about 4 inches of fresh. It snowed most of the day too. Above 10,000 feet, the sun hid itself behind the clouds all day which meant the ice I had been warned about stayed solid underneath the little bit of powder. That made many spots a bit hard and chundery. That said, the Parsenns Bowl area actually had a good bit of powder on this day, if you could find it. The center section of the bowl was incredible with all the powder mixed in with the trees. As you got farther down the bowl, the trees got tighter but the powder stayed the same. The right side (rider’s right) of the bowl had some sick tree sections also. Every run I found new, untouched lines through these sections right through the end of the day. By that time, everything below 10,000 feet had warmed up enough that there were spring conditions. I’d never experienced such a difference in conditions at one mountain during one day, but that’s how the weather works in the mountains.
Despite being a snowboarder, I like riding in tight trees and moguls, so I spent most of my time on the trip riding the Mary Jane area. On my second day riding, I did explore some other parts though. I immediately noticed conditions were better in general because there were no clouds at all. The sun had all day to soften things up. When I did get over to Mary Jane I was expecting softer snow, yet there were still lots of icy patches. Parsenns Bowl suffered from the same conditions. It sort of felt like an east coast day until I hit the trees. Somehow, conditions in there stayed pretty ice-free. Again, I spent most of my time at Mary Jane, bombing from powder pile to powder pile.
I had some unreal runs on both days, despite the wonky conditions. One local I spoke to was baffled by them, but I had to think he was just jaded after living and skiing there his whole life. I’m sure he had scored some insane powder days at Winter Park, but unfortunately I didn’t. I will definitely be back to Colorado with my snowboard, and hopefully a big dumping of powder follows me there.
Here’s a sick video of the week from Maine. These guys found some sweet backcountry lines and they don’t hold back. Check the huge backflip off the rock. Sweet soundtrack from Odesza too. Enjoy.
Ok, so Whiteface… I’ve heard some call it “Iceface.” I’ve heard it’s got the most vertical in the east. Both have truth to them.
I had never been to Whiteface before this past weekend. Just the thought of going got me so stoked. I checked the maps and conditions before going, and that got me even more excited. I found out that Whiteface has “slides,” basically backcountry chutes that you need to hike to from the summit. Couple that with a forecast calling for snow day and night, and my stoke level was almost through the roof.
The first day we rode was Saturday. Saturdays are crowded, but that’s every ski mountain. Straight away it was obvious, Whiteface is huge. It makes Tremblant look small, but that’s because Whiteface is all about vertical. The mountain is tall, not really wide. Tremblant may be shorter in height, but it’s wider and longer. Whiteface is steeper. There’s hardly any flat sections (at least where I rode) and your legs constantly need to work hard to lay into fast turns. By the end of our second day, I really noticed this. Saturday was also pretty icy, living up to the mountain’s reputation. By noon conditions started to deteriorate and winds started gusting over 50 miles per hour. We appreciated the ol’ gondola even more because of that. Still, somehow they were able to keep all the lifts open.
On Sunday, we woke up to four to six inches of powder. We got out there as early as possible, which is 8:30 a.m. It was empty! Every trail for the first few hours had untouched powder. The Cloudsplitter glade was definitely the trail of the day for me. I really dig tree riding (and mogul riding) and the amount of powder in those woods made it heavenly. Whiteface also had some cool park features. For the larger jumps, you had to be cooking. I knuckled one pretty bad the day before so I stuck to smaller jumps for working on 1s and 3s. The small stuff was sick too. They even had a mini half pipe which was super fun to rip. The ice started to show up this day also, but not until later in the day. Even then, there was less of it and plenty of powder to aim for.
All in all, I loved Whiteface. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to hit any of the slides since they were closed. I’d love to go back on a real powder day and see what’s up. I was able to get pretty comfortable with my switch riding and 180s though, so I left feeling pretty damn accomplished. I’d love to go back for a week or something. This season still has some good time left in it so hopefully I get to post some other “first impressions” before everything melts! Must go west..
Here’s a pretty freaking gnarly video for this week from a guy called DBK. Class A backcountry powder shredding. Enjoy.