This past winter I worked at Lookout Pass ski area in Idaho. I worked in the terrain park and it was one of the better jobs I’ve had. Digging in the snow and making jumps is something that I would do even if I wasn’t working like I made this earlier post called Cannon Kicker.
So getting paid to do it was even better. Lookout pass is an area in northern Idaho that get some of the most snow in Idaho. Somewhere around 400 inches a season. The snow was on the wetter side kind of like the PNW. The weather was kind of mild. It didn’t usually get that cold.
But enough with the weather. That’s boring. You can look those things up. Here’s a video I made with some clips from the season.
So last season 2021 was my first season having a pass since 2002. Yeah a long time. And in between 2002 and 2021 I might have done some snowboarding in my parents backyard hiking up some old logging trails and a few times elsewhere.
But it’s coming back. I feel like my riding has improved since starting up last season. And it’s been fun too. I can’t believe I stopped for so long. COVID came along. I was living in Japan and that wasn’t going so good so I came back to the States and started up working at the ski area which was fun.
But the west is the best as far as snow goes in the USA. So I went to Idaho where I wanted to go. In fact I lived in the small town of Wallace just down the road.
This is a review of the Giro Emerge helmet. Here is a video I made about it.
I stopped snowboarding for a long time like 15+ years or so and then started again last season. One thing that changed in all that time is that way more people wear helmets.
I actually wore a helmet for a little while back in the late 90’s after a head injury, but it just kind of annoyed me and very few people wore them then. This one is not so annoying and if you wear it everyday it just becomes a habit..
If you catch your heel edge a couple of times you might consider getting a helmet too. I had a couple good ones where I was practicing switch backside 180’s and caught my heel edge which means your head is going to slam into the snow.
So then I started to borrow helmets from my work at Cannon until I bought this one.
Works fine. It’s a MIPS helmet…
What does that mean?
MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. Called a slip plane, the interior layer, frequently yellow, allows for 10-15 mm of rotational movement between the head and the helmet in the critical 10-15 milliseconds after an oblique impact. This reduces the rotational forces exerted on the brain during impact and, presumably, reduces brain injury relative to the same helmet without MIPS. – source
I didn’t notice at first but there is a layer in there that will move.
It works fine for me. Is slightly larger than needed but I tightened it up wearing a bavaclava (also adds warmth) and added some sticky foam pieces on the inside.
My head is kind of skinny so looks a little big on me. It’s not quite as low volume as I’d prefer, but the chin strap is better than the Bern helmet I used to use and you can take off the ear pieces if you want.
They have many different colors that you can choose from.
Learn more about the Giro Emerge helmet here (and read more reviews too).
These are some side hits and jumps that I made at Cannon Mt. ski area in NH in 2021 and a few backcountry farmcountry ones near where I live in Monroe, NH.
Sometimes you just see a spot like ohh, there’s a jump there if you dig it out or pile up some snow. And sometimes the snowcats will take them out when they widen trails. Of course side hits aren’t in the middle of trails like terrain park hits, but normally on the sides and out of the way.
But by the time you go looking for these or even find this post they could be long gone because conditions change everyday.
Tuckerbrook side hit
Here’s me hitting a side hit I built.
Last season I made a few side hits in Tuckerbrook. This one which was off the side and near the top of Fox tail was one of the better ones while it lasted.
Like another mentioned here it started off as a snowmaking whale on the side of the trail. But I chiseled out a take off one day when the snow was soft and enjoyed it for a few days before it turned to ice.
Tuckerbrook is rad.
It’s the beginner area, the lift is slow and the runs are short. But there are a few fun blue runs, some rollers, banks and the snow tends to stay nicer here than the upper mt probably cause it is less steep, less windy and gets less traffic.
I worked on a few hits on Turkey trot, Bear Paw, Fox Tail and Deer run in early 2021.
I even sort of made a cool gap between Fox tail and Bear paw late season. There’s an area there that with enough speed you can jump from Fox tail over some pipes (hopefully covered in snow) and land on the side of Bear Paw. I had to shovel some snow in the landing to make it smoother and you have to ollie hard off the side off Fox tail. I was a little sketched out but knew I could do it. And I actually recorded it but when I went to play it back the camera phone had shifted while recording and I lost it ;-/.
