I gotta be honest, a good chunk of the photos you see throughout this magazine are taken in a place you might never go. It’s called the backcountry, and you get there by hiking and then hiking some more, or snowmobiling and then hiking, or (if you’re lucky) flying in on a helicopter. And the real truth is that the snowboarding experience you have is probably pretty different from that of a lot of pros, who spend their winter trying to get stuff done on film, which we both know doesn’t mean a day of mellow resort shredding. Still, there’s an undeniable place for resort riding in the life of a pro-read on to find out what that place is.-J.S.
What’s the real difference between backcountry and resort riding?
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“This question seems to be all about quality over quantity. When I spend a day in the backcountry, I strap on my snowboard less than I would during a day on the mountain-but every time I strap in, the run is picture perfect. One drawback with the backcountry, though, is that you can’t ride with friends who don’t have snowmobiles or 60 bucks to burn on gas, so that can be limiting. But there aren’t thousands of other people tracking out the lines in the backcountry, either.
“If I feel like riding a lot with a lot of friends, I head to the resort. But if I want sick powder all to myself, I head for the backcountry-for me, it’s a win-win situation.”
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“Resort riding is a helluva lot easier, but it can be more frustrating getting the goods. Riding resorts you put mileage on your board, an experience you just can’t duplicate in the backcountry. The backcountry can be the perfect scenario with great powder, stable conditions, good weather, and everything just coming together-but it rarely all comes together like that.
“I like them both, but if I had to choose, I’d hit the backcountry. Overall, there’re less people, more powder for myself, and if you know the terrain, you can get the goods and lap it again and again without the masses tracking it up. Well, Whistler is another case-the backcountry actually seems like a resort sometimes with over fifteen film crews and countless other shreds all fighting to get it on!”
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“My ultimate goal in snowboarding is to get as much pow as possible-and fortunately, both the backcountry and resorts can have epic pow. I think a good day hiking in your local backcountry can provide the best snowboarding in the world, even if you come from a place like Snow Summit, California, which isn’t usually known for epic powder.
“In the backcountry, you get a feeling of satisfaction knowing that you’ve worked harder than everyone else. Also, local knowledge of your own area and conditions can get you better conditions than spending a lot of money traveling to what everyone considers the best places-like Russia or Alaska. As for resort riding, it’s just like backcountry, but you can get twenty times more runs done in a day-but there’re also twenty times more tracks. In the end, I think backcountry is a little bit better, just because you can take the time to appreciate all of the perfect pow instead of racing around all day on the chairlifts to make sure nobody else gets it before you!”
Photo: Chris Owen