“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.” -Mark Twain
Since I tend to forget exactly how many layers I need on any given day of riding… here’s my digital reminder:
Here is gem #2:
Remember the “layering” concept. Three or four thin layers are better than one or two thick layers.
1ST LAYER (Moisture Wicking Base Layer)
Three items form your base layer: long underwear bottoms, a long-sleeve top and socks. All should be made out of a synthetic polyester or polypropylene material such as Capilene, Coolmax or Polartec. (Avoid cotton – it absorbs and retains water and will only serve to keep you chilly all day.) Pull socks on over the long underwear bottoms, avoiding any bunching around your ankles. Tuck in the long-sleeve top.
Thermal underwear can be pricey, but it “wicks” the moisture off your skin into the next layer, giving you comfort and freedom of movement. Cotton tee shirts may be comfortable to start with, but get damp & sticky as you perspire & hold the moisture next to your skin. Artificial fiber thermals have good wicking qualities & the material does not absorb perspiration. Ladies, tights are a cheap alternative and help retain heat, as a bottom base layer.
You can find cheaper prices on fogdog, campmor, dogfunk, whiskey militia, and the like.
Ski/Snowboard are seamless. Choose socks which come up to your knees. Only wear one pair of socks in a boot. Walking/Hiking socks are not the best as they are constructed for a different set of foot movements, and may cause blistering inside a snowboard boot.
2ND LAYER (Insulating layer)
Add at least one layer of a synthetic fleece (or wool) insulating sweater. As the temperature and environment requires, add additional layers or a vest.
Once the day heats up, you can remove layers if needed. Again, avoid cotton.
This layer should also allow the perspiration to pass through from the base layer, whilst trapping air in the fibres, giving you an insulation layer between your base & outer layers. A wool shirt can equally be used as the second layer, but it should come up high enough on your neck to keep it warm. You can buy fleece neck warmers to cover this exposed area.
|• Old Navy
• Under Armour
|• Old Navy
• Under Armour
This includes your wind and waterproof jacket and pants. Depending on your requirements and climate, you may need extra waterproofing or extra venting options.
Must be snow proof (i.e. snow easily brushes off it) & retain warmth if it gets wet. Should have a hood and plenty of pockets to put goggles, sun cream, money, tissues etc in. Waterproof / Breathable fabrics are preferable, as they provide greater protection from wind and rain, and, being breathable, are more comfortable to wear. Make sure you can still do your jacket up if you decide to wear two separate insulating layers (e.g. a fleece), for very cold conditions.
Good pants will have an inner cuff that fits snugly over the top of each boot, keeping out the cold and snow.
Should be a comfortable fit, neither too tight, nor too baggy. Allow an extra 2-3 inches in the leg, as the trouser leg has to fit over a ski/board boot. Snowboarders need reinforcement in the seat area of the pant , as they spend a lot of time sitting down.
Always wear a hat (or helmet) because much of your body’s heat escapes through your head. It should be carried in the mountains at all times.
Up to 40% of heat is lost through the head. It is vital that your hat retains warmth, if it gets wet. Snow sticks to wool. Fleece is better. Both retain warmth when wet. The hat should be capable of being pulled down over your ears in extreme conditions, as they are prone to frostbite.
For a funky spin on your average hat, try bearshats.com
SUNGLASSES & GOGGLES
Also wear goggles (see Before You Buy Snowboarding Goggles) to protect your eyes from wind and sun.
When you look through the lens, the pink/brown/orange/yellow tints are best for flat light conditions. Green and gray tints may look cool, but are not as effective in low or ”flat” light conditions.
Must provide 100% Ultra Violet (UV) protection. Always look for the “UV400” symbol. They should fit reasonably snugly so they don’t fall off whilst riding. Polycarbonate lenses don’t shatter like glass and are therefore safer. A simple glass chord will secure sunglasses to your head, and stop you loosing them in the snow, or a restaurant.
Goggles Absolutely MUST be Worn When:
- it’s raining or snowing
- when you must wear your normal glasses/contact lenses to be able to see
- if your eyes water a lot in cold conditions.
Goggles come in two sorts, single lens and double lens. The latter are more expensive, but don’t mist up as easily. Goggles should provide 100% UV protection. If you have to wear prescription glasses, look for OTG (“Over The Glasses”) goggles, which will allow you to wear your normal glasses under this type of goggle. Goggles are flexible and less breakable than sunglasses.
In very cold conditions, use a neck gator — a fleece tube that you can wear around your face and neck to keep off the frost.
