You wake in the morning, yawn, stretch, roll out of bed, pull open the shades and see a sight so glorious it brings tears to your eyes. A plush white blanket shrouds every inch of the ground for as far as you can see. The mountain, blessed with inches upon inches of heavenly powder, calls down from the peaks to the foothills, beckoning shredders far and wide.
The evening before flowed with libations into the wee hours, so you can only fit in a half day. Just the thought of all of that tantalizing powder being boarded out by early morning grommets makes your skin crawl. Never fear, dig deep into that brilliant gray and explore your options; where there's a will there's a way.
Before you begin your quest for virgin snow, attain knowledge about the risks of out of bounds snowboarding and get to know the mountain terrain. Unlike groomed slopes, you will not have the safety of ski patrols, trail signs or avalanche control.
Wearing an avalanche beacon somewhere on your person is always a great first safety precaution. Now that safety's covered, let's start the hunt. One of the easiest ways to seek fresh powder is to poach out of bounds. Follow the cat-track past the groomed runs until you hit an expanse of trees. Scope out the terrain, and if there are few to no snowboarding tracks winding through, and sufficient room between the trees, go for it.
Drop in to the alpines and experience the floating sensation of untouched white goodness. You will find that dodging trees through powder will greatly enhance your boarding expertise over time, just don't get trapped in the tree wells.
For the hard core snowboarder, you can bomb the fresh powder, and while you're at it, keep your wallet phat for apres mountain fun. Load your pack with your essentials and gear, strap on your board, and start hoofing it like a mountain goat. This allows you multiple, diverse terrain options, and the only catch is the hard work it takes to get there. Once you are on the descent, floating through your own nirvana, you'll realize how much the effort was worth it.
For those of you who snowboard and work hard for a living too, there are the more spendy, yet exhilarating alternatives of helicopter and snowcat snowboarding. The majority of large resorts offer both options. You will be able to access the most pristine, untouched snow on the mountain, and behold the spectacular scenery along the way.
- Erin Stokes