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How To: Mt. Baker
No other resort in snowboarding’s canon plays host to as much legend, lore, mystique and history as Mt. Baker, Washington. Located just a stone’s throw from the northern border of the United States, Mt. Baker is a powder hunter’s dream resort, with thousands of rideable acres both in and out of bounds as well as terrain and landscapes that will leave you speechless. Not to mention that Mt. Baker holds the North American title for recorded snowfall in a single season at almost 1,200″ in the 1998/1999 season and averages just under 700 inches of snowfall annually. But the real beauty of Mt. Baker lies in the undevelopment of the resort itself. There’s no village, there are no spas, salons or kitschy restaurants. Just a lodge, an incredible mountain and good, genuine people who enjoy riding their snowboards. From the early days when Craig Kelly, Tex Devenport, Mike Ranquet and the rest of the Mt. Baker Hardcore put it on the map to more current times today where riders like Temple Cummis, Jake Blauvelt, Patrick McCarthy and more call Mt. Baker home, the mountain has maintained its esteem as one of the last true bastions of pure, unadulterated snowboarding. Talk is cheap, and fortunately for you, a trip to Mt. Baker, Washington can be as well. Read up and see what we’re talking about.
The most convenient airport to fly into is Seattle International, about three hours south of Mt. Baker, with a bevy of flights from all across the country landing every day. For those of you willing to spend a tad bit more for convenience, there’s the option of flying into the airport in Bellingham, Washington which puts you at just about a 45-minute drive to Glacier, Washington, a sleepy little hollow at the base of Baker where you’ll be staying.
Unlike many resorts today, Mt. Baker understands that in order to maintain their dedicated fanbase, they need to keep their prices down, and they certainly have. A day ticket to Baker costs merely $61.00 (weekend and holiday) or $56.00 (midweek/non-holiday) and a season pass is only $790.00, which is an absolute steal in regard to the terrain you get to ride at Baker. If you’re going for a ten-day trip or more, buy the season pass. If you’re only stopping in for a few days, go a la carte and purchase by the day. Either way, you won’t find many more mountains in the States that have the terrain that Baker does and offers prices anywhere near these.
Where to Stay
Want a cushy 5-star hotel with a spa, heated pool and a high-falutin’ lounge with a mixologist stirring up your spirits? Then Mt. Baker isn’t for you at all. And that’s the best part about it. You’re gonna stay in Glacier, Washington, a tiny little Hamlet at the base of Baker with plenty of Air BnB options and rental accommodations. Hop on Google or the Air BnB app and find your little spot. And stock up on food on the drive north from Seattle, because there’s no big grocery store in Glacier. Hell, there isn’t even cell service. You’re disconnected with the real world but fully connected to the mountain culture up in Glacier.
Where to Ride
There are so many options of where to ride at Mt. Baker that it would take you a decade to hit it all, but below are some of the essentials when lapping Baker.
—Chair 1 Chute: Right under Chair 1. It’s a pretty wide chute, but has a steep pitch, and if you get it early, there’s some really fun drops towards the end.
—Gunner’s Ridge and into the Canyon: Gunner’s only opens when the backside of Hemispheres is avy controlled, or considerably stable. When the ridge opens, usually mid day, it’s a really good spot to find untracked pow. And then the Canyon run afterwards is a classic natural halfpipe. Jamie Lynn had shots in The Garden in the canyon and it hosts super epic side hits.
—Chicken Ridge and Blueberry Cat Track: Chicken Ridge always has nice drops and a steep pitch. Best to hit it early, as it can get tracked at the bottom, and the runout sucks after 10am. Blueberry Cat Track is a little further down from Chicken, and is super fun to jump off. The cat track is actually a switchback road that leads to Artist Point in the summer, so you can jump off the top, and then about halfway down the switchback is carved out again, and there’s another wicked hit.
—Chair 7 Trees: Take an immediate left off of Chair 7 and duck into the trees. It’s a go-to mid-day spot to find some untracked pow. Veer more right to grab the less ridden stuff and look out for a mini cliff band that is super fun. When you hit the cat track at the bottom, you’ll need to skate out, but it’s worth it.
—Hemispheres: The second most popular out-of-bounds zone at Mt. Baker. Follow the bootpack straight up off of Chair 5. It’s fun as all hell on a pow day, especially if the sun is out and the weather is cold.
—The Arm: The most popular out-of-bounds zone at Mt. Baker. Follow the crowds unless you’re up very early on a bluebird day. The Arm has everything from mellow , lower angle runs to hair-raising psycho drops and cliffs, so go with someone that knows the area so you don’t get lost or keep it very very safe on terrain that doesn’t look too dangerous. You can have the best day ever or the worst day ever on The Arm. It all depends on the terrain you choose to ride given the snow conditions.
—The Elbow: Take an immediate right off of Chair 5 to the backcountry access gate. When you drop in, if you stay right you’ll drop into Gordy’s Gulch, which is a really sick natural halfpipe. To the left, there are wide open pow fields that funnel into sick tree runs. Make sure you don’t miss the traverse out at the bottom, or you might get cliffed out on a run called Fly on the Wall. If you fall down this, you die.
—Table Mountain: Take the high line on Blueberry cat track until you hit the backcountry access gate. This is a really good spot to get away from the crowds. When everyone is Hollywooding it up on The Arm and The Beast, there are way less riders out on Table. The hike or split is relatively flat, and you can pick and choose your drop in spot to the right. Be prepared to hike or split out, back to the ski area boundary.
There’s really only one event that Mt. Baker does every year, but it’s far and away the biggest event in the snowboard world, and it’s the longest running contest in the histpry of our sport. The Legendary Mt. Baker Banked Slalom. Riders from Craig Kelly and Terje Haakonsen to Temple Cummins and Nils Mindnich have been granted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of hoisting the coveted golden duct tape above their heads, but if you wanna compete yourself, go to mtbaker.us and enter the lottery to participate. If your number is chosen and you happen to get a spot, you’d be a fool to pass it up. It’s the greatest event in snowboarding every year for more than 30 years running.
There aren’t a ton of options for food in Glacier, but what options there are stack up with the best. Food up at the Mt. Baker lodge is really inexpensive and super good (try the salmon chowder!) but down in town, these are the spots to eat.
—Heather Meadows Tap Room: Usually only open on Fri—Sun, the Tap Room is a classic spot where you’ll find Mt. Baker locals gathering for a drink, and possibly claiming what they threw down that day.
—Chair 9: Good pizza, WiFi and flat screens (usually playing Seahawks games) and a massive bar. This is the go-to gathering spot for some après.
—Milano’s: Although the Debari family doesn’t own it anymore, it’s still a classic. My favorite is the foriana.
—Graham’s Restaurant and Store: Good American burger spot and the only general store in town is right next door.
—The Wake and Bakery: This is the best breakfast stop, and or coffee/pastry spot. Breakfast burritos are always so good here, and will keep you fueled for the whole day up at the mountain.
The Mt. Baker Snowboard Shop hails itself as “The Shop That Grew With The Great Northwest.” Chances are, if you’ve ever read a snowboard magazine, you’ve heard of MBSS. Started by the legendary George Dobis decades ago, it’s recently been brought back, renovated and re-stocked, so stop in, say hi and at the very least, grab a tee or a sticker and wear it with pride.
Other Off-Hill Amenities
Recently, Washington state passed a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana use in the entire state, so if you’re from out of town, you can possess pot legally! Check out Green Stop in Maple Falls, on the way to Glacier. It’s the closest recreational marijuana store and the best spot to roll up before you roll out to the mountain!
Make the most of your snowboard.
Understanding how tuning works is key.
Originally published in the 2018 TransWorld Gear Guide available now!
Most anyone who’s spent a considerable amount of time on a snowboard has gone through a phase where they either didn’t know or didn’t care about keeping their board tuned. A lot of us have gone so far as to take the edge right off a new board, and that’s fine if all you want to do is slide sideways on metal, but in order to progress as a snowboarder you need to be able to go fast and turn—two things that are markedly easier and more rewarding with a proper tune. We talked to Kinsey Smith, evo’s resident tuning guru at their shop in Seattle, to gain a deeper understanding of three critical tuning principles. With an understanding of these concepts, you’ll be blowing past your friends this season. – Taylor Boyd
The general concept of waxing is simple: it acts as a lubricant between your board and the snow, but if your board has a sintered base it goes literally much deeper than that. Sintered base material is created by heating and pressing a powder, creating a hard and porous material that’s resistant to scratching and absorbs wax well. Extruded base material is essentially a plastic goo that is heated and hardened, ultimately creating a softer and largely nonporous surface. The latter is cheap and easy to repair but doesn’t hold wax in the same way that a porous sintered base will.
In terms of wax itself, most of us are aware it’s largely categorized by temperature—warm, cold, and all-temp. As a general rule, warm temp wax is softer and will penetrate deeper into the pores of the base, while cold temp is harder and more resistant to the abrasion of frigid, icy snow conditions. All-temp is, logically, somewhere in the middle of the hardness spectrum. And what about additives like fluorocarbon and graphite? In wet conditions, high-fluoro waxes will increase your board’s ability to break surface tension with the snow, while graphite is especially helpful in dirty snow.
