Well, another powderskate get together has come and gone. This is the third winter we have put something together. It was nice to change the venue from the Sawtooths to our home area the Selkirks. Riding the resort and backcountry with a capable group of guys is hard to beat. Most snowskaters are used to riding alone so when you have 10 additional riding partners chomping to get at the terrain the fun factor definitely goes up. Here’s a little mini clip for you to enjoy.
Have some visitors this week so no blog update. Pictures from the weekend posted next week.
Luckily, I hear good reviews on my decks. In the early days there was some breakage and still decks can be snapped but people like the concave and tail. My decks are big and that throws some people off but with big subs and steep conditions a wide stance can be beneficial. I joke with some of my friends that they are lucky they weren’t around for the early decks. My first deck that was mounted to a snowboard was 13” x 32”. Very mellow tail and old school concave. I sold maybe ten of these and still have a stack of NOS that never made it out the door. Luckily Circuit was selling snowskate grip at the time. I remember telling him that I was building wake skates, so as not to have my secret money making idea jeopardized.
Lots of people suggested longer decks, so that it would feel more like a surfboard. This deck measures out as 13” x 42” and is a blast to ride. I sold one of these to someone at the pass.
Decks dropped down to around 10” wide and 40 inches long. Scored some really crappy grip from a boat supply house??? sorry those of you who bought boards then. The 3/4” spikes should have been a clue that the gripped sucked.
I had some old splitboard hardware at the shop, one day while staring at it I got the idea for a sliding front truck. When an idea hits you, its like a drug. You go into a kinda trance, wallowing in the potential. It usually wears off and only then can you be critical of your own ideas.
I first posted pics of the sliding rails on facebook and yea, I was going through the idea trance at the time. But reality is never far behind. On both of these decks the channels filled with epoxy and was a bugger to get out. Actually made the decks worthless cause of how recked they were at the end.
I put these decks away and the idea of the channel out of my head for a bit.After a while, I visited a cnc shop and had some custom channels made that were better then what I was using. CNC time is not cheap but I was at least more excited to give it another shot. I came up with another idea for blocking the epoxy and glued it up. I felt pretty good about the press and began the process of cleaning out the channels. The first channel cleaned up pretty good, the second took a bit more time but the third and fourth were bad. I think I spent a good 2 hours picking at the epoxy but was able to at least make it rideable so as to see if the channels will even be strong enough. Why am I going through all of this? Weight. Trying to make things lighter. This set up drops a pound from the total skate weight. And while its not really worth it at this time, considering how much additional work it takes, things should go smoother if they actually prove to be strong enough for the job at hand. I’ll be riding it for the rest of the season so we’ll see.
Well not really an article on snowskating but the January 2013 issue about why we explore hit a cord with me. Going to get just a tinsy bit scientific here and seeing I’m no scientist you’ll have to cut me some slack. Homo sapiens,(that’s right I’m using the term homo sapiens in a bit about snowskating) explored the planet in a period of about 60,000 years. What makes this remarkable is that other species of upright walkers like Neanderthals lived several hundred thousand years without ever leaving Europe. The national geo article brought up the idea that homo sapiens had a gene in their dna that promoted explorations. The following from the Nat geo issue is what caught my eye.
“If an urge to explore rises in us innately, perhaps, its foundation lies within our genome. In fact there is a mutation that pops up frequently in such discussions: a variant of a gene called DRD4, which helps control dopamine, a chemical brain messenger important in learning and reward. Researchers have repeatedly tied the variant, known as DRD4-7R and carried by roughly 20 percent of all humans, to curiosity and restlessness. Dozens of human studies have found that 7R makes people more likely to take risks; explore new places, ideas, foods, relationships, drugs, or sexual opportunities, and generally embrace movement, change, and adventure.”
So basically there is a certain percent of the population responsible for exploring the fringe. When you first saw a snowskate and thought it looked like fun, while your buddy standing next to you thought that it looked like a shit show, well you can thank genetics. I’m constantly hearing people say that snowskating makes them see their terrain in a new way. It brings back a sense of exploration, turning terrain that you knew by heart on skis or snowboard, into a fresh slate of opportunity. Tonight I’ve promised my daughters that I would strap on skis to show them that I can actually turn. That I grew up skiing is not something that they know, they have only seen me snowskate. It will be fun to ski with them but it will most definelty lack that sense of adventure that I have come to expect whenever I head out on the skate. Bindings just don’t make me want to explore.
Another winter is well on its way and luckily things are new and fresh again. Snowskating has always had this feeling to it where you just weren’t sure what’s around the next corner. Obviously with a new sport you really don’t know where it will go. This mystery is what attracted me to snowskating.
Early on the goal was to reuse old snowboards and be able to stand up for most of the run. Just the fact that you could go down hill without bindings was enough to make me hike back up for another run.
I had no idea what would make a good snowskate so I tried to make them really pretty using my woodworking skills. If they looked beautiful then maybe people wouldn’t question whether or not they actually worked.
