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Top 10 Must Ride Runs April 5, 2006

As the season dwindles, the snow melts, it totally begins to dawn on us that pretty soon, we’re going to have wait a ludicrously long time until we are riding again. There’s only one thing to do in this situation: Start planning for next season.

For riders out there not lucky enough to be a guide at Silverton, a Yellowstone club member, or the ski school director at Heavenly, now is the time to start thinking about next year’s objectives. To help you out, here’s our own wholly unobjective list of our top 10 “must-do” runs on the snowboard circuit. We’ve already pillaged some of these ourselves, and some are on the list for the near future, but we aren’t telling which. Make your travel plans now, bitches.

10. The Minturn Mile — Vail, CO. Traverse out of the back country gate off of the rider’s left of the game creek bowl and head downhill from there. You may or may not get some powder turns at the top, but that’s hardly the point. The “mile” is nearly 5 miles worth of banked slalom, luge and boardercross turns (which in the spring, involves ollieing creeks, rocks, and mud at high speed.) It leads you to the mellow backwater hamlet of Minturn where you can chug the best margaritas ever as you wait for the bus to take you back to Vail. An added bonus is that you sure as shit won’t deal with the Prada ski gear crowd, making Minturn the best apres scene anywhere inside of Eagle, CO and the Vail Pass.

Totally the East Coast, Brah9. Tuckerman’s Ravine — Mt. Washington, NH. The 2.4 mile hike from Pinkham Notch covers about 1,800 vertical feet, but will take you one of the steepest and most legendary bowls this side of the continental divide. Tuckerman’s is a rite of passage for hardcore New England skiers and riders and something every snowboarder should experience. Getting to top of this beast requires patience and flexibility, as Mt. Washington has some of the most freakish weather on the planet. Hurricane force winds and sub freezing temps can pop up even in the summer months, and unless you want to die of exposure, you have to respect the conditions and the terrain. Still, the run down the Ravine is definitively the best and most unique spring riding on the east coast.

8. Pond Skimming Contest — Your Local Resort, USA. Is there anything better than the satisfaction of the perfect weight back motion that allows you to cruise across the pond unmolested? We wouldn’t know, but we’re certain it’s even more fun to get a friend drunk and then watch them tailslide into the drink. A good pond skimming contest turns even the prudest small ski resort into a fleshy festival of bacchanalian excess. If your nearest resort doesn’t have one in the spring, you should really think about moving.

7. King’s Crown or Payday Park — Park City, UT. Unless you ride here everyday, you probably aren’t going to get to take laps with Shaun White and MFM like Park City promises, but so what, PC’s parks are some of the best in the country. They are well maintained, creative, and offer some of the best jib and jump lines on the planet. These parks will get you Sal Masekala-style stoked faster than you can say “fractured clavicle”. Also, TW snow readers recently voted Park City as the number one park destination in the country. Actually, that doesn’t mean much unless you value the opinions swarms of 16 year olds who have only ridden 2 resorts in their life, but regardless, the PC jib lines are must ride terrain.

Peak 106. Fourth of July Bowl at the Peak 10 Summit — Breckenridge, CO. To get here legally, head out the gate from the top of the Merc chair on Peak 9 and cross the valley to hit the Peak 10 road. Alternatively, you can sneak around the ski patrol hut at the top of the Falcon chair and follow the ridge all the way to the top. Either way, you’ll hoof it up at least 2,000 feet of vert at super high altitude (over 13,600 ft at the summit), making the trek there a brutal, lung-busting ordeal. From the summit though, you’ll know it was worth it — the 4th of July Bowl is a consistently steep and long pitch that holds onto champagne powder days and days after a big dump.

The back country in the ten mile range is no place to fuck around, so if you aren’t holding the right avi gear and the skills to operate it, you can opt instead for the Lake Chutes on Peak 8, in bounds and easily accessible from the new Imperial super chair. Then again, you won’t be able to enjoy a beer on the Beaver Run sundeck and point knowingly to Peak 10 and the lines you and your buddy left earlier in the day.