After pulling a new board out of the plastic, the ideal case scenario is to wax it and scrape it repeatedly, starting with a soft, warm-temp wax to begin penetrating the pores, progressively moving toward a harder, cold-temp wax. Then waxing and scraping, again and again. As Kinsey puts it, as long as you’re doing it right, “You can’t wax a board too much.” And in fact, the more times a board with a sintered base is waxed, the harder, faster, and more durable its base becomes. So wax away this winter.
The basic principles of edges are simple: a sharp one will grip and hold you in a turn, a dull one will avoid hang-ups on rails, and detuned contact points will help you negate hooking and thus scorping harshly. While that’s all accurate, there’s more to it. Bevel is the critical element to understand with edging. If we assume an unadulterated edge is zero degrees on the base and 90 degrees on the side, bevel is any amount of filing that takes these degrees above zero and below 90, respectively. Traditionally, whatever the degree of bevel added to the bottom edge is matched on the side edge, maintaining a right angle—the edgehold factor increasing with each degree of bevel added, up to three, typically.
It’s a matter of acute or obtuse angles. More outward side bevel combined with less upward base bevel and you get a more acute, sharper edge, which can be beneficial in racing or railing on ice. But when it comes to tuning a snowboard for freestyle purposes, there’s a different option. A higher degree of upward base bevel combined with less outward side bevel will get you a more obtuse, and in effect, duller edge. Increasing base bevel while leaving side bevel at 90 degrees or even adding an inward bevel to create an obtuse edge is an alternative to rounding your edges with a file that will leave you with a board that rides much better. You probably will too.
This is the forgotten one. While adding structure to a base is more common in skiing, it seems many snowboarders aren’t aware of the benefits to texturing their board. The concept is this: There is an ideal amount of moisture that should sit between a board’s base and the snow too provide optimal glide. Too much and you’ll suction—think of a cup on glass table. To little and you’ll grab—think sandpaper. As your board slides downhill, the friction created melts the snow below the base to a small degree.
When the snow is cold and dry, a linear pattern running parallel to the board’s length will help hold moisture below the board, where you want it in those conditions. When the snow is warm and wet, a cross-hatch pattern—or a number of other options such as a “thumbprint” or “chevron”—will help dispel water, pushing it out the sides of the board. This is done with a stone grinder. Kinsey describes it as a negative,” explaining that, “Whatever you put on the stone, you’re going to end up with an opposite of on the board.” Structure, however, is not something you want in your edge. So, after structuring your base it’s important to edge the board as well. And as is the case with edging, you’re removing material that can’t be replaced, so it’s important to be sparing in order to maximize your board’s lifespan.
This is the most elementary level of tuning explanation. We encourage you to talk to the people at your local shop to gain a better understanding of how to keep your board in prime condition, increasing its lifespan and performance. Snowboarding’s better when you’re hauling ass. You can always check your speed, but when was the last time you wished your board was slower?
How To: Build A Pow Booter
Dreamy airtime can all be yours if you build it well. Big or small, here are some tips on how to push up your own pow town sender.
Place The Popper
The in-run and landing are just as important as the jump itself. Give the approach a few goes, and remember it will get a bit faster after it’s all packed down. Make sure you can handle the speed and compression before building and check the landing for any suspect bumps or dangers. Use a probe to double check in thin snow.
Once you have the in-run and trajectory lined up, start diggin’ like a dog and begin piling snow in a general mound. Continue by cutting large blocks and stacking them like a snow mason. As the mound gets bigger, interlock two or more snowboards and use them as supports to mold the sides and back of the jump. Build the base about two board lengths wide, as the jump will narrow at the top.
Give the face of the jump some solid stomps and whacks with a shovel every so often. This will consolidate the snow and expose any weaknesses. Once you have the basic shape dialed in, trample it some more with snowshoes and some board slaps. Now, wait for the snow to bond and solidify.
The time it takes for a jump to firm up depends on the moisture content of the snow. It could set nicely while you eat lunch, or in cold, dry areas (like Utah, Montana, Alberta, or Colorado) you might have to stick a shovel in it and come back the next day. Once nice and firm, though, take a shovel or board and carefully shave your desired transition, making sure its smooth and even.
Just The Tip
If you’re not traveling far, or happen to have a snowmobile, bring a big-ass snow shovel from the hardware store, it’ll help you throw a jump together in no time.
Illustrations: Shawn O’Keefe
Whoa there, Hondo. Before throwing double corks, you need to know how to stand on that new deck. So are you regular (left foot forward) or goofy (right foot forward)? Luckily for you, there are plenty of tests to determine which foot leads. Here are a few methods for finding your favored stance:
How To: Find Your Stance
1. Run And Slide
Build up some speed and slide sideways on a slick floor. The foot you lead with should be the same foot you put forward on your board. For best results, wear pink socks.
2. The Big Push
Strap on a helmet, place your feet together, and have a friend push you from behind. The foot that braces your fall should be your front foot for riding.
3. Drop-kick Something
Duct-tape up your sister’s doll collection, buy a watermelon, whatever you can find (soccer ball?), and drop-kick that mother. When setting up your stance, place your kicking foot in back.
4. The First Step
Find a staircase, listen to the Rocky theme song, and then take a step. The foot you used on your first step should be your rear foot when riding.
Does It Really Matter Which Way You Stand?
According to Dr. David Anderson, our science bro and a professor at San Francisco State University, a rider might gravitate to a specific stance, but “either leg has the capacity to adapt to whatever demands are placed on it.” Don’t doubt the doctor—for proof, just watch a skilled rider rock things switch.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Shawn O’Keefe
Take a hit to your board’s base that exposed the fiberglass and core? Patch that little devil up. Sealing up said hole is crucial to the longevity of your board. Although best fixed by a shop, here’s a DIY technique.
How To: Fix A Core Shot
1. Clean it up
Cut away hangnails and bulges in the base and avoid slicing straight lines and blunt edges. Then clean up the scene by scraping out any rock pieces or loose material. Try to cut with the blade angled inward of the damaged area to create a lip for new base material to cling.
2. Scuff it up
Scuff up the damaged area with sandpaper or a wire brush, then wipe away any debris with a cloth and some base cleaner. If the gouge is deep into the wood core, apply a very thin coating of epoxy to the damaged area, being careful not to build up too much around the edges. Keep the board base up and let cure.
3. Seal ‘er
Pick up a basic base repair iron (slidewright.com, svst.com, or tognar.com) with a wide, flat tip, and some base repair wire (a blend of base material and epoxy). With your board at room temperature, melt the material into the gouge quickly and cleanly, slightly overfilling the crater.
Immediately after filling the hole, place a metal scraper over the area and cover it with rag to protect your hand from the heat, then use some serious elbow grease and push down on the wound. Hold for at least 60 seconds. If there are still holes, repeat step three. Then let cool to room temperature and carefully scrape away excess material with a bastard file or sharp scraper until smooth.
Just the tip
Huffing melting plastic is gross. Make sure to vent your workspace or the next thing you know you’ll be huffing jenkem like a freak.
Illustrations: Shawn O’Keefe
How To: Live In Your Whip
Do you want to chase pow all season? Can you live simply and in cold, small places? Are you comfortable with severely hindering your chances with the opposite sex? Then car living is right for you. With perks like first chairs, free rent, and the ability to chase storms—who needs a home?
Get The Right Rig
A camper van, box van, pickup truck with a camper shell, or even a large wagon can get the job done. You’ll want something with enough space for a comfy bed and a little storage. Big whips are gas guzzlers, but the space is nice, and four-wheel drive isn’t a necessity either—front-wheel drive, a good set of tires, and chains are fine.
Sleeping space, storage, and heat are crucial. Make a comfy, elevated bed with a plywood base, using crates (or frame) to support it, and foam on top. Store your gear underneath and splurge on a super warm sleeping bag and extra blankets. Keep the gas tank topped off for early morning warm-ups and never sleep with the car running or near snowdrifts. You can pick up a 12-volt car heater and boot dryer for around 30 bucks apiece, or splurge on a small gas generator for added luxury.
With all that rent money you’ll be saving, you can afford to eat well, plus you’ll need those extra calories to stay warm. Lining the windows with thick blankets will add insulation and snow piles can serve as a refrigerator. You can use a small, safe camp stove to whip up easy meals and hot drinks—just be wary of cooking inside. Fitness centers and Laundromats are the jam for hot showers, and the JiWire Wi-Fi Finder app makes hunting down Internet a breeze.
Keep It Incognito
Look into local city/resort laws about overnight camping and avoid sleeping in the same spot twice. American flags, handyman logos, church group decor, or a few witty bumper stickers can help you from getting heckled. Be sure to tint those windows or toss up some curtains for privacy. And remember, lights out at night except for a headlamp.
Just The Tip
Elevate your vagabond status with these engine-fired recipes:
-1 handful of cheese
-Sandwich the cheese between the tortillas and wrap it in aluminum foil. Put it on top of the engine after reaching the resort for a hot and gooey snack.
