From the Top: Resort Rider

If I were a backcountry bad-ass, believe me, I’d be claiming it. But I’m not. I’m a resortrider. In fact, I have virtually no business in the serious backcountry whatsoever at this point. That maychange over time as I gain skill and experience, but for now you’ll mostly find me inside the ropes. And that’sa good thing. I’m stoked to explore the inexhaustible supply of high-grade resort riding scattered about theglobe. I’ll never get to all of ’em. Jackson Hole, Targhee, Crested Butte, Snowbird, Mt. Baker, Lake Louise,Tahoe-lots of places come to mind I’m dying to check out.

Then there’s Europe-the Alps, the Pyrenees … Jeez. Las Leñas sounds happening down Southern Hemi way, with frenzied revelers blowing the roof off the place nightly. Maybe Portillo or Termas in Chile. And let’s not forget New Zealand’s clubfields. Even Japanlooks insane. Hell, I could ride resorts in Iran if I really wanted to. See what I mean? I can get into plenty oftrouble without ever leaving the confines of the resort. All I have to do is duck into the trees or stumbleacross a little rock jump and I’m in over my head. I’m much better off in-bounds, and I don’t think I’m alone.

The sad reality is that most of us are strapped to desks and other assorted work-a-day paraphernalia far toomuch, disabling us from logging as much sliding time as we’d like-the kind of time it takes to achievebackcountry bad-ass status, say. I’m quite happy riding where someone else looks out for potential slides,blasting when necessary, and qualified rescue and medical personnel are on hand to haul me out of whateverunfortunate and ridiculous situation I happen to stick myself into. How sweet it is to be delivered atop asnowy peak via chairlift, let alone the plush confines of a gondola. It’s easy to take the miracle of lift-servicefor granted, but ponder for a minute how bummed we’d be without it. And beyond the lifts, lodge, and all theother obvious upsides of resorts, the subtle details complete the divine package-restrooms, snot-ragdispensers, tools for binding adjustments, freshly laid corduroy, hot chocolate, cold pilsner … ah yes,resplendent resort riding. Besides, the backcountry is no place for the uneducated. Can you dig a snow pitand assess stability? Do you know how to use a beacon? Could you save my life? No? Then, by all means,join me at the resort until we learn.

Even experienced backcountry riders get caught in vulnerable spots sometimes. Just ask veteran snowboard-mountaineer Stephen Koch, who narrowly escaped with his life after getting caught in a slide this spring. Why wouldn’t it happen to you? Feelin’ lucky? Actually, you shouldfeel lucky-we’re all fortunate to have such great places to snowboard, from your local hill to that hugeEuropean resort you can’t wait to ride. Yeah, I’m a resort rider. And that’s cool by me. Best Regards, Ewan Morrison Managing Editor