This one is on Spookie. It’s a snowmaking whale that seems to be sitting there and it originally had a straight wall of ice on it carved out by the snowcat which made it not hittable but I saw the potential and cleaned it up.
Snowcats up there often leave these icy walls on the sides of some trails and that is kind of dangerous and ruins any jumps or wall riding on the side of the trail – at least at Cannon. You can hire me to go in and smooth them outˆˆ.
It was/is a big block of ice and I first went in there with a shovel and tried chipping away at it to smooth it out and no way. Then the next day it heated up softened (when I took the pic) and I went back.
I was debating carving out a groove to hit it like a hip but just ran out of time. I smoothed out the wall and transition to make it more approachable. It has more potential to work on it. At the moment the best way to hit is like the line you see above if you look closely.
But it’s often very icy so beware.
Started making a hit above it too so you could hit it along the tree line pointed towards middle ravine, but that needs more snow.
Taft slalom hits
Taft slalom is my default choice trail off the top of Cannon. Upper ravine is nice too especially when the snow if good because you can carve those fun turns like a bordercross trail.
But I tend to stay on the sides of Taft. And you can hike out to the Saddle when the snow is good.
Here’s a fun hit especially when the snow is soft.
You got to zoom in on this one to see it.
It’s on the left before the second snow gun. I saw the spot and was like oohhh. Took my shovel there and piled a little more snow and tried to carve it out better but there’s a lot of ice in there and my plastic shovel couldn’t do much. So I kept hitting it and eventually carved out a take off.
One surprising day I went up there to find 3-4 inches up there and some wind drifts along the left side there and it was good and had a nice soft landing. It was sketchy though because if you zoom in there was a branch sticking out into the trail and you had to point it between the stick and snow gun to land right.
But luckily someone cut that stick out and fortunately did not take the jump out so it’s safer and better.
Farther down on the left of this trail is another sidehit that’s fun but I didn’t make except dig out a rut and some ice in the take off. I didn’t take a pic of that one though. It’s just past this one to the left on that last roller before Taft flattens out towards the saddle.
This one to the left already lost it’s glory as it hardly exists anymore. The snowcats had built up an icy pile of snow on the side of a little roller there and I thought that would be a good place. Then it snowed and I went in with my shovel and made a nice smooth take off on the day of the pic. It’s between the 1st and second tram tower.
This one is also on Tramway below the other but near the 2nd tower shown in the previous pic. There’s a bank there on the side and you can drop off it and into this gully and shoot back on the trail.
It was kinda there but I went in with a shovel and chiseled it out and made the take off cleaner although last time I saw it it wasn’t looking very good.
Imagine a new kind of “park”
It’s my dream.
Normally a terrain park is on a separate part of the mountain.
But what if the park was all over the mt?
I mean it kind of is already, but what if you built a sidehit here, a berm there and a hip over there? What if you just enhanced some of the natural features already there?
But someone might say that’s dangerous. Well, it depends on the feature and where you put them skiing is dangerous already and if you mark the hits off with signs and put them out of the average skiers way then you’re probably okay.
Some people like to ride the whole mt. and in safe areas on the sides of trails or where there is space you could hire me to build side hits with a shovel and basic tools;-).
It could be a new kind of park. You could be first to the marketplace with this kind of park^^. You could put some signs there next to features to warn people and hire me to make them (with my degree in fine art I could guarantee that they will stand outˆˆ!).
If you want to see some awesome non-terrain park sidehit jumping check out Arthur Longo’s side hits series… I recommend #3.
Of course most of us including myself don’t ride anywhere near his level. But here are a few more side hit jumps I made.
Frontside 360 melon grab (tap, lol) off a side hit I made 0:07
Frontside 180 tail grab off a side hit I made 0:22
Indy straight air 0:37
Mute straight air 0:32
Backside 180 mute off a big park hit at Cannon 0:42
Switch frontside 180 stalefish off a little kicker I made in the farm country 0:57
Backside 180 mute off a little kicker I made in the farm country 1:05
A neighbor and family friend down the rode let me build some jumps on his hill. Some you can see a bit in the video above towards the end. They were melting down and this was one of the last days there. I would go there on days off and hike them.