-1 bratwurst (cooked)
-1 small onion
-1 red pepper
Chop ingredients and toss in an aluminum foil pouch with olive oil and seasonings. Nest that pouch on the engine and fire it up (or drive) for a good 30 minutes. Serves: one hungry dirtbag.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Shawn O’Keefe
There’s a reason Colorado is among the most recognized snowboard destinations in the country, and the reason is Summit County. There’s better freeriding elsewhere in the state, but the caliber of freestyle terrain and general convenience are what set Summit apart. This accessibility and proximity to Denver and the Front Range has also contributed to the traffic and lift lines you should be prepared for during peak season. But only two other places in the country, Utah and Tahoe, rival the variety and quality of terrain parks in Summit, and if you’re looking for the location to experience the quintessential snowboard trip, this fabled county off I-70 just might be the spot. – Taylor Boyd
If you’re coming from out of state or outside the country, chances are you’re flying, as opposed to driving, into Colorado. In that case, Denver International Airport will be where you touch down. It’s obnoxiously far from downtown but a great place to indulge in conspiracy theory. Keep an eye out for the spooky murals near baggage claim and the demonic horse statue. There is now a train that will take you from DIA to Denver’s recently revamped Union Station. Located on the west end of downtown, food, drink, lodging, and entertainment options are a walk or Uber away from. Not far from the station lies a skate and snowboard shop called Emage, which is a great to get your gear for the gear for the trip dialed or get a quick tune. But no matter how you slice it, you’ve got to brave the I-70 gauntlet to get to the mountains.
Renting a car
There are advantages to having your own car when you’re on a snowboard trip, and if you’re going to rent one, you’ll take a shuttle from the terminal to the rental car spot. Once you’ve got your car, hop on Peña Boulevard, which will put you on I-70 West, where you’ll stay until you’re in Summit County. If conditions are snowy, and you want a rig with four-wheel-drive, make sure the SUV you book comes with four-wheel, as many of the more budget options—Budget is one of them—will rent you a two-wheel drive SUV without saying a word. You know what they say about assumptions—they make an ass out of the driver who thought he got a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Or something like that.
Taking a shuttle
If you want to avoid the stress of I-70 traffic, or at least not deal with it from behind the wheel, you can be picked up at DIA and driven to your destination in Summit County via shuttle. CME is the most popular option, and one-way to Summit costs around $65. They have WiFi onboard, and the drivers are often relatable skiers or snowboarders.
Where to ride
The ultimate question. Within Summit, there are five resorts. Well, technically four: Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper, and Keystone. Loveland is on the east side of the county line. Breckenridge and Keystone are likely the first resorts that come to mind. Thus, they are the most crowded. Both places have a lot going for them, especially in terms of terrain parks, and they’re on the same pass, so you can ride during the day at Breck then take night laps at Keystone. Despite the often excessive liftlines and overbearing ownership—and the Bumblebee speed cops and rules that come with—the parks at these places are top-notch, and the town of Breckenridge is a fun place. But don’t limit yourself. There are other options.
Just a bit further down I-70, but no longer of a drive than the aforementioned resorts, Copper Mountain is one of those options. Typically less crowded, and full of fun natural and freestyle terrain, Copper is, in my opinion, the gem of Summit County. Lift lines rarely exceed the “what the fuck?” mark, the park is always one of the best in the country, the mountain is naturally laid out with steep terrain on looker’s left, gradually mellowing out to the right, and the tree riding is the best in Summit. Typically, their superpipe is open before the rest of the country, so early season is prime time to watch the best pipe riders ripping while you sip a cool one on the sundeck at Jack’s. Or get in there blast out of those perfectly manicured 22-foot walls.
Arapahoe Basin refers to itself as The Legend, and it is a bit legendary. Nestled fifteen minutes up the road from Keytsone, A-Basin’s mom and pop vibe couldn’t be further from the contrived resort village down the hill, and your Epic Pass will work here. They always start their season early and stay open late. Don’t anticipate a world-class park, but do expect people drinking beers in Hawaiian shirts behind cars lined up on “The Beach”—the edge of the lot closest to the mountain. Arrive early to get a Beach spot.
Breckenridge epitomizes Summit County. The town is lively, and the resort is large. A convenient gondola will take you from downtown to the base of Peaks 7 and 8, the latter being home to the famed Freeway and Park Lane terrain parks, which boast some of the best-built jumps you’ll ever hit. The mountain is relatively flat and often windy, a slice of pizza from the cafeteria will set you back about $14, and the lines are absurd during peak season, but if you’re looking for the quintessential Summit experience, Breck might be your spot. Nowhere else in Summit do you have a town—not a resort village—right at the base of the mountain.
Like Breckenridge, Keystone is part of the Epic Pass. Their A-51 terrain park is consistently ranked among the top in country—for good reason—and it is expansive. Don’t be surprised to see some of your favorite pros sending the massive jump line below the dedicated park chair. The crowds, costs, and speed control constraints at Keystone can feel similar to that of sister resort Breckenridge. But it’s the only resort in the area that offers night riding, and lapping a world-class park at under the lights is damn fun.
Yet another option lies just before you enter Summit. It’s called Loveland, and the fact that the majority of traffic drives right past is to your advantage if what you’re after is snowboarding in its pure, stripped-down form—sans the luxury resort village and overpriced food, drinks, and lift tickets that subsidize it. If you’re making a day trip up from the city, this is ideal, as you can be in the parking lot 45 minutes after leaving downtown Denver, so long as the roads are dry and traffic is light.
If you want to ride for free, you can shuttle Loveland Pass. Drive past the ski area, and wind your way up to a large and defined lefthand turn with a sizeable parking area on the left side. You’ll likely see hitchhikers here. Park your car, get in the queue and follow suit. We recommend backcountry equipment and knowledge no matter what, but if you’re going to ride beyond the well-traveled trail that follows the fall-line, it’s essential.
Where to stay
Like most places, Airbnb can be your best bet to find a unique place for a reasonable price. Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper all have traditional lodging options, and your best bet is do your own research to find the best deal. Here’s a breakdown of the scene to expect in each Summit County town.
Breckenridge: Stay here if you want to be in a lively town with plenty of lodging, dining, and nightlife options. Riding Breckenridge will be the most convenient, but you can easily commute to Keystone, Copper, and A-Basin.
Silverthorne/Dillon: Silverthorne and Dillon are divided by I-70, the former on the is on the east side, the latter on the west, but they’re pretty much the same place. They both have a more commercial—as opposed to quaint—feel than other towns in the county but are a great option for affordability, amenities, and close proximity to Keystone.
Frisco: Frisco is the most central of all towns in Summit. From here, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, and A-Basin are all a mellow drive away. 10 minutes west on I-70, Copper is especially close. This is a great place to stay if you want to ride there but prefer to stay in a town instead of a resort village.
None of these places are in Summit Country; they’re on the other side of Eisenhower Tunnel in Clear Creek Country, but you can find a cheap Airbnb here and easily cruise up to Loveland or A-Basin. These towns aren’t so much ski towns as much as mountain towns on the side of I-70, and they certainly have character.
Satellite: Located in Boulder, Satellite has supported Colorado snowboarding and snowboarders for fifteen years, and has an ample selection of product to choose from with a knowledgeable staff who sells them.
Emage: A boutique skate and snow shop in Denver carrying a well-curated product selection from snowboarder-owned brands like CAPiTA, Union, Dinosaurs Will Die, and United Shapes.
evo: The third brick and mortar location from the retailer offers a vast selection of gear, along with top-notch tuning in partnership with the highly knowledgeable Edgeworks team.
Gravitee: The shop in the base village at Copper, Gravitee is your go-to for if you’re at the resort, whether you need a board, a beanie, or a tune.
Underground: The premiere shop in Breckenridge, this is the spot to go if you’re staying in town and need anything snowboard-related.
Check out Red Gerard at the 6:40 mark for some Summit County goodness.
From J2 and Chad Otterstrom, to Lucas Magoon and Dylan Alito, reels worth of hammers have gone down between Denver and Summit Country. If there’s snow on the ground, you just need a keen and creative eye to line up options.
Typically, the best cities for street spots are built on hills. They naturally create more staircases, and after all, snowboarding is a gravity-fed activity. Denver is relatively flat. However, plenty of heavy urban trickery has happened in this city and its surrounding suburbs. The suburbs west of downtown are more hilly than Denver proper, and the office parks in these areas are home to plenty of plausible zones. This is universal, but weekends, especially Sundays, provide the best window to mitigate the bust-factor.
The most recognizable street spot in Summit County is located at a middle school. There’s both a closeout and heavy downrail that are sessionable until the cops show. But when there’s snow on the ground, drive around, and you’re bound to find some options. Gooner just may have gotten to them before you.
If you’re looking for a massive plate of food and a stiff drink after a day on-hill, sans the Disneyland vibes, a hole-in-the-wall spot in Breckenridge known as Angel’s Hollow is the jump-off. The atmosphere is casual as can be, the food quality excellent, prices reasonable, portion sizes insane, drinks strong, and music blaring. If you want to go with the flow and see some bros, check out Empire Burger. It’s no Angel’s Hollow, but the overpriced burgers are pretty good. Clint’s is the place to get a coffee in the morning.
Frisco is the central town in Summit Country, and if you’re looking for a wholesome breakfast, the Butterhorn is a good option. A recent development added a Whole Foods and a restaurant called the Rio Grande. They’ve got great chips and salsa, a good Tex Mex-style menu, and if you’re not afraid of a frozen margarita, order the Manberry, blended. This is a great option if you’re staying at Copper but want to get out of the base village for a bit. That Whole Foods is pretty nice too…
Silverthorne offers many of the franchise restaurants you’re familiar, like Chipotle and Noodles, with as well as some unique options like Chimayo, which is Chipotle in nature, but local in ownership. Jersey Boys Deli has East Coast-caliber cheesesteaks and pizza. Fiesta Jalisco is the spot if you’re looking for a massive plate of traditional Mexican food, and Dillon Dam Brewery is exactly what you’re imagining—decent beer, decent burgers.
