Around 20 years ago the new sport of snowboarding picked up a reputation of being brash and reckless by skiers. Snowboard skiing used completely new (or you could say it adapted old) equipment, a giant skateboard without wheels, and it attracted the extreme thrill-seekers who sought out the most dangerous and exhilirating challenges. Extreme snowboarders have taken on the most amazing mountains, even the top of Mt. Everest. You could see them in ski movies leaping off of helicopters down to snowboard on almost vertical slopes and flying off of cliffs to catch what seems like hours of hang time. There are even some extreme sports for skydiving wearing a snowboard, so taking the regular ski trails seems pretty tame.
The rest of us tried it though and the fun really caught on. If you can imagine skating or surfing on a wave of pristine powder snow down a steep mountain slope you've wonder why no one thought of using a snowboard before. The equipment of just a giant skate board with step-in or strap-in bindings and ski boots is simple, and for safety you will want a helmet and protective goggles or sunglasses. Quality snowboarding gear comes from brands like Burton, K2, and Roxy Snowboards, and you can either buy online at REI.com and L.L. Bean, or you can rent the board, boots and bindings when you go to the ski resort.
With just a little guidance from lessons on the mountain a beginner can soon take a chairlift up the slope, strap in to the snowboard bindings and hop into a flurry of snow powder. You glide downward, sometimes leaping up and catching air, and with lucky and practice you'll be able to stay upright and learn to master steering and the falling leaf and toe-side moves. Try to get in shape a little before you go because even a half-day pass for snowboarding can wear you out in ways you never imagined. Steering and staying upright uses all of your flabby leg muscles, and if you're not in good shape you'll be aching for the next week. Of course there's not really any kind of exercise that you can do to prepare you for the gruelling new strains of snowboarding, so you may just want to bring some ibuprofin for the inevitable.
It may seem strange at first to be speeding down sideways or even backwards on your snowboard, but that is exactly why it is so exciting and so much fun. Most ski resorts have opened trails that are a great match to the gutsy style of snowboarders, and some have ramps and steep drop to jump off of. Of course with this kind of rough play there can be a lot of dangers if you don't know what you're doing. Snow is a little bit forgiving when it comes to making a bad landig when you're on skis or a snowboard, but don't take it for granted. There will be times when you thought it was fluffy powder snow but it was solid rock or ice underneath. Another danger is zigging when you should have zagged to avoid a tree. Mountain tend to have those little obstacles called massive wooden trunks, and if you hit them, they will hurt you regardless of the speed.
Mountain outerwear has come a long way, and when you're snowboarding you can stay warm and dry in advanced clothing materials. Snowboarders and skiers wear several layers to stay at just the right body heat, and they wear a couple of thin layers of fleece and polypropylene for warmth and to wick away moisture. It's very important though to wear a shell that is rugged and keeps the melting snow from soaking in. Gore-Tex is a favorite for the outside layer for the coat, pants and gloves because it beads up the moisture on the outside and breathes out from the inside. Finding the right gear at deep discounts for top brand name gear is a great way to suit up and have a great and safe day snowboarding.