This hill actually had a rope tow on it way back in the 60’s. There is also some steeper terrain up in the trees you could do if it ever snowed enough. You could get 500 vertical ft here with a rope tow up into the trees.
I was watching a video the other day by Jon Jondai. And it was quite interesting.
And the message that I took from this video was to challenge yourself more. And I woke up this morning thinking I have missed a lot of opportunities because I was scared.
A little over a year ago while I was still in Japan I got an offer for a job at the time teaching English in Japan as an ALT teacher in Fukuoka. I contemplated it as I had no other options really at that time, but I said no because I felt over experienced and that they should pay me more than the average new teacher given my experience.
I was also out of money at the time, but decided to quit Japan and come back to the States to live with my parents. It’s easy (sort of) to do that.
It’s free for me. But I’ve done it before and I don’t think it’s very responsible or independent for me. Do I feel I missed a big chance because I didn’t take that job?
No, it’s not something I really wanted to do, but I missed a chance to independently get myself out of a bad situation and make some money.
Of course who knows what would have happened if I did start the job…
More recently my dreams have been delayed
More recently over the last 5 months I’ve been looking for a step van to convert into a living space and use as a creative medium for my artistic interests. I’ve spent a lot of time researching it and looking for a certain kind of van.
Given my location and the kind of step van I want (diesel w/ a 10-11ft cargo area) and price that I want I have had few options.
I could blame the market or the things I just said, but there were some chances.
There was one in Maine that I saw back in June I think and contemplated (’87 Chevy P30), but the steering was messed up and it was old. It ran though and honestly I could have gotten it and fixed it up, but I was scared.
Like in Japan I was scared to change my situation. To get a job. This time I was scared to take a chance. It’s true it could have turned out to be a dud or have problems, but it would be months before I would find another option.
The next chance
I found another in Oklahoma in August. This one was newer (a 2003 p42), but actually had worse rust underneath than the one in Maine. I sent a mechanic there to look at it for me and he said it would be a “project”.
I talked with the owner many times and made an offer. Well, actually I just said what the mechanic said which was “I would only pay about $3000 for it”. He was asking $5000.
After that I called back and he said he sold it.
Certainly it had problems and I feared the rust might be so bad that it couldn’t be repaired. I could of went there and saw it but I didn’t. I was stuck imagining the worst case scenario vs. the best.
Which as I understand it is the problem of a pessimist. Am I a pessimist? I’d like to think not, however I remember reading a quote not long ago that said something like (paraphrased):
A pessimist imagines the problems in any given situation and an optimist imagines the possibilities in one.
It’s possible it was too far gone, but possibly not.
I won’t know.
You’re going to fail. The best athletes in the world fail. They lose. They miss the shot. Michael Jordan missed many game winning baskets. The best baseball hitters only hit like 30% or so of the time.
What I lost?
I lost time. Now it’s October and I still have not a step van. The goal was to convert it and move out west with it. I have been very excited about this and been researching it extensively.
But am I out of time?
Nearly. It’s not impossible until the season starts and I am still here. The chance of using this place (my parent’s home) to build it out is almost gone though.
Other options I missed
I missed probably a hundred beautiful women over the years that I could have met or could of had a date with if only I had made a step towards them and opened my mouth.
Sure, I know a lot of them would have said no.
Sometimes I did step forward, but more times I didn’t because…
Fear will make your life really boring.
Fear is what has held me back from all of these chances. It never goes away. It’s like my judo teacher always said, for every competition you do you will always get scared.
In the States I did 3 jiu-jitsu (BJJ) competitions and I probably would have done another 3 if I had more guts. It sounds simple and the act of showing up is, but the act of competing in a fighting tournament…
Basically it’s a fight and of course there are rules, but it can be nerve wracking weeks up until the moment the comp starts and then the fear is pretty much gone and you are in the moment.
I did 2 judo competitions in Japan and that is how I got my black belt.
I faced my fears.
Every single time I competed I felt better after. Sure, sometimes I lost or was frustrated, but I did not regret it.
Like someone else said…
You rarely regret things you do and you often regret things you don’t.
Now I am pissed off because the summer is gone and I have no van to drive out west with. Sure, I may just go out west without a van, but then I am dumping money into my landlord’s pockets vs. being independent and having my own place.
