So, a few comments...
First, snowboarding has an extremely steep learning curve. However, the plateau at which you become sufficient isn't that high-up. The trick, IMHO, to deal with the steep learning curve is to go A LOT when you are first learning. If you go infrequently, it will take you a long time to "re-learn" what you had forgotten since the last time you went. With a steep learning curve, the more persevernce you can muster at the start, the better. This will also help reduce the amount of time it takes to get over the initial learning curve hump, and get you up and running at a decent level.
The down side to this is the pain. It hurts like hell to learn how to ride. Knees, tailbone, and wrists. However, there are ways to minimize that; pads. How much gear you want to wear is really a personal preference. Look at the NFL. You see some players wearing pants with no pads in them at all. Others have much more gear on. It's just a matter of what you feel comfortable with.
"Nancy Ninja Nabs Nefarious Nymph. Pays Price Per Pissed Pants!" -Flick
"Up, up, my people, let smoke and flame be our sign!"
-The White Rose Society
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