[Niels Schack is down with some summer lovin'. Photo: Matt Georges]
In case you're unaware, summer snowboarding is hands down one of the best kinds of snowboarding you can do. Ok, so we wouldn't go as far as to say that it tops a powder day (that said, summer powder can be a thing, and a daaamn good thing to boot), but there's something undeniably awesome about heading up to ride a glacier when valley temperatures are heavily in positive figures. Emerging at altitude to that particular smell you only seem to get on a glacier in summer, waiting for the bulletproof conditions to soften up so your edges actually hold, and then spending a few golden hours ripping through the park as landings get progressively softer, before slush slashing your way back to the lift to download in flip flops. All that topped off by an afternoon filled with crispy skateboarding, swimming and grilling. What's not to love? Nothing, so check out a bunch of Euro resorts where you can snowboard in summer and get on it!
In honour of this often overlooked season of shredding, we'll present you with some swag that's perfect for this most confusingly epic of shred times...
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Park Snowboard/Slush Surfer
Though most glacier parks will have kickers of consequence and Olympic-sized superpipes, speed can be an issue due to the warm temperatures of summer. Unless you’re on a national team and have to train your triples on 25m+ jumps, we’d therefore suggest sacking off ultra-high performance riding and just concentrate on having as much fun as possible on the smaller jumps, jibs, and any trannyfinders that bubble up. In terms of what kind of board to bring, we’d recommend something that’s playful, and fun when you’re cruising, but has enough about it to plough through slush, dig trenches and pop you up on rails. And when the slush gets deep or if you're not the biggest fan of jumping or jibbing, a super fun retro shape can help crank the fun-ometer up to 11.
"We'd recommend a board that's playful, and fun when you're cruising, but has enough about it to plough through slush, dig trenches and pop you up on rails."
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Outerwear
All those UV rays beating down on the glacier all day means inevitably the snow will be wetter than you'd be used to if you've only ridden in winter. Plus it's gonna be hot and you will sweat. There are two ways to combat this: either accept you'll be getting wet and ride in a a shirt, hoody, joggers or even shorts (a la Shorts & Shades), or don some outerwear – but make sure there's plenty of venting and no insulation. Breathability is key here, and when we've ventured up for a summer shred we've tended to opt for a high-end, lightweight, super waterproof/breathable pant, and a base layer plus shirt or hoody.
You know what we just wrote above about choices for outerwear in summer? There are none when it comes to handwear. Through a combination of melted snow and sweaty palms, your hands are gonna get wet, so the best thing to do is to accept this and clad your pinkies in something that’s as breathable and quick-drying as possible. What tend to be termed ‘pipe gloves’ (or ‘pipe mitts’) are what you’re after here – just remember to dry them out at the end of the day or else you'll soon have hands that smell like you've been juggling with doggy doo-doo.
"The best thing to do is to accept your hands'll get wet and clad your pinkies in something that's as breathable and quick-drying as possible."
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Eyewear
Sure, you could opt for your regular goggles with a dark mirrored lens when slashing up the glaciers of Europe this summer, but the warmth they give your face in the cold winter months is amplified in the heat of summer and can lead to what doctors term a 'Big Sweaty Head'. It's a terrible affliction, and one we've suffered often, so you could also consider leaving the gogs at home and rocking a decent pair of sunnies. The UV bouncing around at altitude is no joke, though, so check out ones that are pretty big, thus minimise light creeping in and burning your retinas to a cinder.
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Headwear
While of course you could, you don't wanna be rocking a beanie in the summer. Fishermen the world over can breath as sigh of relief as the hype for bucket hats appears to be waning, although we've been seeing more of the enormous straw variety up on the catwalk of Mt Hood, so perhaps it's the mariachis of the world that will be feeling the nibble of snowboarders biting their style. But whatever variety you opt for, a good hat that'll stay on your bonce at speed is mandatory to see off the death rays. Then you might want to consider a lightweight facemask - certainly if you're ginger or British. Or get all on fleek and wrap a t-shirt round your head, budget-ninja style.
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Water Bottle
You'll be sweating a bunch and it will be toasty nine times out of ten, so it's super important to stay hydrated. But you don't want to be polluting the planet with unnecessary plastic waste, so rather than consuming some kind of bottled beverage instead bag yourself a metal water bottle than you can fill up with delicious, free tap water forever more.
"It will be toasty nine times out of ten, so it's super important to stay hydrated."
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Park Backpack
A good, lightweight bag that you can load with your water, snacks, layers and so on is essential to have. You won't be riding with it on much (it will predominantly live in a pile of other packs at the foot of the park), and you certainly won't be strapping a board on to hike all day, so don't worry too much about features and tech specs. Just make sure it's big enough to carry what you need for a day on the hill and you'll be sweet.
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Suncream
You don't want your otherwise epic summer shred experience being ruined by being burnt to a crisp by the high alpine sunshine, so make sure you whack on generous amounts of suncream. Get some SPF 50 on any part of your skin that is exposed, and re-up every few hours. It's also worth noting that suncream's effectiveness dwindles with time, so if you've had a bottle kicking around in your drawer for a few years it's best to bin it and buy new supplies or run the risk of getting an inadvertent lobstering. This has happened to people we know, more than once.
"If you've had a bottle kicking around in your drawer for a few years it's best to bin it and buy new supplies or run the risk of getting an inadvertent lobstering."
Essential Gear for Summer Snowboarding - Boot Dryer
Though perhaps not essentially essential, you, your feet and your friends might thank you if you invest in a boot dryer. Long days spent slashing and hiking around in slush means you can get a bit of trenchfoot and to prevent a) having to put on wet, cold boots the next morning and b) your boots developing a pong that could qualify as military-grade chemical weaponry, it is essential you make sure your dry your boots out properly after a summer session – take the liners out! Sure, you could leave them in the sun for the afternoon and hope for the best, or dry them near the campfire (but BEWARE), but to be sure just pony up and get yourself a set of boot dryers and - summer or winter - everyone will be thankful you did.