The Winter season 21/22 is almost upon us and who can say they’re not getting pretty desperate to get back out there amongst the high peaks and feel the glide under their feet again?
Last season was the first winter in 35 seasons, that I’ve not been a full-time Snowboarder!
Having moved to the Surf of the West Coast of France a few years ago (after 25 years in Chamonix) it was the first time not to Work, Climb or Ride amonst the high peaks in longer than I can remember.
Looking on the bright side, the ‘time off’ gave us all a moment to perhaps reflect and think about our lives and rethink our priorities and needs. I found time to teach Yoga regularly, both online (still going) and locally ‘in (my bad) French’ at a studio in Bayonne, something I’d probably have never gotten around to with the forced time off from the mountains. I obviously also got to Surf pretty much full time for a year, which wasn’t the worst form of ‘lockdown’.
Just before lockdown in 2021, myself and partner in crime, Phil Hazel, launched our new project, ‘McNab Snowboards’. Ideas on Snowboard design and performance that I’ve been playing around with in my head for years, were finally brought to life through conversations with Phil, who basically said, ‘yep, sounds good lets do it’ and went home to set about making our Snowboards.
After years of riding for brands on stock boards wondering why they ‘did this’ and ‘didn’t do that’ I rode our first design in early 2020, apprehensive to see if my design ideas worked or not. I rode that first proto-type every day for the rest of the season, I was completely addicted to a new level of feeling and performance under my feet and a level of inspiration and excitement for Snowboarding I’d not felt in years.
High performance carving in Baqueira on the lann 162
In 2021, having made a few minor design adjustments and adding a Splitboard to the lineup, we ran a couple of test weeks in Baquiera. At the end of the 2 weeks we had trouble getting the boards back from our test team and I was again amazed at the performance capacity of the new boards and especially that of our new Splitboard.
The Lann split 162
Then Covid hit and a week later we were in Lockdown and everything just stopped!
It feels a bit weird to be thinking of everything starting up again. I ventured back into the mountains, climbing and ‘Guiding’ again this past summer and it felt amazing to be back amongst the summits and be back to work with things as close to normal as it seems perhaps life today can be, and it gave me hope and got me excited for the winter to come.
So, with the 21/22 season now looming, I for one can say that I am incredibly psyched to go Snowboarding again. To feel the glide, the edge, the speed. To be surrounded by snow clad peaks and create our art on the mountains untamed canvas. Yes, I’m excited!
And so it’s with this excitement that I bring you the 21/22 Winter calendar…
As always I like to kick things off early as possible, mid December in Tignes where I’ve regularly scored some of the winters finest fresh powder right off the lifts or with a Splitboard adventure or two. In recent years I’ve been able to add post ride Yoga to the mix on this course which has proven surprisingly popular after a day out on the mountain.
Freeride dreams in chamonix
January sees me heading ‘home’ to Chamonix, gateway to some of the worlds finest Backcountry Freeride terrain. The first course of 2022 will be my Slackcoountry Freeride week. A complete shred fest riding lifts and hiking out to explore and ride the best terrain and snow within and just outside the resorts boundaries. Following this up with my first Backcountry course of the Winter, in-fact first one for ages so I can’t wait!
After Chamonix its Baqueira in the Spanish Pyrenees. This has quickly become a regular addition to the calendar offering great fun, easy playful terrain and its in Spain. What more could you need!
Baqueira offers the chance to try and test pilot one of our new McNab Snowboards and also post ride Yoga for those with the need. The first week in Baqueira is a simple shred week, maximising freeride time around the resort, the second week adds in the option of a Split or two in order to explore some of the fun terrain out the back of the lift system.
Baqueira is always fun!
Backcountry playground Chamonix
In March the days start to get longer, the snowpack is deeper, the glaciers are filled in and its back to Chamonix for some serious Backcountry adventures with my second Backcountry Intro and a step up Backcountry Freeride course. These Backcountry courses have been running now for 20 years or more and for good reason. There’s no other resort where you can jump on the lift in the town center and jump off at 3842m surrounded by jagged peaks and immense glaciers. If you want to add adventure and adrenalin to your riding portfolio then look no further and get this on your list.
Storm chasing in Lofoten
And the grand finale of winter 22 is of course Lofoten. The Lofoten arctic Splitboarding trips are simply fantastic. The landscape here in Lofoten is like no where else I’ve ever ridden. From sea to summit and back again, deep fjords, golden sunlight, white peaks contrasting against deep blue arctic skies. Once again we’ll be staying in the incredible ‘Lofoten Ski lodge’ where I’ll be offering post ride Yoga overlooking the sea and mountains in one of the most incredible Yoga studio spaces I’ve ever had the pleasure of practicing in. There really is no finer way to finish off a big days Splitting and also the winter season of 22.
So that is it! Hope you feel the stoke and we get to ride together this coming winter. For more info on the McNab Snowboards check out the website mcnabsnowboards.com, Boards will be available for the 2023 season by order only. For course info mcnabsnowboarding.com and feel free to hit me up with any questions relating to courses.
yoga for the outdoor athlete
As a final note, I run 2 online ‘Range of movement’ Yoga classes every week, ‘yoga for the aging outdoor athlete’ based upon classic Hatha/Vinyasa Yoga with a touch of power based work thrown in to tune our bodies to cope with our addiction to the ride. If you would like to join then message me through Instagram @neilmcnab_snowboarding and get on the mat with a group of like minded aging outdoor enthusiasts every Sunday and Wednesday evening.
And that my friends is that, See you on the mat, on the hill and hopefully both.