The most notorious nightlife location in Summit County is called Cecilia’s, and it lies at the south end of Breckenridge’s Main Street. Do not go here with the intention of having a drink and calling it a night. The next thing you know it will be 7 am the next morning; as painful light streams into a room you don’t recognize, you will attempt to piece together the sequence of events that got you here. At this point you may vaguely recall a swampy dance floor and heinous dubstep remixes of popular rap songs. Your best bet is to GTFO and head to Clint’s Bakery for a croissant sandwich and a coffee.
Most places in the Copper village close early, but Mulligan’s is your best bet if you’re looking to get it poppin’ late night. Or just go skate Woodward, jump on the trampolines, then have a beer at the condo and call it a night. You’ll be stoked in the morning.
If it’s Friday night, Ollie’s is your spot. Between 9 and 11 pm you can hand for over ten dollars and drink all the wells and drafts you can. And on Wednesdays you can get a burger for 2.50. If you’re looking for the local experience, The Moosejaw is a classic sleepy dive in Frisco.
If you want to drink cheap beer and shoot pool, Lake Dillon Tavern is a solid option.
Explore your surroundings
As you’re headed west on 70, you have another option. You don’t have to go to Summit County. Take Exit 232, for Empire. As you wind your way up over Berthoud Pass, there are a number of backcountry access options—albeit critical to check avalanche danger, especially here. When you come over the other side, you’ll be in Winter Park, which is a Colorado resort similar in size to those in Summit County, but with a different and welcome flavor. Winter Park is on the Rocky Mountain Super Pass with Copper Mountain.
Should you continue on I-70, through Summit County and past Copper, you’ll find yourself gaining elevation over Vail Pass. Both of these places are on the Epic Pass and offer expansive terrain and the sort of luxury you might expect. They’re worth a day trip from Summit County if your schedule allows it.
Clear Creek County
There are lots of quirky bars and restaurants in Georgetown and Idaho Spring, but in a tiny old mining town off the side of I-70 called Silver Plume, not to be confused with Silverthorne, is a place called Bread Bar. This little-known gem is great for a cocktail, especially after a day at Loveland.
Colorado is becoming the concrete skatepark capital of the country. With many of the Team Pain crew calling the state home, a new and immaculate park seems to pop up every other month, but their crown jewel, the Arvada skatepark is something to behold, and it’s not that far off your route between Summit and DIA. With an average of 300 sunny days per year, your chances of finding dry concrete near Denver while there’s snow in the mountains is high. As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Denver’s food and entertainment options are expanding weekly, and not far from I-70 is the RiNo neighborhood which seems to be booming quicker than any at the moment. Both Emage and evo are shops worth checking out if you’re in Denver.
Boulder is one of the most beautiful cities in the country and worth checking out if you’ve never been. Or if you have. Stop and say hello to the folks at Satellite if you’re in the area. A half hour above town is a little ski area called Eldora as well.
Mammoth Mountain, California
There are less than a handful of mountains on this vast planet that can claim world-renowned parks coupled with world-class backcountry, but leading the pack of resorts that can is undoubtedly Mammoth Mountain, California. A quick sprint away from So Cal and a short drive from the Reno/Tahoe area, Mammoth is bustling every single weekend and has attracted hundreds of transplants from across the country, be it pro or average Joe. Back in the early mid-2000s, Mammoth was the hotbed of freestyle inblunds riding, spearheaded by The Grenerds, a lively crew to say the least, who moved to Mammoth from the east coast and terrorized the town and the mountain with their debauchery and innate riding abilities. Since then, Mammoth has been at the cutting edge of parks and pipes and it has become one of the most infamous mountains on the globe and this past winter, they received more snowfall than nearly any resort in the world, amassing nearly 700 inches (yes, you read that right) of accumulation from opening day until just a few weeks ago when they shut down the lifts for the season. If you have a yearning to head to Mammoth for a snowboard vacation, pass along this little article and get ready to have the time of your life, because Mammoth certainly has it all for any snowboard enthusiast.
The closest airport is right outside of the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, about 6 miles south, and it offers plenty of direct flights from LAX. However, in the winter, wind and weather cause delays and cancellations so if you’re planning to fly into Mammoth, check the weather and be prepared to rent a car and drive from LAX, which is about five-and-a-half hours, but a breathtaking drive once you get outside of city limits.
Another option is flying into the Reno/Tahoe international airport and driving south about 3 hours and you’ll find yourself in Mammoth pretty quickly. This is also a beautiful drive as the Sierras envelop a long, winding road and you pass Yosemite right before you come to Mammoth Lakes.
While ticket prices vary throughout the season, Mammoth is on the very reasonable side, with tickets starting as low as $79 (non-holiday season), but there is also the option of purchasing the Cali4nia Pass, a deal that offers a season pass to Mammoth, June Mountain, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit for $849. That’s right. $849. If you do the math correctly, it might be worth it if you live in California or if your snowboard vacation is longer than approximately nine days.
It also allows you to explore other California resorts if you feel like checking out what The Golden State has to offer. The pass also gives you some really amazing discounts and deals, like 5 Exclusive Early Up events at Mammoth for first tracks and free breakfast, 5 Bring-A-Friend tickets (50% off 1-day lift tickets; 30% off during holiday periods)*, 10% off multi-day rentals (non-holiday) and up to 20% off lodging at Mammoth Lodging Collection properties.
Where to Stay
The beauty of Mammoth is that there are PLENTY of places to stay, but beware, they fill up quick, so be sure to start planning early enough if you wanna get the most options. If you want the feel of a typical ski area village, Mammoth has it, with lodging options right at the base of the gondola to whisk you up on the hill first thing in the morning. The Westin is one of the nicer hotels in the area and if you’re willing to spend some extra cash, the amenities and food are incredible. There’s also the Mammoth Mountain Inn, a more rustic mountain town hotel right at the base of the resort (whch is located about 6 miles from the village). If you wanna stay in Mammoth Lakes proper and check out the town, try Air BnB, as there are hundreds of options, from multi-bedroom mansions to smaller cabin-style properties. There are your standard, cheap hotels as well, like Motel 6, located right off the main drag and walking distance to shops, grocery stores, restaurants and some pretty fun après spots as well.
Down in town, there’s a handful of restaurants to grab a bite, from super fancy to very affordable and ranging from Mexican and Japanese to American bar-style cuisine. Our top spot for Mexican food is Roberto’s. It hosts a relaxed, mountain town vibe, the food is exceptional, and the margaritas are massive. Down in the village, there’s also Gomez’s that offers really good Mexican and is walking distance to everything village-related. Also in the village is a new spot called 53. While a bit spendier, the food is remarkable and it’s a great spot to relax and unwind after a long day of riding and they offer some of the best mixed cocktails in town. If you’re in the mood for ramen, the best in town is definitely Ramenyas. A small A-frame cabin located off the main drag, they offer up hot ramen and cold beers to wash it down and the prices are very affordable. For breakfast, check out The Good Life Café. The portions are huge and the prices are great. They have omelettes and hashbrowns that can legitimately quell the worst hangover you’ve ever had. Hit it up on the way to the hill. This section of the article could go on for about 1,000 more words, as there are dozens of great eateries in Mammoth Lakes, but those are a few of our favorites.
There’s one main shop that has been servicing Mammoth Lakes for decades now. Wave Rave is one of the most iconic snowboard stores still in business. Founded by famed Mammoth local Steve Klassen, Wave Rave is a must-stop shop when in Mammoth, as they have everything you need to keep you warm and dry on the hill. From goggles and gloves to decks and bindings, it’s a really good spot to refresh your kit or simply kick it and get a feel for the local scene. The kids who work there are really nice and eager to answer any questions you might have.
Nothing says “après” like a good, old fashioned sun deck, and Mammoth has one of the best in the world (not to mention a TON of sun in the winter). Take a few laps and grab a beer with lunch or ride all day and then untie those tight boots and sip a Bloody Mary. That’s what Mammoth’s infamous sun deck is best for. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Down in the village, check out The Clocktower Cellar for some after hours debauchery. This place gets loose, as beers are cheap and the crowd is packed intot he basement for a true mountain town bar feel. And then there’s Laka Nuki, arguably an establishment as iconic as Mammoth Mountain itself to many a snowboarder. Laka Nuki is usually the after hours spot and the dance floor goes ballistic after midnight on a weekend. We have lost many a brain cell in Laka Nuki and given the chance, we’d do it all over again any day. If you wanna roll a few games, there’s a new bowling alley down in town called Mammoth Rock N Bowl and it’s a hell of a good time. Pick up a pitcher and start slingin’ pins after a long day on the hill. There are a grip of other drinking establishments in Mammoth as well like Rafters, but the village is without a doubt the best après spot.
Explore Your Surroundings
The Mammoth backcountry is absolutely breathtaking. Whether you’re going for a hike off the resort or splitboarding the Sierras outside of town, there’s some unbelievable terrain to test your mettle on if the snowpack is right (and safe). Again, always be sure to buddy up and carry a beacon, shovel and probe with you and check sierraavalanchecenter.org for the snowpack report. If it all lines up, you’re going to score some of the best riding of your life.