Mmmmm... Forbidden Trees5. Forbidden Trees — Niseko, Japan. Snowboard nerds can argue about weather the snow in Hokkaido is better than it is in Utah, but either way, the island has one of the worlds best and deepest maritime snow packs and is home to tree riding unlike anywhere else. Did you happen to see the Community Project? Yeah, it was a little over hyped but how incredibly solid did those trees runs look. Snow Monkeys, sake, and fresh Sapporo beer are all gravy on top of the world’s most enticing terrain for tree loving riders.

Corbet's Couloir.  Not Pictured:  Ski Patrol4. Corbet’s Couloir — Jackson Hole, WY. At the top of the now defunct aerial tram (or whatever will replace it in the coming seasons) is one of the steepest and most intense chutes in bounds at any ski resort on the planet. Sure, Jackson has incredible and super accessible back country terrain, but only an idiot or professional would huck themselves into something as intense as Corbet’s without knowing that a well trained ski patrol staff is ready for a rescue just a few yards uphill. The entry into Corbet’s is no freaking joke — the cornice at the top can be anywhere from 10 to 30 feet high, is surrounded by huge rock walls, and the landing is a 50 degree pitch that is often riddled with ruts and bumps. As the run out widens though, you’ll find yourself in some of the best and most untracked snow in bounds in Teton county. Somehow, the possibility of death and dismemberment prevents most skiers and riders from heading in there, and the nearest traverse doesn’t meet the couloir until almost at the top of the ten sleep bowl, hundreds of yards below. Unfortunately, bragging about Corbet’s won’t get you laid at the Mangy Moose unless you can prove you dropped it with a cab 5.

The Matterhorn.  Not pictured:  Italian Grappa3. The Theodulgletscher — Zermatt, Switzerland. Situated just underneath of the Matterhorn is one of the most wide open and best cruisers on earth. Unless you roll off piste (and hopefully you know where the fissures are if you do), the terrain there isn’t going to be that challenging. But, it’s pretty hard to beat the experience of laying ruts at high speed while twisting along the base of the best looking mountain ever. To do this run right, head over to Cervina for a banging Italian meal and grappa around lunchtime, and then proceed back over the Theodulpass to get your carve on as you roll all the way back into Zermatt. Stopping for drinks at Stafelalp or Furi is optional, just make sure you keep your speed on the lower mountain, because skating in Switzerland sucks as much as it does everywhere else.

The Perfect Storm2. Moonlight Riding at Loveland Pass — Summit County, CO. Taking a run from the top of Loveland pass by moonlight requires a lucky intersection of all kinds of conditions. Besides a full moon, you need good snow, a clear evening, reasonable temps and low avalanche danger. If you happen to be in Summit County when this happens get up to the top of Loveland Pass for one of the most epic runs of your life. A short hike from the parking lot at the top of the pass will get you to the less tracked snow and the moonlight conditions will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. Getting back to the top requires only that you can hitchhike and aren’t afraid to climb the pass in the back of a rickety pickup driven by a drunk and injured snowboarder. Alternatively, you can wind down and wait to get picked up at the pagan celebration by one of the bonfires at the bottom of the run.

Just another Alaskan spring1. Any Line Heliriding in the AK. Here’s a challenge: Find any snowboarder who has ever done a heli tour in Alaska and DOESN’T claim that it’s the best riding they’ve ever done. Now go to your snowboard video collection and find a video that doesn’t contain footage of riders flying down giant untracked peaks in the Chugach range. Finally, imagine wide open riding on mega steep, totally untracked faces covered with consistent, light and waist deep powder that goes on and on for thousands of vertical feet that runs almost into the Pacific ocean. Enough said, right? Rolling with one of the heli operations from Cordova or Valdez will require that you first accumulate gigantic sums of money, but weather you do this by prostituting yourself, robbing a bank, or spending the summer in an office building, it will be worth it. Otherwise, why would all the heli operations places already be nearly booked for the prime weeks (late March, early April) in 2007? Get on top of this one soon before they start drilling for oil up in them thar hills.

