Snowboarding in Durango Colorado Snowboarding is a relative newcomer to the winter recreation scene and Durango has played a big role in its development to what it has become today. In the 1980's many ski resorts were still trying to figure out just what to do with this new sport and most did not allow it. Durango Mountain Resort ( Purgatory at the time ) however, being brave and funky, welcomed it. There were some hoops to jump through and “I personally remember having to be "certified" by an instructor and wear a picture I.D. in order to be on the slopes. It was a badge of honor for me as a child. I also remember purchasing my first brand new snowboard from a bike store as the ski shops had not started carrying them yet!”  The boards were archaic by today's standards but every kid had to have one and it didn't take long for the industry to explode. Now people have a variety of professional shops to choose from with some of the best equipment available. And since Durango is almost surrounded by ski areas and incredible back country we also have great places to ride. This website provides an area map with the location of resorts and mountain area's  as well as a calendar of events that visitors can view. Origins of Snowboarding There is some debate as to who invented the snowboard and even what qualified as the first snowboard which is unlikely to be resolved but there is some interesting history. In the mid 1960's a man named Sherman Poppen started marketing a toy he made for his daughters called the "snurfer". This "toy" was not much more than a sled that you stood on and used a rope tied to the nose to help balance. During this same time period three other people Tom Sims ( Sims Snowboards ), Dimitrije Milovich ( Winterstick Snowboards ) and Jake Burton ( Burton Snowboards ) all began experimenting with similar designs. Much of the development was helped with the surfing and skateboarding experience that each of them had and the similarities are quite obvious. In my opinion they all contributed ideas and techniques to help bring the sport to the point that it is today.  Tom Sims is credited with producing the first commercial snowboard with metal edges and Jake Burton built the world's first snowboard factory. Most of the pioneers of the sport are still involved to this day pushing the limits and making it better. Durango is located near several large ski areas and resorts. Durango Mountain resort is the closest at 26 miles north of town and is a great area for people of any ability level. They offer all the amenities a visitor needs with motels, restaurants, shops, instructors, rentals and transportation. The slopes offer terrain parks, half pipe and a variety of challenging terrain.  Hesperus ski area is located about 12 miles west of Durango on highway 160 and they are a small ski area with one lift and a rope tow. Ski Hesperus offers great beginner lessons and has 80% of its area lit up for night skiing! An awesome place to teach the kids.  Wolf Creek ski area is about 80 miles east of Durango on highway 160 and gets the most snow of any ski resort in Colorado. Wolf Creek is pow pow heaven and has some of the best advanced slopes for its size. If you like cornice jumps and big mountain bowls this place is for you and its well worth the road trip.  Telluride Ski Resort is about 111 miles ( depending which way you travel ) and is a very large luxury resort area. I would describe the mountain as being in two parts. The western side is full of great beginner through intermediate runs, terrain parks, glades and groovy groomers. The northeastern side is.. gnarly. Some of the best, longest and steepest bump runs in the world! When you see a double black diamond on the trail sign, they mean it! If you are looking for a challenging place to ride, Telluride has you covered.  Silverton Mountain Ski Area is located about 48 miles north of Durango and is a hardcore rider's paradise. They have one lift that takes you to the top of the mountain and then it's a hike to trails beyond. This is for advanced and expert riders only and has some of the best big mountain riding in the state. Guides will take you into some spectacular glades and powder chutes that you just don't get at "normal" ski areas. They have no frills and all thrills. Back Country Boarding Back country riding is a popular way to get early and late season trips in when the resorts are closed or to get away from the crowds. Durango is nestled in the San Juan Rocky Mountains and for the experienced rider can provide plenty of opportunities along highway 550 north to get out and enjoy. The summit of Molas Pass has miles of open terrain that can be accessed by cross country ski, snow shoe and snowmobile. You can even see kickers built on the slopes right next to the highway with people enjoying an afternoon session in the mountains. There are also guided snow cat tours that can take you into this same area which can be a faster and safer alternative than hitting it on your own. Be aware that winter back country sports are inherently more dangerous and should only be attempted by or with experienced riders and guides. Conditions in the high mountains can turn deadly very quickly. When to ride in Durango Colorado? Snow can begin to fly in the San Juan Rocky Mountains starting as early as October with ridable conditions and accumulations seen as early as mid November. This of course depends on Mother Nature and varies from season to season. Most ski areas are open more or less by thanksgiving and have full coverage by Christmas depending on weather conditions. The highest average snowfall for the southwest is in late January through March so these are the best times to catch a powder day. Look for highest crowds during holidays like Christmas, New Years, Presidents Day and Spring Break so make reservations well in advance during these times.  The ski resorts close shop in April but snow remains in the mountains  well into July if you know where to go and have the ambition to hike for a while to earn your turns. Look for chutes and couloirs to have ridable terrain along the summit of wolf creek, Molas, and red mountain passes. Durango has so much to offer riders of all abilities and once you get to taste the goodness, you will be coming back for more. So wax the stick, grab the gear and Go Outdoors! On a fun note for snowboarding, it has created its own "slang words" and terms which we have listed a few here in no particular order. Snowboardictonary Your source for snowboarding information slang. Biff To crash, fall or wreck. Scorpion To biff onto your chest, sliding or landing in a way where you arch the back and your feet try to touch the back of your head. Asspass When you fall on your butt and you are going so fast that you pass people on the slopes. Beef (See Biff above) To crash, fall or wreck and a funny crash can also be called "Beeftastic" or "Beeftastical". Flyswatter To catch your toe side edge causing the rider to fall forwards slamming their chest and face into the snow. Fraggle Running into another rider on the slope and becoming entangled with them during the crash. Lawn Chair To catch big air and then collapsing into a seated position from the impact of the landing. Mystery Date When you put one arm out to the side for balance. Bonk To hit something on purpose while riding a snowboard. Knuckle Dragger Term used by skiers to describe snowboarders. Shred To shred or rip up the terrain or being able to ride very well. Gnats What a rider sees from the top of a crowded ski slope. Fakie Riding the snowboard backwards from your normal stance. Goofy Foot Riding a snowboard with the right foot forward. Snake (Derogatory)  What you call somebody when they cut in front of a line to the half pipe or kicker. Leash A safety feature that attaches the snowboard to the rider's leg to avoid it getting away and sliding down the slopes. See "Torpedo". Torpedo A snowboard that has gotten away from its rider and is now hurtling its way down the slopes. Carving Making a turn healside or toeside where the board cuts into the snow and does not slip (slide) out. Stomp Pad A grippy piece of foam or rubber in between the bindings that keeps the foot from sliding as much when not locked into the binding. Used in lift lines to "skate". Gas Peddle A cushion that fits on or is part of the bindings that sits under the toes of the boots and helps to increase toe side edge pressure. References: Colordo Ski Museum. (2012). Colorado ski & snowboard museum hall of fame. Retrieved from http://www.skimuseum.net/ Coloradoskihistory.com. (2012). Colorado ski history. Retrieved from http://www.coloradoskihistory.com/ 
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Tom Sims
Dimitrije Milovich
Jake Burton
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