Glencoe Mountain Resort
Saturday was the first day I could make it up the slopes since the fresh April snowfalls midweek. The workload is creeping up, so there was no way I could enjoy some of the freshies and sunshine midweek had to offer. Driving up the A82 I could see the cloud base was high, so hoped it would remain above the summits. Driving through some snow showers I thought I was also in for some fresh turns.
Arriving at Glencoe I could see I was in for a misty start. The cloud had lowered and the snow had turned to rain despite the temperature in the car park being 0.5 Celsius.
Conditions on the hill
The uptrack is incomplete, so this means we are walking across the plateau. The Cliffhanger was not running first thing (it would later) and the Wall T-bar was a bit sketchy. ‘For experts only’ we were warned.
It was a pretty damp affair all day. The drizzle occasionally metamorphosing into large floating flakes.
Maybe it was my board, but I found the Wall T-bar uptrack a bit sticky. This tends to be the case when the snow becomes waterlogged.
From rescue hut upward, you were in the cloud. There was a bit of a temperature inversion as there was no wind and the temperature was not any lower than experienced in the carpark earlier.
Despite the lack of visibility (and photo opportunities), the snow in the Main Basin was actually pretty good. The earlier snow had helped as well as the pisting it had been given earlier. The slope was consistent with no real hazards to concern yourself with.
It was wet spring snow over a harder base, gradually getting wetter as the day went on. Closer to the end of the day it did seem to get a bit colder, holding up well.
Reminding myself of the skills passed on from the Glencoe Freeride Clinic two seasons ago, I concentrated on my turns since I couldn’t see much at all. This allows you to focus on the feeling of the turns without other stimuli distracting you, like the amazing views Glencoe usually has to offer.
I don’t mean to go all hippy and I’m not really sure I truly know what is meant by the term ‘Mindfullness’. But I am aware it has to do with listening to your body, what your senses are experiencing and excluding the distractions in life. This is exactly what a white out on Glencoe does for your turning skills.
For a while I’ve not been happy with my heel side turns. I ride goofy, this means turning right. Occasionally I’d find the tail of my board being pushed out further by my back foot, making my heel-side turns scrappy and not as smooth as toe-side.
I’m fine on groomed or smooth surfaces, but I notice it more on uneven, steeper or icy terrain.
I found my turns improving as I concentrated purely on the feedback coming from my board, through my feet.
Crank it forward
As the afternoon continued, so did the mist and zero visibility. The turning tutorials continued and to take it to another level I decided to crank the forward lean on my bindings to improve performance. I’ve always been aware that having a strong forward lean can improve turns. I’ve been lazy though, riding bindings as they come out of the box. In the past with different set-ups I’m sure I have had lots of forward lean, but not recently. I think at some point I thought easing it back it would rid me foot pain that I used to experience.
After a quick adjustment to my Union Atlas bindings I took a run down Main Basin and to my great pleasure, found this did indeed help. My thinking was that it allows me to initiate a heel side turn a bit sooner and more directly, allowing me to finish the turn properly and getting back on to my toes sooner without it washing out.
If you haven’t tried it yourself, I’d definitely recommend it.
With over 20 years snowboarding under my belt I’m still learning. That’s what I love about the difficult days. It makes me work a bit harder on my snowboarding.
On the great days of sunshine and powder it’s all shits and giggles, but on days like today, you have to dig a bit deeper to get something back.
The snow was great, the visibility shit, but day 11 of the season was well worth it.
I finished with the last lift aiming for the base cafe where everyone who you couldn’t see on the hill had congregated to watch the Grand National.
Odds on we’re on for another good day tomorrow!