Posts Tagged With: Snowboarding

Volcano boarding

With the Pacific NorthWest having lowest snowfall in history, I decided to try my luck ‘snowboarding’ a little further south – Nicaragua.

Cerro Negro is one of the 28 volcanos in the county and the only one in the world you can ride down on a board. You can slide down either sitting on a rudimentary toboggan or standing, like on a snowboard. Helen was very excited to do this, but I was a little more skeptical, It sounded like a recipe for disaster.

Ceda Negro

Cerro Negro crater

Cerro Negro last erupted in 1999 and the jet black dried lava contrasts sharply against the green rolling hills that surrounds it. We saw multiple small craters as we slowly climbed up, past small vents emitting wispy clouds of steam. The trail climbed 1500 feet in elevation and as the temperature was above 90 degrees, thankfully only took an hour.

Top crater.

At the top!

We reached the top and walked over to look into the dormant crater; the smell of sulfur was strong. When you scratched through the first layer of dirt, the ground below was hot to the touch and steam started to rise from the hole. We had a 360 degree view of the Pacific Ocean, numerous other volcanoes and the lush countryside of Nicaragua.

Ready.

Ready to roll.

But now it was time to descend! So we put on our over-sized jumpsuits for protection and I strapped on my board. We had the latest in high-tech equipment; plywood cut roughly into a shape of a board with worn linoleum on the bottom and basic strapping to attach it to your feet.

Helen volunteered to go first on her plywood toboggan. She was off in a cloud of dust and she quickly was out of sight over the steep incline. When it was my turn to go, I had to basically point straight downhill to get going, with a gloved hand at the ready to catch my fall.

Helen in mid-descent.

Helen mid-descent.

It turns out that volcanic ash and rock is a little more resistant than snow. I can’t say I was ripping down the mountain, but I slowly got the hang of it, stood up and ground down the volcano, fighting to stay upright. When I reached the bottom I was boiling hot and just relieved that I didn’t take a tumble.

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Grinding down the hill

While the riding was not exactly like a powder day at Mount Baker after a massive dump on a bluebird day, it was a novelty to ride down a volcano. I don’t feel the need to do it again, but I’m glad I gave it a go; it was something I will never forget.

Categories: Nicaragua - February 2015 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Vancouver Olympics 2010

I’m back in Vancouver for the Olympic events at Cypress Mountain. The weather has gone from rain/snow/fog to sunny and fifty degrees. The workload has gone from shoveling snow in the rain to sitting in the sun and watching the athletes train on the course we built. The crew I’m on has grown very protective of the course and grown a bit of an attitude, “We built this course so stay the hell off it”, berating anyone that gets near it.

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Smurfs

 

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You’ve got to love a serious Athlete!

Helen has been having fun working in the Athlete’s lounge. She was given a top-secret mission by the French snowboard team to find a sharpie pen and draw fake mustaches on each other before the half-pipe competition watched by millions all over the world. She was successful. Hours before the biggest event of their career they are in the bathroom drawing moustaches on each other laughing like schoolgirls. You gotta love snowboarders.

I’m a short-timer now, with just one last shift tomorrow, but its race day, the first Olympic women’s ski cross on the course we built. I will be working on the course.

I should be easy to spot; I’ll be in a Smurf-colored jacket and hat.

Categories: Americas, Vancouver, BC - February 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Before Vancouver Olympics 2010

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I just finished my fourth day volunteering on the hill (Cypress Mountain) building the course for the Olympic snowboard and ski cross race. I have the prestigious position of snowboard course shaper, I think a better title would be ‘Official Snow Shoveller of the Vancouver Olympics. It’s some serious manual labor but I am doing fine for an old man; the kids are complaining more than me about being tired and sore. Having a great time, I love it; the crew I’m working with, it’s a fun group; a bunch of stoner Canucks and Aussies, plus I’m working with the guru of snowboard course design; everyone is very mellow. It’s good working on the hill again, it reminds me of the old days working at Vail and Snowbird.

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Helen started today; she is working in the snowboard athletes lounge. I’m outside shoveling snow all day in the rain and snow and she is inside flirting with Olympic snowboarders.

Everyone is working at full speed to get everything ready, it does not help that this is the worst snow year they have had in ten years. There are snow cats and construction vehicles racing all over the mountain plus they are flying three helicopters at the same time transporting hay bales, snow and random equipment from cables attached to their underside. One of the helicopters is a huge air crane, a bug like monstrosity that transports a ton of snow from the surrounding mountain tops.
We were working on one of the last turns, #7, and one of the helicopters was dropping equipment thirty yards away from us all day, kind of sketchy considering at one point it dropped not only the equipment but also the huge carrying cable. I got some good advice from one of the crazy Canuck controllers; “you should pay attention because that sh*t can really kill you”.

Thanks pal. It’s kind of hard to ignore a helicopter a hundred feet directly above you with a ton of steel swinging wildly on a fifty foot cable.

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Categories: Americas, Vancouver, BC - February 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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