Snow Travel Biz brought to knees by pandemic develops “COVID-19 tool”, aims to re-open world to intrepid shredders: “It was like a bomb exploded!”

Hit the button, punch in where y’coming from, where y’going, and you’ll get a list of what you can and can’t do and where you can and can’t go. Australia, that pretty hermit kingdom? Screwed, pretty much. The US, a whole lot better.

For anyone in the travel game, airline, travel agent, maker of limp pastries tossed at passengers in coach, biz didn’t just slide in March 2020, it plummeted off a cliff.

Billions of dollars worth of plane tickets, hotel bookings, boat trips, whatever, all rendered void.

Planes were grounded and sent off to the desert in California, the airlines’ flight attendants sent off to eek an existence as playthings on OnlyFans. Contracts with travel agency employees were terminated, offices cleared out, them pretty Herm Miller chairs thrown onto Craigslist, the whole industry all dead in the water.

German surfer, skier Tim Heising, whose surf, snow, travel business had been running on an upward trajectory since he kicked it off in 2008, explains what it’s like to be booted in the teeth.

“It started real subtle. We didn’t worry about it too much until sales literally dropped to zero from one week to another,” he says. “We’ve had so many affected trips, we couldn’t keep up processing date changes, refunds and credit vouchers. It was like a bomb exploded, and there was no stopping in sight.”

First thing he did was cut costs and draw up the ol worst-case scenario plan.

“By the time we implemented some changes, the situation went from bad to worse. We had no other option but to (temporarily) lay off most of our staff and move out of our cushy office and into our homes.”

Heising didn’t feel great about icing his employees but, worse, was the spectre of losing his own shirt and almost a decade-and-a-half of work.

“Fear of bankruptcy because we didn’t know what was going on with the trips that were already paid in full and people were requesting refunds for,” he says.

Heising wasn’t gonna let his biz slip away, howevs. He cut some deals with suppliers, got a piece of the government aid pie and focussed on getting surfers to the Maldives, which remained accessible during the pandemic and where the waves were, still are, gloriously empty.

(Surf, snow, Heising got y’covered.)

And, now that the world is getting a handle on the virus, snowdestinations are opening up, slowly. But if you wanna travel you’re going to hit plenty of logistical speed bumps.

There ain’t two countries alike when it comes to COVID protocols, requirements etc.

So Heising and his LUEX gang came up with a “COVID-19 tool”. Hit the button, punch in where y’coming from, where y’going, and you’ll get a list of what you can and can’t do and where you can and can’t go.

Australia, our pretty hermit kingdom? Screwed, pretty much.

The US, a whole lot better.


“Our intention with the tool isn’t to promote traveling per se but to ensure that people playing with the idea of going on a snow trip have access to accurate, up-to-date and relevant information to keep everyone involved safe,” says Heising.

“We also get many people asking us for information on what traveling might look like in the future, and just like everyone, we can only speculate. A lot of countries will adopt more lenient protocols for vaccinated people – similar to what the Seychelles, Belize and Barbados are already doing. But how exactly this will look like, and if we’re required to carry a vaccine passport with us once we embark into the ‘new normal’ remains to be seen.”

Darkest days over, silver linings in clouds, Heising is getting the gang back together.

Business is good, not booming, but it’s good.

Birds are in the sky.

Boards, skis are being shoved into bags.

Ain’t never gonna be a time like this, again, at least not until the next time the world shutters.

Empty mountains. Empty lift lines.

Right now.

United States Air Force releases warning over snowboarding in Japan: “This sport is fun but can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not followed!”

Fluffy white fluff.

Japan, as everyone knows, is a magical powder wonderland. Little anime trees dancing on picturesque mountains buried to their branches. Curry for lunch. Cute kitty cats doing their cute thing all covered in fluffy white fluff.

The best place to snowboard in the entire world? Don’t take my word for it. Here is Army Capt. James Bassette, 30, who arrived at Camp Zama outside Tokyo in October, has been skiing and snowboarding regularly this season.

“I’ve probably gone six weekends. I don’t know if this is a normal season, but the amount of amazing champagne powder is on par or better than British Columbia (in Canada). It’s effortless skiing through it.”

It is a normal season but dangerous for some as a United States Air Force airman was recently injured on a snowboarding jaunt.

Air Force Tech Sgt. Amy Lynn Koehler-Warren, occupational safety manager for the 374th Airlift Wing, issued a warning to all service members in country.

“This sport is fun but can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not followed.”

She then advised them not to exceed their experience and skill level, inspect and maintain gear, obey posted signs, not stop on the slope, never snowboard alone, stay on-trail, wear a helmet and let someone know where they are going and when they will return.


Breaking: Natural Selection announces stop two, a Canadian-on-Canadian affair at Baldface Lodge’s new Valhalla!

