Georgia Snowboarding Tales by Zach Cherry

Posted by: admin August 1st, 2017


Before I left Georgia, I had never skied or snowboarded. As a matter of fact, I had never touched or seen a snowboard or skies until I came out to Colorado. Winter sports to me meant basketball or ping pong.

When I arrived in Colorado it was in the heart of the summer, yet the locals had their winter gear at the ready and were eager for Old Man Winter to return. Passion for the slopes seemed ubiquitous, so I decided to become a snowboarder and see what the hype was about.

I bought an Epic Local pass, a $40 used GNU rocker profile board, some clunky old school bindings and some Superfeet insulated insoles. After about $120 and some donated boots, I was outfitted enough to hit the lift. I used my hiking clothes from the Appalachian & Colorado Trail instead of buying new snow gear. I had no helmet or googles, only a bushy beard and an Out Research ball cap.

I was eager to hit the slopes and couldn't find a friend to give me lessons, so I simply drove to Keystone, took the gondola up and asked the first person I saw where a beginner should go. He laughed and then his face looked surprised when he realized I was a complete newbie, and that I had the gumption to brave the mountain with no lessons or riding partner.  

I walked over to a green run, strapped in, then proceeded to tumble, fumble, and tomahawk down the entire 3.5 mile run until I felt like I had been beaten by a baseball bat. No matter, I woke up and hit the slopes again the next day and the next day after that.

Despite the steep learning curve and daily thrashings, snowboarding became a passion. I rode five days a week and began to find my edges quickly. Winter in Summit County, Colorado is long, dark, and cold, however in gave me vigor and freedom as well as a sense of adventure. Snowboarding erased my daily stress and forced me to live in the moment and focus not on worry, rather on the beautiful movement of well executed carves and fast tree runs. Whether two months I graduated from green runs to double black diamonds and EX terrain. I started riding in early February and by April 6th I climbed Peak 8 at 12,998 ft and dropped the north side of the peak and rode it out all the way to T-Bar where I treated myself to some Waggu steak and a 90 Schilling draft beer for not dying.

After conquering Peak 8 I began venturing into EX terrain at A-Basin, then discovered the beauty of Loveland Pass. I found the untracked backpacking powder and low traffic, much more satisfying than riding at a resort. The smooth surface was perfect for straight lining and top speed runs. I ended my season on April 28th with an injury the required two months of rest. I lead pushed through three concussions, a broken tailbone, a displaced collar bone, a dislocated right femur, a banged up thumb and a sprained ankle. All while riding everyday. I know the moment I hurt my shoulder it was season ending injury. Snowboarding is dangerous but it couldn't keep me from having the experience of a lifetime. I can't wait until next season when the learning curve has been passed!