And despite the poor buyer’s market or lack of options it’s still my fault.
I could blame others and I have, but really it’s my fault. So there will be more options in the future, but the time I am missing by not taking a chance…
And as Jon Jondai said above it’s more fun to take chances. You’ll lose some, but there’s always something to learn.
In SF city college it goes: white-green-brown-black and I think in brown you have to get a couple of degrees.
In Japan it goes white-black.
As far as I know for adults there are no colored belts. Sometimes children or teens may have colored belts.
In CCSF you basically sign up to get promoted and then you do a demonstration of throws and a written test. You don’t have to compete.
In Japan you have to compete. You have to accumulate enough points. If you lose once you are out. If you win you get a point. If you tie you get a half of a point but you are out. If you lose or tie then you have to wait until the next competition.
If it’s your first comp. then I think you need 4 points total but after your first comp the number goes down to 3 points and even after you get the points you have to do nage no kata.
COVID cancels the competitions for black belt
So I missed 2 competitions in Japan because they were cancelled to covid. So the budokan (local martial arts center) in Fukuoka sent a letter out to the dojos and said if you think you have someone with enough points that you would recommend for black belt then so be it.
So my dojo recommended me for black belt and that’s how I got it. From that point until I actually got it took probably 7-9 months because of covid affecting shipping.
Genomelink.io is a company that offers DNA testing services. I uploaded some raw data to them and then after a few weeks decided I didn’t want to use the service anymore.
So I didn’t find any easy instructions on how to cancel and sent them an email on July 1.
Sent: Thursday, July 1, 2021 8:57 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> Subject: Cancel
I’d like to cancel my plan and how can I download what I learned or can i?
I waited a couple of days and did not receive a reply so I tried again.
Sent: Saturday, July 3, 2021 5:47 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> Subject: Cancel
I’d like to confirm that i won’t be charged again. please respond.
Again no response.
So I assumed maybe they went ahead and cancelled it. Then on July 15th I get a receipt for $14.
I’ve since sent probably over 10 emails to that above address that have not received a reply.
How to contact genomelink.io?
firstname.lastname@example.org doesn’t work. Or at least it haven’t been between July 1 and today July 20th, 2021. And I couldn’t find any other emails or phone numbers where you could actually speak to someone.
And that’s pretty much the only email I could find.
I have tried to contact the company AWAKENS that supposedly owns it in Berkeley by sending a letter. I went to the company ‘team’ page and searched for emails and no luck.
What kind of company doesn’t reply to emails?
When you sign up there is either a year long or monthly option and I did the monthly, but now it looks like they are going to keep billing me.
I contacted my bank and they gave me some phone# of the visa that was supposedly Genomelink’s but I called it and it was totally unrelated.
My bank is trying to track them down now.
This has been a big hassle and waste of time trying to track this company down. Definitely don’t recommend.
So I was obsessed with researching bindings and was primarily focused on getting the Strata, but then I saw the 5 pack Force binding and it caught my eye.
I decided to buy both the red 2022 Union Strata and the 2021 limited edition “5 pack” Union Force binding.
Union Force snowboard binding review (vs. the Strata)
This is a review of the Union Force snowboard binding compared to the Strata. This is actually a limited edition “5 pack” model from 2021.
2022 Union Strata snowboard binding review
This is a review of the 2022 Union Strata snowboard binding. I rode this binding first.
The 2022 model did not appear to be any different from the 2021. The only visible difference I could see was that the word “Strata” was not on the highback.
The 2023 Strata also does not appear any different than the 2022 except for a different color way.
The 2020 Strata has a different ankle strap.
The Strata highback comes in 2 different styles: one with holes and one team highback.
The one I got in the video above is the team highback.
What did I think?
I tried the Strata first. And it was definitely different feeling at first and a bit painful underfoot at first. Perhaps it was the mini-disk or whatever. It did feel more loose.
The footbed is wider and there was some extra space between my boot and the interior sides of the front part of the binding.
The Force was tighter fitting.
The Strata feels a little lower to the board and little more flexy. The Force feels a little more stiff underfoot (standard baseplate?) and responsive.
It’s a little more powerful and aggressive feeling to me.
The Strata looser. More casual. More barefoot feeling.