Lastly, add gloves or mittens (mittens are warmer than gloves) that tuck under or over your jacket cuff tightly to keep out snow. Gloves should be fitted up over the cuffs of your jacket, and you don’t want a gap between the glove and the sleeve. Thinsulate gloves are warm and inexpensive and more importantly can be put on a radiator to dry at night, if they get wet. Waterproof / breathable gloves are more expensive, but more comfortable. Snowboarders need extra strong reinforcement in the palms and fingers. Keep your fingernails short.
SUN SCREEN/ LIP BALM
Sun reflects off the snow, hitting you with twice the sun exposure. I’ve seen many a blistered face from people unaware of this mountain fact. Ouch! If the sun is out at all, wear sunscreen.
Remember that on snow and at altitude, you are receiving high radiation from the sun, even on cloudy days. Use a high protection factor cream, typically Factor 20-25, or higher if you burn easily. Make sure the cream hasn’t passed its sell-by date. A combination lip/suncream is useful, and comes in one convenient tube. Lips crack easily in the dry, cold conditions found in mountain resorts. Girls, ordinary lip stick will work just as well, but we don’t suggest you guys wear it !
OTHER USEFUL ITEMS
- Pack of tissues for blowing noses and cleaning glasses/goggles
- Money – Enough to buy some food or a drink on the mountain, in case you suddenly feel tired, cold or thirsty.
- Always carry a piste map which costs nothing and you are normally given when you get your lift pass. If you lose one, get another from the main lift office or tourist office. Don’t go on the mountain without it.
HAVE FUN BUT REMEMBER THAT THE WEATHER CAN CHANGE QUICKLY IN THE MOUNTAINS. ALWAYS DRESS FOR THE WORST.
I’ve been trying to merge all the content from our old site to this one and found a few gems of knowledge that were collected from various other websites over the years… here’s the first:
When learning to snowboard remember that the first day or two will be damn difficult and its normal for those learning to want to give up during this period.
Hang in there. Those that persevere will reap the rewards. Basically if you want to take-up snowboarding you’ll just need to persevere over the first day or two or until you can feel confident with your ability to stop, control your speed and turn. Once you have learned those basics techniques you rapidly progress from the beginner to the intermediate stage.
In the beginning: The first few days of learning you’ll spend loads of time falling, sitting on your bum, and from a psychological perspective it’s torturous because you’ll need to start right from the very beginning – so it’ll be back to the baby slopes for you – augh!
You’ll have to roll with the punches. It pays to anticipate what you are going to do and think about it as you are doing it. Because snowboarding is energetically demanding, and because your level of focus influences your success, I suggest getting a decent night’s sleep. It also helps to be courageous and to be fit (I don’t mean you have to be able to run a marathon, but any leg strengthening done prior to riding the first time will only make you better).
If you are having a crappy day and feel like you just aren’t getting it, keep at it; it could turn into your best snowboarding day!
ACCEPTING IT: EVERYONE FALLS DOWN
You WILL fall. Not knowing how to fall can mean spending the day in the ER and missing days of snowboarding fun. You don’t want to do anything that will deny you of your snowboarding experience, especially if it can be easily avoided by reading a simple paragraph. So, even though falling down is quite an odd thing to be learning, it makes sense to learn it. There are also times you may want to fall down on purpose. This may sound like a stupid thing to do, but if you are on a collision course with a child, tree, rock, or metal post, kissing the snow is far preferable.
- Falling Forward
When falling forward, your fingers, wrists, and elbows are at risk. The natural inclination is to extend your hands out in front of you to break your fall. Make sure you RESIST this temptation. Doing it can break your fingers, or worse, your wrists. Instead, make fists (to prevent your fingers from breaking), hold your arms in front of your chest (bent, not extended), and fall on your forearms, not your elbows. The surface of your forearms you should fall on is the one that makes contact with the dinner table when you rest your arms comfortably on it.
- Falling Backward
When falling backward, your head and tailbone are at risk. If you feel yourself falling backward, tuck your chin toward your chest. This is good advice for beginners on the bunny hill, but before you hit the slopes, get a helmet. When you are going fast, the chin tuck doesn’t afford much protection. Your melon will bounce off the ground anyway. The other thing you need to protect is your tailbone. Falling flat on your back is better than falling on your rear while bent over. If you feel yourself falling backward, twist a little while falling so you end up on one butt cheek or the other.
