It is what you make of it

By Bryan Iguchi | Photos by Jeff Hawe Mountain Outlaw magazine

Sure, deep powder is hard to beat and
ice is downright unpleasant, but my
most memorable times riding are when
I had the most fun. That’s what snowboarding
is all about.
A couple years ago I became overwhelmed
with figuring out where
the best snow was, feeling envy when
other places were getting more snow,
and getting upset if the snow wasn’t
perfect. Maybe I’d just turn around, go
home and wait for it to get good. Then I
realized I was missing the point.
It’s always good, as long as you make it
good.
For years, my mission was to get in as
many runs as physically possible by
all means necessary. Winter is short,
so I maximized my season with endless
tram laps and snowmobile access
exploration.
Now, my priorities are changing. I’ve
been searching for new experiences,
rather than downhill vertical mileage.
Don’t get me wrong—I’ll always
be on the tram early when we get a
big dump. It’s just that I might go in
early to spend time with my family.
Skiing evolved out of the necessity
for winter travel and still remains the
most efficient way to cover ground
in deep snow under your own power.
Snowboarding, on the other hand,
was created with the sole purpose of
downhill recreation. Snowboarding
has always been the bastard stepchild
of skiing. That’s not a bad thing, but I
think it’s the truth. To me snowboarding
is equally an offspring of surfing,
skateboarding and skiing.
Over the years I’ve tested and collected
a lot of boards and now use them
for specific conditions or to suit my
mood. Trying new things can make life
more fun, and provide excitement and
challenge. In the 15 years I’ve been
riding, the biggest game changer was
my split board.
I live in the shadow of Teton National
Park and love riding in the high peaks.
In the past, my fear of hopelessly
hiking in knee-deep powder for hours
kept me away from mid-winter outings.
But with a split board I can skin
up a mountain just as our ancestors
did, then transform the skis back into a
board and ride.
My early experiences split boarding
consisted of fumbling in the cold,
trying to put the board-binding puzzle
together. Ski touring parties passed by,
shaking their heads, and my frustration
grew. Those earlier models also
compromised my riding—the old
boards felt awkward and heavy, and the
bindings towered high off the board.
I tried ascending with short skis but
found it ineffective in deep snow, and
once again endured more trouble and
discouragement.
A few seasons back I decided to give it
another real go, and I’m glad I did. The
new boards are lighter, the bindingsare lower, and the feeling is now the real deal. I can change
from skis to a board in just a few minutes and ride down
with confidence. It’s changed my whole perspective.
I look forward to getting lost in a state of meditation this
winter, daydreaming deep in the mountains. Walking uphill
gives me a chance to examine the ever-changing snow
conditions, enhancing my awareness of my surroundings
and giving me a better chance to make good decisions on
what line to ride.
What it comes down to is sharing the experience and making
the most of the day. There is a feeling of satisfaction
that only riding brings, and riding the backcountry makes
snowboarding even more fun.
Bryan Iguchi is a professional snowboarder living in
Jackson, Wyoming.