Osaka, Japan- The guys at www.powderheadz.comare 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.
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.
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.
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 shuttleto 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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 shuttleto 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.
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.
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.
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.
Kelowna, BC – The guys at www.powderheadz.comare 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:
Looks like the Pacific Northwest isn’t done with Winter quite yet.
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.
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.
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, UT- The guys at www.powderheadz.comare taking a break from the Pacific Northwest and heading off to the Utah. We’ll be spending a couple of days at Park City testing out some new gear as well as testing out a new snowboarder. One of Powderheadz.com cousins decided to get married this year and for his bachelor party he wanted to learn how to snowboard like the rest of us.
Some of the equipment we’ll be testing out this week is:
Powderheadz.com Team at The Rickshaw Theater in Vancouver
BY POWDERHEADZ TEAM
Vancouver, BC – The guys at www.Powderheadz.com got a chance to watch “Stronger” by Union Binding Company and co-produced by Redbull Media House on October 19, 2016 at The Rickshaw Theater. Review coming soon! Hint: One of the best ways to get excited for snowboarding.
After LA, Travis Rice heads North for the Canadian Premiere.
BY ALFIE FELICIANO
Vancouver, BC – This past Saturday, the Powderheadz.com Team was able to swing some tickets to get a first look at Travis Rice’s The Fourth Phase. And with a bit of patience and luck, we were able watch the film with the cast and crew of The Fourth Phase at the same location that Travis Rice premiered 2011’s The Art of Flight. It was a surreal experience for us.
Two days after the World Premiere on Thursday, September 8th at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, Travis Rice and company traveled north to Vancouver, BC for the Canadian Premiere at Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts of The Fourth Phase. With introductions of rest of the team, a slight jab to Canada by stating “we didn’t film one day here” because “you guys have it to good up here”, a fake call-out to no-show Justin Trudeau (no, he wasn’t there), and a raffle to the lucky guy in seat 33B who won a few beard trimmings from snowboarder Eric Jackson, the film started with raucous applause. It was safe to assume that everyone here was pretty amped with Redbull. Perhaps some Vodka as well. And they had every right to. It’s been 4 long years to see the next film from Rice.
The film opens to a reflective Travis Rice aboard his Catamaran “Falcor” in a nondescript part of an ocean while Dr. Gerald Pollack, Professor of Bioengineering at UW, intros the main thesis to the movie:
‘We all learn that water has three phases. The solid state, the liquid state and also the vapor state. You can’t explain all the known properties of water with three phases alone. You need a fourth phase. As children, we have this natural tendency to explore. And then we go to school and we have to get the right answer. This has a tendency to squeeze out of us the truth-seeking nature that comes as a human being. Because of the institutionalized nature of science, scientists have become more hesitant to challenge perceived truth. If we wanna get real truth, we have to dig down beneath the foundations.’
And then the movie kicks into high gear. Immediately after the mellow opening, Travis lays waste to the Wyoming backcountry with insane tricks off of eighty foot kickers. He’s joined by snowboarders Pat Moore, Cam Fitzpatrick, and Ben Ferguson as they assault the mountain alongside him. Humble Master and Jackson Hole icon Bryan Iguchi comes along to do a quick session around the Grand Tetons with Rice before Rice embarks on this epic adventure.
“…I realized by combining my love of the ocean with my love of the mountains it might be possible to actually follow the flow around the north Pacific, travel with the water that melts down from the Continental Divide, sail with it as it sweeps across the ocean and turns into the snow that blankets Japan…” – Travis Rice
The crew embarks on their first trip of the journey through a dizzying view of a Japanese airport to some of the most beautiful tree riding we’ve ever seen. Travis Rice claims that the Japanese Alps is one of the snowiest places on earth and he wouldn’t be wrong. Snowboarders Mikkel Bang and Mark Landvik join Rice as they genuinely ‘play’ in waist deep powder.
This was the part of the film that was the most enjoyable to me. It looked like 3 guys having the time of their lives and were having a blast doing it. And it didn’t look like work. It looked like a lot of fun and there just happened to be a film crew. And its part of the film that seems the most attainable thing that the audience can do. The gorgeous lines that these 3 were able to take is sure to drive up snow-tourism in the area for years to come.
“…The cycle swings up and tears past the Kamchatka Peninsula…” – Travis Rice
What comes up, must come down. The sheer joy that is on display in Japan gets replaced with the flipside of the harshness of Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia. This section was probably the most interesting because it shows that even the greatest snowboarders in the world have to deal with an uncooperative Mother Nature or a very uncooperative foreign government. Or worse, boredom.
Flying around in a military helicopter around an active Russian Volcano was awe-inspiring, but once the riders got on the ground, it was a different story. They were riding through some of the ugliest, windswept terrain that’s been filmed. You can feel the frustration and boredom build throughout this part. And although a glimmer of hope gets them flying off for one last try, their trip gets crushed by government officials. The only silver lining was that Rice, Eric Jackson, and Mark Landvik were able to meet some Russian youths who recognized them from The Art of Flight. Snowboarding is alive and well in even the most harshest of places.
“…and then finally banks into the catcher’s mitt that forms the Gulf of Alaska. These charged weather systems coming off the ocean hit these coastal mountains which ring out precipitation like a sponge, creating some of the most incredible snow formations on the planet.” – Travis Rice
Rice, Landvik, and Jackson arrive to variable conditions and a questionable snowpack in Alaska. The grind of filming this movie has taken its toll on the team and Mark Landvik eventually bows out of film, leaving Rice and Jackson up north to wait it out. We are rewarded with their patience. Travis Rice and Eric Jackson put on a clinic of riding Alaskan terrain as they ride through vertical lines, narrow chutes, and knife-edge ridges with ruthless aggression. You can see the riders release all that built up energy.
Side Note: You might recognize one of the Lines that Travis Rice takes from Skier Cody Townsend’s 2014 Line of the year:
If you’ve got time, read Travis Rice’s conversation with Cody Townsend about it. It’s a glimpse to a real world dilemma if hoarding film for a movie while others don’t have to.
Rice comes back to Alaska a year later with Victor De Le Rue and Jeremy Jones to tackle Valdez again. And the next part of the film was probably the toughest to watch out of all the segments. The film crescendo’s into these scenes and the you can hear the audience at the Centre in Vancouver groan in unison and then remain silent for the next few minutes. It’s something you have to see to believe.
“I have not figured out how to separate reckless optimism from a healthy appetite to pursue things until it becomes impossible. To be able to know the difference? Yeah, it’d be amazing. I’ve been lucky to have a few glimpses into this idea of what letting go really is. I know it’s impossible.” – Travis Rice
The film ends where it begins, on a homecoming high note. Travis Rice and crew “riding off in the sunset”. The Fourth Phase lives up to the hype. If you loved The Art of Flight, you’ll love this.
Watch The Fourth Phase on October 2nd when it streams live on Red Bull TV at 8 pm.