Backcountry Snowboarding

5 Backcountry Skiing Tips for Beginners

Backcountry skiing is an experience unlike any other. Whether you’re drawn to the gorgeous scenery or the exhilarating feeling that comes with skiing on the unmarked parts of the mountain, your first backcountry ski trip will be an unforgettable occasion. 

Strapins | Powderheadz.com

Keep the following tips in mind to help ensure your first adventure will be memorable and worry-free:

1. Pack The Right Gear

Backcountry skiing is different from traditional alpine skiing because you have a great deal of hiking to do before you hit the slopes. So, you’ll need to pack gear that can accommodate both skiing as well as backpacking. First, you’ll need to start with the basics:

 

     Skis: the obvious reason you’re making the trek through the mountains!

     Boots: Find lightweight and waterproof boots that can get you through the snow with ease. You may even want to consider Strap-ins for extra comfort.

     Poles: You’ll want to be sure you have the right kind of poles for backcountry skiing; they’ll need to be adjustable so you can control them while hiking on a steep slope.

     Goggles: Make sure you keep your goggles in a dry place, such as the goggle pocket in your coat, while hiking to avoid fogging them up. Once you’re ready to ski down the slopes, pull them out and put them on.

     Helmet: Safety first! Since you’re skiing down the unmarked part of the mountains, it’s especially important to protect yourself in case of an accident.

     Gloves: Make sure you find a pair of good waterproof gloves (or two).

     Coat and vest: You’ll likely work up quite a sweat while hiking, so you won’t need your puffy coat right away, but keep it accessible for when you’re ready to ski.

     Navigation tools: The last thing you want to do is get lost. Bring a map, compass, and a GPS device.

     Sun protection: Even though it’s cold, the sun is quite reflective off the snow. Make sure you have sunscreen, sunglasses and lip balm while backcountry skiing.

     Heat and light sources: Stock up on hand warmers, matches and a headlamp before hitting the slopes.

     Repair kit: You’ll be glad to have a ski repair kit on hand when you get ready to make your way back down the mountain.

     First aid kit: Better safe than sorry! Keep a small first aid kit with you for bandages, tape and antiseptic.

     Emergency shelter: A tarp or single-person tent will do.

     Food and water: Make sure you have plenty of power bars and water on hand. If you can, store them in a place they won’t freeze!

 

Do some research on your particular ski site to know exactly what items you’ll need to bring, as well as any other items you’d like to take with you. For instance, you can also bring personal care items like toilet paper and a fast drying towel, or you could bring other helpful accessories like a waterproof pad to sit on along the way.

2.  Stay Energized

Similar to backpacking, backcountry skiing requires a lot of energy. Make sure you are snacking along the way to ensure you have plenty of calories and protein in your system. Power bars are great, as well as trail mix and easy-to-eat dry foods. When you’re hiking in the cold, it’s easy to overlook signs of dehydration, so drink plenty of water as well. 

If you’re staying overnight in a hut or a yurt along the way, make sure you pack a single burner camp stove or other heat source for cooking. As awesome as energy bars are, a hot meal can go a long way when you’re in the backcountry. You can get creative with your meals as well, like storing pre-cracked eggs in a water bottle or thermos to avoid a mess while still getting a light, protein-rich breakfast in the morning.

3.  Make Your Gear Work For You

In the backcountry, you’ll likely encounter steep slopes and loose, undisturbed snow. It’s important that you make your gear work for you. Adjust your poles to different heights to accommodate your needs. The pole on the higher end of the slope may need to be much shorter than the other, but it’s better to adjust than to exert more energy trying to make them work at the same height. 

Similarly, try waxing both sides of your skis to help keep excess snow off the top. You’ll save a lot of strength in the long run. A little extra preparation will go a long way when you’re backcountry skiing. 

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4.  Research your Route

If it’s your first time hitting the backcountry, you’ll want to make sure you have done your research well beforehand. Make sure your partner or group has become familiar with the trail you’ll be hiking, as well as the route you’ll be skiing. 

Talk to the lodge staff as well, just to make sure there aren’t any surprises or dangerous spots to avoid.  