I fought the direction that most snowskates were going in. Small skateboard-like sizes to me seemed like I would be stuck in the parking lot. Of course I had never really tried a small skate so my opinion of them was totally wrong. At one point I realized that if I could control a massive snowskate and a small snowskate then what about all the sizes in-between? This was when the skilsaw came out. I had visions of trolling yard sales to score old snowboards for cheap then cut them down to size and re-sell them for a nice profit. I still have that same stack of cut down snowboards that have never touched snow.
Luckily Adam at FPS did the hardwork for me and I felt like the time spent cutting down old snowboards was wasted time.
Riding big powder skates you immediately hone in on the conditions that will make them fun. Big long groomers just aren’t very enjoyable on powder skates so you become fixated on untracked terrain.
At first building my own subs seemed like a monumental task. I was afraid of the mistakes that it would take to accomplish my goals. But after the first crappy skate I was hooked.
Just heading up to the mountain with a new prototype that offered answers to my many questions was enough to power me through the inevitable let down and remorse that would come after riding it. There will always be mistakes and those mistakes will direct your future designs. The mistakes make the boards. Without them you would be directionless.
If you haven’t already noticed the snowskate community is made up of riders and builders. In some areas the builders outnumber the non builders. Making attempts at snowskate innovation is part of the sport. Those attracted early on need a hand in the direction. This helps everyone I believe because there is a constant “sharing” of ideas. I know I would not have been inspired to make changes to my skates if it were not for FPS, Ralston, Lib, Starfish, Circuit and Grassroots to name a few.
So here we are, in the winter of 2013 with skates that still resemble my original attempts made eight years ago. The goal is still the same to stand up for most of the run.
It was definitely a good winter for the Pacific northwest. March alone brought in over ten feet of fresh snow and the first of April delivered one more powder punch. Strapless week even saw its final comp at Hurricane Ridge cancelled because of the snow. The first part of the week was epic though with deep powder days at both Crystal and Stevens. I’ve got a couple of pictures to post and some powder footage from the Schweitzer surroundings. We have over 200 inches at the summit so my guess is that the hiking season will stretch into June again. I’ve got some new ideas for next season and some solid product performances from this one. As always I’m excited about what’s next in the progression of big mountain lines and deep powder turns.
I know I will be spending some time refining this prototype. When the snow was deep this thing was amazing both at carving and landings.
Cole launched this thing a bunch before the snow disappeared and even pushed its limits in some not so perfect conditions. We learned a lot.
Its still about moving snow, chasing down turns and finding new terrain.
This video is from the backside of chair 1, fresh tracks off the front of Big Blue and first track on Big Timber in bounds plus some little clips. No YouTube sound track applied so if you have a favorite powder watching tune that is about 2:45 long cue it up.
This last weekend we spent at the Caribou Hut in the selkirk mountains. Chris Munro and I took our three sons, Teig 10, Marshall 11 and Max 12. The boys hiked like champs and acted like goof balls, it was great. I know I’ve been a bit lax on posting, and it seems to happen each year at this time. Something about trying to get in all the riding I can seems to compete with work and thus put the updates at the end of the line. Hopefully we will get some great pics and video from this coming weekend when I meet up with a bunch of like minded individuals in the Sawtooths again. Anyways, here’s a short video of the hut trip, enjoy.
We have been getting so much snow lately that it was time to make a bigger sub to handle deep conditions. With the current 145 you can go anywhere on the mountain and ride a ton of pow but when it starts getting over say 10-12 inches in a single day dump then it becomes harder if the terrain isn’t steep. I could go into the minute details of the bigger sub but lets just leave it at bigger or maybe puffier, hence its current nickname “puffy”. Here’s a close up shot of the bottom which is 3/4 of an inch wider then the current 145.
But with the extra width comes a loss of leverage which means that it takes more pressure to set the edge in a turn on groomers. In the powder of course the opposite is true, you ride higher in the snowpack and thus its easier to turn.
We had a great day off the backside of one. Hiked a couple of powder laps then went looking for some jumps. Found this snow covered tree first. It cracked as soon as Cole hit the lip.
Just below this was a road cut with a wind lip that we pat down.
Puffy handled great and will be the go to board for deep conditions which I hope continue.
Luckily we got lots of snow while they were here. We also carried our Circuit Powder surf up the chair, this was E2‘s idea and it turned out to be a good one. It was pretty deep and kinda heavy so the powder surf was right at home.
The igloo was a bit harder to find this time around. Will be interesting to see what it looks like after a few more dumps.
Hiking laps in the backcountry is my favorite thing to do.
Our conditions have been nothing short of amazing considering how the rest of the country is fairing. Not that we are getting huge dumps but when Utah and Tahoe are still bare, 6” feels deep. I don’t preach as much as I used to about WHY you should snowskate. I think you should do what ever gets you stoked. But for me,(preaching) riding with my kids on a snowskate is way more fun then other options. I think it keeps us on the same level and I’m able to help them out if they have trouble with their gear which always seems happens. It started with the massive laps we used to do on the bunny hill, which on a skate feels more like intermediate and now I find that taking my sons into the backcountry on a skate is kinda the same. We aren’t hitting extreme terrain just fun little pow fields. When they get stuck or need a break from carrying their gear its so easy to help out when your not strapped down. Anyways here’s another short vid of the Igloo zone. Cole is the one launching.