The van life is composed of a new generation of modern-day hippies, not so much the dirtbag vagabonds it used to be. It's something everyone wishes to do in their lifetime, and if not, then it should be. You get this sense of minimalism and adventure that makes you step out of your comfort zone and escape the big city routine. You find yourself in places you've never been before, feeling more comfortable than ever imagined. It will open your eyes to how much is possible with so little, you will come to realize that there is so much more than a big house and a fancy car. Life should be made of memories exploring this beautiful earth we have at the palm of our hands.
In our past generations' perception of a normal life, so many places are left unseen, so many mountains are left unexplored and so many precious moments are left unlived. Making the trip with a friend makes it that much better, being able to share those moments with somebody who is equally as passionate about snowboarding makes for incredible days in the mountains. Let alone having your other friends fly in just to catch some lines does add to a unique trip.
The hardest part of living in a van is keeping your Tuxy Suit clean. But seriously, how could living in a van be so hard. Waking up warm and cozy, cooking breakfast with morning music, having a coffee while reading a book and preparing for the day's adventure. Traveling around the country chasing weather system that will dump loads of snow in the mountains. Scoping lines from the highway only to hike up and shred deep, fresh snow on the way down. There is so much terrain to be discovered and so many lines to be ridden, having the ability to reach those high peaks and shred those gnarly couloirs is a different game, it's an adventure you can't get enough of, it's a sort of addiction. Making our way to Nelson to chase winter is exactly what we did when we saw the weather system was booming down there!
For me, backcountry ski touring gives me a sense of achievement and adventure. Climbing 3000 vertical meters to reach a summit is only part of the expedition, strapping in and riding down steep faces and perfect pillows is the cherry on top of it all. Some people think we are out of our minds. Why would you walk up if you can take a snowmobile, or why don't you ride resort? But it's not about that, it's not about having 10 or 15 runs in a day. It's about planning your adventure the night before, reading maps and books, finding new lines, connecting with nature and finally, getting rewarded with deep and fluffy snow with no tracks in sight. So that's exactly what we did!
Each mountain range is so different yet so the same. Vast snow valleys, rugged peaks, and perfect open trees make for quite the sight. Each presenting itself with the same challenges, Avalanches. Being caught in an avalanche is everyone's worst nightmare, it's not a topic to ignore. Especially not in this type of terrain. It needs to be studied, rescues need to be practiced and caution needs to be present. It's always a risk you need to take but with proper preparation, you greatly reduce these risks. It's really important to test the snow and make the right decision even if it means turning around after hiking for 3 hours and not even having gotten to the top. Fatalities are not unusual in the mountains; therefore, you need to take this into consideration before heading out for a day of backcountry riding.
The best part about backcountry touring is the feeling of being so little amongst these massive mountain ranges, you have no control over the environment, you need to listen to the mountains and you need to enjoy the views they offer. The ride down is really where you find yourself, the perfect snow, and the perfect terrain makes for a snowboarder's best days. You have this feeling that is unexplainable. A sense of pure happiness, not a worry in the world. Once you get the feeling, there is no way of getting it off your mind.
This is why the Tuxy suit is a game changer, after a long day in the mountains, slipping in my suit make my day that much better! Complementing the sense of achievement from the day's adventure. Getting back after a day of touring, enjoying a beer is quite rewarding. Physically exhausted with a clear mind and endless joy thinking about the day. Sit back and enjoy a nice supper in the van only to do it all again the next day.
Words by: Ced Girouard