It’s cold, often wet, hard work, and dangerous, so why should you try snowboarding? On paper, snowboarding sounds like a silly idea; you sit on a chair dangling high above the ground, taking you to the top of a snowy mountain. Then you do your best to slide back down unscathed. So why do so many people do it?
Snowboarding gives you access to some of the world’s most incredible terrain and views. But it also makes you fit and strong. Above all, snowboarding is one of the most fun things you can do. Learning how to snowboard is life-changing and introduces you to incredible people and experiences.
If you’re wondering why snowboarders head to the mountains every winter, you’re about to get the complete picture and, hopefully, be tempted to strap in yourself.
You may question your life choices during those first few hours of attempting to snowboard. You will undoubtedly spend much time rolling around in the snow, picking yourself up to fall over again.
However, you’ll start to make incremental improvements, almost without realizing it. Then you’ll begin to enjoy yourself as you gradually tame your snowboard and control it.
At this early stage, every run will feel fast and exhilarating, and you’ll feel a huge sense of achievement when you start to link turns.
But this feeling never goes away, as there are infinite techniques and tricks to master.
But the real fun comes when you’ve progressed to a point when you can blast down an untouched powder field with your friends. In my opinion, there’s not a lot in this world that can beat it.
Snowboarding isn’t just about snowboarding; there’s a whole culture and lifestyle attached to it. There are many ways to approach the lifestyle, and not one of them is wrong.
For example, you can travel to the mountains for a week or two every year with friends and family.
Alternatively, you can “do a season” by taking a job on the mountain that allows you to ride as much as possible for a few months.
Some people get the bug and never want to leave the mountains, so they make many sacrifices to have a mountain lifestyle (like me).
The snowboarding lifestyle incorporates the mountains, local bars, other activities, and like-minded people.
Whether you want to party all season or save yourself for first lifts, you can enjoy the mountain lifestyle any way you want.
Here’s a tip, though. If you want to do a season, there are three factors you need to consider, work, snowboarding, and partying. You can only do two of these at 100%.
If you try to do all three at 100%, you will burn out, get injured, or lose your job. So it’s best to find a balance, as most people can’t do a season without a job.
Snowboarding is excellent exercise, as it works most of your body. You’ll work much harder in the early days as you develop your skills and snowboard fitness.
It becomes much easier with experience, so to get a workout, you’ll need to push yourself or buy a splitboard and earn your turns.
You’ll find that snowboarding is great for your mental health too. Standing at the top of a mountain overlooking the alpine landscape and breathing the fresh air is a great stress reliever.
But, the ride back down takes your mind off anything that could be stressing you out. The lifestyle can be pretty unhealthy if you let it, though.
Ski resorts are full of bars, which are great fun, but it’s very easy to get carried away. Looking back at the photos of me during my first season certainly indicates I spent a lot of time partying.
As a snowboarder, you’ll find yourself in all sorts of situations, some fantastic, some unpleasant, and some can be downright dangerous. Each situation builds confidence and is an excellent learning experience.
Sometimes these moments make you a better snowboarder, and other times they teach you what you should and shouldn’t do.
For example, “I need to work out how to get to safety,” or, “there’s no point going up today; I’ll have a lie in.”
They also teach you how to enjoy the mountain more. You’ll learn where the best places to go are and encourage you to push yourself harder.
At the very least, these situations become stories to tell in the après bar.
The mountains are stunning and awe-inspiring. I still say “wow” every time I look out the window or step out the front door after all these years.
When I used to work as a chalet host, my guests used to ask me what I did when they were skiing. They couldn’t believe I didn’t get bored of snowboarding every day.
But they didn’t realize that I do different things to them. They just spend time on the same blue runs and go for a long lunch, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Sometimes I like to cruise the blues, and other times I like to hunt for powder or jump off everything I see. No matter how much you snowboard, there’s something to learn or practice.
You can even find new ways to ride a slope you’ve ridden a thousand times.
Deep, untouched powder is the holy grail for all snowboarders. The feeling you get when riding it is pretty hard to describe, especially when you get into your flow state.
I suppose the closest thing you can liken it to is flying. You barely feel the snow under you until you put in a hard turn, which gives you a euphoric feeling. It might sound a bit hippyish, but it’s the truth.
You can ride powder as soon as you know how to link turns.
It’s necessary to adapt your riding style slightly, but if you’re lucky enough to be on the mountain after a dump of snow, you can get a good feeling of what riding powder is like.
As you become more competent, you can explore backcountry areas accessible from the lifts. Then you can start hiking deeper into the wilderness on snowshoes or a splitboard.
But the ultimate powder experience is when you access it by helicopter. This is an experience that should be on every snowboarder’s bucket list.
Combining powder riding and the drama of jumping out of a helicopter is a whole new level of enjoyment. I went heliboarding on a trip to Canada a few years ago.
Although the terrain wasn’t that challenging, it was a fantastic experience.
Ski resorts are full of characters. Spend enough time in one, and you’ll see and meet pros, incredible athletes, and people who are borderline insane.
Even though many people ski and snowboard, you’ll find that the pool is pretty shallow. I always bump into someone from years ago from working and visiting other resorts.
It’s great to catch up with them, but the best people are the ones that hang around or come back every winter. We share a mutual interest and spend a lot of time together on and off the mountain.
So are you convinced? You may have noticed I have a thing for snowboarding, and it’s not just the sport itself and everything else that goes along with it.
As the great Warren Miller said, “once you take your first ride up a lift, your life will be changed forever.”