5.  Prepare For Any Situation

Finally, be prepared for any situation while you’re on the mountain. Have an emergency plan in case you need to call for a rescue team. Pack as if you’ll need to stay overnight. Even if you are just planning for a single-day adventure, bring extra food, clothing and heat sources to be safe.

Being prepared for your backcountry ski trip could be as simple as throwing a few extra items in your pack or splurging on a few upgrades in your gear. While you’re planning your first trip, read blogs, articles and skiing community forums to get the best advice on how to have a safe and successful skiing experience.

Strapins | Powderheadz.com
Strapins | Powderheadz.com
Strapins

Strapins – Feel the Difference

Strapins

The Powderheadz.com Team was contacted recently on trying out a novel idea: Strapins. Strapins are basically velcro-belts for your snowboard boots. But the simplicity of that description does not do its actual effectiveness justice. Strapins easily improve the control and response of your snowboard boots, regardless of their condition. You’re able to tighten your boots at desired locations provide support with a much more even distribution. They’re also perfect band-aids for an older boot that just happens to break on you at the worst time – in the middle of an epic powder day.

Strapins - Feel the Difference

Strapins | Powderheadz.com

How to Use

Strapins

  1. Tie up/twist your Boa laces on your boots as normal.
  2. On each boot, place one strap above the ankle and tighten up firmly. 
  3. Feel Free to experiment where to place the straps as everyone rides differently. You may seek more control than other riders. For instance, while Powder riding, sometimes 2 straps above the ankle on your rear boot and none on your front foot can be effective as you are constantly boarding off your back foot.
  4. For even more control and better feedback while carving, place another strapin towards the top of each snowboard boat (the area above your BOAs or at the top of your laces and tighten firmly.
  5. For broken snowboard boots or heel straps, use 2 straps as described above and ensure your other undamaged boot is of similar tightness.
  6. Once strapins are in place they will never loosen, won’t cut off your circulation and will ensure you get the best control imaginable in a snowboard boot, regardless of how old or new they are.

Strapins | Powderheadz.com

Testimonials


I was skeptical at first, but after giving them a go, I was hooked. I have wide feet, skinny ankles, and thick calves, so I get pressure points everywhere on my boots. Adding these Strapins to my snowboards boots definitely alleviate the pressure and I feel like i gain more control when I ride.

I ride in the Backcountry and I need any tiny edge I can get. I ride with four Strapins (two on each foot) so I can get a much better response when I'm riding.

I've got a pair of older boots that I love that I'm not quite ready to get rid of. They're boot-packed and definitely a little loose, but the Strapins help fix that until I'm ready to buy a new pair.

Definitely noticed a difference as soon as I used it. I swear by them now.

How Many Should You Buy?

Here at Powderheadz.com we think 4 is the optimal number. That’s two per snowboard boot, with one right over the ankle and the other at the top of the boot, usually over the boa or where you tie up your laces. Luckily the people at Strapins.com sell them in pairs of two. If you buy a second pair, you’ll get it for half-priced also get free shipping worldwide. Head over and see what they’re all about.

Powderheadz Rating

4.6/5

Strapins | Powderheadz.com

Strapins | Powderheadz.com

Powderheadz.com Japan

Powderheadz.com heads to Japan!

BY POWDERHEADZ TEAM

Osaka, Japan- The guys at www.powderheadz.com are taking a break from the Pacific Northwest and heading off to Japan for a week.  We’ll be spending a couple of days at Osaka, renting an 8-person van, and heading to Shiga Kogen to go snowboarding and testing out some new gear as well. Hopefully we’ll get a day or two in Tokyo before we bullet train it back to Osaka and back home.

Shiga Kogen

 

This’ll be more of a scouting trip to see if we can survive Japan as we plan for a much bigger trip next 2018-2019 season to Hakuba Valley, which was recently added to the Epic Pass. Check back here while we try and figure it out as we go along, leaving tips on how to plan your own trip out here.

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Breckenridge

Snowboard Destination: Breckenridge, CO

BY POWDERHEADZ TEAM

Breckenridge, CO – Located about 80 miles (128km) southwest of Denver, Colorado, or about a 2-hour drive from Denver International Airport (DEN), Breckenridge Ski Resort is one of the most visited Ski Resorts in the Western Hemisphere. It’s owned by Vail Resorts, Inc., which owns and operates a plethora of other ski resorts such as Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Park City Mountain Resort, and Whistler Blackcomb.

