Mt. Hood Meadows
Weather and snow conditions:
I got to Meadows around 12:30 PM and the weather was heavy one inch an hour wet, heavy snow with a temperature around 32 degrees and moderate to strong wind. The snow condition was 2 to 3 feet of water saturated unconsolidated “goo” with about 5 inches of fresh wet “powder” on top. Not as sticky or slow as I had feared, but extremely deep and heavy. We grabbed a clump that was about 8 inches in diameter and it weight around 2 pounds!. The surface was ungroomed, untracked in some places and deeply rutted, churned up in others. Overall some very challenging free ride conditions.
By 4:00 PM it was raining again with thick fog and the “snow” again turned into “glop”. You really could not find heavier, wetter conditions and still have “snow”.
Regular, stance centered at 22.5 inches, ducked +15/-15 with the Union Contact Pro bindings. Board was taken out of the package and ridden with now waxing or detuning. Front binding center was 20 inches from the tip and the rear center was 19.25 from the tail.
I fully expected this board to feel and ride about the same as the 2012 Heritage I rode extensively last season. I expected better float in powder or what we call powder up here. I thought the board might chatter a bit more since it is a little softer than the Heritage but turn quicker.
My first test ride was off of the Shooting Star lift. I rode a little on previously groomed with about a foot of mixed “stuff” on top. Very bumpy, rutted, wind blown and tacked out. The board handled almost identical to the Heritage on this except the torsional flex was just a tiny bit softer resulting in an even more responsive ride. The dampness of the board was very apparent and it handled the uneven terrain quietly. Where I had a firm enough base to kinda sorta carve, the edge hold was exceptional.
Along this ridge are numerous 3 to 5 foot wind lips creating great natural side hits and I hit 10 or 12 of these catching my normal 5 to 10 feet of air. The pop of the board seems great and I found it very easy and responsive to the Ollie. Landings were sure footed and stable. The board boosts rider confidence.
At the end of this ridge, I dropped one of our many short but steep ungroomed black runs. This had small to medium buried moguls with deep trenches and craters from skier and rider falls in the deep “poo”. The dynamic skidded turns were sure footed and stable and the nose was effortless to keep up on top. There were several places where I was sure I was going to go over the handle bars but all it took was slight aft shift and the nose just popped right up out of this gunk.
I lapped this general area for several runs dropping multiple steep black runs; all of which are in the 40-45 degree range with the same conditions and results.I managed to find many untracked ares to ride and this thing did very well on this wet heavy gunk. Only in the flattest of spots did I stall out.
Around 4:00 PM I headed back to go to work and took it through a low aspect tightly treed area called “Fairy Land” and had no trouble (except for a minor tree well incident that I don’t want to talk about) negotiating the tight trees in these conditions. Even though I was very limited in my ability to edge the board as a result of the very deep, very wet snow, the board was very nimble and easy to add a lot of pivot to the turns even in these conditions.
I ended up teaching two back to back classes but was able to ride again for an hour afterward. Here I rode our steepest terrain other than our side country. I lapped our upper bowls that generally run in the 40-45 degree range with a couple of short chutes that go up to maybe 50. Again, this is all ungroomed, heavily rutted and churned up on top of buried moguls. This snow was even worse than the earlier snow as it warmed up and rained for 4 hours before I got to ride on it.
I found it uncanny how well this board planed up on top of this terrible “goo”. I was making medium radius dynamic skidded turns on the 45 degree pitch though the most rutted churned up surface imaginable and only buried the nose a couple of times when I hit something in the 3 to 4 foot range and just did not react in time(operator error).
On the more traveled areas, this board is extremely quick edge to edge and very dynamic cross under turns are fluid, fast and sure footed without being overly edgy. The base, even with just the factory Saucer Wax is fast. I was easily gliding past so many people walking or skating the flats and I really did not approach with all that much more speed. I tried a little bit of switch riding in better maintained areas and I found it to handle very much like it does in it`s primary stance. The only thing is when it gets deep, switch is a little tricky as a result of the shape of the nose and tail. You had better be WAY back in the deep stuff if you get this thing switch. For natural freestyle in powder, landing switch with this will take a little work to dial in. For now, I am sticking with straight airs when its deep.
Wow! pretty much covers it. Even though I fully expected better float in “powder” I was still surprised at just how well this thing did in the most horrific conditions imaginable for trying to stay on top. The board is incredibly light and coupled with the amazingly light Union bindings, it is like almost having nothing on your feet. The board is agile, yet damp. It is stable yet lively and very playful. This board just makes you want to hit anything and everything along the way. I am looking forward to riding this thing in real hero powder. I rode out situations that I had no business recovering from and the wider shovel at the nose and narrower tail is hugely noticeable in these conditions. My first impression is they really hit the mark on this design when it comes to creating a true all mountain freestyle board that is also a superb powder stick.