Great White North.

The world’s greatest professional snowboarding competition starts today and what thrill, what abject thrill in this day and age of cancelled sport and postponed.

Per the press release:

As the Natural Selection Tour heads north on the road to Alaska, the Tour stops this week at the Bronco Natural Selection at Baldface for a backcountry freestyle showcase featuring an all-star, all-Canadian rider list. Ten British Columbia-based riders will be pairing up with regionally-based filmers in a new, progressive format that will allow for maximum expression and style. They will be riding some of North America’s most inspiring, untapped terrain at Baldface’s new tenure in the Valhalla Ranges from March 1-7. A highlight show featuring the riders’ best lines and standout action from the week will broadcast March 19, exclusively on Red Bull TV.

Travis Rice, pro snowboarder and the Tour’s creator explains, “This is a unique year that calls for adaptability. Frankly, I am really excited about the showcase format and that we are adding another dimension to what the world witnessed in Jackson Hole. Full-spectrum snowboarding has been historically captured on film, so we are inviting top filmers to team up with riders and deliver something truly dynamic for all those that tuned in to the Tour’s first stop. The riders are excited about this format and I can’t wait to see what they create.”

Six invited men and four women includingBeau Bishop, Dustin Craven, Craig McMorris, Spencer O’Brien, Leanne Pelosi, Chris Rasman, Mikey Rencz, Marie-France Roy, Mark Sollors and Robin Van Gynwill work in small teams throughout the week to find and ride an all-natural, backcountry freestyle line, while also capturing a video part. The two components, the line and video part from Baldface-Valhalla’s dynamic terrain, will be considered with 70/30 weight by the Natural Selection judges and nomination committee. Judges will use the same criteria as used in Jackson to score overall impression focused on the rider’s chosen line and risk, flow and amplitude, creativity and tricks, and finally, control.

The top scoring man and woman from the Bronco Natural Selection at Baldface will be revealed during the Red Bull TVbroadcast. Each will take home a Model Year 2022 Polaris Snowmobile of their choice and secure an invite to go head-to-head against the top three men (McMorris, Ferguson and Bang) and the top woman (Sadowski-Synnott) coming out of Jackson Hole, at the inaugural Natural Selection Tour super finals: The HempFusion Natural Selection at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge from March 20-27.

Very fine though a shame Mikkel Bang will not be present, seeing the event is taking place in his country’s version of heaven.

At least he gets to go to Alaska for the finals though.

Extremely exciting.

Epically wet winter leads to much snow atop Hawaii’s tallest mountain: “I mean this is insane, right? I don’t think there are too many people who can say they’ve snowboarded in Hawaii!”

Better than Spam musubi.

Maunakea, the Big Island of Hawaii’s tallest volcanic peak, has received near-record snowfall this winter drawing many rippahs. There is no resort, no lifts, lodge or peppermint schnapps infused hot chocolates for apres but there is plenty of room to shred.

Vermont native, Aaron Todd, for example has waited and waited for this moment since moving to Hawaii in 2018.

“I mean this is insane, right?” he declared after multiple runs from the summit. “I don’t think there are too many people who can say they’ve snowboarded in Hawaii. When I was coming up here I saw the snow thin out, so I was a little worried,” Todd said. “It’s a little icy, but I was able to get some nice runs in.”

Very cool.

He heard a rumor that it snowed in Maui last year and will be checking forecasts etc. to catch if it happens again.

Shreddahs are allowed to drive to the top then have their spouses collect them at the bottom.

A likely bummer for the spouses but better than having to sit on a beach and take pictures of a husband or wife surfing.

The absolute worst.

Woman surprised by bear as she attempts to use outhouse near mecca of Alaskan snowboarding: “I sat down on the toilet and immediately a bear bit my butt!”

Got ya!

There are surprises and then there are surprises. Like, finding an extra Taco Bell burrito, unpaid for, in your bag is a surprise. Going into an outhouse near the mecca of Alaskan snowboarding, though, and becoming bitten by a bear from below is a surprise.

But let us meet Shannon Stevens who was on a backcountry adventure with her brother near Haines.

You certainly recall Haines from every recent snowboard film ever.

Very dynamic.

In any case, Shannon and her brother were staying in their yurt when she needed to use the facilities.

Out she went to the outhouse, opened the door and…

“…sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt right as I sat down,” she told The Associated Press. “I jumped up and I screamed when it happened.”

Her brother, hearing the commotion, rushed out to find Shannon tending to her wounds. He assumed she had been tasted by a mink or squirrel but no, she told him. “I said, ‘There’s a bear down there, we got to get out of here now.’”

The next morning they found bear tracks all around the property but Shannon is not mad. “I expect it’s probably not that bad of a little den in the winter,” she said.

What a lovely person.