A snowboard guide for hitting the slopes in California

A snowboard guide for hitting the slopes in California
Source: Pexels, John Robert-Nicoud

If you’re looking for some winter fun in California, we have the ultimate snowboard guide to get you started. When the world dreams of California they often envision bikini-clad surfers tearing up the coast with their boards. Or maybe they picture ripped jeans, alleyways and trick skateboards. Most Californians know one season of sun and regard snow as a beautiful stranger.

When tired of subpar surfing conditions and bored of pavement and skate parks, where do Californians flee? You can’t overlook the breathtaking peaks and world-class ski resorts that emerge once you escape the beaches. From Tahoe to, yes, even Southern California, you can surf powder throughout the state.

More of a water sport person? Don’t fret, snow is only frozen water that won’t drown you or surprise you with territorial sea creatures lurking underneath it. You’d be surprised at the similarities between snowboarding on fresh powder and surfing choppy waves. Ditch that surfboard and wet suit for a snowboard and ski jacket and get ready to learn how to surf some of the most stunning mountains in America with our California snowboard guide.

How to snowboard if you are just getting started

If you aren’t prepared to make an investment prior to learning the art of snow surfing, take a lesson at a ski resort. All of the resorts listed in this article offer killer lessons with passionate and fun instructors. One snowboard instructor in Banff, Alberta chuckled that snowboarding is difficult to learn and easy to master – unlike skiing, which tends to be the reverse. You’ll often hear this saying when you are learning how to snowboard.

Fast forward on the frustration of spending the majority of your time on your hands and knees by taking a lesson. Or, if you’re lucky to know someone equipped, pester one of your shredder friends to teach you. While a multitude of similarities exist between surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding, the difference in terrain necessities a difference in technique and attire.

Places to snowboard in California

With 12 areas to ski and snowboard, the Tahoe region gets up to 600 inches of snowfall each year. The resorts offer ample lodging nearby for those seeking a getaway. If you crave the city, the resorts are located only a couple hours from the San Francisco Bay Area. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced snowboarder, the powder and sunshine of Tahoe provide the perfect terrain.

Further south, Mammoth Mountain steals the show with more than 3,000 acres of land dedicated to snow sports. Unfortunately, crowds flood the mountain due its desirable location and terrain. If you want to avoid crowds, check out the twin of Mammoth – June Mountain. While it’s smaller, both mountains boast plenty of bluebird powder days. Americans often hold Southern California as the epitome of sunshine and surf, but just two hours away from Los Angeles stand Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. True to So-Cal’s park rat nature, these two mountains have some of the best terrain parks in the country.

A California snowboard guide

While a multitude of similarities exist between surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, the differences in terrain require a difference in the sport’s technique and attire. For all you pavement fiends and wave chasers, look no further for a comparison between the three best forms of shredding.

Snow conditions vary according to the temperature, the amount of snowfall and more factors. Snowboarding on soft powder differs greatly from snowboarding on hard packed snow. While powder feels more like surfing a wave, hard packed snow can feel like carving your way down a road. Look out for ice patches that blend into the mountain – just like you would look out for rocks on the water and the pavement. Just like skateboarding and surfing, most put their left foot forward unless they’re goofy-footed, but learning to ride switch (both right and left foot forward) guarantees more versatility in your technique and experience.

Once you’ve mastered the art of snowboarding, consider investing in some high quality gear. If you spend enough time at the mountain, having your own gear could save you a ton of money. Aside from warm attire, you’ll need a board, bindings and boots.

Consider both your height and weight when selecting a board, but place more emphasis on weight. Remember that the shorter the board, the easier it is to control. Next take into account the curve of the board’s profile, which is camber, rocker or both. While camber offers a steady grip on hard snow, turn stability, control at higher speeds and springiness, rocker allows the board to float on powder, provides easier maneuverability and performs well in the park. If you’re looking for a combination, underfoot camber and tip and tail rocker is the way to go.

As for bindings, make sure they are compatible with the board. Rubber bindings are more durable and less likely to need maintenance. Boots require a snug fit, and it’s important that your heels stay in place with only an inch or so of rise.

Snowboarding is an excellent option for getting outside in California during quarantine as well. Once you’re set with new gear, hop on your new board and ride up and down California from Tahoe to Bear Mountain and bask in the sun and snow.

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