In the off-season, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and skating is Mammoth’s bread and butter. You name it, Mammoth has it. If your Mammoth vacation takes place from late March until closing day, know that your day on the hill isn’t necessarily done once you’re finished riding. The Sierras are some of the most majestic mountains on earth, and they play host to a bevvy of outdoor recreation for anyone that simply enjoys being outdoors, and while it may be a little cold and snowy up on the resort itself, a forty-five minute drive to nearby Bishop might be 70º and sunny, so pack your hiking boots and some active wear, because the surrounding Mammoth area has it all.
Be sure to check out the JLA Memorial Skatepark on your way out of town. It’s an all-concrete adult playground for skaters of all abilities and if you’re lucky, you might even see local legend Scott Blum ripping the ever living hell out of the park. Another attraction is Devil’s Postpile, an outdoor recreation area and national monument that offers amazing hiking and spectacular views. If mountain biking is your thing, do a little research online and you’ll find out that the Mammoth Lakes area has world-class biking as well. If you’re lucky enough to link up with a local, they’ll show you a trail system that rivals anything you’ve ever seen.
Big Bear Lakes, California
Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are two of the most hallowed resorts in snowboarding lore. Located in the San Bernadino Mountains in Southern California, together these two mountains are a bonafied park oasis just a short drive from the beaches of Los Angeles and San Diego. While it seems strange that such a freestyle mecca would exist in SoCal, don’t forget that both Bear and Summit stand over 8,000 feet in elevation, providing winter temperatures that are perfect for snow, while still receiving tons of sunshine, making for spring conditions throughout most of the year. The consistent, perfect weather and the fact that the #BearBuilt park is a legendary and large expanse of jibs and jumps have made Big Bear Lakes the home of a profusion of professional snowboarders for decades. Chris Bradshaw honed his freestyle finesse lapping Chair 9, and Lucas Magoon, Jordan Small, Mike Gray, and many more call the area home. Mack Dawg has filmed there, JP Walker has held events on their grounds, and the official start of winter in Southern California, Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails, goes down every September, welcoming winter with some of the most balls-out contest snowboarding of the season. When it comes to winter weekending (or longer), Big Bear offers 9am-9:30 pm riding with Summit’s weekends and holidays nightriding and a mountain town that can handle a crowd, ensuring that no matter if it’s busy season, you’ll find the lodging, eats, and entertainment that you desire. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit should be on any snowboarder’s must-ride list and luckily heading into the San Bernadinos is pretty easy, no matter where you’re from.
You’ve got options. Los Angeles International Airport is just over two hours from the slopes. Direct flights are available from most major cities. You can also fly into San Diego and make it to Big Bear Lakes in just over three hours. What this means is plenty of options when it comes to getting to Southern California. Making the trek to the San Bernadinos generally requires a rental car, but this helpful once you’re in town, as it will make getting around the easiest. From LA, take the 210 east and catch the 330 north to arrive in Big Bear—just avoid rush hour, as California traffic can add hours to the commute. There are shuttle options, but they’re best if you have a crew to split the cost. A van from LAX usually costs about $200-300, but can fit upwards of ten people. While getting to the mountain from the beach requires a little pre-planning, for the snowboarding at Bear and Summit, the few hours in the car are more than worthwhile!
Where to Ride
Bear Mountain is made up of three peaks, Bear Peak, Silver Mountain, and Goldmine Mountain. There is a myriad of terrain for all ability levels, from rolling greens to steep blacks, and when Bear gets a storm, it’s a little known fact that it’s a great place to ride powder. But if you’re reading this article and heading to Bear, it’s likely you’ve come in search of the rails and jumps built into one of snowboarding’s favorite park laps. Just a few feet to looker’s right of the lodge is the Bear Mountain Express, or Chair 9, a high-speed quad that moves thousands of parks rats to the top of Goldmine every weekend for a long, loaded lap of jibs, jumps, and transition. The park crew at Bear is legendary and they’re always dreaming up new features. On any given day, there are wallrides, mini jumps, hips, snakeruns and more mixed in with classic kink rails and cheesewedges. It’s this terrain that has turned out a plethora of park savvy pros and why so many snowboarders call Beat Mountain home. It’s highly likely to witness Chris Bradshaw, Lenny Lenny and Anthony Mazzotti, Lucas Magoon, and more taking laps when the sun’s out, which is every day, usually. Neighboring resort, Snow Summit is just down the road from Bear and features windy, wooded runs perfect for those who may not have a penchant for the park, though Summit’s got a set up of its own, as well as a solid beginner line. Take the All Mountain Express to the top and head to the right for over a half dozen trails loaded with freestyle features. The East Mountain Express on looker’s left in the base area is the lift for Summit’s Socal freeriding. Snow Summit has something for everyone and it’s open late for nightriding on weekends and holidays throughout the season.
Where to Stay
Big Bear Lake is fairly small, so no matter what side of the town you stay in, you’re only a stone’s throw from restaurants, nightlife, and of course, the mountain. Bigbear.com is a great place to start when looking for lodging, as the site has a catalogue of hotels, motels, and vacation homes. The Lodge at Big Bear Lake, a Holiday Inn hotel, offers luxury mountain town living at a wallet-friendly price. Stay right downtown at the Robinhood Resort, a rustic option just a short walk from Bear’s bustling center. VRBO is a solid option if you’re traveling with a group, as there are dozens of condos and cabins that span the length of Big Bear from the lake to the hill. Overall, Big Bear has plenty of lodging, so whatever you’re looking for, from swanky digs to dirtbag chic, you will find the perfect place to relax after a long day at the mountain.
When it comes to grabbing food, Big Bear Lake is a small town with a large selection of restaurants and cafes. In the morning, stop by Tea & Coffee Exchange for a pick-me-up beverage and a crepe. It’s not a very fast establishment, but the wait is worth it. If you want to sit down, Teddy Bear Restaurant offers classic American fare, from Benedicts to pancakes and is also a good place for lunch. Grizzly’s Bear Belly Deli is on the way to Bear Mountain and serves up sandwiches and sides worthy of a return trip. For dinner, The Peppercorn Grille is a traditional steakhouse, with plenty of seafood and pasta options, too. You can’t go wrong with the food, brews, and atmosphere at Big Bear Lake Brewing Company, too. 572 Social Kitchen & Lounge is a new addition to the Big Bear Lake landscape, providing new American options in a hip atmosphere. The fish and chips are delicious, as is pretty much everything on their menu. Wednesdays from 4-7pm is their locals’ night, featuring deals on pizza and apps, in addition to half off draft beers. Feeling like some SoCal Mexican? Azteca Grill is the place in Bear for a great burrito and a dog-friendly patio for warmer days. The Himalayan Restaurant is one of our personal favorites. Bring you’re a-game appetite because the food is amazing. We recommend going with a large group and enjoying a family-style feast.
Leroy’s, Big Bear’s go-to snowboard shop, has been in business since 1949 both renting and selling gear to locals and visitors alike. Located on Big Bear Blvd on the way to the mountain, Leroy’s is the perfect place to pick up anything you need, or grab rentals for new-to-riding members of your crew.
Apres begins early at Bear (for some), as the Beach Bar on the sun-soaked deck gets packed with people on weekend afternoons. It faces the hill, making it a perfect spot for cold drinks and people watching. Once you’ve headed back into town, there are two words you need to know in Big Bear when you’re in the mood to party: AV Nightclub. Wait, two more words: Murray’s Saloon. These two places are at the heart of this mountain town’s nightlife. If you’re looking to send it, AV Nightclub is your first stop. In the early season, they host movie premieres and all year they offer DJs and dancing. Murray’s is the late-night spot, with killer karaoke (Bear locals have got singing skills), cheap drinks, and a divey feel. Luckily both places are just a short walk from one another, so you can bound back and forth as you see fit. The center of town has a myriad of options depending on your imbibing tastes. Big Bear Lake Brewing Company is a great spot for a post-riding beer and also serves quality food. Whiskey Dave’s has pool tables, a classic rock soundtrack, and the bartenders make great drinks. It’s a casual spot perfect for hanging with friends, watching big screen TVs, and listening to live music. Just a short way from downtown is Big Bear Bowling Barn, a place we highly recommend checking out if you have a penchant for pins and pints.
Explore Your Surroundings
When at Big Bear, your days are most likely filled with laps at the mountain—and with the lights at Snow Summit, your nights are probably, too. But there’s other ways to enjoy the outside, too. The area offers trails for snowshoeing, just swing by Big Bear Discovery Center to find out more about where to go. Big Bear’s downtown offers plenty of coffee shops, stores, and places to peruse if the weather isn’t nice—but that’s a rarity in the San Bernadinos, which is one of the many reasons Bear is such a popular destination. Speaking of sun, Big Bear Lakes is worth checking out in the summertime. The lake ramps up with boating, wakeboarding, and the like and there’s tons of camping, hiking, and fishing. Snow Summit has miles of mountain biking and rentals at the mountain if you don’t have your own set of two wheels. The Bear Mountain Golf Course is a popular place for locals like Chris Bradshaw in the off season, so bring your clubs or rent a set up there. If you love snowboarding at Bear and Summit, you’ll likely have a good time experiencing the area in the summer, passing the time until winter returns.
