Tag Archives: Snow

Christmas at Mammoth and June

10 Jan

We finally made it to Mammoth for Christmas! Last year our flight kept getting cancelled but this year we managed to get ahead of the storm (we also got upgraded! Yay!)

I always love de-planing at Mammoth. The mountains are so pretty and the air is so cold and crisp. =)
IMG_20161219_162507On James’ birthday his aunt and uncle took us out for a fancy meal which was super nice of them. We had a couple of sunny, not-too-busy days to get our snow legs back before the storm. Plus lots more eating and drinking!

On the day of the storm it was cold, wet, and the visibility was pretty bad.
IMG_20161223_120034Storm days are always my favourite because the snow keeps getting refreshed and hardly anyone is on the mountain, and everyone who is there is so happy! It was definitely the best day of the trip. =)

The weather was pretty cold this time – I wore five layers most days. My gloves are pretty ratty now, so for the next trip I bought a bright pair of mittens so I’m nice and easy to find.
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All the days leading up to Christmas were pretty decent crowd-wise – last year the Christmas to New Year period was awful, so we were pleasantly surprised.

This is James looking majestic on Christmas Day.
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The highlight of the day had to be meeting up with Woolly and a random Santa!
IMG_1116 (2)It was a great way to spend Christmas morning/afternoon – the snow was nice, the sun was out, and everyone was in a good mood.

But then … disaster! As we were walking back from the resort James got paged. =( He spent the rest of the day (4pm-1:30am) on a work emergency. Here he is, looking very depressed with his festive hat and champagne flute.
IMG_20161225_184938Poor thing. =( We were all eating our delicious Christmas dinner and he was in the corner on a conference call with a plate of food.

The next day Ian, James and I headed to June Mountain to escape the Boxing Day crowds. It was busier than the last time we went but not too bad.

This is the view from the resort – gorgeous!IMG_20161226_141636I can’t remember which run I took this photo on – it was a green run that had beautiful views all the way down which made up for the fact that the snow was fairly crappy.
IMG_20161226_140628Last time Ian and I were at June we took the ski-back trail, but there wasn’t enough snow this time so we had to take the chairlift back to the parking lot.

Going down was a very different experience to going up! I was holding my snowboard and had the bar down because if the chairlift suddenly stopped I didn’t want to go tumbling down the mountain.

The most nervewracking part was when I took my phone out for some photos – the board was wedged between me and the bar, and I had a death grip on my phone … which I couldn’t even feel because my hands were so cold.

No regrets!
IMG_20161226_142151Then our last day we spent at Mammoth again, and that was our Christmas holiday! I snowboarded seven out of the eight days we were there, which isn’t bad.

It was great seeing James’ relatives again, and I’m looking forward to our next trip out!

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Finally! Mammoth Snow!

29 Jan

Last year we went snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain for the first time and conditions were pretty dire (though we still had fun).

Thankfully this year has been much better! The first few days of our trip were OK, but being between Christmas and New Years, were busier than I like. I am snow-curmudgeonly like Chuck – I only like to go on weekdays.

But then the storm hit! I think Mammoth got something like 3-4 feet of snow in as many days. It was cold, windy, and amazing – because everybody left. I’d board down without seeing a single other person, and it was snowing so hard that by the time back up to the top all my tracks had filled in.IMG_20160105_115338I think I took this photo on Day 2 of the storm and you can kind of see how heavily the snow is coming down. James is resentfully plodding through the snow because we had to unstrap to get to Chair 12 and it was really, really not worth skating there.

Cheer up Jamesy; it’s not so bad.
IMG_20160105_115326On an unrelated note, later that week he switched to skis.

Mike also joined us in Mammoth for a couple of days. On one of the days we were boarding together I was seduced by some pristine tree snow and was stuck for like … 20 minutes. I kept thinking I could rescue it without unstrapping, but finally just had to dig myself out and walk.
IMG_20160106_105207(When I took that photo I sent it to James. And he messaged back and was like “are you stuck? :(” Because he knows me. He knows I wouldn’t unstrap unless I had to)

Anyway, by that time Mike and I had gotten hopelessly split up so he went on without me and called it early. It was a shame though, because the second half of the day got so much better! Conditions got colder and windier and again, everyone went home! It was amazing having so much snow to (almost) myself. I kept telling myself just one more run, but giving in and going again.

The day after the storm was beautiful and clear. James headed out with me and I showed him some of the fun runs I’d found.
IMG_20160107_094657This was a comparatively tracked out bit but I don’t have a lot of action shots of James so I’m sticking with it!

They opened the backside and it was freaking glorious – about 3 storm days worth of untouched snow. There were huge lines at the gondola to get there, but it was worth it.
IMG_20160107_111002Each of those channels is at least knee height and you’d glide through them like butter. The steep terrain was easy – it was the flats where I had to worry because the couple of times I got stuck it was a bloody ordeal to get out.