Breckenridge Ski Resort offers over 180+ trails with 32 lifts across 600 acres of groomed runs and 1061 acres of alpine bowls and off-piste glades.

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How to Get There

There are multiple ways to get to Breckenridge. The best way to get there is flying into Denver International Airport (DEN) and taking an airport shuttle to the resort. By Car, you drive straight from Denver International Airport on I-70 to exit 203 in Frisco and take CO-9 South all the way to Breckenridge, CO. You can also fly into Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) which is 63 miles west of Breck or Colorado Springs Aiport (COS) which is 110 miles away.
 
But if you’re here for a week or more, rent a car so you can ride the 7 mountains within an hour drive from Breckenridge. If you have an Epic Pass or Epic Local Pass, you’ll have access to Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, or Vail. Sometimes you need a change-up from the same mountain, and we recommend you trying the other mountains for a different flavor of riding. Before heading out to any of the resorts, be sure to pay attention to weather and traffic reports.

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Tips and Tricks

  • Account for the altitude. The Breckenridge base is at 9600 feet and the Summit barely kisses 13000 feet (12998 feet if you like specifics), which means you’ll get exhausted a lot faster than you normally would, unless you’re a mountain goat. Walking up a flight of stairs can get you winded, so be sure to be drink plenty of fluids (beer doesn’t count) while your body acclimates itself.  Don’t bum rush into a hard day of riding. Take it easy for the first day to ease into it or you’ll run the risk of getting Altitude Sickness: shortness of breath, nausea, and general weakness.
  • The city of Breckenridge offers more fare than your typical ski resort. It’s a full fledged town that has a plethora of bars, restaurants, spas, and stores. And Breck Free Ride is a free bus system that will get you all over town with over 8 routes and a stop at nearly every street corner.
  • There’s a ton of options when it comes to renting ski and snowboard equipment. We found that Christie’s in Denver on University Blvd. was the easiest and most knowledgeable. Also, they have multiple locations at Breckenridge so if your boots are too tight and you need to change something, you can visit one of the other locations.
  • There’s a lot of terrain to navigate at Breckenridge, but luckily you can break it down pretty easily.
    • Peak 6 is for the Intermediate-Expert Crowd. Ride in the wide open bowls or through the trees.
    • Peak 7 is for those who are trying to graduate from Beginner to Intermediate.
    • Peak 8 is Homebase for Breck. There’s something for everyone on this Peak and perfect for groups with a variety of riding abilities. Be warned that it’s also one of the busiest areas. Expect the longest lines here.
    • Peak 9 is where you come to learn how to ski or board. It’s the family area so it’s also one of the slowest areas on the mountain. You’ll be wanting for more if you’re anything above an Intermediate Rider.
    • Peak 10 is not for the faint of heart. It has easily the most complicated terrain and expert trails that Breck has to offer. You can ruin relationships if you take an inexperienced rider up here.

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Breckenridge, CO: At a Glance

Breckenridge Trail Map

 

LocationBreckenridge, CO
Nearest Major CityDenver, CO
Vertical1036 m (3398 ft)
Top Elevation3962 m (12998 ft)
Base Elevation2926 m (9600 ft)
Skiable area2908 acres (1177 ha)
Runs187
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg 21 – Beginner
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg 58 – Intermediate
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg 45 – Intermediate
Ski trail rating symbol-double black diamond.svg 63 – Advanced
Lift system32 total
1 gondola
4 high-speed six-packs
6 high-speed quads
1 fixed-grip quad
1 triple chairlift
6 double chairlifts
1 gondola
4 high-speed six-packs
6 surface
Lift capacity46800 skiers/hr
Snowfall89.9 m/year (354 in.)
Snow-making617 acres
(250 hectares)

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Park City, Utah | Powderheadz.com

Snowboarding Destination: Park City Mountain Resort, UT

BY POWDERHEADZ TEAM

Park City, UT – Located about 32 miles (51km) east of Salt Lake City, Utah, or about 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLT), Park City Mountain Resort is one of the best Ski Resorts in the Western US. With the recent merger of two iconic ski resorts by the Quicksilver Gondola—Park City and Canyons—Park City is now known as the largest Ski Resort in the United States. The whole area now operates as one giant resort called Park City Mountain Resort with Canyons referred to as “Canyons at Park City”.