Think of your board’s edges like car tires. It’s where all the handling and control happens. When they’re worn down and beat up, they don’t grip in snow or ice. Blown out, and they’re sketchy and loose. Early season, your edges can really take a beating so if you tear one out, here’s how to fix it.
(If your edge is only dented, check out this How To.)
Prep The Wound
Cut out a slim semi-circle of base material around the damaged edge with a razorblade. If the edge is still hanging on, bend it back into shape as best as you can. If it’s completely missing, use a Dremel or file and trim the existing edges with a slight inward angle, creating a lip for the new edge. Clean up the area with sandpaper and a razorblade or chisel, making it as flush as possible.
Cut a piece of replacement edge a bit longer than the gap, and use a file to trim it to a snug fit. Put a thin coating of epoxy between the edge and core, and then place the edge in line. Now pre-drill holes around the edge tabs with a 1/16″ or smaller bit, being careful not to go through the board. Fill the holes with epoxy, and tighten down the edge with a handful of fine finishing screws, being careful not to strip them out. With the board flat and base up, let the epoxy cure.
Depending on the screw heads, you might need to file them down or completely off to allow for the base repair. Do so with a Dremel and be carful not to overheat the screws or edge, breaking the epoxy bond. Sand away any excess epoxy, then file the edge flush with the side edge.
There are a few different base repairs to finish the job. Cut and trim a base repair patch to fit snug, add epoxy, and sandwich it with two scrapers (metal or plastic) and a few clamps. You can do a basic drip P-Tex repair, but it will likely crack and fall out. The last method is a base weld, a more intricate and solid fix. Check out How To: Base Weld.
Illustrations: Shawn O’Keefe
How To: Find Your Stance
Get it done before the season even starts. Grab a screwdriver, a tape measure, and dive in to setting up your new snowboard.
Once you know your stance, you can set your binding angles. It’s all about what’s comfortable for you and your knees. Basic stance angles are between 12 and 21 degrees up front and zero in the back. If you plan on riding switch, put a lil’ negative angle on your back foot for a duck stance. Want to Euro carve? Add positive angles. Test different adjustments to see what feels best.
This is the distance between your bindings from the center of each binding disc. To find a general width, start by measuring the length from your kneecap to your heel. The number should be slightly larger than the width of your shoulders. The best stance width is whatever feels most natural.
3.Slap It Together
Tighten your bindings with a #3 Phillips screwdriver to avoid stripping. Now do up your boots, step into the bindings, and crank the straps— they should be centered on your laces with equal pressure from toe to heel. Adjust the length of the straps if they’re not lined up.
Use a hand file to round your contact points—the part of the edge that digs into the snow first. On a camber board they’re at the last four inches before the tips rise, but they vary on other board profiles.
Just The Tip…
Although most resorts provide access to tools, when you’re still experimenting with your stance and bindings, it’s a good idea to pack a snowboard tool for adjustments on the fly.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Shawn O’Keefe
How To: Choose Your Board
Words| Ben Gavelda Illustration| Shawn O’Keefe
People that say picking the right board can make or break your winter are wrong. As long as you are strapped in sideways and going downhill, you are going to have a good time. That being said, picking the right board CAN make your winter exponentially more fun and allow you to leave all your friends in your powdery dust, so check out this extremely scientific chart on how to select the best snowboard for you.
Step 1: Look at Setup Selector
Step 2: Pick Your Line
There are close to 1,200 boards, boots, and bindings in our annual Gear Guide, and unless you’re down for lobbing a dart and seeing what model it lands on, use this throwback chart from the good ol’ days to figure out which setup is right for you.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Shawn O’Keefe
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Whistler Blackcomb is a behemoth presence in the culture of snowboarding, not only because of its massive size, but due to the community of professionals who call the mountain home, riding and filming on its seemingly limitless grounds. The same reasons that have long drawn snowboarding’s best to the area are also what make it a mandatory mountain on every snowboarder’s bucket list: a renowned park, insane terrain, and bountiful powder. It’s the largest resort in North America, boasting two peaks, over 8,000 acres of terrain, and one gondola running between Blackcomb and Whistler so you can access all the trails you can pick off on a given day (which will likely only be a fraction of the mountain’s expanse, so be sure to plan a good-sized visit or a return trip). It features a twisting trail system, plenty of steeps, a world-class park, and legendary powder dumps—all the features that one looks for in a mountain destination and then some.
It’s no surprise that due to all of this, this British Columbia resort is home to a plethora of professional snowboarders, backcountry bosses like Devun Walsh, Iikka Backstrom, Mark Sollors, Mikey Rencz, Marie-France Roy, Robin Van Gyn, and Leanne Pelosi all call Whistler home. Park prodigies like Mark McMorris and Mikey Ciccarelli base out of Whistler, too. Keep in mind, this is a very truncated list—Whistler has been a hallowed hill in snowboarding since the beginning of sliding on snow; a mecca to which riders have flocked for decades and the home to plenty of notorious and talented crews, like The Wildcats, Full Moon, The Man Boys, and many, many more. The top tier terrain has long been and will continue to be Whistler Blackcomb’s most alluring draw, but when it comes to taking a shred trip to this winter paradise, Whistler’s reputation for world class riding is matched only by its infamous nightlife. Luckily there’s a handful of top notch coffee shops located throughout the village to ensure you can keep going from sun up to way past sun down when visiting Whis.
Vancouver International Airport makes air travel as relaxing as possible. As soon as you land, if you’re arriving from the US or any out-of-country location, your walk to customs is lined by a museum-quality installation featuring Western Canada’s local flora, fauna and First Nations culture. It’s a far cry from the sterile walls of most arrival arenas and just a preview of how welcoming the entire province of British Columbia is. Since Vancouver is a major hub, there are multiple daily direct flights from a litany of cities, including New York, Chicago and LA.
When you land, you’re still about two hours south of Whistler, but there are a plethora of shuttle options that offer door-to-door service from the airport to the slopes. Pacific Coach Lines offers seven trips per day and will drop you off right where you’re staying for $69 CAD one way (remember to check the exchange rate!). If you want to grab an Uber or taxi into downtown Vancouver, you can take advantage of Epic Rides insanely cheap $35 CAD round trip to Whistler from Burrard Station (six trips a day and seven on Fridays and Sundays). Renting a car is a great option, too, because once you get on the Sea to Sky Highway, the commute to the mountains is stunning and there’s multiple places to take photos if you want to pull off the road. If you’re staying in the Whistler/Blackcomb village areas, or in the surrounding condos, there’s no need for a car, but there’s plenty to explore outside the base of the mountain, so if you do decide to get your own wheels, you won’t be bummed.
Where to Ride
Well, Whistler and Blackcomb. Because that’s why you’re here, right? Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America. You could spend an entire season riding this megalithic mountain and still have barely made a dent in its enormous acreage. While the myriad of trails, trees, bowls, and steeps presents a multitude of options, it can almost be overwhelming to figure out where to start amidst the expansive terrain. If you have an appetite for cheesewedges and cold, hard steel, load the Blackcomb Gondola in the aptly named Blackcomb Village and head to the top of that peak, where Whistler’s infamous pro-level parks await. If medium and small features are more your style, the Peak-2-Peak Gondola offers a quick ride to Whistler peak (along with stunning views), where user-friendly jumps and jibs are set up for all ability levels.
Looking to score fresh? Well, you’re in the right spot. Both Whistler and Blackcomb peaks have limitless acreage to find untracked lines. You’re going to have to ask a local to lead you to the secret spots, but we promise even if you’re sticking to the trails after a storm, you will most definitely not be disappointed. If you’re planning on heading to any of the lift accessed backcountry areas, make sure to pack your beacon, probe, and shovel and stick with a knowledgeable crew. There’s plenty of pow to be slashed, so stay safe.
Where to Stay
Whistler is a world class resort with a renowned village that sure has its share of swank, but if you look around a little, you can find lodging options that won’t empty your wallet. Of course, weekdays are great if you can swing them, in order to find cheaper village hotel rates, but make sure to do your homework, because different hotels will offer deals and discounts at various times throughout the season.
There’s a cornucopia of VRBO and Airbnb listings, both large condos that are affordable if traveling in a posse and shared room options for smaller groups. The Whistler Lodge Hostel is located between Whistler Village and Whistler Creekside and has shared rooms starting at $46 CAD. Heading on a last minute trip? Tourism Whistler offers “Suite Deals” where you can book last minute rooms at discounted prices. You won’t find out the name of the hotel until after you’ve booked, but there’s no going wrong at Whistler when every option is steps away from the lifts.
If you’re going to spend the day sliding down the steeps of one of the most rugged and iconic mountains in the world, you need to have good food to keep your energy high and Whistler is loaded with a variety of eats that will satiate any appetite. Start your morning off right by swinging by Mount Currie Coffee Company. They put an extra amount of care into every item on their menu, sourcing the coffee responsibly and using organic and local ingredients for their hearty breakfast burritos and sandwich menu (also a great option for lunch). If you’ve got a sweet tooth, a short walk down the Village Stroll is Purebread, a bakery storefront loaded with mouthwatering pastries.
