A couple of times a year, I’ll grab my snowboard and head to a Mountain in Colorado. I always go to Vail for an annual pilgrimage. Once or twice a year I pack my gear and leave Minneapolis to go and shred some the mountains. I do this to relax and also reconnect with God. It’s a spiritual time for me. I release some stress and get to refresh my spirit. Having an epic time of shredding can’t hurt either.
This particular week I got lucky. I experienced the best powder day of my life for the entire week. I drove into Avon and the mountain pass was closed the next day. My hotel was walking distance from the BeaverCreek chairlifts. The weekly forecast said heavy snow with estimates of 15″-24″. This was a daily estimate, not the week. I smiled at my luck. I’ve always dreamt of a riding my snowboard on a day like this. Now I’ve got an entire week of it. I wasn’t going to waste a second of it.
Mountain Boarding In BeaverCreek
The first day, I hit up BeaverCreek since I was so close. The runs I dropped into were amazing. The season had just begun and I was out of shape.I kept huffing & puffing along because it was so amazing.Words cannot describe the feeling of riding in powder up to your knees as you shred.
My favorite run at Beaver is Thresher Glade, I’d found it by accident a few years before when I took a wrong turn. It was the most epic wrong turn I’ve ever taken.
On a side note when you Snowboard in the mountains, life becomes epic, but for the sake of safety, you should always have a friend with you, and never go off trail unless you’re ready.
Visiting The Bowls Of Vail
The next day, I went over to Vail. It’s only a 20 minute drive up the pass so I figured I could make it. I’ve ridden Vail quite a bit, and love Blue Sky Basin. I never ride the frontside and wondered how many of those runs I’ve never ridden. It turned out to be a good though because the bowls weren’t open yet. I hadn’t even thought about that. The front has more than enough terrain to ride, I’ll just have some fun I thought.
There is one section in the front of Vail I know well. Whenever I came out here with friends I’d hit some tree runs but I knew the area was closed. After a few tries I decided to go under a line and head towards a powder dreamland. There were no tracks anywhere, I was the first to ride over there, and I was excited about it.
Rookie Snowboarder Mistake
I should add that I broke at least 2 major rules by now. While alone on my snowboard, I went under a line. I was out in the back country and had no backup. In Minnesota this is never an issue, but when you snowboard in the mountains. You might find yourself in serious trouble.
For any skier or Snowboarder this is a stupid move. If you get into trouble, who can get you out of it? For me it was even worse, nobody was expecting me anywhere for the next 5 days. If I didn’t show up at my hotel, nobody would know. It was a recipe for disaster.
In The Mountains, Trapped On A Snowboard
The run I was shredding on had a nice drop that went into a plateau which was followed by another steep drop. If you didn’t have enough speed, you’d get stuck and have to unstrap. In Minneapolis we don’t have to deal with that much snow. At best we’ll get a foot of snow and that isn’t a horrible thing to wipeout in. When the snow is deep like it was then, you have nothing to push yourself up with. You put your arm down to lift your body up, and it sinks into the ground. It’s a really disconcerting feeling the first couple of times it happened.
Well I did something stupid, I caught and edge and got stuck. It was one of the rare times on my GNU where I wiped out hard. As I laid on the fresh snow, I thought evil thoughts about magnetraction, and then tried to get up. I was laying on a plateau. There was no way for me to gain speed, and I was in deep powder. Standing up was a chore let alone getting to the next drop.
The Powder Was Deep, And I Was In Trouble
I struggled for around 45 Minutes, eventually pulling off my goggles and face mask in the fight. Slowly I was rolling my way down the hill but I kept sinking deeper into the snow. In addition to this, I wasn’t acclimated to the elevation. My breathing was heavy and I heard my heart pounding madly in my ear. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. That scared me the most, and I thought I was about to die.
I have to get off this mountain I thought to myself, so I made an unthinkable choice. If I unstrapped myself from the snowboard and grabbed onto it. I could use it as a floaty, I didn’t know how deep I’d sink. That was a little disconcerting, but at least I’d be standing.
It’s Getting Worse
So I began to give it a shot, for safety I used my board as a floatation device, and only sank to my waist. I also I pulled out my phone and turned off airplane mode. I like listening to music while I ride but keep it on airplane mode to save power. There’s no signal, but maybe there is a way they can find my body, I told myself.
“Time to walk.” I told myself. This first few steps were horrible. I kept thinking I would fall into a hole or crevasse. After awhile the fear just left me. It took an endless amount of time, but I finally walked 1.5 miles and saw a catwalk. As soon as I reached it, I laid down and stretched out on my back for 20 minutes. I had some more riding to do and needed to catch my breath. After that I rode the rest of the way down the mountain. Totally exhausted from my ordeal.
Mountain Boarding Looking Back:
A couple of things stick out to me, as I look back on this experience. I made two major mistakes while snowboarding in the mountains of Colorado. When I was shredding, I went under a line and I was boarding alone. Those 2 were the worst things I did, but I made a few other mistakes as well. I wasn’t in shape for the ordeal. Our Snowboard season in Minneapolis had just began and I’d only gone once or twice that season. (I got into a similar situation a year later, with friends but I was able to get dug out without there help due to being in better shape).
Even with all that craziness, it was the best powder day of my life. Snowboarding on a real mountain, is tiring and Colorado can be the best or the worst time. For that day it was both, and I loved it.
Know Your Abilities, When boarding on any mountain. Whether it’s Colorado, Montana, Or Anywhere else.. Know Where Your Friends Are, And have An Epic Time.
Subscribe Below To Read More About My Mountain Shredding Experiences: