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I'm a pretty new snowboarder, and a late starter at 51. I started snowboarding in Feb/2009 after going up to Seymour with my daughter's class as a volunteer parent. I'd never seen snowboarders up close (hadn't been invented yet when I used to ski) and they looked like they were having a lot of fun.

So, I rented the equipment the next time out and gave it a try. I'm pretty sure I provided great entertainment that first day on the bunny slope. But hey, it was a lot of fun, so I kept at it. As it happens, I had just finished a contract, and because of the financial crisis I didn't get any work for the entire season. As a result I had a lot of time to practice. I probably got a full season's worth of riding in between Feb and the end of April. It was a great (half) season.

Last year, on the other hand, was crap. El Nino year. Bleah. It snowed heavily in November and in March, but very little in between. Mostly we shredded on re-ground ice that season. This year looks like it's going to be a good one. On Oct 26 (yesterday) it snowed on Grouse and Seymour. Not much, and it won't stick, but it's a start.

I spent my first season on a Morrow Lithium with Flow Five bindings. My second season was shared with that rig and a K2 Brigade with Cinch bindings. Never really fell in love with the K2, for all that it's better quality than the Morrow. This year, I have a Ride Havoc with Burton Mission bindings and (drum roll please) a Never Summer Heritage with Flow NXT-ATs. Damn, this is gonna be good. Or, I'm gonna bite it big time. Either or.

Let the games begin...
 

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So, here's what I want to accomplish for this season:

- Ride Switch at will
- Ride moguls at something more than a crawl
- swap in and out of switch at speed
- Do some basic 180s
- be able to handle at least small ramps
- be able to go off-piste without cratering
- 50/50 a box -- even a small one.

In addition, there's this video Side hits on Vimeo that I've mentioned before. I'd love to be able to do at least some of that stuff by the end of the season.
 

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My wife and I went up Seymour today with Petey the insane mutt. It was cold, which is probably why we didn't get eaten alive by bugs. In fact, it was snowing lightly once we were above the parking lot. And there was snow a couple of inches deep at the first flat spot on the Manning Run (where Joel's Flight ends and Velvet Gully starts). Petey ran around insanely (no surprise) doing donuts and spinouts. And he's got four-wheel drive!

Anyway, it's nice to see the white stuff on the mountain, even if only a little bit. I've been getting a little nervous. We're only 2 weeks away from mid-November, which is when I've been betting myself that they'd be opening up.

We're going to try to go up every Sunday for an hour or so, just to see how it's going.

Meanwhile, I waxed both my boards yesterday. The Ride really needed some work. Whoever had been waxing it before hadn't been doing a very good scraping job. There were thick accumulated patches and a couple of rough spots where crud had been waxed over and then not scraped away.

The Havoc has a fair amount of camber. It's a pretty traditional shaped board. The Heritage, of course, has the Vario-whatzit shape that NS has patented. But the important thing is that in the middle it's distinctly rocker. So I'm going to get a good chance to try out both styles of board this season.
 

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Well, it's Nov 8th, and still no snow-like activity on Seymour -- although the forecast for this week is looking hopeful. It's been suggested to me that last year's mid-November opening was an exceptional situation and that I shouldn't expect it every year. Screw that. I know how entitlements work. If I got it one year, I'm entitled to it every year! This is unacceptable. Who do I complain to?

Meanwhile, I've got my boards ready. The Morrow has been sold -- kind of an end of an era.

View attachment 5
 

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It's snowing on Grouse and Seymour today! I can see The Cut from the street, and it's WHITE! My wife looked at Seymour from home and it's WHITE! Finally, some progress.

I bought the Snowboard Addiction videos the other day. The download set includes buttering, jibbing, and jumping series, as well as a couple of bonus vids. I really like the buttering vids and I think they form the basis for what I'm going to be working on this season. I'll likely take on some of the simpler jumping exercises as well -- mostly side hits and such. I don't think I'm ready for a ramp jump yet, unless I get access to a small one like they have on Manning and Grouse. Hey, maybe if there's enough of the white stuff, Seymour will build up the Mushroom Bowl park into something useful.

I am *really* stoked about trying the NS Heritage. Between the Heritage and the Havoc, I have a rocker board and a traditional camber board. I'll really get a good opportunity to test the differences. And with the NXT-ATs and the Mission bindings, I'll be able to see if upscaling the bindings makes a noticeable difference.
 

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Things look to be finally gearing up. There's 8 cm at the parking lot on Seymour. There was a news segment on Global last night where they showed people hiking up Manning run from the parking lot, and it was all snow.

Meanwhile, Grouse has put up their winter web page, with accumulated snow fall and run statuses. That freezing level bump around Sunday to 3000+ meters keeps fluctuating, but the level drops to 900 a day or two after, so I'm going to write it off as an aberration.

I think the lesson here is that things cool off quickly after October. I hope.
 

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I went up the mountain today to see what's what. And woohoo, there's snow! About 3-4 inches at parking lot level, 6 inches or so by Northlands Park level. It was snowing while I was there, as well. There's snow all the way down Chuck's Place, although not much of course. Looking good!
 

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I bought new boots this weekend. Comor was having a clearance sale on last year's stock, plus lesser sales on new items. I ended up getting Ride Jackson Boas again -- this time a half-size smaller and in black.

I adjusted all my bindings this weekend. Made sure the boots are centered on the board, made sure the bindings are adjusted properly. Good thing, too. The Burton Mission bindings on my Ride Havoc were way off. Had to adjust the highbacks, and one of the toe straps was in a different detent on one binding, making it difficult to close that strap.

All good now, though.

The mountain continues to cool off. The 6-day forecast is looking good. Freezing level down to zero meters by mid-week. I'm no expert, but seems to me that means possibility of snow in the back yard! Hot damn!
 

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It's snowing on the mountains. It snowed a bit in Coquitlam today. Up to about 20 cm on Grouse. Who knows how much on Seymour? They really have to up their game with their web page...
 

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55 cm of new snow on Seymour in the last 24 hours. Grouse is opening today, at least with the bunny slope.

I went out to the street and looked up at the mountains. When I can see them, they're white all the way down.

It is good.
 

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The wife and I went up to Seymour today to check out the situation. And the situation is good. The snow is already better (and possibly deeper) than it was for most of last season. We snowshoed around Chucks Place, Mushroom, and halfway up Mystery. There were tons of skiers and boarders, and twice as many snowshoers. The grooming equipment was going gangbusters trying to fill in the creeks and dips. It's still pretty rough, but there's supposed to be some big dumps this week, so here's hoping...

The Seymour website says they'll announce opening date on Monday. I'm figuring next weekend at the latest.
 

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Today, Seymour announced their opening day as Thursday, Nov 25th. Hours will be 9:30 - 4pm weekdays, and 8:30 - 4:00 weekends. At the moment they are indicating that all Mystery Chair runs and the Goldie Tow Rope runs will be open.

This is all subject to snow levels, of course. And at the moment, the forecasts are predicting major snow dumps starting Wednesday night, continuing for at least 4 days. So if we get enough snow, the Lodge Chair runs will be opened up and night skiing hours will be instituted. Here's hoping.

I've booked Monday off. We'll probably go up Sunday for a while, although we're expecting insanity so we'll bring the snowshoes as well. Monday should be considerably better.
 

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Today is opening day at Seymour. After 200+ days of countdown on my whiteboard at work, it's finally hit the big goose-egg. The whiteboard now says "This space for rent" :) . As mentioned previously, Seymour is open daytime only at the moment, so no evening visits just yet.

It's been snowing pretty regularly the last week or two, and especially yesterday and today. I'm a little concerned though about the 6-day predictions from snowfix.com and snow-forecast.com . They're both forecasting the freezing level going well above 1000m around mid-next-week, and even going so far as to predict RAIN on the mountain. I don't have enough history yet to know if this is normal early-season behaviour or if we're looking at a repeat of last year, with an early dump then crap for 3 months. But, I guess that's the point of keeping a blog...
 