Park City Mountain Resort offers more than 300+ trails across 7300 Acres of ski-able terrain with 41 lifts, 8 terrain parks, 14 bowls, 6 natural half pipes, a super pipe and a mini pipe.  It also has a variety of ski-in and ski-out properties throughout the resort to make Park City one of the most easily accessible mountain destinations in the world.

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How to Get There

The best way to get to Park City Mountain Resort is by flying into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLT),  and taking one of the many shuttles or taxis to either the Main Park City Base Area or the Canyon’s Base Area.  Since the Resort is the economic lifeblood of the city, transportation through buses, trolley, and shuttles around both base areas are free. If you need to get there fast, Ubers and Taxis are pretty easy to come by.

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Tips and Tricks

  • If you’re going to Park City Mountain Resort to wake up early and immediately get on the slopes, stay in the Canyons Base Area, as they have the best ski-in/ski-out lodging options available. However, they don’t have much to offer when it comes to shops, nightlife, or dining.
  • If you’re going to Park City Mountain Resort with a more relaxed approach to skiing or snowboarding, stay closer to Main Street, the heart of Park City Proper. It’s harder to get to the mountain from the city, but the famous Town Lift from Main Street can get you there.
  • There’s an excellent, free bus system and hotel shuttles are available throughout the resort. You’ll never really need to call a taxi, but Uber is also available.
  • The best way to “conquer” the resort as a local is to take a shuttle or park your car at Canyons where there’s ample parking, ski to the west to main base area, have some apres-ski and dinner in town, and then take the shuttles back to Canyons.
  • Park City is also a part of the Vail Resorts network of Mountain Resorts like Whistler-Blackcomb and Breckenridge. So if you plan on coming a few days, look into purchasing an Epic Pass.

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Park City Mountain Resort: At a Glance

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Park City Ski Resort

Location Park City, UT
Nearest Major City Salt Lake City, UT
Vertical 975 m (3,200 ft)
Top Elevation 3,048m (10,000 ft)
Base Elevation 2,103m (6,900 ft)
Skiable area 7,300 acres (2,954 ha)
Runs 324 Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg 23 – Beginner Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg 159 – Intermediate Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg 142 – Advanced
Lift system 41 total 4 gondolas 6 high-speed six-pack chairlift 9 high-speed quad chairlifts 5 quads 8 triples 4 doubles 3 magic carpet
Lift capacity 31000 skiers/hr
Snowfall 90 m/year (355 in.)
Snow-making 500 acres (202 hectares)

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Arc'teryx Wax and Wine

Wax and Wine at Arc’teryx Vancouver

BY POWDERHEADZ TEAM

Vancouver, BC – The Powderheadz.com team was able to attend a free Wax and Wine event at the semi-recently opened Downtown Vancouver location of North Vancouver’s based brand Arc’teryx on Decemeber 6, 2017. The season is off to a great start with all the local mountains opening way ahead of schedule. And this was definitely a good way to get our gear in order and peruse some of great Arc’teryx equipment at Canada’s largest store for the brand.

The staff was extremely helpful and the ski-techs were able to get through over 50 pairs of skis and snowboards while giving us demos on how to properly wax our equipment with Beaver Wax. Also, free beer! And prizes! (We didn’t win anything, boo.)

Winter is here!

 

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Big Mountain Ski Resort

Snowboarding Destination: Big White Ski Resort, BC

BY ETIENNE OLDEN

Kelowna, BC – Located about 35 miles (56km) southeast of Kelowna, British Columbia, or about 56 minutes from Kelowna International Airport (YLW), Big White Ski Resort is one of the best Ski Resorts in the Western Canada. It’s the third largest Ski Resort in BC after Whistler-Blackcomb and Sun Peaks and has Western Canada’s Largest Resort Night Skiing Area with 38 acres.

