Perhaps one of the most exhilarating things to snowboard on is a halfpipe. A halfpipe is a combination of gracefully arcs and glorious straight stretches that allow you to perform skateboarding tricks with your snowboard. The only other thing that can compare to a halfpipe is a snowboarding bowl.
Location, location, location
A half pipe is a ramp that is constructed partially with terrain and partially engineering snow placement. For this reason, it may not be feasible for most people to build their half pipe at home. Of course, where there is a will there is a way, and for that reason, we will look at the basics of how to build your own half pipe.
The first aspect to consider is the location of your half pipe. You wish to find a place where the terrain will reduce the amount of work that you must do. If you are trying to build a half pipe that is 6 feet high on flat ground, you will need at least one full dump truck load of snow for each side of the ramp. You may be tempted to try to dig out your own ramp if you happen to have 6 feet of snow or more . Unfortunately, the volume of snow you need to remove is even greater than that required to build the contours.
Finding the ideal half pipe terrain
The ideal solution is to find a spot where a small hill or bank can form one side or more of your ramp. Being able to use an existing detail of the terrain will significantly reduce the amount of work that you need to do. When looking for terrain features to work with keep in mind the essential details of any half pipe. A half pipe should be about 6 feet high, 8 feet across. It should have a flat surface about 8 feet long. And a landing pad at the top of each ramp about 4 feet wide.
One of the most important details of a half pipe is the transition or curve of the ramp. Getting the right curve is critical to the ride ability of your ramp. If the curve is too tight, then your snowboard may not be able to flex enough to land securely, and you will tend to fall or be off-balance each time you land. If the curve is too gently, then you will find the ramp to be slow, and you will have a tough time getting air. Following the edge of an imaginary circle that has a radius of 8 or 9 feet creates the ideal curve of a ramp. This is a relatively standard radius for any ramp regardless of how high the ramp is.
Ride surface and maintenance
Another important consideration is the final construction of the ride surface and the retention of that surface. There is quite an art to constructing the best surface, and many companies offer courses and tools for this purpose. The surface of your ramp is a combination of hard packed snow and ice. You want to have a reliable and stable surface that will not shift or break up. A surface that is also not built entirely out of solid ice.
One way to help create a suitable surface is to layer snow with water and allow it to freeze. Your actual construction process will vary depending upon the type of snow you are working with and the temperatures. Begin by compacting a layer of about 12″ of snow, and then, if needed, misting water on top of the compact snow. As you mist the water on the compacted snow, add another foot of snow so that it will adhere to the layer that you just created. The thickness that you will require will vary, but two layers is usually a good start.
Building a snowboarding ramp can be a huge undertaking but is possible to do. With a little hard work, some training and the correct tools, you too will be able to build a reasonable half pipe.