Snowboarding has been an obsession for me for the last 22 years. I first encountered the feeling of sliding down a snow-covered slope when I was 16, on a hill 3 hours drive from my home in the south-east of Australia. I was hooked, immediately and for the following 10 years I chased my obsession from winter to winter spanning countries and continents. Snowboarding has given and taught me many things over the years, it has been the catalyst for so many experiences and enriched my life in ways I never imagined.
Snowboarding is the reason I found myself in Kashmir 5 years ago, it is the reason I keep coming back and it is the reason I have been able to experience a culture, far from my own, in such an intimate way.
The following is a list of reasons why I think everyone should learn to snowboard:
10. Snowboarding is difficult. You will be pushed outside your comfort zone and achieve the self-satisfaction that comes along with conquering something demanding. Through persistence, you will achieve a point every that snowboarder experiences. An epiphany when everything comes together, and you get the free feeling of controlling your descent down the mountain.
9. Snowboarding is a great way to exercise. At the end of a full day shredding the mountain you will feel spent. Your bones will ache and your muscles will feel stiff, however over time you get stronger and fitter. The air in the mountains is crisp and clean while the chemicals your body releases during exercise are good for your brain. Nature becomes your workout partner.
8. It is a lifelong pursuit. Once hooked you will find yourself daydreaming about the mountains, imagining tricks and getting excited when winter comes around again. Your vocabulary will involve a language that non-snowboarders won't understand. No matter how many days you get on the snow, you will always want more, no matter how old you get.
7. It changes the way you look at your environment. Once you learn how to ride, you begin to look at your surrounding environment in a poetic way. You try to decipher how water would flow downhill and imagine yourself imitating this natural action. You start to see smooth forms surrounding you and imagine what it would be like to ride that hill near your house if it was covered in snow. Everywhere will become an imaginary playground.
6. It will take you to far off places. Snowboarding is a great excuse to travel, it is always snowing somewhere. Winters alternate from north to south and you can chase an endless winter if the passion grips you hard enough. It can be the catalyst to learn new languages, experience different cultures and travel to new countries. Travel enriches the soul and helps you collect stories of adventure.
5. There are no rules. Snowboarding has no rule book and no umpires, there is not one way to ride, instead many different parts to the larger whole. Riding powder, building jumps, racing gates, hitting handrails, carving long turns or just pointing it straight down the hill. You get to decide what snowboarding is to you, giving it your own flavour and style.
4. Snowboarding is an art. The style and grace you bring to snowboarding is a window into a riders personality. When you ride an untracked slope your board leaves marks like brushstrokes on a canvas. At the bottom of a run, every snowboarder will stand and stare at their work and marvel at the lines they have left. The grace and poise that you bring to riding, likewise, are a very personal expression that is different for everyone.
3. You will make great friends. Snowboarding is best enjoyed with a group of friends and the bonds formed on the mountain are some of the strongest. You will make friendships that transcend language barriers and last a lifetime. The shared experiences will be recounted for yearsto come and always bring a smile to your face.
2. The mountains are beautiful. You will spend hours in the most spectacular locations, feeding your eyes with scenery that will burn into your memory. Snowboarding is a sport that changes with the weather, which in turn changes the landscape. The stillness of the forest as large flakes of snow fall silently through massive trees. Howling winds, that make you feel as if you will be blown off the hill, while ribbons of snowflakes swirl around your feet. Pristine blue skies that make the surface of the snow sparkle like it was made of diamond dust. Every day in the mountains is filled with the immense beauty of nature.
1. Snowboarding is Fun. That is it, that is all! Snowboarding is simple fun. Sliding sideways down a snow covered hill feels amazing and can make you smile for hours after the day is done. There is a saying; 'The worst day snowboarding is better than the best day at work'
Since first experiencing the Indian Himalayas, I have thought about sharing the good times I have had from snowboarding, with a wider audience in the states to the south of Kashmir. It is exciting that through Di5 Adventures I am able to make this a reality.
Check out our Learn to Ride INDIA camps and come on up to Gulmarg and shred some lines with us.