Know about a run that belongs in this list? Want to heckle us for posting about your favorite spot on the ole intraweb? Drop us some comments or mail.

Rangers gone Riding March 24, 2006

Brokeback MountainUs Rangers need to get some riding in while the riding is VPstill good. We’ll be taking a break to head to an undisclosed location for some spring riding. In order to keep our anonymity we will not publish our intended destination but if you are super sleuth and think you’ll be stomping it up at the same locale, look for the dudes steezing it up with the Magnum PI mustaches.

Magnum

Be back in about a week or when our money runs out!

Plant the Seeds of Freedom March 21, 2006

Marc EmeryMarc Emery is the fucking man.  Not because he smokes pot, but because he is willing to put his entire life on the line for a cause he believes is important.  That cause is 2 parts marijuana law reform and one part free speech.  The later is what we are most interested in addressing — but so we’re all on the same page, here’s our gonzo-style back story on the guy.  (Which you get in a more proper form here.)

For years, Marc has been living in Vancouver, advancing the cause of marijuana law reform.  He’s spent millions of dollars of his own money sponsoring marijuana reform candidates, funding pro-marijuana lobbies, and generally speaking out against the fascist and dogmatic war on drugs.  He earned these millions operating a bookstore and selling marijuana seeds on the Internet, but has turned most of what he earned back into combating the drug war — he lives in a small apartment with his fiance, and doesn’t own expensive cars, have sweet investments or roll with lots of bling. 

Basically, this guy is the Johnny Appleseed of Pot with kind of a Mahatma Gandhi twist — he’s in it because he selflessly loves Joe Potsmoker and is tired of seeing him persecuted and jailed for wanting to gain a deeper appreciation of the latest Radiohead album.   

Emery has hardly been running a shady illicit operation.  His tax return specifies his occupation as “Marijuana Seed Vendor.”  He calls his method “revolutionary retail” or “capitalist activism” and half the point of his operation is to make a public issue out of marijuana laws.  The thing is the Canadian government is OK with it.  They know his deal, and haven’t really prosecuted him much except for a few fines here and there.  Unfortunately, our friends to the north are kind of like a wiser, more rational, and less athletic sibling who is forced to share a household with an aggro, sexually repressed, moronic and sometimes psychotic brother. 

Psychotic like the Evil Fucking Fascist Bastards at the DEA, who have managed to stretch their long and slithery arms out of their short-sleeve white collared shirts all the way from DC into Canada.  Emery is now facing extradition to the US and 30 years or more in a federal pen, in a country where he isn’t even a citizen and hasn’t visited of years.  How the DEA managed to arrest this guy is beyond us, but our best guess is since we have the bigger guns, sometimes Canadians have to acquiesce to our infantile demands.

MarcEmery-suit.jpgAlright, enough back story.  What we really want to talk about is a really interesting point that Marc made recently in a chat online at washingtonpost.com.  He believes that one of the biggest obstacles to the pro-marijuana agenda is that a police state in the US has prevented proper dissent and free speech on the subject. 

Sound like a ludicrous point?  When the DEA arrested him and raided his apartment and business, they claimed in a press release that his arrest was “a significant blow to the marijuana legalization movement.”  In the past, the DEA has used the RAVE act to force the cancellation of NORML rallies, and the feds even shut down pro-marjiuana advertising on the DC metro by threatening to deny metro federal funding. 

Doctors, lawyers, teachers, civil servants and countless other professionals face all kinds of legal repercussions if they are caught speaking out against the drug war.  Shit, even we are a bit nervous to write about it.

That’s bullshit, no matter how you feel about the drug war.  Just imagine for a second how scary the US would be if it started arresting people for speaking out against the Iraq war or social security reform.  But that’s exactly what we are doing with the drug war.

And that’s why Marc Emery will spend the next 30 years in jail.

