From The Top 5#2


Initial impressions of the bird.

There's been this possibility floating in the ether for the past month or so, a trip to New Zealand to cover an extreme contest. It'd be my first time to New Zealand, and I was fighting hard to contain my excitement because the plans were looking dodgey at best. It happens constantly for all sorts of reasons–a trip in the works is scrapped or postponed due to weather, scheduling, whatev. As time went on I finally convinced myself I wasn't going, and after a few licks at the old water nipple, I lumbered back onto my XXL habitrail and settled in for the long haul. Such is life.

But then it happened–last minute, of course. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place via e-mail and just like that, I'm on my way to N-ZED. With less than a week before my flight, I suddenly discovered tons of loose ends to tie up (including knocking out this story) and started scrambling around like a raving lunatic.

People in my office probably think I'm stressed trying to wrap things up, which I am. But more than that, I'm grappling with the all-too-apparent realization that within a few days I will finally face the iron bird.

Despite any glamorous misconceptions, I'm not hopping out of A-Stars every week, privately racking up ungodly amounts of untracked in one exotic range after another. I wish. I'm really an office stooge just like you. In fact, I've never even been in a helicopter, let alone gone heliboarding. And therein lies the root of my mounting anxiety.

I mean, it all sounds so dreamy in the fantasy realm … You and a few other lucky ducks drop out of the heli atop the peak and huddle together as it lifts off, circles away, and leaves you in utter silence. Vast, knee-deep bowls of perfect powder await the quiet slice of your gleaming edges, etc, etc. … but once you're actually committed to flying, it's a different story.

You start considering the inevitable realities of kicking your entire snowboarding experience to another level. The whole operation is equal parts Green Beret, Lewis and Clark, and Candyland, and I've got to be honest with you, I'm nervous as hell. Incredibly excited, but nervous.

The thought of the helicopter alone sends chills up my spine, and then there are monster sloughs to contend with, and bergschrunds, terrain traps, and dizzying steeps … is it hot in here? I think I need some fresh air.

Some of my ever-helpful workmates who've already experienced heliboarding have been giving me tips–about the heli, about powder riding–while others just maniacally cackle, hazing me like this was a moose-lodge initiation or something. And it is an initiation of sorts–office jerk goes heliboarding. So for all office jerks of the world, and even those poor, huddled locals who may never get the opportunity even though they've put in 1,000 days–this one's for you. And I won't let you down. That's a promise.

To be continued …

Best Regards,




Ewan Morrison

Managing Editor

*the study of birds.

Tune in next month to find out if I harnessed the glory of the iron bird or got bucked like the pathetic bag of bones I am.–E.M.