Corey Smith marched past, brandishing an exaggerated swallow tail with teal bindings. "How are you doing man?" he asked.
"Good. Still adjusting to this 9,000 feet elevation shit," I said standing a few feet off to the side of the trail on a pass overlooking Lake Tahoe.
"Is it that high? It's tough alright."
Nodding in agreement, I took off my gloves and shoved them in my pocket.
"Last time I hiked in the back country was... eight years ago almost to the day with Jarad Hadi and Nick Dirks. Remember that winter when there was no snow on Hood?"
"That winter was a huge buzz kill. Nowhere got much snow," Corey recollected.
"We came down here to South Lake and shredded pow and handrails for a week. So fun."
The wind ripped a blast of loose snow down from around the group of trees on top of the hill. Corey kicked his snowshoes into the next holes and continued up the grade. Pulling my board from the snow, I tightened the ratchets on my snowshoes and awkwardly side-stepped back onto the boot pack trail.
At the summit, we regrouped and waited for the stragglers. Despite having snowboarded only a few times in the last two years, the motion of kicking my heel into the back of my binding and then ratcheting the toe strap brought back memories of countless days spent hiking out of bounds on Mt. Hood and other mountains around the Cascades. Standing up with both feet strapped in, I shuffled the board into position in the lineup.
The sound of clicking bindings worked to a frenzy and then stopped. Grabbing my snowshoes, I shoved them into my backpack and clicked the waist strap.
"You guy's ready to rip?"
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Corey cuts out the boards from sheets of plywood, shapes them with a sander and planes and then glasses the top and bottom with polyester resin, all in his studio in downtown LA. Designed for powder, the boards ride more like a surfboard than a conventional snowboard. No two boards are the same. Check out Spring Break Snowboards for more info.
Surfing doesn't just happen in the water.
Walking on the ridge line. That's Reno off to the left.
Brendan Gerard hitchhiking.
Powder hoggin' it.
Erick Messier brandishing his sword.
With a hoot, Eric Messier and Ben Rice dropped in, leaning huge turns down the exposed face. Their carves sent fresh Sierra snow shooting behind them like the wake of a water ski. Grinning with anticipation, I slid forward on my heel edge into position.
Next Corey dropped, taking a different line towards a small group of trees to our right. Leaning in, he let his hand touch the snow, sending a wall of snow towards a filmer and photographer.
"You ready?" Brendan Gerard inquired, in a tone suggesting that I should shit or get off the pot.
"Born ready," I joked, transferring my weight to my right foot and kicking the nose of the board out towards the bottom of the hill. With a crunch, I slowly slid forward.
Here are some more links,