Big White Ski Resort offers over 100+ trails with 16 lifts across 905 acres of groomed runs and 1525 acres of 5 alpine bowls and off-piste glades. And there are plenty of places to stay in the area with 3 Village Hotels, 25 Condo Complexes, 244 Vacation homes, and 1 ski-in/ski-out youth hostel.

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How to Get There

There are multiple ways to get to Big White. The best way to get there is flying into Kelowna International Airport (YLW) and taking an airport shuttle to the resort. But if you want to go the more scenic route, fly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR), rent a car, and drive 5 hours through interior BC to get to the resort. However, during the Winter, Interior BC can get snowed in pretty quickly so the highway may be closed off in some areas. Before heading out there, be sure to pay attention to weather and traffic reports. There are three highways that can eventually get you to Big White from Vancouver, but the detours can add hours to your travel time.

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Tips and Tricks

  • During cloudy or low visibility days, head to the Black Forest side of the resort. The runs are shorter, but you usually be able have better visibility than other sides of the mountain.
  • If you’re planning on riding a bunch of days at Big White and you’re a BC or Alberta Resident, pick up a Biggie Card at a retailer before you go. You can save up to $24 a day by reloading the card.
  • One of the most iconic things you can do at the Resort is head to the very top of Falcon Chair and ride amongst the world famous “Snow Ghosts”- ethereal snow caked trees that scatter the summit.

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Big White Resort: At a Glance

Big White Ski Resort

Location Kootenay Boundary, BC
Nearest Major City Kelowna, BC
Vertical 811 m (2656 ft)
Top Elevation 2319 m (7606 ft)
Base Elevation 1508 m (4950 ft)
Skiable area 2765 acres (1119 ha)
Runs 118 Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg 21 – Beginner Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg 64 – Intermediate Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg 26 – Intermediate Ski trail rating symbol-double black diamond.svg 7 – Advanced
Lift system 16 total 1 gondola 5 high-speed chairs 5 chairs 3 ground/t-bar 2 tubing
Lift capacity 28000 skiers/hr
Snowfall 75 m/year (295 in.)
Snow-making 38 acres (15.3 hectares)

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Skateboarding in Venice

Summer Equipment Reviews

Best Skateboards

Snowboarding is Our Passion, but we do stuff in the Summer too.

Welcome to Powderheadz.comWe are a group of friends that have ridden throughout the years and decided to share our opinions on the best snowboarding gear available. But when the snow is gone, we look elsewhere for our thrills. Whether its wakeboarding, skateboarding, or surfing, we’ll get our thrills anyway we can until Winter comes calling again. Our experienced snowboarders and skiers collaborate online to provide accurate, hands-on skating, surfing, and wakeboarding equipment reviews. We talk with fellow passionate snowboarders from around the world for their knowledgeable experience. And we want to help you make informed decisions next time you are looking for a new piece of gear! It’s our commitment to provide you non-biased points of view to help you grab the best summer gear and equipment. Experience level, budget, and equipment quality are taken into account in our detailed reviews from skiers and snowboarders allover the globe.

We’re still a ski and snowboarding lifestyle website, but we do stuff in the Summer too. We hope you enjoy your time with us and check below to see what we’re all about!

 

Best Skateboards

Best Summer Gear Reviews

Powderheadz.com is a great resource for skiers and snowboarders to share information.  Our team is always interested in trying out the latest and best wakeboarding equipment whenever we get the chance. We love testing out new equipment we come across from entry level to advanced items from top brands like Billabong, DC, and Liquid Force.  Afterwards, we try to post an in-depth account of our experience.  It’s to help each other get the most of our time on the streets, or in the water.  Finding the right gear for your wants and needs can be a challenge.  It’s our goal to help point you in the right direction.  We have also created some quick buyers guides for those looking to compare multiple pieces of equipment, such as our extremely popular Top 10 Best Headlamps for 2017-2018.

We are currently expanding our site to cover in depth reviews of Helmets, Wakeboards, Surfboards as well as Skateboards. Be sure to check back soon!  Because we have no particular alliance with any of the major brands you can count on an honest review from real snowboarders and skiers volunteering their time and experience for fellow enthusiasts.  Invest in the best equipment and it can last you a lifetime of adventure.

