Shredding Hawai’i

Island syle. Gabi Viteri. Photo: Kevin Zacher
Island style. Gabi Viteri. Photo: Kevin Zacher

Snowboarding? In Hawai’i? ….Really? Yes, really. If you want to go, you can. There is snow. The volcano Mauna Kea-which stands for “white mountain,” rests higher than a lot of resorts in North America, topping out at 13,803 feet. Its treeless, moonscape presence is stranger than any resort you’d find in the states, too. But when a coastal storm flocks in, you might be lucky enough to hit it with “pineapple powder” as the locals refer to it. And beachside is close, really close, as this crew discovered. They slumbered by waves then rallied sea to sky, through any number of ecosystems, and slid snow at the top.

Elena High left Tahoe, Bev Vuimellier, too. Gabi Viteri left Summit County. Bryn Valaika left SoCal and the rest of the group trampled in from places unknown. Before they knew it, they were riding through a barren moonscape of the giant volcano. The was place dotted with space observatories, free of light pollution and thirteen-thousand feet closer to space. A perfect spot to gaze. The ladies’ wrote their way through the trip. Their journals served as postcards. This is what went down:

“After sitting at the airport pickup for an hour plus, not even noticing that’s a long time, is when I discovered I was on Hawaii time. The next day we woke to Elena screaming to get everyone up. Being tired from traveling we decided what better way to wake up than jump in the water and go for a swim. So we did. We climbed down the lava rocks and onto a platform right in front of our place. It didn’t get any better than that, enjoying the view, being here in Hawaii, in the middle of winter, with your friends. We dove in, swam, and got back to the house to see that my bags had been delivered, so we decided to go up to the mountain (at 1:00pm, Hawaii time). All we knew was that it was a two-hour drive and that you had to stop halfway to acclimate since you’re traveling from sea level to 14,000 feet.” -Gabi Viteri

“We went though every type of scenery there is–lush, green rolling hills with cows, desert, lava rocks, cactus fields…everything was there. Finally, we got to the visitors center where every car is required to pull over for at least 30 minutes. We changed into our snow pants and boots in the parking lot, Mount Hood style. The tourists stared at us and pointed, so we did the same and pointed back at them. Then drove another eight miles, climbing upwards of five thousand feet on washboard dirt roads. Finally, we started to see snow, even a few tracks. When we got out it was freezing. We all scrambled to find every last layer we could possibly throw on because it was so cold. Not only that, but the first run we went down was sheer ice–not the kind of ice that you can break through and keep an edge in, but the kind you uncontrollably slide on. At the bottom we all slid like twenty feet. Wow, and I was thinking Mt. Hood like conditions, you know tank tops and slush.” -Elena Hight

“We were a little nervous because our car was getting worked by the wind on the way up, but it was a clear, beautiful day so we kept our fingers crossed. We came across some rad rocks we could jump over. Everyone got a sweet grab. Elena-method, Bryn-nosegrab, Gabi-japan, Me-crail.” -Bev Vuilleumier

“The elevation was wearing on us and we were hungry, so we feasted picnic style. We laid down and before we knew it, we were all asleep, right next to this giant telescope. By the time Elena woke us, the light was nearly gone. So we scrambled to the top of this nearby peak for some sunset runs. It was so surreal up top, it looked like a postcard with the ocean way below. By the time we rode down it was dark and we piled into the car and headed back to sea level.” Bryn Valaika

“We all just woke up at the top of a volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We quickly realized we all had straight up passed out for an entire hour. So we jumped up, packed our picnic and got moving within seconds. We had to ride this sunset.” -Elena Hight

“The last thing we all wanted to do was ride down this beautiful mountain right before sunset…so we hiked up a boot pack, with the gnarly wind howling. We finally made it to the top, snapped a few photos, and when Zacher radioed to us to go…we went. It was the shittiest, but most beautiful run I have ever done. The sunset lit up the entire face. We got to the bottom and had nothing but smiles.” -Bev Vuilleumier