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was not here for the beginning of the season last year but in feb and march at lest once a week the freezing level would rise and the rain would roll in for a day or so...la nina will bring in some good snow for us this year hopefully cold and snowy is what i am hoping for.
 

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A few updates...

First, the rain predictions have evaporated. Although snow-forecast.com is showing the freezing level rising above 1000m on Monday, it's on just above and they're still predicting snow. So the takeaway is not to get too freaked out about those predictions.

Second, and far less good, it doesn't look like we're going up the mountain today. Scheduling issues are keeping us around home for the whole afternoon. I'd be fairly irate if we weren't planning on going up tomorrow anyway. And let's face it -- a full day on a weekday is better than a half-day on a weekend. :)

It's supposed to be snowing tomorrow as well. Actually, the predictors are predicting snow off into the immediate future. Looking good!
 

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Today was my first day of snowboarding on Seymour. It was great! Going during the week is definitely recommended. I don't think I had to wait for more than two chairs the whole day.

And the snow! It never stopped snowing, from opening until closing. And this isn't crushed and re-crushed frozen rain, or barely frozen snow-cones. Real, actual snow. I discussed snow-depth with one of the lifties, and we agreed that there was actually more snow base last year at this time. But from the end of November on, last year, it was crap. Rain, freeze, thaw, crush for 3 months. This year promises to be an actual snow year.

Not all runs were open, of course. There's not enough snow depth yet. Brockton chair is closed completely, Unicorn is closed, Pete's Run is closed, and everything off the Lodge chair except Chuck's Place is closed. But it's enough, for now at least.

This was also my first chance to use my new boards. I've posted a review on the Heritage here. I didn't ride the Ride much -- there are only so many hours in the day and I wanted to spend them with the Heritage.

I practiced spinning, and buttering in a straight line. Made some progress. Also managed to do some pretty reasonable 180s while on the fall line, using unweighting and counter-rotation. For next time, I think I want to practice ollies and nollies, and possibly some buttered spins.
 

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I'm sitting in the living room, thinking about snowboarding. I think this is going to be pretty common over the next several months.

Looking back at my last post, it was kind of sparse. But then, I was pretty tired. And sore. But, interestingly, not as bad as last year. And I seem to have more stamina. I guess the pre-season conditioning in the gym has made a difference. Cool.

So anyway, for my first day up the mountain, I managed to do a quite satisfactory job with ground spins. I've got them merged so they look like one spin and not two consecutive 180's. Still getting dizzy, mostly because I think I'm still looking at my board while I'm doing it. I'll have to try to break that habit.

I also managed to do reasonable butters in a straight line, although they were starting to curve towards the end there. I think I was getting tired and starting to lean.

Lastly, I think I'm starting to get the flatland shuffle. Just a bit.

For next time:
1) Start practicing ollies and nollies in place.
2) more work with flatland shuffle.
3) Start on buttered spins.
4) WAY more work on riding switch.
 

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This post is for two days of boarding – Sunday 12/5 and Monday 12/6. I booked Monday off again, for another 3-day weekend. On Sunday I went up using transit, with the family joining me later. Transit takes about 2.5 hours total, including walking to the bus stop. So it’s not very efficient. Or cheap. It’s $8 each way to go between Lonsdale Quay and Seymour. I have a monthly transit pass so that part is effectively free.

Sunday was a beautiful blue-sky day. It would have been perfect if the snow had been better. Unfortunately it hadn’t snowed in a few days so the snow was hard-packed. Despite this, Seymour was incredibly crowded. I ended up spending a lot of time on the bunny slope, working on spins and butters and riding switch. I’ve got the ground spins basically locked. The riding switch is coming along nicely. The butters are more or less working, but I have a lot of trouble holding a straight line. I’m probably leaning and just not detecting it. I’ll try to do some work on buttered spins if I can find a really shallow slope to work on. I’m also doing much better on the flatland shuffle. I still have trouble on an uphill slope, but on the level I can make pretty good time.

My real frustration though is that I seem to have lost the ability to switch stance at speed. I can still use a nollied 180, but unweighted 180’s just aren’t working. It may be because I’m fairly tired by the time I start working on this stuff.

