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.
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.
Well, its been awhile since my last post, but I’m back and at least for the first part of the winter will be posting weekly updates. Its been a pretty hectic month getting ready for the season. I think this is the most prepared I have ever been before the lifts have started. The new shop has been great and it has afforded me the luxury of a curing booth for the decks and subs. After pressing they all go into this 70 degree room for another 5 days to insure the epoxy cures completely.
Although the recycled graphics from the last few years was fun I’m glad to be rid of someone else’s logo on my stuff. This season we’re looking at white, with some soon to be added stickers.
The sliding truck plates are black but other then that I’m pretty much sticking with the same design. Three hole locations and two height options with a quick release pin.
Black and green grip for the tops, with a built up tail option available too.
The subs from last season worked great but there is always a tweak that can push them even further. I reworked both the 145 and 135 forms for the better. I most excited about the 135 with the slightly longer base and lower sweeps to the nose and tail. Always looking for that short board that will float deep pow. The new subs are in white.
One great thing about the Chiller shop is that there is a great testing zone in the back. Just need a bit more snow to soften those landings.
The shop is clicking right along but the website is badly in need of a product page and that is next on the agenda. Expect more pics and prices next week.
Sorry about the lack of updates but this last month has been a whirlwind of big pow days, pressing decks and another epic road trip. After our last visit to the sawtooths I emailed Cory Smith at mtnapproach.com about his new approach skis that fold up small enough to fit in a pack.
Cory, who lives in Sun Valley and works at Smith Optics, checked out my post on the Sawtooths and extended an invite to come down for a few days of riding and filming at the Smith Optics private back country zone. Well I may be busy with work and family stuff but a invite like this doesn’t come along very often and so I jumped at the chance. I got the ok to bring along a friend and Cole happened to be in the right place at the right time so he scored the second seat. Not sure what exactly was in store we loaded up the car and hit the road. All we knew was there would be another group of riders hitting some jumps and that me and Cole would be able to explore the zone and hopefully find some pow. We got into Smiley Creek late and found the bunkhouse, which was a really old two stories cabin that had been patched up just enough to keep the heat in. After introducing ourselves to the crew inside we found a spot on the floor to throw down our bags and go to sleep.
The next morning the crew was a little confused about what to do we us. We didn’t have our own sled and the snowcat with the crew cab wasn’t working. Luckily a few of the guys tandemed us up to the zone. Our first day was great, we were able to catch a couple of rides up the mountain from the crew and caught deep pow turns on the way down. They were all pretty busy scoping jumps and making sure they were ready if the sun peaked out so any rides we got we really appreciated. We even hiked a couple of laps too just cause the cat tracks were so easy to travel. The next day we woke up to high winds and grey sky and every one in the bunkhouse was in no hurry to get going except us. Luckily we had left our skates at the yurt so they had to give us a ride up. Somehow it ended up just being Cole and I and two brand new sleds on loan from Ski-doo.
It was officially on!!! We rode non stop for the whole day, doing as many laps as we could. About half way through the day it even started dumping which really made it seem like we had stumbled upon a gold mine of opportunities.
All the terrain in this pic is part of the Smith Optics private reserve. With the help of the cat they have built tons of big hits into soft powder landings. All they needed was a little sunshine to make it all pay off.
The last morning brought blue skies and no extra sleds for us. This was okay seeing how our visit was pure luck in the first place and we were just thankful for the amazing two days we got. We packed up and headed home, stopping off briefly for a soak at a roadside hot springs. Big thanks goes out to Smith and Cory for letting us sneak in the back door of Prospecting Idaho, lets hope we can find a way to get back there next year.
Alan called on Sunday with a plan to meet up with Jordan and ride Kooteay pass on Wednesday. At first I thought I was too busy to go, but then the reality of the opportunity came into focus and a plan was made, kinda. As timing would have it a call from Brandon about wanting to ride his new Boyd Hill powderskate got him an invite. Combine that with my new 145′s first run and Alan on his new 36″ chiller top deck and this trip was turning into a testing expedition.
The quiver in question.
Out of the dirty parking lot and into the soft fluffy back country in five minutes.
First ten feet of the warm up run and Alan is in the air.
Brandon‘s first run on his new powderskate
With our warm up out of the way its off to some real terrain.
We stayed and played in this bowl for the rest of the trip. Lots of pillow drops and with a bit of hiking steep untracked runs.
This an amazing zone with easy access and deep snow. Can’t wait to go back.
Here’s a shot of a new sub I’m working on. Its 145 cm and as you can see by the sidecut this should be a good match. The tails a bit wacky too if you haven’t already noticed but so far the test runs have been engaging. I know the camber looks crazy, I’m sure your wondering where I came up with that and all I can say is “who knows??”
Anyways check it out, let me know what you think in the comments section.
