It's June, and I haven't been snowboarding for a few weeks now. I soooo miss it - this season has been the one for me - from a dude who'd usually pick blue, I went to sailing the diamonds. Ha!
Here's why I got into this: I like mountain landscapes, and in the winter, getting a great view of them pretty much requires skiing / snowboarding / etc. So, this lame cellphone picture is from Heavenly, which I went to because it delivers the best views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. The blue sky, the fresh white snow covering the pine forest, and the deep, clear lake. Now imagine how much fresh air you can get there - probably more in an hour than in Mountain View all day.
Just for now, I'll summarize the season a bit, by listing the places I visited, with rough estimated stats and a tagline or two for each.
Heavenly, California, 15-20 days: This place has the prettiest views of Lake Tahoe, a steep slope called the "Widow Maker", and "Nevada Woods", which is the best forest for powder skiing I can think of. And it's big.
Kirkwood, California, 5-10 days: Prettiest rocks and great snow. "Thunder Saddle" rocks, as do "The Nostrils" or whatever they're called.
Wasserkuppe, Germany: Hey, it's much better than sitting inside reading a book! A roundtrip (including the T-bar) takes 5 minutes, without unstrapping - and it's close to home, too.
Spitzingsee/Rosskopf, Germany: Am I scared of the Tellerlift? No more. But I am scared of skiers walking over my board. Uncivilized Germans!
Alpine, California: I felt like an ice scraper here - do they ever get real snow?
Vail, Colorado: Exploring the far end of this place with a buddy felt like hiking strapped to my snowboard. And China bowl is positively divine.
A-Basin, Colorado: Breathtaking altitude, literally, especially, in the afternoon, after a flight, from, like, SJC, without getting, - gasp - , much, sleep, the night, before...
Keystone, Colorado: Getting to the best spots here takes effort: Lift ride + snowcat + hiking. Well worth it though!
Breckenridge, Colorado: This is the highest alitude I've snowboarded at - just short of 13k feet, with the "Imperial Superchair". Once discovered this chair, I stayed there all day - it's unreal. My favorite slope is the "Lake Chutes", which requires a little hike from the top of the lift. Actually this might be my favorite slope ever.
Mammoth, California: Best feature: they closed last in California. The people I met in the gondola there had serious LA attitude - gotta say - not my wavelength. Still, once out and about on the slopes with some fresh snow - ah, not so bad after all!
These were the locations. The other part is that I met a lot of nice people while hanging out on these mountains. From a short chat on the lift to sharing a ride or a room or a meal, it's a relaxed way to make friends.
OK, let's be optimistic and consider this post a sneak preview - I have pictures from many of these places and could probably write novels about my travels on individual mountains. I hope I'll get around to some more depth and detail this summer, reminiscing about all the beautiful snowflakes that made my winter. Melted away, but not to be forgotten.