Introducing The First Diaries, a weekly column in which one Coloradan documents her misadventures, trials, and triumphs in the outdoors as she tries a new activity or adventure each week. With humor, practical advice, and some serious real talk, our goal is to make the outdoor space a little less intimidating and a little more fun for all of us.
No matter how long you’ve been in Colorado, you know that “Powder day” = good. But here’s a little secret for you: Riding in powder is a completely different game than carving groomers. (Groomers, for newcomers out there, are runs that are tightly packed down by snowcats that smooth the trail nightly). Don’t get me wrong, deep powder is big fun—once you get the hang of it.
I’m embarrassed to admit my relative unfamiliarity with pow—it’s just not cool, and I’m a native, for John Elway’s sake! But in the spirit of this column, I think we need to talk about snowboarding in deep powder for the first time. So I’m breaking the ice (terrible pun intended).
On my first day in deep powder, I was with a couple of buddies who make it up to the mountain religiously. Frankly, I was honored to be brought along with them. I had been in fresh snow before, but nothing like this. My stoke was real, but as the first chair of the day scooped us up and carried us forward, I told my friends to just leave me.
“I don’t want you to have to wait for me,” I said. “And there’s a very high probability I’m falling when I get off this lift, so just heads up on that, too.”
My friend leaned in, gave me a look that unequivocally conveyed he wouldn’t be having any of my insecurity bull sh*t, and simply said, “Why?”
Why? Because I am going to look like a Grade-A goober cautiously cutting turns on the shoulders of the hill, and you’re going to be drawing elegant lines of perfection with speed and grace, and then waiting for me for ten minutes at the bottom of every run. That’s why.
If you’re like me, it gets scary before it gets fun. Releasing control unnerves me.
Then I realized, lousy people abandon their friends, and these were not lousy people. Pro Tip: Quality company is the most crucial ingredient to a stellar day on the mountain. Choose buddies who lift you up, not leave you. Even if you ask them to.
So, I just went for it, and it turns out that letting go was the trick all along. As I soon found, riding powder is all about trust. It demands you let go enough to keep your speed up, lean back, and let the back foot take more role in steering. If you’re like me, it gets scary before it gets fun. Releasing control unnerves me. But here’s what you do:
Muster faith in yourself that you won’t fall. It might be entirely unfounded faith, but if you do wipe out on a powder day, know that you’ll land in pillows of fluff that feel like a hug a from the Abominable Snowman—in heaven. It’s not bad.
Fortify your back foot and allow the rest of your body and mind the relax into that foundation. As you do, you’ll feel those heavenly pillows of frozen love rise up beneath your board. Let them carry you. Move from your toes to heels via your back foot to glide down the hill like an angel surfing the clouds above. Remember to smile, maybe even let out a yip or two.
Keep in mind that powder is sticky if you’re not keeping your speed up. If you get stuck, as I did multiple times that day, unstrap, smile proudly at the people on the lift watching or the frat stars flying past you, because once upon a time, they were in exactly the same position. Trudge to the top of the next pitch, point your board downhill, and enjoy.
Pro Tip: The Black Mountain Express (the first lift at the base of A Basin) might just be the easiest chair in Colorado to get off of for an awkward, nervous snowboarder like myself. And you can ride greens all the way down.
Mind Your Manners: If you think there’s a likelihood you’ll fall, sit on the outside edge of the lift to minimize the impact of your wipeout on others. It’s the courteous thing to do.
When was the last time you tried something new? How did it go? Connect with me on Instagram to tell me your stories. I can’t wait to hear about all of your (mis)adventures!
What We Believe
We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More