no snow

Top 5: Types of snow for riding

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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's to powder!

5 things to do during a no-snow winter

I am a snowboarding fanatic.  During the 2010-2011 season I managed to get out on the slopes for over 80 days from November through April.  So far this year I have tallied a total of two days on the snow - and one of those days was after a surprise October storm in NH.  So what to do during a dismal winter season?

  1. "Winter" Hiking-

    I like to get out into the back country.  At this time of year I usually have my board with me to take advantage of fun, hidden trails but, alas, not this year.  Instead of needing snowshoes I have managed to get by with just some three-season boots and occasionally using my microspikes.  I have found some deeper snow drifts up in the White Mountains but the majority of every trail still has exposed leaves, rocks, and streams making it feel more like fall or spring hiking than anything else.  With few others using the trails and pristine views through leafless trees, hiking should be on your list of to-do's this winter.

  2. Indoor Rock Climbing-

    Having not tackled ice-climbing yet and with it being too cold to harness up in the great outdoors for rock climbing, an indoor gym seemed to be the best bet for this year.  Some buddies and I found a great place in southern New Hampshire that converted an old mill building into a myriad of different walls.  One of the best features is an old six story elevator shaft with four or five different routes up - definitely not for those who are afraid of heights.

  3. Travel-

    I am not against flying in search of good snow but this year all the go-to powder spots like Tahoe, Utah, and Colorado seem to be devoid of the white fluffy stuff.  So the next best alternative to snow in my mind is sand (and warm water). I chose to hit up the Caribbean for a week of scuba (usually not a winter sport in New Hampshire) and then a multi-week road trip to Florida to learn how to kiteboard.  Yes, I am lucky to have a flexible schedule as a summer camp director, but a quick jaunt to a warmer locale is not impossible for the student or 9-5 worker out there.  The first step is to pick an activity - scuba, sail, surf, the list goes on - and narrow down some prime locations.  Step two is to scour the internet for special fares or last minute flight discounts.  Step three is to either find a friend's couch, a hostel, or an inexpensive hotel near the beach in your chosen destination.  Lastly, put it all together, pick a week that you're off from school or can cash in some sick days, and let the fun begin!

  4. Museums and attractions-

    On days when you are all adventured-out there is nothing better (or cheaper) than adding some culture to your life.  Almost every major city has a few free or cheap museums to visit where you can learn new things, meet new people, and get away from the TV/video games/computer.

  5. Get into a new hobby- This winter I have been working on new cooking recipes (mostly so I am not forced to experiment on my campers this summer).  With the proliferation of youtube videos on literally any topic you need not go further than your computer to learn a new instrument, take a college course, perform a science experiment (don't blow anything up, please), or any of a thousand other video options.  Do not just sit back and watch, though, a hobby is something you do with your hands and mind, not laying back on your couch or computer chair.

Use this list as a jumping-off point to think of your own fun things to do this winter season! If you're lucky enough to live somewhere that has some great snow you should be out there every day you can because that's what I would be doing.