Just because there is not too much snowboarding to be done this winter does not mean I can't talk about it! I hit up Sunday River this past Saturday and, while most of the snow was man-made, it actually was not too bad for one day of shredding. While riding around their multiple peaks I assembled in my head a ranking of the different types a snow you could encounter while riding. Here is my ranking which is by no means a universal standard, just what I like!
Top 5: Types of snow for riding
- Pow!- Powder is by far my favorite condition to encounter while riding and, to me, the more the better! Last season I was fortunate to be at Squaw Valley, in Tahoe, for a 100" storm. Each day was better than the one before. There is nothing like riding through waist or chest deep, light, fluffy, powder. In the northeast we are lucky if we get a handful of pow days a season but we definitely know how to take advantage of them when they come! The best spot in New England for finding pow is indisputably Jay Peak, located in the far north in Vermont.
- Spring Slush - Like I said, this is not a universal ranking, just my preferences. Maybe it's the spring temperatures and riding in a t-shirt that sways my emotions, but I love spring conditions. As the mountains start to thaw you can usually ride all day on a nice layer of wet snow. It is great for throwing hacks, surf style, and is pretty forgiving when you are in the park and take a spill. You will get wet, this stuff is notorious for making its way through even the most waterproof of outerwear, but luckily it will be sunny and warm!
- Man-made/granular - If I can't have natural powder I can deal with some man-made stuff. Some resorts have perfected the art of producing snow and can create relatively light, nice snow for riding. I guess I would include "cord" in this category, for corduroy, or freshly groomed by a snowcat. I'd rather the mountains never groom but they have to try to keep the snow down somehow.
- Crusty/hard-pack - We get a lot of this on the east coast. It may not snow for a few weeks and what is left is a windblown, over-groomed, sun-baked surface.
- Ice - It is often said that if you learn to ski/ride in the northeast you can do it anywhere in the world. Seasons spent scraping down the sides of mountains perfect your edge skills and harden you physically through countless falls onto the rock hard ice. When riding backcountry in New England it is overwhelmingly likely that you will spend the entire day on ice unless you happen to find some pow (see #1).
Those are my thoughts for the day...here's to powder!