I’m just going to be honest, every year it gets more difficult to be a dedicated snowboarder. I know there are a legion of “mountain men” who will read that sentence and audibly groan, as they, much like the warriors in 300, have endured the battle and still fight the good fight year after year.
I used to scoff at older industry veterans because I thought their inability to turn out a 100 plus day season was just weakness and a lack of dedication. I mean how can someone who loves something not dedicate all of his or her time and resources to it?
Now, as I begrudgingly tread my mid-30’s, I notice that every year my days on snow steadily decline. While sometimes I feel guilty about not chasing powder like I did in my 20’s, I also feel less and less concerned about how many days I ride and honestly care less and less about how other people feel about my personal “dedication” to snowboarding.
Does this mean I care any less about snowboarding? The answer is yes and no, I still care about all of the times I spent enjoying the mountains with my friends and the memories we made while in the pursuit of epic times. However, I have found that I appreciate balance in my life and while I still spend a fair amount of time writing about, thinking about, or digesting snowboarding, there are a lot of other things that tend to spark my interests. I feel best when I can enjoy and participate in many things that inspire me. I’m no longer interested in being singular in focus.
This can turn those that consider themselves core snowboarders off, as they see clinging onto old ideals as a badge of honor. They will spend their lives sacrificing everything for one more hit off of the old powder pipe, and will mock anyone who chooses another path. To them, anyone who evolves or changes has somehow forsaken the sacred life.
I was reminded of this a few years ago when a prominent professional snowboarder who had himself drifted into obscurity for nearly a decade called me out for “not being a true snowboarder” because I had rejoiced in the fine weather Seattle was receiving mid winter. While at the time I was briefly offended, I quickly came to the realization that I have been snowboarding since 1989 and it didn’t really matter what anyone else thinks about my status as a snowboarder. With that in mind I decided to write a column, because I have no idea how often I will snowboard this season. Maybe I’ll go to Tahoe for a month and ride some El Niño powder, or maybe I’ll return home to Minnesota for a week and lap the rope tow at Highland, or maybe I’ll just surf and look at girls on the beach.
Regardless of my day count I will still and always continue to love snowboarding, but since I probably won’t snowboard nearly enough to be considered hardcore, I wanted to present you with the top five reasons I won’t be turning in 100 plus days this season.
1.Snowboarding is Expensive
Snowboarding costs way too much money, and as a professional writer I make just enough to cover all of my living expenses, but not a lot more. When I was at a magazine I seemed to get free season passes and a lot of free gear, however the well is starting to run dry. I’m blessed to still receive some free gear, but when you add up gas, lift ticket, and lodging expenses I can usually manage to ride about three days a season if everything isn’t comped.
2.Surfing is Better
I live in Carlsbad, California, about a football’s punt to the beach where there are waves almost every day of the year. Riding one really good wave equates to the same joy as about three solid powder days, so I tend to get more bang for my buck in the ocean. Before you judge me let it be noted that I see many industry professionals and pro snowboarders almost every time I’m out, including Todd Richards, Jussi Oksanen, and I even Nicolas Muller recently.
3.My Body Hurts
The worst part of aging is the ailments; there is now hair and pain everywhere. I broke four bones in my back snowboarding, have broken my arm twice, and severely bruised some ribs while taking a tree to the abdomen and chest that was inconveniently located in the middle of a chute at Stevens Pass. Because of this trauma, my body aches when the temperature dips below forty degrees, making even enjoyable sessions somewhat painful.
4.Winters Have Been Dismal
The first year I moved to Washington it snowed so much that I wouldn’t even go snowboarding if there wasn’t more than 8 inches of new snow, and I had a 100 plus day season. The powder was so bountiful it seemed as if winter’s powder faucet would never turn off. It’s progressively gotten worse every season since. Last year was so bad that Seattle’s closest resort, The Summit at Snoqualmie, opened in January and they had to shuttle snow from the parking lot onto the ski runs. California’s resorts were even more depressing.
For transparency sake I will just come out and admit that going snowboarding takes a huge amount of effort including travel time, a lot of gear, and plenty of logistics if you ride in the backcountry. Surfing, skateboarding, and even climbing take far less of a concerted effort and are equally rewarding when done right, so I will admit that I usually take the easier, softer way. This doesn’t mean that if anyone reading this calls and offers me a trip to Baldface that I will turn it down. But I probably won’t drive to Mammoth if there’s a decent swell. For real though, call me about Baldface.