So pretty! The trees looked like coral.
IMG_20160107_111844That yellow sign in the distance is a cliff warning. Welp, will be giving that a wide berth!
IMG_20160107_125052We were in Mammoth for 13 days and I boarded 11 of them. I was so exhausted by the end – both my feet had blisters and my legs were just not working anymore. I’m glad the storm was more towards the start of the trip. It played havoc with our inbound flights, but if I could time every trip for a storm I would be a very happy snow bunny!

Heading home. Going to miss that gorgeous view.
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Snowboarding Update!

24 Feb

After a slow start to the season we had about a week and a half where the mountains were getting bucketed with snow. The down side of course was that the weekends were super busy. It used to be that we could arrive at 10 and still get a spot in summit parking but the past couple of weeks I’ve heard that if you’re not there by 9:30 you have to park in the overflow lots and take the shuttle up. I wouldn’t know – we get there at 8. =P

Aside from the crowds the past week was near-perfect; not too cold, good visibility and amazing snow. This was the line for Hogsback before it started running.

Aside from the long lines it was a great day. We frolicked in the powder, explored some routes through the trees and killed our quads on long, steep (but soft) hills. I’ve been practicing going fast down hills and trying little jumps – the jumps were particularly fun on Sunday because the snow was so forgiving.

I’ve also been going to Crystal on Thursdays while the going is good. On those days I haven’t been pushing myself terrain-wise – I just hang out on the un-groomed blues. At the end of the day I’ve been riding switch on the baby slopes, which I insanely suck at, but need to do since I eventually want to hop little 180s.

This was the bottom of a green run that didn’t get a lot of traffic. Once I got the hang of cruising on top of the heavy powder it was a lot of fun, and I had the area all to myself (so there was nobody around to see the times I got trapped and took several minutes to get back on my feet).

The huge dumps of fresh snow tire my legs out a lot more than normal – like the difference between running on the road and running on sand. My legs were already aching after the first run but it was soooo worth it.

I’m still determined to get James out to Crystal on a weekday. He just finished a 6-month long project where the last 2 months basically had him working past midnight most nights (including weekends). I’m super proud of him because he worked so hard on it and it’s a huge feather in his cap. As soon as the project finished he got really sick for a week, and now it’s stopped snowing in the mountains. =(

We’re off to Maui next month as well, so hopefully there’s some good snow before or after so he can experience the glory (and thigh-burn) of a weekend powder day.

And Now For Something Completely Different: Snowboarding at Crystal

19 Feb

Sorry, I know there have been a lot of snowboarding posts but that’s pretty much how we’ve been spending our weekends. We have some non-snowboarding stuff coming up in the next few months though, like a trip to New York with Julian (April) and Yosemite with Cat and Scott (May). We’ll finally start to explore the US!

But anyway, on Friday we went to Crystal Mountain with Chuck. Chuck hates crowds and only goes skiing on weekdays. He broke his cardinal rule when Stevens got like 34″ of snow earlier this year but afterwards he was like “never again!!!”

I probably shouldn’t have gone because I hurt my back awhile ago deadlifting (it turns out my glutes aren’t activating so I’ve been overusing my back for a long time), and then it got worse last week at Stevens. I decided to go for it on Friday and definitely paid for it afterwards! Funnily enough falling on steep hills didn’t hurt my back at all – it was stuff like sitting on the chairlift and doing up my bindings that really hurt.

Crystal was super fun though! It hadn’t snowed in awhile so the coverage was patchy (at one point James’ board scraped a rock) but it was a beautiful day. Everywhere we looked there were breathtaking views.

The last time we went to Crystal I thought the greens were harder than the greens at Stevens. It turns out that (some of) the blues were harder too, which actually worked out well because we’ve been doing the Stevens blues for awhile now so were ready for a step up.

Chuck took us to do the Green Valley at the start of the day. They were his warm-up before he went on to do blacks and double blacks. You can see him in the yellow going down the run.

I’ve noticed this in a few snowboarding photos, but the camera visually flattens the terrain. In that photo the hill looks like a gentle green but it was actually really steep. I remember getting off the lift, looking down and thinking “you’re shitting me.” (Is that a phrase in the US? I’m not sure. In Australia it’s a more emphatic way of saying “you’re kidding me.”)

Luckily we’d done a short black at Stevens that was about this steep so I knew that I could turn on it, but damn.

This is me about 3/4 down the hill looking up. Not looking so flat now, is it?

Chuck took James on a slightly steeper run but I decided to keep doing Green Valley to work on my dynamic turns. It’s very exciting to have goals that beyond “don’t fall”. I also need to get more confident straight lining it or I’ll always be the slowest. That’s something James is much better than me at – I get nervous going straight because I don’t like going fast.

