SIA Day 4 - Keeping it Real in Keystone

On day four of the SIA tradeshow, we decided to skip out on the commercial aspects of snowboading and focus on what's really important: the snow, the mountains, and the fun. Brian and Steve of the Sierra crew volunteered to provide us with rides in two senses of the word: a means to get to the mountain, and boards to get us down the mountain (we didn't bring our own snowboards to Denver). We then set our bearing west in the direction of Keystone for a day of riding on Sunday.

We had spent the night in Westminster on Saturday so that Brian and Steve wouldn't have to commute back to Denver on Sunday to come pick us up from the hotel. This also gave us the opportunity to set up our loaner boards before heading up to Keystone. I was going to ride a 154 Custom V-Rocker, Dana was to ride a 157 Sierra Crew. Once we were all geared up, we piled into Brian's truck and started our journey to Keystone.

Mountains and road in Loveland Pass
The drive through Loveland Pass was less congested, but probably also more scenic. I bet the road can be pretty gnarly during a storm though.

The drive to Keystone from Westminster is approximately 116 km if going through Loveland Pass. Yahoo! Maps estimates the trip to take 1 hour and 28 minutes. We were fortunate that Zoe and Joel had gone to Keystone the day before and provided us with information to avoid the most traffic (i.e. By going through the pass rather than following the I-70 through the Eisenhower tunnel). The actual time of the trip was approximately the length of Zombieland which we watched on the drive up.

Once we got to Keystone, we met up with Zoe, Joel, and J.R. Since Keystone was new to Dana and I, we were keen on seeing what the mountain had to offer. Steve mentioned that the A-51 terrain park is always among the top-ten in the world. The features in this park are way bigger than anything we have at Mont Cascades, however, the jumps are really well shaped and didn't look scary in the least (it's amazing what can be done with enough snow), and Dana was keen on hitting the 40-50-60 foot jump line.

We rode groomers and the small park for most of the late morning until Zoe and Joel decided to call it a day an head back to Denver. Only Steve, Brian, Dana, and myself remained. That's when Dana decided to “nut up, or shut up” and hit the bigger jump lines. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware of his plan, so I didn't see his “method to superman” which resulted in a broken Sierra Crew. Apparently the park kids that Dana polled to find out how much speed he needed to clear the jump don't carry as much momentum as he does because he wound up casing in the flats after going about 120 feet or so. Fortunately the only thing broken was the Sierra Crew (sorry Bru).

X-Games Traffic on I-70
The X-Games meant that the crowds at Keystone were sparse, however, it also meant lots of traffic on I-70.

Even though the snowboard Dana was riding was damaged, he was still able ride out the rest of the day. Although the profile of the snowboard was no longer cambered, more like spooned, we made a few more runs before finally calling it a day when the clouds moved in and the light got really flat (it was after 3PM anyway, and most of Keystone would be closing shortly after). However, since this was also the last day of the Winter X-Games, we knew the drive back to Denver would be much more difficult than the drive up.

The drive back to Denver was made even more difficult by the fact that Dana started showing signs of suffering from Altitude Sickness. Our home mountain reaches only slightly more than 1,000 feet of elevation so being at nearly 12,000 feet, especially when not used to it, can have an adverse effect on your system. We hadn't really given this much thought, so we hadn't come up with any plans for acclimatisation to the high elevation. Even though the effects of altitude on the human body are only significant at, or above, 10,000 feet, it's always a good idea to ensure you're prepared for significant changes in altitude. The most important thing you can do is to stay hydrated, which is what Dana failed to do on Sunday. Hydration is also the only real remedy, short of drugs whose routine use are discouraged, for those suffering from Altitude sickness.

It took nearly four hours of fighting with X-Games traffic but we finally made it back to Denver. However, in spite of this involved commute, and the altitude sickness, the trip was totally worth it. Especially when contrasted with our previous three days in Denver where the focus was on the commercial and consumption side of snowboarding. It's essential to not forget the important part: the fun. Something we hoped would continue over the next two days during the SIA freeride/demo fest at Winter Park.

Winter Matters Bubble

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