What I didn’t like
One of the toe straps on the Force (despite being the same on the Strata) would slip off occasionally and had a funny sort of warp to it. A random imperfection.
They are painted bindings and that stuff chips and scratches off easily. But perhaps most bindings are like that.
The extra space in the Strata (the footbed is wide).
The Strata’s a little less adjustable. There is no adjustable toe ramp and the heel area is less adjustable. The Force is more adjustable.
If you like lots of forward lean then the Strata has less cause you can only adjust it so far (3 settings I believe), but it’s more of a “freestyle” focused binding as they say so many may not want much.
And the Strata forward lean adjustment isn’t as easy to adjust but most people don’t fiddle with that much so it doesn’t really matter.
The Force is more of an all mountain binding. But whatever binding you get you can ride it anywhere, don’t feel too limited by the labels.
I suspect the Strata would feel better for jibs, but I personally don’t jib much.
As far as shock absorption goes I think they are both good. The Force has a thicker softer area underfoot. The Strata’s isn’t as high and the material is more rubbery.
Both bindings are available with holy highbacks;-) if you like them – I don’t.
According to one of the Union reps I was emailing the highbacks with holes are a “tad bit softer”.
The Strata highback doesn’t really have any padding whereas the Force has a lot.
The Strata is a bit more minimalist. I like the asym shape though.
Other snowboard bindings I was thinking about
Other bindings I was considering/comparing were several Salomon shadow fit bindings and the Bent Metal Transfer. In the end I went with these two. Salomon’s kind of looked cool, I was tempted to try out their shadow fit, but being a ski company kind of turned me off a little;-).
The Bent Metals are cool. I like Mervin’s stuff (currently ride a Lib board), but I went with the Union’s. Maybe they felt a little heavier to me or liked the design of Union’s better.
Older bindings I had were old Burton Missions. I’ve had a few Burton bindings and wanted to try something new.
Who gets the most snow in the Northeast? If you are looking for a new snowboarding mountain to call home or some good places to go snowboarding/skiing in New England then this is for you.
The biggest mountains or ski areas in the Northeast lie in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The tallest mountains in the Northeast lie in New Hampshire (Mt. Washington), but is that where the most snow is?
Yeah, possibly due to its’ higher elevation, but there is no ski area up there and areas to the west tend to get more snow so they say.
Who gets the most snow in New England?
This is kind of general but interesting. The most snow (annual snowfall average) unfortunately in New England is in a portion of New York known for its’ lake effect snow but there aren’t any tall ski areas there. Big NY ski areas like Whiteface and Gore are to the east.
Then in VT you have Jay towards the top leftish, Stowe and Smugglers. Then going south you have Sugarbush, Killington, etc.
Then the deepest places in NH are in the very north, around Mt. Washington, Wildcat, Cannon, Bretton Woods and Loon ski area.
The deepest snows there are maybe 200″ a year in Wildcat and the rest being closer to 160″ like Cannon was where I worked.
Cannon has a similar or higher elevation than some places in VT but it’s icy as hell.
Highest snowfall in Vermont and the Northeast so they say:
Jay Peak (350+)
Smugglers notch (300+)
I was skeptical and dug a little deeper and found city snowfall totals. They did kind of vary depending on the site, but I did find usa.com and New York gets the most snow. But like I said there are no big ski mountains in those areas that you will see below.
Well, it’s further north and colder so when it might be raining in other places it could be snowing at Jay.
But I can’t imagine much more snow because of that.
Yet, another thing is that to the west of Jay there are fewer mountains to absorb the moisture that hits Jay. It seems like many of the storms come from the west.
And that could explain more snow and why NH and Maine get less.
Do they get as much as they say?
IDK, maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they inflate their totals.
This last season they claimed around 300″ of snow but only had a base of like 18-48″ or so?
Cannon where I worked this last season only claimed like 130″ for the season and for a while their base total was similar. I went to Jay in the early season December and they had a little bit more snow then.
A few months later I went to Smuggs and Stowe and there wasn’t a significant difference.
I’ve done most of my riding out west and areas that claimed they got similar amounts of snow usually had deeper bases.
But you got to ask where are they measuring this snow?
Is it in the sun or shade?
Is it on a groomed trail?
Did they blow snow on that trail? If so how much?
A visible place where everyone could see would be best.