If you have more time to sit down for the first meal of the day, Elements Urban Tapas Parlour has a lengthy selection of benedicts, but you can get your turns first and enjoy dinner at the Whistler Village North restaurant, too. Take a few friends to maximize your dining experience; Elements’ plates are perfect to share. For a quick bite, stop at Zog’s Dogs just a few steps from the lifts in Whistler Village. They serve up piping hot poutine, dogs, and burgers that you can grab and go. Grab a beaver tail, a sweet piece of fried dough, too. Sushi Village is a Whistler staple, and while it gets busy at dinnertime because it’s so popular, the extensive menu and strawberry sake margaritas are worth the wait. Avalanche Pizza Co. offers up pies to eat in or take out and Fat Tony’s serves up slices in a hurry. Whistler is packed with restaurants, so no matter your taste or budget, there’s an option just a short walk from wherever you’re standing.
Showcase Snowboards, founded by Graham Turner and located in Whistler Village, has been serving the Whistler Blackcomb population for since 1989. It’s a staple in the snowboarding scene there, not only because of its wide selection of products from brands like Burton, Lib Tech and Gnu, Never Summer, Volcom and many more, but also because each and every member of their staff is a die had shred. For two decades, Showcase has put on the annual Showcase Showdown, a favorite annual park contest and they boast a loaded team that includes Mark Sollors, Rusty Ockenden and Robin Van Gyn. If you are in need of new gear, a quick tune, rentals, or repairs, Showcase is the spot.
No trip to Whistler is complete without at least a Bloody Caesar (or three) and both the Whistler and Blackcomb Villages have plenty of Clamato concoctions for you to try. The Garibaldi Lift Company, better known as the GLC, sits above the Whistler Gondola station and while it is a hot spot for tourists of all stripes, their Cowboy Caesar, served with a Montreal Steak Spice rim and a slice of Black Tusk Beef Jerky is worth wading through the crowds.
On the Blackcomb side, Merlin’s is a local favorite and offers some of the best apres that often extends late into the evening. Their Caesars are on point and their nachos are humungous—if you have a post-shredding appetite, this is the spot. Whistler Village is famous for its insatiable nightlife and once the sun sets, every restaurant and bar at the base of the mountain is hopping until the wee hours of the morning. If you’re feeling luxe, The Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is good for a round. When you want to share a pitcher with your posse, El Furniture Warehouse has a casual atmosphere and plenty of cold beer. You can’t go wrong heading back to Sushi Village, either, for a strawberry margarita.
Explore Your Surroundings
Whistler boasts an unprecedented area of backcountry, accessible both by splitboards and snowmobiles. If you plan to head in the hills, backcountry and avalanche safety and knowledge is mandatory. There are plenty of experienced outfitters to go out with if you’re less familiar with the area or just if you want a guide to lead you to the best snow.
Always bring your beacon, probe and shovel and have knowledge of the conditions, snowpack, and overall backcountry skills and safety. If you have a down day, check out the Scandinave Spa, just down the road from the resort. Its mountainside pools, and saunas will ease sore muscles. Tacking on an extra day to explore Vancouver isn’t a bad idea, either. The city is loaded with great food, great sights, and great skateparks and it doesn’t get a lot of snow in winter so it’s easy to explore no matter the time of year. Regardless of how you spend your time at Whistler, you’re sure to have an amazing trip. Enjoy your stay at this majestic mountain and make sure to come back in summer, the mountain biking is some of the best in the world, too!
(Above) Ted Borland recently went pro and we would be willing to bet that he wouldn’t argue the fact that Salt Lake City played a large part in that happening. From the unlimited street spots to the opportunity to ride every day of the winter either on the mountain or in the streets, SLC has it all. Photo: T. Bird
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah is without question the snowboard Mecca of North America. Is that a bold statement? Yes. However, is it relatively inarguable? Also…yes. Think about it. Within a half hour drive from the Salt Lake City International airport lie 6 world-class resorts and if one were to expand that drive to one hour, make that 8 world-class resorts. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg, as SLC plays host to more street spots than nearly any city on earth along with backcountry terrain that rivals anywhere on the globe for those die-hard slednecks and splitboarders. Just look at the pro snowboarders that have come out of Salt Lake and those who have chosen to make it their home during their professional careers. From living legends like Jeremy Jones, JP Walker, Seth Huot, Mitch Nelson, Mikey LeBlanc, Bjorn Leines and MFM to superstars like Jake Welch, Pat Moore, Bode Merrill and Chris Grenier, Salt Lake City is a must-do on any snowboarder’s list, regardless of skill level or preference of terrain. Besides, if you play your cards right, you might just lock down a chick (or two…or three) and settle in for a while.
Getting to Salt Lake City is one of the most appealing aspects of it. The Salt Lake City International Airport is 5 miles west of downtown and it offers daily non-stop flights from a multitude of airlines (be sure to check various airlines’ baggage fees!) and once you’ve touched down in beautiful SLC, it’s a quick Uber ride to the city (around $9—$15 depending on where you’re staying). There’s also a TRAX train that runs to and from the airport at all hours of the day and night and costs much less than an Uber or a taxi, however, it takes a bit longer to get where you need to go. Once in the city, the mountains are a hop, skip and a jump away as three canyon roads are the main access routes to…
Where to Ride
…the mountains! If you head east on I-80 you’ll end up in Park City, Utah in about 25 minutes (with clear roads). Once there, you’ll be able to ride one of the best parks in the world as well as the newly-expanded terrain of The Canyons. The difference in terrain afforded by the two resorts merging make it one of the biggest mountains in North America, however, you’re paying for it, as lift tickets are the most expensive in the state, so plan accordingly and do your research.
Just south of I-80 lies Big Cottonwood Canyon, which plays host to Solitude and Brighton. Solitude is a much more family-friendly resort, with a mini village and cookie cutter condos for rent. The terrain is fun yet mellow, so if you’re looking to get aggro, keep truckin’ up the canyon road for a few more miles and you’ll find yourself at Brighton, Utah.
Brighton is every snowboarder’s dream and it boasts a mom-and-pop feel that is often underplayed in today’s glitz and glam ski resort arena. The tickets are cheap and the beers are cold, but most importantly, Brighton has some of the best terrain in all of the Wasatch range. From open bowls off the Millie lift to breathtaking backcountry hikes up Pioneer Peak (just off the Crest lift) or inbounds steeps right below the Snake Creek and Great Western lifts, Brighton is a fan favorite of all Salt Lake City locals and without a doubt, the best bang for your buck if you’re vacationing on a budget.
If you keep driving past Big Cottonwood Canyon, you’ll find yourself in Little Cottonwood Canyon and up that road lies some of the craziest terrain you’ve ever seen at Snowbird Mountain. Snowbird boasts some of the steepest and most hair-raising lines that can be found in the Wasatch (as well as some beginner and intermediate terrain, too) and with affordable ticket prices, Snowbird is a definite must-ride if visiting SLC. Not to mention that said terrain is all accessed by one massive tram that takes you to the top in just seven minutes flat. Think about it now. Say you touched down at SLC International at 10:30am and were standing atop a waist-deep ridgeline peppered with lines, chutes and drops by high noon. Sound appealing? Well, that’s Utah. Welcome to heaven.
*Of note is that if you’ve got a rental car, send it up north toward Ogden and try out Snowbasin. It’s insane terrain and the views are spectacular. Or, head to Powder Mountain after a storm where you’ll find endless untracked pow and you can hop in a private cat on the resort on the cheap!
Where to Stay
This is another check in the plus column for SLC. Although there are world-class resorts littered throughout the Wasatch front, you can stay in a city! This makes lodging more affordable with avenues like Air BnB and Vacasa, so if you plan on visiting and you wanna make the most of your money, get a nice little bungalow in Sugarhouse or snag a vacation rental in Cottonwood Heights or Millcreek (these are all areas of SLC proper) and you’ll save a ton of money, as opposed to staying at one of the resorts. But if you’re looking for a fireplace lounge to sip Hot Toddys while you dry out your gear and you’re willing to pay for it, look at the on-hill lodging options at Snowbird, Park City, Solitude or The Canyons.
Much to many peoples’ surprise, Salt Lake City has a bustling food scene, as there’s a restaurant or bar to cater to nearly every palate in the city. Be it Indian, Ethiopian, Japanese, Nepalese, Mexican, German, or classic Americana, Salt Lake City has got you covered. If you don’t know what to eat, try the classics. For Mexican, check out Hector’s on 3300 South. Or Lonestar, located about a mile east once you exit the Big Cottonwood Canyon access road. Want pizza? Try Spedelli’s (also on 3300, right up the road from Hector’s), owned and operated by SLC legends Mac and Sam Spedale. They spin an amazing pie and they can still spin their snowboards pretty damn well, too.
Want a downtown vibe? Check out Beer Bar on 200 South. It’s part-owned by Ty Burrell (Phil Dunfee of TV’s Modern Family) and his aim with Beer Bar was to bring good beer and delicious sausages to SLC. Needless to say, he succeeded. He also owns Bar X which is right next door, if you wanna sip a few signature cocktails after a long day of riding. In an area called “9th and 9th,” you’ll find Pago, a spendy but really delicious restaurant that serves up the classics. If you’re in the mood to drop some coin and really enjoy a nice experience, try Handle Salt Lake (commonly referred to as HSL). You won’t be disappointed, and there’s a pretty good possibility that former pro snowboarder and Elevation and Sessions team rider Drew Fuller is manning the kitchen. Dude’s one of the best chefs in the city. Tell him we sent ya.