51 standard and 51 big side by side. You can see the obvious dimension and side cut differences. The waist and tail of the big is about 1″ wider then the standard.
Brain Wilson printed me up some new stickers of just the right colors. Big rode great today thanks to the conditions being perfect. Even though its wide it carves well, not as easily as the 51 standard but considering its wide waist today was better then I could have hoped for. Since I carry the camera there are no shots of me. Maybe Eric or Cole will slow down a bit next time and snap some pics.
Today was epic, about 6 inches of soft cold snow on top of a crazy crust of small hail balls. It was a perfect day to explore some steep in bounds terrain. We got first tracks all over today, thanks to the main quad being shut down. You had to ride two old style chairs to get the the north bowls plus the fact that it was a Thursday made for an pretty empty mountain. Here’s a shot of Eric on our last run.
Snow in the backyard, finally!! My new planet snowtools rake is amazing, thanks Cory!! The dirt mound promises lots of lines. Here’s a shot of Teig.
This shot of Max was taken before the big dump we got this weekend. There is now about a foot of light fluffy snow over a solidly frozen ground, which kinda hurts sometimes.
I’ve been wanting to try a deck mounted directly to the sub. This isn’t a new idea, lots of people have tried this but I wanted to see how different it would feel. There are 1/4 inch pads between the deck and truck. It pops surprisingly well and it actually carves hardpack ok on mellow slope. In powder there wasn’t much difference in the float but the low center of gravity is pretty fun and it is light. The top deck is only three plys thick which helps cut down the weight. I guess I was trying to simulate Wolle‘s set up a bit.
I’m having a lot of fun with the powdersurfs but I do miss the concave and tail that you have with bi-decks. Wolle‘s surfs have the channels on the sides which serve as concave. You still don’t get the pop from the tail of the top deck which I kinda like. I’ll be messing around with it some more this season I’m sure.
Our early season dump kinda melted off. More snow in the forcast though. Southern Idaho still has some pretty good coverage. Check out what Jeff and Cory found. Hit the link to view the video > Early season launch!
It won’t be long now and the excitement level seems to be very high for the upcoming season. Just pressed a new, fatter 51″. Only a proto but should be able to accomodate deep conditions. Strapless just released a teaser. Man the Tahoe area has some STRONG riders. Can’t wait for this video to hit the masses.
Tomorrow morning I load up and head out west. The van will be pretty full by the time we arrive on Friday. So far the roster includes, E2, Graham, Leavitt, FPS Adam, and Jake. We’ll be meeting up with Jordan, Katie and Allan at Snoqualmie then heading to Port Angeles on Fri via a couple of skatepark stops along the way, (as long as the weather cooperates.) Last year this trip worked out so perfectly it would be silly to expect the same this time around but who knows. The weather for Hurricane Ridge is forecast to snow 4-7 on Fri which is a pretty good start. I don’t think we’ll be getting the bluebird with the freshies like last time but that’s ok, just as long as it doesn’t rain like the year before. I’ll be demoing some of my stuff for next season. There will be three set ups of the 42 both with the 36″ top deck and 38″. Also I’m bringing a set up that I just pulled out of the press on fri. Its a brand new sub from a brand new form and I’ve only had a few days on it. I’m having a hard time describing it since it falls in between a snowskate sub and a powder sub. For the time being I’m calling it a mountain skate.
The mountain skate is a direct descendant of the 42″. It has the same side cut and taper although the width is about 3/8 wider. The insert locations and the deck mounting with respect to the tail are the same as is the sweep of the nose and tail. The goal was to make a sub that would handle just like the 42 but with a larger nose for off piste riding. It comes in at 51″ long, 8 1/4″ nose, 5″ waist and 6″ tail. This is not intended to be a powder skate but instead a snowskate that can handle powder, and most importantly steep terrain. One thing I’ve found though is it doesn’t really matter what you want a sub to do, it will ride how IT wants to ride. Last Saturday was my first test ride and that was just on groomers which it handled great, especially steep stuff. Its very easy to turn and the extra edge in front really digs into the carve. Yesterday though we got to test it out in some fresh pow.
Now with a length of 51″ and a narrow 5″ waist I didn’t expect it to slay the lower angle deep stuff but it did a pretty good job. The area that I was most interested in was steep tight terrain and in those spots it handled great. A smaller sub in steep terrain is a great match. You take a bit of the speed off which slows things down just enough to make good turns with out the feeling that your right on the edge.
All in all it was a great day and I learned a bunch about the set up. Its definitely still in the experimental stage but I’m excited about the direction that I’m headed in. This deck will be free to demo at Hurricane along with the 42″s so if your up there give it a try and tell me what you think.
We did get some footage of its maiden powder voyage, check out how low it rides in the snow, it almost seems like the top deck is throwing out a spray too!!