On that subject, by the end of the day my thighs are just burning! I’m in better condition this year, because I notice I’m not getting out of breath. But I think maybe I should be working on conditioning for endurance. Maybe start doing horse stance again…

I need to spend more time doing ollies and nollies. First, just standing in place, then while riding. The snowboard addiction vids are right – these take a fair bit of practice to get.

On Sunday, something I’d never seen before on the tow rope was that the rope track had been allowed to develop ruts over the course of the day, and I guess no-one thought to fix them. As a result, by mid-afternoon there was a deep serpentine gouge dug under both tow-ropes. The carnage was horrible. Most of the people who tried to use the tow were falling. I fell several times. Many of the users weren’t even bothering any more, just walking up.

On Monday, the temperature was above zero and the snow was melting. According to snow-forecast.com , this is a) expected and b) temporary. In a few days, the temps will drop and we’ll be back to snow. Well, let’s hope. But on the plus side, it’s dead up there on Mondays. That’s the time to go.

They’ve opened runs like Gun Barrel and Pete’s Run as of Monday. I rode both, and was surprised to find that both runs are laid out differently than last year. And harder. I’m still a little tentative, so I had to do a lot of braking. That’ll change in a few more sessions. I also rode Unicorn once. The steep part is still a problem for me. I need to get some guidance on that.

I was having some problems with my bindings on Sunday – the new NXT-ATs. It became extremely difficult to get my back foot into the binding. On Monday, with some playing around with straps, I determined that I had the tension wrong on the toe straps. Once I evened out the tension, the boot started going in easily. And, get this – I can now dependably take my foot out or put it in while moving. I literally no longer need to stop. Ever. Except for lift lines.

On the subject of stomp pads… I had some trouble on Sunday with my back foot sliding around. Turns out I wasn’t pressing the boot solidly against the back binding. Once I do that, the sliding issue goes away. And because I don’t have the stomp pad, I can move my foot around easily to alter pressure on the board edges. I think the takeaway for stomp pads is: put a stomp pad on your first board, but not on your second one.

I started to work on side hits again on Monday. Nothing impressive – I’m certainly not doing spins or jumps. But I’m starting to do small tail block stalls, which was very gratifying. I’m also getting much steadier.

I discovered a small jump coming off of Mushroom park onto upper Chuck’s Place. It’s just a roller, but it’s still more than good enough to give me an opportunity to get used to jumping.

So, in summary, a great boarding weekend.
 

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Wow! Both Seymour and Grouse have been closed yesterday and today due to extreme weather conditions! Rain and wind. Washing away the snow. Hello, last year...
 

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Well, the weather predictions on snow-forecast.com and snowfix.com were certainly on the money. I went up Seymour this morning, and left after about an hour and a half. Fuck, it was bad! Pouring rain -- the aggressive kind of rain that goes at you like you're in a cage match -- and fog, with 6 degree temps. It doesn't matter how good your clothing is, after a certain point you feel like you just climbed out of a swimming pool with all your clothes on. And of course this was resulting in "sponge snow" -- you know, the kind of snow where you pick up a handfull and squeeze it and water comes out. Stuff was hard, too! I did a small jump on Mushroom bowl and when I landed it felt like I'd landed on concrete. Of course, there was probably only a couple of inches of snow over hard ground by this point :(

Interestingly, although the temp was 6 degrees (celcius) as mentioned above, I was still cold without my jacket liner because the water pouring off you is very efficient at sucking body heat.

I changed my goggle lens to the light yellow one which is supposed to be good for foggy conditions. Didn't help, though. I needed a lens with a windshield wiper built in for this mess.

I found a box in the beginner park that wan't horrible. No lead-up jump, very little slope to it, nice and wide. But because of the meltage, the drop-off at the end was a little drastic. I'll remember that box for Tuesday though. With a little less drop at the end and a little more fluffy stuff to protect my ass, I think I'll be ready to hit that one.

I did spend a little time on Chuck's Place trying to practice riding switch. Didn't do well, though. Between the rain, fog, crappy ungroomed snow surface, I just couldn't get anything going.

All in all, a lousy day for boarding.
 
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