 

Best Summer Gear Reviews | Powderheadz.com

Popular Summer Gear Reviews:

Best Summer Gear Reviews | Powderheadz.com

Wakeboarding

Best Wakeboarding Gear Reviews | Powderheadz.com

In our Snowboarding Blog section you will find a ton of handy articles on hot topics such as snowboarding tips, in-depth equipment reviews, the best snowboarding locations like Whistler-Blackcomb, Tremblant, and Squaw Valley as well as thrilling travel blogs from some of our outgoing snowboarding team once they return from around the world.  We hope to inspire and excite you to get out there and snowboard or explore the best tracks this world has to offer.  We accept submissions from skiers and snowboarders around the globe and if you are interested in contributing send us an email and we can make it happen!  Blog (at) Powderheadz.com.

Thank You!

A big thank you goes out to the dedicated snowboarders and skiers who contribute to keep this site running smoothly.  We appreciate those who offer their professional reviews and opinions on all the coolest snowboarding and skiing gear out there.  And we’d like to also thank the tight knit community around the planet who love this sport like we do.  It always make finding a new person to ride with easy and fun wherever your travels might take you.  See you on the mountain!

Best Skateboards | Powderheadz.com

Riding the Top of Blackcomb

Powderheadz.com heads to Whistler-Blackcomb, BC for some Summer Park Laps

BY POWDERHEADZ

Whistler Blackcomb, BC – Snowboarding isn’t technically over at Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort. Although the regular season at Whistler ended on April 23rd and Blackcomb ended on May 22nd, you can still get some turns in at the Top of Blackcomb Mountain. After a couple of weeks to set up the Terrain Park, Hortsman Glacier opened on June 10th and plans to stay running until July 16th, 2017.

Powderheadz.com

The park was built specifically to host a multitude of Ski and Snowboarding Camps throughout the short summer period. However, the Glacier is open to the public, albeit you should be advanced or expert rider to feel comfortable up there. There are two t-bars that give you access to two parks full of features (the top terrain park is closed off for the camps) and a couple of runs (The top half of Crystal Traverse and Blue Line). We were also able to ride down the Green Line from the Hortsman Hut back to Rendezvous at the end of the day to download back to the bottom of the mountain (which might not be the case as the summer continues). So if you’re desperate for snow like us, head to Whistler while you still can.

Glacier Summer Camp
Riding anything and everything at Hortsman Glacier

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Tips and Tricks

  • Operating Hours are from 12PM to 3PM, weather permitting. Public upload begins at 11AM at the Wizard Express Chairlift that is at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Only camps are allowed to load before then. Last upload for Skiers and Snowboarders are at 1:30PM.
  • Lift Ticket includes a shuttle bus to and from 7th Heaven and access to the public lane that includes some Terrain Park features. Other lanes are reserved for Glacier Camps.
  • You must be an advanced or expert skier/snowboarder to ride, no exceptions. You also need to be able to use a T-bar as there are no chairlifts working during this time.
  • Definitely recommend getting there as early as possible, because you have to ride the Wizard Express, Solar Coaster Express, wait for a shuttle bus to take you to 7th Heaven before you get to Hortsman Hut. It can take up to an hour to finally get to the top.
  • Bring Sunscreen. It get’s pretty bright and hot up there and you are exposed to sun for extended periods of time. Many people leave with sunburns because they aren’t prepared.
  • Because it’s hot up there, you won’t need to bring as much gear as you would on a regular winter day. You’ll probably still want to wear a long sleeve shirt so you don’t get a weird tan. That being said, wear a helmet and practice safe riding.

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Heading to Big White | Powderheadz.com

Powderheadz.com heads to Big White, BC

BY POWDERHEADZ TEAM

Kelowna, BC – The guys at www.powderheadz.com are back in the Pacific Northwest and are taking a 5-hour drive from Vancouver, BC to Kootenay Boundary, BC to head up to Big White Ski Resort. We’ll be spending a couple of days at Big White to check out what snowboarding in Interior BC is like compared to the Western BC. Conditions look pretty decent from www.snow-forecast.com:

Big White Snow Report | Powderheadz.com

Looks like the Pacific Northwest isn’t done with Winter quite yet.

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