A Gapers Guide for Dummies March 20, 2006

Flock of GapersThe reason why most of us have insurance is to protect against unexpectedmisfortune. Unfortunately, there is no insurance to protect us from interacting with the dreaded gaper. Here are a couple instances that we can review that will mitigate your exposure and reduce chaffing thanks to our pal the gaper.

Yappy Gaper on the Lift - Just like catching a cold, you can try to avoid them all you want but sometimes your luck runs our and you get stuck next to a Yappy Gaper on a the lift. The gaper misses all obvious queues such as loud music blearing from headphones that screams simply leave me alone and motions to you that they have something profound to say. Once you have fallen prey for this tactic your options are simple: Jump off the lift mid-air and flee, turn your music back on and ignore them (which may be foiled when they tap your arm again), tell them to shut the hell up, or partake in their lame verbal dribble. Rangers are squirrelly and resourceful riders which make all of those options feasible excluding the latter. So in case you are stuck in midst of lame conversation, reduce you interaction by asking the gaper a question which will get them talking about themselves for a painfully long time. Something like, “wow, you sure do have quite a collection of lift tickets, where did you get them and why don’t you remove them.”

Aggressive Frat Gaper in Lift Line - Not all fratties are lame, just the ones who sport frat gear and let you and the world know it. In a recent interaction with one of these gapers, Aggressive Frat Gaper became a little too cagey with a fellow rider. The rider was rocking out to The Bravery when Aggressive Frat Gaper began trash talking because 1) He thought the rider could not hear him, and 2) the rider deftly cut in front of him due the lifty being awol. In that situation you can not let anyone of your crew get bested by a gaper, even if your boy is in the wrong. The solution that works best is to turn to Aggressive Frat Gaper and ask him, “hey are you a ?” he’ll perk up and say “ why yes, I am a from (some lame college or university), are you a ?” Now is when you gain mad steez and say with a straight face say “No.” and turn around as if the conversation never happened. He’ll look stupid and you successfully defended your boy who is still blazing The Bravery and has no clue what transpired.

Single Gaper

These are just two techniques for dealing with gapers but there are many more out there….. you got one you would like to share with your fellow riders, post it in the comments section.

Is anything better than a good snowboarding injury? March 17, 2006

What a dumb question. Lots of shit is better than a snowboarding injury, like stomping your first boardslide, hucking yourself off a cliff on a powder day, or that bottomless feeling in your nutsack that you get when you bomb off a roller and realize that there was a slight miscalculation about how much air you planned to get.

Injury is part of the deal, but we’ve learned to enjoy it, just like a circus performer learns to enjoy the smell of elephant shit.

i am jack's broken armRecently, the Gonzo Rangers team headed off to an undisclosed back woods resort for a long weekend of spring riding and getting all busted up. On the first day, we rolled as a giant snowboard calvary pack, but on the second, our ranks took a casualty, when one of our knights, the Rocket, reached terminal velocity on his deck and them promptly smashed into a 50 year old woman.

i am jack's repaired armThankfully, they can reassemble your broken limbs pretty easily these days, in this case all it took was 13 screws, 2 plates, some saws, a couple of pints of blood, and some needle nose pliers.

Injury is the random ugly dude at your party that doesn’t really know anyone else but who showed up because he works with your girlfriend and overheard her talking about the party at work.  You pretend he’s not hanging out but sooner or later you have to acknowledge him, especially if he gets drunk and starts singing show tunes. Still, you try not to let him ruin an otherwise good time.

GashyWe are certain about one thing. Injury is singularly the only good reason for not being out riding right now. Any other excuse; work, school, hangover, whatever; is just weak sauce when you consider that the guy with this gash is sitting in his old navy boxers, nursing his wounds, and silently knowing that it’s March and he’s not out spring riding in the sunshine.Navy:  Accelerate your life

Comments, or more gory snowboard pics to send us? mail them in, and we’ll pour out a front 3 for you, homie.

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