Falling is just part of the sport. If you become all bent out of shape and uptight about not wanting to fall, when you do, it is more likely to be a painful experience, physically and emotionally. The unnecessary anxiety can also seriously hinder or halt any improvement in your abilities. The key is to relax about it. If you lose your balance but remain relaxed, you can probably adjust and save yourself or prepare for a less painful fall.
TAKE A LESSON OR THREE*
Yeah, yeah, we know. Lessons are for wusses. Well guess what: you’re a wuss. Unless you are completely confident because you’ve skied, surfed, or skateboarded before, you want to see your knee hanging casually around your neck, you’ll NEED a snowboarding lesson. This initial investment will prove more valuable than a Roth IRA or a good fake ID. Here are the benefits of lessons:
- The first day is always the roughest, so a lesson will help lessen the inevitable aches, pains, and black and blues.
- A lesson will help you build a solid repertoire of strong techniques initially.
- A lesson will allow you to share your frustration and successes with other starters.
- One of the largest benefits to taking a lesson is that you usually get to bypass all of the lift lines and get directly on the ski lift.
You don’t have to take 20 lessons; just take one and see how you feel.
Here’s what to expect in a snowboarding lesson:
- The best way to get started is to head straight for the snowboard school at the resort and sign up for a group lesson. Lessons usually consist of group sizes of 5-10 people.
- Lessons will teach the basics of stopping, turning, falling, skating (that is: getting around when only one foot is strapped into the board), and sliding on the board in different directions.
- Lessons usually start with the very basics of snowboarding such as balancing oneself on both edges (the toe and the heel) and then gradually progress to the art of making turns in each direction (again both toeside and heelside).
- Most group lessons range from 1 ½ hours to half a day. Shorter group lessons cost $18 – $30 per person, while longer lessons at the pricier resorts (such as Vail) cost $95 – $105 per person for a half day (the half-day lessons usually include the $55 lift ticket).
- Lessons are often grouped by ability level.
- Private lessons are available, but these are usually targeted towards those who already know how to snowboard and just need help refining their skills, and with prices hovering around $400-500 for a full day private lesson during the high season, most people are economically placed out of this opportunity.
Now, being a Brazilian Jiujitsu practitioner, my body is beat to hell. I mean, really beat to hell – often, there are times where there isn’t a single joint on my body that doesn’t hurt. Oftentimes, it hurts just to sit down, bend over, and strap my board in – my injured back just doesn’t agree with it.
So I happen to strap in without sitting down.
It occurred to me one day that others might find this technique handy as well (to avoid “wet butt”, to subjugate injury, etc.), so I filmed a short video tutorial:
If you’ve got ADHD like me, you might appreciate this short summary of points:
To strap in without sitting down:
1) Locate the fall line
2) Position your board perpendicular to the fall line
3) Create a snow/granular/ice shelf for your board to rest on by either scraping snow down or (easier) chopping a couple of times into the ground.
4) Balance over your snowboard, making sure it’s resting on the shelf and won’t slide.
5) Carefully step your free foot into the binding, taking care to place it all the way back against the highback.
6) *clickety clickety*
7) Tighten the ratchets on the other binding.
8) Final tightening to dial in preferred level of binding tightness.
9) Ride away, doing ground 360s as you do (or you could just ride normally).
Q and A:
Q: It doesn’t work on hard pack/ice.
A: Of course it does. You just need to create a better shelf. Unless you’re riding on top of a frozen pond, you should be able to scrape down/chop down enough stuff to make a small shelf with.
Q: It sounds overly complicated and time-consuming. I’d rather sit down.
A: Please feel free to sit down and strap in. I only do it this way because my back is jacked up. As far as time-consuming goes, replay the video and race me:D
Q: What if I slip? Won’t I look like a jackass?
A: If you slip, it’s because your shelf was too small or you didn’t make it perpendicular to the fall line, but closer to parallel. And yes, you will look like a total jackass.
Questions? Jackass stories? Feel free to leave a comment!
Ever have that sinking feeling when the ground drops out unexpectedly from beneath you?
Gigi Ruf is ridiculous.
Just got this news report about a skier who triggered two avalanches in Park City. Before you start getting worked up, it should be noted that this skier was no slouch – the article quotes Utah Avalanche Center’s Drew Hardesty as calling the guy “a very experienced professional.”
What’s notable is that the slide occurred on a mellow gradient, only 15-20 degrees – normally too mellow for avalanche danger. So riders be forewarned.
For visual reference, this joystick is mounted at a 20 degree angle: