Words by Nick Butterfield, Photos by Theo Martindale/Urban Nerds
Music festivals in the mountains have been growing each year and popping up in all corners of the European hills, but none can compare with the pure carnage that is unleashed at Snowbombing. This year’s event welcomed a crowd of a few thousand boozy nightmares to the quiet alpine resort of Mayrhofen in Austria to come bathe in Jägermeister, listen to some of the best DJ’s and Bands there are and try to somehow find some time to ride the mountain. With headlining acts like Fat Boy Slim, The Editors, 2 Many DJ’s, The Enemy, Friendly Fires, Vitalic, Doves and my all time favourite DE LA SOUL, how are you not going to have a good time!? The only real dilemma would be remembering it all!
My journey to this wonderland of boozing, partying, partying drinking, partying (and a little riding) began at the somewhat unlikely location of Maidstone Volvo. The kind people from Snowbombing had hooked us up with a sweet Volvo XC70 four wheel drive luxury motor to kill it across the tarmac of the autobahn and travel in style to the event.
We were understandably pretty stoked on this - if you’ve ever driven around in a car that’s as comfy as your living room sofa and has more gadgets to play with than NASA HQ then you’ll know how I felt (cue smug smile). After shaking hands with the Ghostbusters, some Irish leprechauns and the rich Arabs we had a quick demonstration from Barry Peters (Cuban Brothers lead man) on what kind of behaviour to expect in the week ahead of us - not that there were many people there that weren’t already on his level.
http://mpora.com/videos/RukDZkQ9w Ghostbusters start off for Snowbombing - Filmed with Sony Bloggie Camera >>
Before we knew it, there were 100+ cars taking over the roads of the European highways full of duty free booze, fancy dress and raging serotonin levels all burning up rubber on their way to Frankfurt. After a quick stop over and a party (as if a 5 day festival isn’t enough) we headed onwards to the main spectacle that is Snowbombing.
Along the way, road trip snowbombers had to complete a variety of ridiculous tasks to keep them in the spirit of the week to come. This included blind team go-kart racing – a sport that saw us stop on roadside car parks with one blind-folded team member pulling a kart as the other sat in the seat and steered through obstacles shouting abusive instructions. There was even a competition to see who could collect the most rip-off 0,50€ sanifair toilet tickets from the over-priced European motorway services.
Upon arrival to the resort itself a procession of the road trip cars were driven straight up the main high street in all their glory, and through the chequered flag which marked the start of the Snowbombing festival 2010. The Jägermeister’s were poured, the grillwurst’s were grilled and the house size speakers were cranked up to the max. Over the course of the festival, they’d only be silenced for a mere 4 hours a day! The Snowbombers of 2010 were obviously not here to get a good nights sleep before their time on the mountain. Or at any point for that matter!
And so the week began, with the scene set for unrestrained self-indulgent immoral behaviour of the highest order. But before you start pointing fingers and getting on your high-horse about ‘Brits abroad’ and stag-do-style diplomatic disasters, it’s worth pointing out that the people of Mayrhofen tell tales of this merry rabble of Snowbombers being the politest and friendliest guests of the season! We have to admit we were pretty surprised too! The question I really wanted to ask is, who the hell has taken the title away from us Brits when it comes to being the worst-behaved people abroad? ;-) Either way, the locals in this party-friendly town seem pretty happy to have us back every year.
That’s not to say the debauchery was at all muted. By the time we arrived there, main stages and clubs were already throbbing. The kebab man half way up the high street was already beaming – he probably thought Christmas and Easter had been switched this year! One of the days saw a huge street party that could only be classed as a fresher’s week version of Notting Hill Carnival - with dance moves and costumes that weren’t out of any text book I’d ever seen. On other days Snowbombers would switch their fancy dress for thicker-lined attire so as to brave the more chilled environment (but by no means a chilled atmosphere) of the rave-up at 2000m - in an Igloo!!, Little drips of melting ice from the ceiling reminded you just where you were, as everyone danced their little moon-boots off to a thumping sound system cocooned in ice! The acoustics were awesome, no doubt due to the hard ice and perfect shape, and thanks to the altitude it takes a whole lot less booze for things to get wild.
Once again, this year’s festival saw the return of the mighty Urban Nerds with an armoury of the finest UK club scene artists who had proudly come out to spin tracks under their name. This team of sound heads were hard to miss - mainly due to their über-pimp 4X4 Volvo and clan of followers all sporting their hoods and tees that buzzed around the resort. I get a feeling this isn’t going to be the last we see of them at Snowbombing as the vibe that was being thrown down on their night during the week was something Big.
Quite apart from all this evening entertainment the days up on the hill were comical as morph suits, tweed Englishmen, teletubbies and fluffy creatures (no doubt sweating out more than they could drink) loitered on the sun-kissed slopes. The daily workout with Mr. Motivator seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for most people as you could often find yourself coming out of the main lift from town to be confronted by a mob of snowbombers throwing down lunges and ‘windin’ their waist’ along to the instruction of the breakfast TV action man himself.
Believe it or not, there were even some events that involved the sideways-sliding sport that this resort is renowned for! Hotzone TV in association with Snowbombing had put together a barmy boarder-cross, a pro-rider best trick and even a kind of mountain orienteering event for fancy dressed punters to get off their faces on schnapps and scrabble all over the slopes completing tasks along their way.
All the events were given a bit of a snowbombing-style twist. The boardercross was pretty much the most dangerous I’d ever seen - with all four competitors having to finish the race by riding through a water run. So once you’ve managed to get through all those the jumps and whoops ok, you still have to tackle a 10ft-wide 20ft-long water run to cross the finish line. Throw in the three other competitors and the strong chance that you will all be going across the water at the same time… As you can imagine the results of this were side-splittingly funny mixed with some pretty near misses…
http://mpora.com/videos/4C4nqhBi4 The barmy boardercross - filmed with a Sony Bloggie Camera >>
http://mpora.com/videos/WxhSmlJMS Carnage and near death at the Barmy boardercross - filmed with a Sony Bloggie Camera >>
UK rider Gary Greenshields managed to walk away with some cash in his pocket by winning the Best Trick award with a styled out double backflip. Local dude Mario Wanger took home the Men’s Best Rider Award while Jade McJannet won the women’s title.
http://mpora.com/videos/knrYXF0g6 Tom West lofting a big BS 180 over Mayrhofen's main kicker - filmed with a Sony Bloggie Camera >>
This packed week of thundering music and sleep deprivation came to an end with one big party in the Eristoff Forest with what could only be described as the perfect line up. De La Soul, Fat Boy Slim and DJ Yoda ripped the back out of the woodland until the night grew cold. Then the Cuban brothers and Friendly Fires picked up from where they left off back in the warmth of the warehouse-sized Racket club.
Snowbombing has left me with bin liner sized bags under my eyes, but with even bigger bags of fun memories. Seriously, anyone who loves spending time in the mountains snowboarding but also loves getting messy at summer festivals should give this a go. Why wait for the summer when you can start it all off with an epic week getting the best of both?!