Want to take your snowboarding to the next level? Then get yourself on a More Mountain snowboard camp in Morzine. This review of Snowparking covers the instruction by REAL Snowboarding, what we got up to in the Portes du Soleil and the overall More Mountain experience.
This camp is for intermediate to advanced snowboarders and is only for blokes. It is aimed at 25 to 45 year olds who want to progress their riding. Solo travellers are welcome as are small groups.
The Snowparking More Mountain snowboard camp in Morzine aims to give you a wide variety of experience. There is a bit of a focus on freestyle, but this is spread all over the mountain so you won’t just be in the park.
If conditions are suitable you’ll get backcountry guiding. Ultimately you’ll ride whatever the conditions suit and get to cover as many aspects of snowboarding as possible. Be prepared to be pushed out of your comfort zone, to improve your style and to ride hard for six days.
This snowboard camp is run by More Mountain who have six luxury chalets and 28 high quality self catered apartments. The lovely Chalet Robin, that sleeps up to 12 people, was the home of Snowparking for a week.
Jon and Sam who run More Mountain are both keen snowboarders and run a few different snowboard camps throughout the year. Jon joins the Snowparking week, partly to help facilitate the trip, but mainly to have fun riding with like minded snowboarders while improving his snowboarding.
As a solo traveller I was warmly welcomed into the group. Of the 12 of us eight had been on the Snowparking snowboard camp in Morzine the previous season. Although they already new each other, us newbies were made to feel welcome and we all quickly got to know each other.
Chalet Robin was fully catered with excellent food cooked by the hosts Aileen and Kyle every night. On the first night we had a welcome dinner and drinks with Barry and Dave our instructors from REAL Snowboarding joining us.
There was plenty of beer and wine drunk and lots of banter. Both Jon and the guys from REAL explained how the Snowparking week works. We then introduced ourselves and talked about what we hoped to get from the week. They made it clear that the week will push you, but that you can tap out whenever you want.
Every day on the mountain was very different, however during this review of Snowparking the days followed a pretty set pattern:
On the slopes the camp is run by Barry and Dave from REAL Snowboarding. They are fully qualified instructors, mountain guides and bad ass snowboarders! They are both examiners of snowboard instructors for BASI and they train the military freestyle teams.
Most snowboard instructors are pretty good – you don’t qualify without being able to ride. However, Barry and Dave are exceptional snowboarders. They have lived and breathed snowboarding since they were teenagers. When you see your guide frontflip off a side-hit you know you’re in safe hands!
The REAL style of teaching is very different. As opposed to telling you ‘do this’ and ‘do that’, they instead get you to think about how you are snowboarding and the mechanics behind it. In group sessions when introducing something new they asked the group how we thought it should be done.
Then they get you to snowboard and to think about certain aspects of your riding so you can discuss it at the next stop. This means that you understand the movements and mechanics of snowboarding before they introduce something new within that aspect of your riding.
It is a great way of teaching you. As rather than just knowing how to do something you understand why and what elements you can tweek to improve it or change it.
They also take you to one side to talk about your individual style and what you can do to improve. I spent a couple of chairlift rides discussing aspects of my toe side turns. I saw immediate improvements in my riding in an area I hadn’t even realised there was a problem.
When it comes to progression REAL build moves and tricks bit by bit. For example, we learnt presses, ollies, nollies, buttering, switch riding and 180s. Then soon we were nollieing into a tailpress heel side butter and popping out with a 180 – both switch and regular.
Dave and Barrie also break every move into its component parts which makes it easy to understand. They then give a demo and often get the more experienced snowboarders in the group to go first so you can see how it’s done.
After that you practice nonstop for a run or two until the group has got it. It’s the incremental progression, combined with repetition and great instruction that means you pick up new tricks very quickly.
One of the biggest improvements during this review of Snowparking was to my switch riding. By making me ride switch for a few runs it suddenly clicked. Snowboarding backwards just started to flow like regular riding and rather than it feeling like a chore switch riding became enjoyable.