Sitting down for lunch was actually when my back really started protesting. Afterwards I couldn’t bend over so James had strap and unstrap my bindings – I must have looked like a real diva. “Now remove the toe strap, peasant.”

That evening I could hardly move and it was even worse on Saturday! It took me several minutes to get in and out of bed and James kept fetching things for me and giving me worried looks. 

I went to the physio yesterday – he said now he thinks I have a bulged disc. He worked on my back, taped me up and gave me some exercises to do (I’m no longer allowed to do the previous exercises he assigned me). I also have to suck in my stomach whenever I move because that puts less strain on the spine. Magic! He laughed when I asked about my chances of snowboarding this weekend. He said he’s not worried about the actual snowboarding (which he is actually somewhat approving of because my core is engaged); it’s the drive up and the sitting on chairlifts that he doesn’t want me to do. Eventually he said 50/50. =D

Yesterday I thought that was super optimistic but today now that I’m all taped up and my back muscles are no longer spasming I feel amazing.

Stevens Pass I am coming for you on Sunday. I am going to slide on your face!

Our First Time Snowboarding!

9 Dec

Man I am exhausted. We had a huge weekend – on Saturday Chuck picked us up at 6:45am so we could get to Stevens Pass around 9am. Or that was supposed to be the plan – but because it was opening weekend and also because there had been like 30″ of snow there was a traffic jam going up the mountain and we only got there 2 hours later than expected. At least it was nice and scenic – I was freaking out over how pretty the snow was. I found out later from Mike that in his car AJ (another Aussie) was also going nuts and taking photos out the window.

We were directed into one of the overflow parking lots and had to wait in a long line for the shuttle bus.

The shuttle was really slow because it could only take a limited number of people and was also getting stuck in the traffic jam. One guy had a pickup truck and was piling 15 people at a time into the back and ferrying them up the mountain.

So it was a bit of an ordeal actually getting there. But OMG the snow was incredible. It looked solid but if you barely poked it with your finger it would disintegrate. Check out how powdery it was – and this was just the garbage snow near all the buildings.

(The snow only got into my pants because I’d forgotten to zip my jacket and pants together yet – more on that later!)

James and I did a snowboard class with some friends (Stevens Pass has a really great deal – $159 for 3 days of lessons, lift tickets and rentals) and then we went to try out the green run.

It was bloody terrifying. Well OK not as terrifying as the black run that I saw from a distance – that thing was near vertical! But I had always imagined that a green run would be mostly flat and it wasn’t.

Also the chairlift didn’t have a safety bar. It fit 3 people – I would not want to be the person in the middle. And then when we were about to land we realised that we had no idea how to get off the chairlift. So we tried to imitate the guys in front of us (who were of no use because they all fell over).

The instructor said that to force myself to turn I should reach one hand over to touch my opposite shoulder, which came in very handy except I kept forgetting which shoulder made me turn in which direction.

Although I was really intimidated by the green run I was glad we did it because it gave me an opportunity to put what I had learned into practice. James and I stacked a massive number of times but it was all part of the learning! There were definitely a couple of tumbles that could have been nasty if they hadn’t been into a cloud of snow.

A lot of the stuff I learned was very unintuitive (like keeping my weight off my back foot!) but I think I have an idea of how it works and feel that if I go another couple of times everything will make more sense.

Caroline said that she saw a girl wearing the same colours as me being all pro and was like “wow Kaye is a really fast learner!” If only.

James and I both had trouble controlling our speed, and because of the fluffy powder we developed a terrible habit of flinging ourselves into the snow to stop when we started going too fast. Since we stacked so many times (and I also got trapped in powder more than once) a 5-10 minute run turned into maybe 30 minutes. Luckily we had these sorts of views to entertain us.

I didn’t want to waste time going to the bathroom at Stevens (plus it’s awkward going into the stall in my bulky snow gear, unzipping my pants and jacket from each other and peeling my compression bottoms off) so I deliberately didn’t hydrate as much as I should have. Also because my compression gear was so good at wicking sweat away I never really felt like I was sweating. James had the same strategy and we both had huge dehydration headaches today.

James and I both brought fleece midlayers but ditched them at the start of the day because it wasn’t that cold – we were both very warm in just our base layers and shells. James told me that he was really jealous of my Ziptech jacket and pants because his jacket kept riding up when he fell over. And later on Elisha showed me how her back was all red from the snow that went up her top. So I am hugely pleased with my pants and jacket (both Volcom goretex from last season at around 60% off online) I hadn’t thought about my clothes all day, which obviously meant that they were doing their job.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed snowboarding given that I hated skiing (the boots hurt and I kept crossing my stupidly long skis). I’m itching to buy my own gear so that I don’t waste half an hour at the start of the day getting rental stuff. Ideally it would be better to wait until March for the sales but maybe it’s worth it buying at full price if I save a season’s worth of rental fees? We’ll see.

The guys are planning on going next weekend and I am super eager to try again!