National Geographic article on snowskating

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.


jeffanddrewvisithiking National Geographic article on snowskating

Back to blogging

hopelessoldmenonskateboards Back to blogging

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.

94C42B46 orig Back to blogging

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.

firstthreeboards Back to blogging

gravelpits062 Back to blogging

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.

8WheelerDeck Back to blogging

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.

chopfortesting Back to blogging

Luckily Adam at FPS did the hardwork for me and I felt like the time spent cutting down old snowboards was wasted time.

153and125fps Back to blogging

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.

straightshotpowder Back to blogging

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.

newsubbottom Back to blogging

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.

ericroadgap zpsbb50410c Back to blogging

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.

7FFFEF0F orig Back to blogging

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.

A Very Late Update

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.

photo A Very Late Update

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.

colepillowdropperair A Very Late Update

Its still about moving snow, chasing down turns and finding new terrain.

colespringslasher A Very Late Update

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.

Caribou Hut Trip 2012

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.

puffybottomcloseup Puffy

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.

puffytrees Puffy

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.

puffytreehit Puffy

puffyslashtwo Puffy

Just below this was a road cut with a wind lip that we pat down.

puffypatdown Puffy

Puffy handled great and will be the go to board for deep conditions which I hope continue.

Jeff and Drew visit the shop

jeffanddrewvisitiglooinside Jeff and Drew visit the shop

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.

jeffanddrewvisitpowsurfonchair Jeff and Drew visit the shop

jeffanddrewvisitpowsurfdrag Jeff and Drew visit the shop

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.

jeffanddrewvisitigloodoor Jeff and Drew visit the shop

Hiking laps in the backcountry is my favorite thing to do.

jeffanddrewvisithiking Jeff and Drew visit the shop

MLK weekend escape

colesslash MLK weekend escape

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.

New Year’s Eve igloo sleep over

With the igloo done and stocked with sleeping bags and pads the only thing left to do was sleep in it. The weather after Xmas was kinda finicky and we passed on two scheduled dates which had moderate temps but rainy conditions. That left New Year’s Eve as the next option but the temps at 6000’, the igloo elevation, were going to be around 15 degrees. I wasn’t sure I had that much faith in the igloo to keep us warm, but folks who knew assured me that we would be cozy. Dec 31, turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, perfect for our hike in. We would at least start out the night dry. Arriving around 2 pm we started work on a wind break wall to the south. This got us warmed up and having fun.

nyigloowalltwo New Years Eve igloo sleep over

We hiked a bit from the igloo and dug a couple of test pits. Pulled out our probes and measured the snowpack at 120 cm. We did an extended column test and found that the snowpack was looking pretty stable. It started getting dark around 4:30 so we headed in to cook dinner. We all felt pretty warm but the outside temps were dropping fast. In the igloo the boys pulled off their ski boots and put on their hut booties we had bought the night before. This turned out to be a huge comfort to their toes and no one complained to me about cold feet. With the candles lit things started to feel pretty comfortable, but it would get a lot colder and the thin door of the igloo with a 3” gap at the bottom didn’t look capable of stoping the cold. We had it pretty cush, thought, with ipod and speakers, DS game machine, tons of chocolate and stash of fireworks, Around 7 pm we went out to light em.

I jammed the first rocket into the snow and lit it. It quickly became evident that I had jammed it too far cause it wasn’t going airborne. Oh crap exploding rocket in our faces! We ducked towards the igloo as it blew up! Ok second one not so deep and it launched and exploded with flares. After the light show we returned to the igloo and felt how much warmer it was inside than outside and I knew we were going to be ok. We pulled out the sleeping bags and hunkered down with the “stuff you should know” podcasts playing on the ipod. We slept pretty good and stayed warm and dry, I was amazed! The next morning brought clear skis and nice temps. We had oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfest, then got our  gear on. We got some visitors, Cole and the Munro Family, Chris, Kathleen, Marshal and Owen. The boys started building jumps and we started doing laps. It was a blast!!

nyigloowallthree New Years Eve igloo sleep over

nyigloohike New Years Eve igloo sleep over

Igloo part two

igloolastblock Igloo part two

We got back out on Sat to wrap up the roof and get some laps in. Everything worked great and I think this Igloo will last the season.

igloodoor Igloo part two

Its pretty cozy inside, especially if you are sitting on a pad. We’ve stocked it with some candles, chocolate, area map and the latest issue of Starfish for anyone who happens to find it while tromping around in the backcountry.

iglooinsidestarfish Igloo part two

After we were sure the roof was settled we remove the building jig and dug a trench down the middle so you can sit comfortably with your legs down. All that’s left now is to spend the night in it. Me and my sons, Max and Teig, are planning on spending a night this week. They are up for the adventure only because they have no idea what’s in store.

iglooone Igloo part two

Igloo part 1

We made an igloo in the back yard with our Ice box igloo maker last year. But the backcountry turns are a little fickle in the yard so this year we put it in a more turn friendly place. This spot is about 1/4 mile out of bounds and is at the top of a small mound with turns all the way around it. Seemed like a good location.

igloospot Igloo part 1

We packed it down with our snowshoes and leveled out a spot. The first row is the slowest and most important because it sets the angle of the dome.

igloofirstrow Igloo part 1

The second row things get going a little faster cause the packer doesn’t have to be on his knees the whole time.

igloosecondrow Igloo part 1

igloofourthrow Igloo part 1

The snow was pure sugar, which makes a really strong block when you pack it carefully. The downside is it takes almost twice as long to build. With wet snow you can build an igloo in 2-3 hours. After 4 hours we still had the final top to do and the sun was setting so we had to leave it unfinished. I figure it still has about an hour of building time left. Will post a completed pic as soon as I can.

Ps: if you look right above Cole‘s head in the last picture you will se a tower on the hill in back. That is the resort boundary.

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