Life Hacks
November 12th, 2017

Not The Glory Days—Don’t Let Poor Conditions Hold You Back

If you’re a mountain sledder then the odds are good that you have a job, since this isn’t exactly the cheapest sport to be involved in. The problem with work is that it gets in the way of riding. The whole commitment of having to be at a certain place at a certain time really messes with our ability to ride when the conditions are at their best. Mother Nature isn’t exactly too worried about our work schedules when planning the next massive dump. That dirty four letter word—work—means that if we want to put on miles during a winter season, sometimes we have to ride in poor conditions.


Not The Glory Days—Don’t Let Poor Conditions Hold You Back

Poor conditions

Jan 31st 2014 – Playing on a little wind feature during the first of our trifecta of low-snow years. Rider: Matthew Mallory  Photo: Barrett Hepburn


Some years are better than others for hitting the good days. It’s a combination of the frequency of storms and luck. Many of us in the Whistler area have sourced jobs that give us the freedom to take days off when the storms hit, stacking the odds in our favour. We may have to work longer days or extra weekends here and there, but that means when the weather goes to shit we can skip it, and when it’s great we can be out there.

On the other hand, for three winters in a row we rode the climate change wave, suffering through extended periods of very little snow. No work schedule can accommodate that. We just had to make the best of it, sometimes riding hard pack for months.


Poor conditions

Jan 30th, 2015 – Christian Gagnon trying his new Cat. The snow was absolutely bullet proof. We couldn’t get the tracks to penetrate and were constantly overheating but he still went and sent it. Photo: Matthew Mallory


Poor Conditions = Low Motivation

Crappy snow can really mess with your mind. It’s hard to get fired up to ride when you know it hasn’t snowed in two or three weeks. The first key to mentally getting beyond the problem is finding riding partners who are perpetually stoked to shred. That way you know they won’t flake out on you.

When the snow goes to hell, it’s a great time to explore. As long as you can dig a ski in, checking out new tree zones can be a hell of a lot of fun, and the same goes for getting out in the alpine. If the sun is shining and the snow is stable, then pack some food and get out there. Go wrack up the miles and enjoy the sunshine.


Poor conditions

Jan 25th, 2016 – Six inches of fresh on top of a lumpy frozen snowpack. Rough and unforgiving on the sled, but the single ski and narrow platform of Corey Derpak’s snowbike made it the ideal shred stick for the day. Photo: Matthew Mallory


Look at it Through a Different Lens

For myself, when the snow goes to hell I shoot photos. It’s a great way to get peeps motivated to ride and it gets me off the couch and into the backcountry. The bad snow days in the Sea-to-Sky corridor often correspond with blue skies, which make for great shooting conditions.

One of the advantages to shooting when the the snow conditions are not great is that riders are more willing to wait around to setup good shots. Everyone has a little more patience, which is hard to come by on a deep pow day. I must admit that on pow days I have a hard time stopping and taking my camera out, just as much as the riders hate waiting around.


Poor conditions

Feb 26th, 2017 – After a few weeks without significant snow, we cruised back about 40km from the truck. Ryan Thorley digging into the dust on crust. Photo: Matthew Mallory


Three shitty snow seasons have taught me that the success of a season isn’t built or destroyed by the snow conditions. It’s made by your approach to each day and your attitude. Whether dodging stumps, cruising glaciers or just going up to chill at a cabin: you’re outside, getting fresh air and exercise. What could you be doing that’s better? So if it’s the weekend and there hasn’t been snow, get over it. Load up the sled and get your ass out there. It’ll be better than sitting at home.

Don’t let poor conditions hold you back. Sledding is like life, sometimes it throws you lemons. You just gotta cut that shit up and take it with a grain of salt…and a shot of tequila!


– Matthew

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