The last powder run of the season

While we are under a lull in what concerns swell in Southern Portugal, let me share the last powder run of the past season with you. The flow is everywhere (even if you’re riding a stiff, unfamiliar board such as the one in the video).

Thank you André Pisco for guiding me into the powder stashes of Glacier 3000 in late April!

The true reason why we ride

Well this is a big claim. I am sure that we all can come up with all sorts of reasons to ride whatever vehicle we choose, either skateboards, surfboards, snowboards, or even skis, boogieboards, bikes, motorbikes, or even your kid’s tricycle.

But man, few things get us as stoked as sharing a sunset ride with a friend at the end of the day. Fuel for the soul.

So I’ll make a call on this one and claim that as a (or the) true reason to do what we do.

Freshlines Boards head honcho Hugo and mountain master Freddy searching for the meaning of life somewhere in the Alps.

The Perfect Winter map

Finally, here it is! All the resorts visited during The Perfect Winter campaign are now on Google Maps. The secret spots are carefully left out – it’s so much more fun to find them yourself!

Click on the image to explore the map and find roads, lifts and slopes. So many possibilities!

Quite a lot of mapping, driving, hiking and sliding down faces of mountains. How I miss those days. Fortunately this winter is already at the doorstep and it’s looking promising!

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The Perfect Winter timelapse

When I first imagined spending a winter in the Alps, the image that immediately popped into my mind was not speeding down a slope, or jumping off a kicker. It was simply waking up every morning in the silence of the mountains, opening the window and seeing the white powdery stuff covering everything. The quiet, the calm, the Zen. This is essentially what I came to Tirol for. So every morning (well, almost) from January to March 2016 I took a picture from my window in the mountain hut in Gerlosberg. This is the result.

I don’t know about you, but this gets me pumped to go shred as much as any Red Bull super production video. Just sayin’.

I know what you did last winter

It’s a wrap, as they say. Spring has arrived to the Algarve, all the snow gear is washed and stored until next season (or, who knows, some glacier shredding sometime in summer), and all that’s left of winter are the memories. It’s a good thing that Youtube is around the almighty internet so that we can store and share moving images of happy times. Because, you know, even memories fade unless you exercise them.

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I would love to have more of these videos to watch again and again, and every time I watch them I think I should have filmed them differently. Fear not, because a proper video campaign is being planned. Maybe, just maybe there will be yet another Perfect Winter.

In the meantime, enjoy the playlist of this year’s edition.

The mountains within

The Alpine landscape has a strong effect on the beholder, especially if one comes from a relatively flat country such as Portugal. The magnitude of the features in front of you, the harshness of the weather and the speed at which it changes is nothing short of wonderful.

So excuse me if I tend to get a bit philosophical here. But after two months traveling around in the Alps alone (OK, not all the time, but still) it’s easy to start wondering through the mountains within, just as much as I do in the peaks and valleys out there.

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As I was writing about here, the purpose of this trip was not only to discover the mountains of Tyrol, but also (and mainly) to feel the mountains. Because, let’s face it, most of us are tourist when it comes to high altitude. The usual week crammed in a room in some resort with a group of friends eager to ride hard and party even harder doesn’t allow much space for deep understandings of anything. I mean, it’s always a blast and if that’s the only way to go above freezing level, super. But I wanted more. And so it just happened that I got more than I bargained for: going out (and staying out) in the wide open valleys, forests, glaciers and snowy peaks made me go deeper inside my own mountains. As if instead me looking at the Alps, it was as if the Alps were looking at me – and I got as overwhelmed as it sounds. As so many songs, books and even more unwritten journals of travelers described better than I could possibly do, this overwhelming happens often when you step into the unknown. And, according to oriental philosophies, it serves a quite curious purpose of cleaning your mind of conscious thought. Just like those ancient chinese riddles ‘what is the sound of one clapping?’ or ‘if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around, does it make a sound?’, only nicer and much more expensive.

So, as I crossed the Gerlospass and witnessed the beautiful valley of the Salzach river as it showed the north facing slopes covered with snow and the south faces completely barren, as if winter and spring met exactly there, I had one of those moments.

Wow.

It gave me a sudden realization of some deep universal meanings – which I am not going to tell you, obviously, they’re mine.

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So, what’s the point of all this? The point is I am so glad I came and did this, despite the money and other associated costs, despite the ‘saudade’ of so many people and things, and also despite the uncertainty of what will happen next. This is quite a claim, but this journey made me a better person.

At the risk of sounding even more cliché (is that possible?), but not giving a damn about it, I’m going to leave here a song that has one of the best descriptions of what traveling is all about. It is in Portuguese but there’s bound to be a translated version of the lyrics somewhere.

Tourist no more

Looked out the window. It’s a complete whiteout, flat light, and the recent rain took all the new snow. It looks like this:

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That’s it for me, I’m staying home. Am I a tourist no more?

After more than a month straight in the Alps, my perspective has evolved (much more than my performance, unfortunately, but who cares anyway?). I no longer feel the urge to go out to the slopes everyday, nor do I particularly enjoy riding pistes anymore. After being introduced to some of Tirol’s secret spots and riding for 5 days straight in what could be considered a private, untracked, unspoiled, private mountain, maybe it turned me into a bit of a snob. Obviously I have to get down to earth and think about how lucky I am to be doing this and especially how grateful I am to the local crew who is showing me around. Does riding with the locals make me a local? No it does not. But it does shift my way of riding  and reading the mountain into something more than being a tourist.

I have nothing against being a tourist – after all, it is virtually impossible to avoid it. If you only can take a week a year to go some place far away and do something you really enjoy, there’s no problem whatsoever. I did exactly that until this trip, and will probably continue to do so. But my point here is that that there is so much more to a place, any place, than what can be seen and experienced in one or two weeks per year. You have to take the time, to put in the hours to know the people, know the spot,study the conditions and learn when it’s good and when it’s not. How are you going to do this if you have to plan your trip months in advance, and stay only for a fidgety 6-day opportunity to release all the eagerness to shred that you accumulated over the year? Of course you’re going to go out every day, from opening to closing, no matter if it’s windy, cold, foggy, wind blown, snowing, freezing or simply dry of snow. You’re gonna be out, and you’ll make it worth.

The obvious comparison is with the beach. After being in the Algarve for 15 years, I hardly go to the beach in the summer (except for surfing, if it’s pumping). The ridiculous crowd filling the sand and the roads is just a nightmare. And  they all seem to come for the same places, at the same time, with all the things the Algarve has to see. And yet, I cannot blame these people who can only come for this small period and enjoy their time, making the most of what they know. That’s me in the mountains up until now.

I fear this season will damage my future snow vacations. After spending a whole winter in the Alps, and experiencing the best the mountain has to offer while knowing that you cannot plan these things so far ahead, it will be hard to be a tourist again. Or maybe not, maybe that will make me even more stoked to return to this magical place.

But what am I talking about? I haven’t even left! You know what? I’m gearing up and going shredding!

smile

 

The Chronicles from a Perfect Winter

I have been sharing some of my thoughts on this Perfect Winter thing on a portuguese newspaper. They are in Portuguese (duh) but it’s nothing that Google Translate won’t solve. This is my last one:

Crónica de um Inverno Perfeito: A Passagem