I even started riding powder switch. I was on a true twin board which made it a bit easier, but I was successfully riding entire runs off-piste in switch. Which is great for landing 180s in the backcountry and useful when doing a heelside traverse as you can swap to switch and do the traverse on your toeside.
In one afternoon of park riding I went from barely ever trying a 180 off a kicker, to consistently landing them. I was doing both front and backside spins and happily riding into the jumps either regular and switch.
I then progressed onto 360s, something I can sometimes do off side hits if the slope angles and run in are perfect. To my surprise I landed plenty of fronts 3s and a couple of back 3s. It wasn’t anything huge but done in a three hour park session I was very impressed.
I also learnt how to shiftie, hit a few boxes and my first ever rail.
We also had a few side-hit sessions, particularly on the lower half of the Star Wars run down towards Ardent. Sometimes the hits were already to go, others we shaped to make them more suitable. It was off these that I started to hit bigger 180s than I usually do, it was also here I had some big falls!
A review of Snowparking would not be complete without talking about the social riding. We only had the instructors half a day so the afternoons were spent as a big group. Most of us had been in the area before and knew plenty of good spots to enjoy the fresh snow.
This lead to riding plenty of powder. We spent time in the trees above Prolays and in the Bowl at the top of the Lindaret valley. We found some nice rock drops to hit, plus built a kicker on a windlip which was great fun. Basically taking the skills we had learnt into a freeride situation.
We explored various spots in the Portes Du Soleil. Some favourites were the Shepherds Pie rock drops and Happy Valley above Chatel. We also went into Switzerland enjoying some almost untouched off-piste in the Crosets area. We also rode a lot of powder around the Fornet bowl above Avoriaz.
Overall it was just a lot of fun riding with a similar minded group of snowboarders. Everyone was at slightly different levels but we were all encouraging each other and pushing ourselves.
But this More Mountain snowboard camp in Morzine wasn’t without some pain. Trying new things is hard work. The first two days when we did a lot of presses, buttering and 180s were exhausting and not without quite a few falls.
I had a few beginner style falls when riding switch including a brutal front edge. I also fell in the park trying 360s and I hit a rail with my arse and came a cropper off a few side hits.
If it wasn’t for my Dainese armour I think I would have been much more battered and bruised. Despite wearing D-Impact gloves with wrist protection, knee pads, crash pants and a back protector by the end of the week I was nursing a sprained wrist and shoulder, an achy knee and ankle plus lower back pain.
They say ‘no pain, no gain’ and this certainly applied during this review of Snowparking. I always have a good time when I am snowboarding but I rarely push myself like this. I may have has some big spills but I feel I have come away a much better snowboarder.
For the last couple of days of the snowboard camp in Morzine we had Tom Humpage from Numero97 Photography riding with us and taking pics. As you can see from the photos in this article, having a pro photographer with you leads to much better pictures than your mates using their mobile.
And if there is a group of you splitting the costs it works out pretty reasonable. Based in Chamonix Tom will visit nearby ski areas. Get in touch with him via his website: www.numero97.com
Chalets Robin is lovely, our hosts were great and the food was exceptional. The overall vibe of the Snowparking week was really good and riding with likeminded people is so much fun.
Overall I feel my riding has improved hugely. I was made to do things I don’t normally bother with – riding switch and presses – and I improved my style. All of this made the things I already do, such as side-hit 180s and powder riding, much better. Plus it’s added new things to my snowboarding arsenal.
To conclude this review of Snowparking, I’d say More Mountain have done an exceptional job in putting together the perfect week for snowboarders that want to progress. The only downside is that they only do it once a year!
I hope you enjoyed this review of Snowparking. To get yourself on a More Mountain snowboard camp in Morzine visit: www.moremountain.com
Getting there: I flew British Airways from Gatwick to Geneva, because they don’t charge more for a snowboard bag it was cheaper than low cost airlines. From Geneva I took a Skiidy Gonzales transfer that took just over an hour.