Photos and words by Ben Gavelda
They say simplicity is the mother of all design. For snowboarders, making things simpler is as easy as taking the bindings out of the equation. That's what a group of Kootenay pioneers did years back--a degression of sorts--that's actually led to progression. Snowboarding's simpler subculture (deemed noboarding, pow surfing, backyard boarding, whatever you want to call it) has a birthplace in Canada's Kootenay mountain range. And the annual celebration of such, a memorial for the life and death of one of its pioneers Greg Todds, went off this past weekend.
Curious of the allure and eager to join of this gathering for many years, I finally made the trip deep into the Koots for the ninth annual gathering. In reality, this event and the act of noboarding are simple; it's just garnering all the other elements, the truck, sled, location, food, snow, info and shelter that tend to complicate things. Once this is somewhat in order and you actually find the spot, a snowy hamlet nearly cut off from civilization, worry seems to go out the window. It's replaced with camaraderie, community and raising money for Greg Todds' family. See, there's a lot of mystery about the whole gig for good reason, the few locals simply don't want to blow up the spot. No interlopers. No kooks. Except for this one day, a rare time when the trolls under the bridge let you pass onto the promise land of deep pow and pillows.
This year the course was waist deep, borderline too deep to even move. Deep enough to swallow boards until the spring melt. Deep enough to leave riders literally swimming to their board. Local rippers "Young Dave" (Dave Seaton) and Ave Perry battled it out for first, trying to snap the course record of 0.47 seconds, which considering the run with no bindings and all, is nuts. Dave came out on top and so did his wife Eleanor who snagged first for the ladies. Must run in the family.
Staying atop a board with no bindings down a treed, pillowed, 30-40 degree pitch is rowdy. Equally rowdy on another level was the party crowd at the bottom who seemed unwavering in the cold. Psychedelic water, 10 a.m. caesars, fire pit jumping, human feces and general bullshit occupied the day, arguably fueled by MC Stew and accelerated into the evening auction and party. Craig Kelly photos, Grassroots and Snowshark boards, heli trips and a load of other goods were had at a steal, with all the loot going to the Todds family. After the weary slog back to Revelstoke, I sat down for some shitty Chinese food with Andrew Hardingham amidst a hammering snowstorm and left with this fortune cookie tale: "one must know that there is a path at the end of the road."