If you wanna get a feel for the local scene, drop by Milosport on 3300 after riding and say hi to the crew. Co-founded by SLC legend Benny Pellegrino, Milo is the sickest shop in the valley and they have a shitload of product to peruse, but the best part about Milo is the vibe. It’s a goold ol’ shop, with skate decks slung on the walls, glass displays with DVDs and stickers galore, music pumping through the sound system and an incredible crew of kids running the floor, eager to answer any question you may have. I’ve always said that the best way to get a feel for a mountain town’s vibe is to check out the local shop, and there are none better than Milo. You’ll leave knowing more about the SLC snowboard scene than when you arrived. Oh, and if Benny’s not ripping Snowbird full-throttle, he’ll be there. Shake his hand and say hi. You’ll be stoked you did.
If you’re looking to stack clips in the streets, there is no better place than SLC. After all, this is basically where jibbing became a massive part of snowboarding’s culture, thanks to JP and Jeremy. If there’s snow on the ground (there usually is in December, January and February) there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of spots. We could tell you where they are but you’re just gonna have to get the local scoop and find them for yourself. They’re not hard to find, though, and in general, the cops in Salt Lake are used to seeing snowboarders creep around and won’t give you a ticket, but be prepared to clean up and leave when asked.
* Make sure you check out Rail Gardens. It’s right off 215 south in the foothills and it’s the most legendary rail spot in Salt Lake City. It’s a no-bust zone and you’re more than likely going to see one of your favorite pros or up-and-comers warming up to hit a spot later in the day.
Any of the aforementioned restaurants will provide an awesome après experience, but there are a few choice spots in SLC to grab an ice cold beer and some wings or an extra dirty martini and a burger. One is Molly Green’s, right at the base of Brighton. This is the closest thing you’ll find to a real deal mountain town bar, and it’s literally located right next to the Crest lift. Cheap beers, good nachos and a great vibe all around.
Another great place to check out if The Porcupine Grill right at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The place gets SLAMMED on weekends and powder days, so be prepared to wait a little bit but once you get in, they’ve got a great selection of microbrews and awesome lunch specials like pizza, burgers, and wings.
There’s a new spot in town called The Waterwitch that offers small plates and really good beer selections. It’s also manned by our dear friend Pat Harrington who has written for this publication many times and knows how to pour a proper pint. For nightlife, contrary to popular belief, SLC has a pretty good party scene. Twilight Lounge is close to downtown and it’s dark, dingy environment is the perfect place to hole up in a corner, listen to some tunes and drink a beer with some buds.
There’s also The RUIN. Opened up last year by former pro Jon Kooley and friends, it’s got a contemporary vibe and unbelievable cocktails, crafted to perfection. Located right in the heart of Sugarhouse, it’s a great walk-to spot if you’re staying in that area and the atmosphere is super relaxed.
Explore Your Surroundings
The Wasatch range has everything and while the resorts are unbelievable, the splitboard and snowmobile-accessible terrain is world-class. We can’t stress enough, however, that if you’re venturing out into the backcountry, always be prepared and carry a beacon, shovel and a probe…at the very least. Even if you have those three things, they mean nothing without the proper knowledge of snowpack stability and backcountry travel safety. If you happen to link up with someone who really knows where they’re going, however, be prepared to have the time of your life.
From the endless terrain offered up in the Uintas to the snowmobile-accessible stuff up at Guardsman Pass (up Big Cottonwood Canyon) to the splitboard-accessed terrain up on Mt. Superior and in Grizzly Gulch (up Little Cottonwood Canyon) , it’s a powderhound’s playground out there. Not feeling quite as adventurous as that? Head up to Brighton, bring your shovel, probe and beacon, check in with Ski Patrol to find out the stability and go for a hike up Mt. Millicent (it’s STEEP) or off Majestic and up onto Pioneer Peak. Bring a buddy, though, and be safe. Most of the hike-accessed terrain at Brighton brings you right back to the resort too, so hop on the lift and repeat all day!
Where to Snowboard During the Solar Eclipse 2017
If there’s one thing that’s true about some snowboarders, we’re procrastinat-adventurers. You know, the people that wait until the absolute last minute to figure out plans, then organize things in a fury, and jet off for a grand adventure. But we makes things happen, no matter what it takes.
If you fall into this category and are toying with the idea of witnessing the approaching solar eclipse, there’s still time. Sure, you’ve had your whole life to plan for this approaching astronomical experience, and it’s only a few days away, but if you really want it, you can definitely see it, and can actually snowboard during it.
By now, you probably know that the National Eclipse will occur on August 21. On a narrow 70-mile wide sliver of the United States the moon’s path will intersect with the sun, and daylight as we know it will be momentarily blotted out. It’s an extremely rare event, and only happens when these orbs line up perfectly.
The eclipse will start off the coast of Oregon then barrel its way across the States, before shooting out the shores of South Carolina. There’s plenty of places where you can witness it but the path of totality (zones that will be momentarily dark) are likely to be mega crowded. We suggest getting out into the mountains and getting up high to see this spectacle.
Currently, there are only a few places in the United States that have enough snow to snowboard on during this eclipse— Mt. Jefferson in Oregon, and the Tetons near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jackson is going to be a shitshow, and trekking to get on snow would be an incredible feat. So if you’re really trying to do it, we think Mt. Jefferson is a better idea. Easier access, and potentially less people.
Jefferson lies in the path of totality, and still has quite a few continuous patches of snow you could snowboard on.
If you’re keen for an adventure, dust off your snowboard, break out a topo-map, and start route planning ASAP. Load up your car/truck/van/adventurmobile with more water, food, gas, and supplies than you think you need, and get going. Your best bet is to camp close to your desired trail-head at Jefferson on Saturday and Sunday and scout the zones. You’ll want to hike up to your perfect perch super early Monday morning, and be in position early for the main event at 10:18 a.m.
Sure it’s a lot of work for only a few fleeting moments of this pre-ordained celestial phenomena, but we bet it’s worth it.
Let us know where you’re going to see this eclipse in the comments!
Solar Eclipse 2017 – Path of Totality By State
*Note we’re snowboarders, not scientists.
How To Road Trip
Increase Your Shred Per Gallon
Road trips rule. Grimy gas stations, weird sightings, fresh faces, and new shredding from points A to B can make your winter. Keep it rolling smooth on the road with these tips.
Pick Your Partner(s) Wisely
Who will be your trusty navigator(s)? Can everyone drive in snow? Do they have money for gas? Do their boots stink? Do they have any special skills? These are the kind of questions you should ask your mates before loading up the rig and pointing it toward the white hinterland.
Pack The Whip
An all-wheel drive rig is nice, but it’s not absolutely necessary. And roof racks are sweet, too, but they dent your MPGs. Any solid vehicle with good snow tires can tackle a winter trip with ease. Chains, as much as they suck, are worth tossing in since you never know when you might need them-in fact, you never know what will happen. It’s an adventure! So be sure to pack these essentials:
- Sleeping bag
- Jumper cables
- Washer fluid
- Emergency road/survival kit
Plan Your Route
Combine weather, shred zones, road conditions, and available couch/floor space for a good web of riding routes. Scope areas with a good concentration of resorts, like Oregon to B.C., Montana to Alberta, Colorado to Cali, NYC to Montreal, or a string of resorts closest to your home and budget. Check fhwa.dot.gov for road closures, and remember: holidays are great for lift and lodging deals, but packed with people.
Sitting up front comes with its duties: DJ, navigator, txtr, police scanner, beverage holder; keep the driver on point, the music thumping, and the ride pointed in the right direction and it’s all good.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Shawn O’Keefe
How To Get In Shape For Snowboarding
We know you’re reading this and it’s still summer outside. Cruel, eh? While you’re killing time until that snow falls, here are a few things you can do to get in shape for snowboarding this season.
If there’s one thing that can step up your shred game more than anything else, it’s skateboarding. Hitting the ol’ wheelie deck will keep your ollie and balance skills on point—not to mention step up your style. Who knows, you might even learn a new jib trick you can take to the park when the snow hits.
2. Stretch It Out
Start a simple stretching routine and focus on your hips, legs, and lower back—they take a beating from snowboarding. If you get going now, you’ll be limber by the time the season hits. Stay on it and those exotic grabs will be an easy reach. Go a step further and start yoga classes. Two words: yoga pants.
3. Ride A Bike
Whether it’s smashing the local bike park and trails, rolling doped-up like Lance, or just cruising your cute fixie to 7-Eleven, it’s all good. Biking strengthens your lower body and valuable suspension (your knees) a ton. The cardio workout will also help you crush it on those days when you have to hike to ride.
4. Get Wet
If you have the luxury of water sports, soak ’em up. Surf: It’s the closest thing to a pow day. Wakeboard: It’ll help you dial in that edge control. Get weird and go SUPing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, swimming, whatever. All are ways to keep your balance and core muscles moving in a different state of snow.
Just The Tip
Do anything but sit on your ass, seriously. If you want to shred like a champ, you have to play like one. So get out and play.
Young buck Drew Jordon inspired this How To. Do you have a shred-related question for The How To Dude? Hit him up on Twitter @twsnow with the #thedudeknows or on Facebook.com/twsnow.
Illustrations: Shawn O’Keefe
For the past two seasons, Evan Wilcox has found a way to live and work in Japan to satisfy his deep desire for fresh powder. Despite not speaking Japanese, Wilcox found a job, secured housing and lived the life many of us dream of. Check out his recap from his seasons in Japan, along with