Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brighton Halfpipe - June 10, 2007

This post is from Backcountry.com employee James Richey in conjuction with the annual Adventure Contest.

Brighton Halfpipe- Adventure Contest

It’s June 9th, 2007 and I am down in my basement scraping the wax I put on my board about a month ago. My last day on the snow was May 6th as the season hadn’t been quite as good and the base at Snowbird had been melting away fast. So I had decided to seal my board up for the summer and move onto warmer weather activities.

But here I am, on June 9th prepping my board for riding? It had snowed 14 inches on Wednesday and the weekend before I had been hiking up at Brighton up to Lake Mary. We had noticed off in the distance that the half pipe was still up and the walls were still quite large. With the added snow a few days before it was irresistible not to hike up to it and see what fun could be had.

I woke up promptly at 8 o’clock in the morning on Saturday June 10th. The elated feeling was similar to waking up for opening day of the season in the fall. I had prepped and had everything sitting out waiting so that we could get out the door and up to the mountain. My wife Caitlin and I meet our friends Steve and J.J. and proceeded up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It was really weird to drive up the canyon with the AC on, but none the less we were going to ride.

We got to the parking lot at Brighton and looked up and the pipe was still looking really good calling out to us that it wanted to be ridden. So we through on our boots grabbed our packs and boards and headed up. The hike wasn’t bad, but it was really strange to see all of the terrain without any snow on it, only took about 15 minutes with all of our gear to hike up to the pipe.

We were pleasantly surprised that someone else had already had the same idea with us and there was a small jump, log jib and a large kicker built into the pipe already. Brighton had their annual closing day “Pipe luge” and there obstacles had been built where that jump was.

It was an absolute blast! We started out by hitting the small jump to get dialed in to the snow conditions, which really weren’t that bad at all. The log jib was a bit intimidating at first but we quickly got comfortable sliding up it and popping off to the landing. Unfortunately the temperatures started heating up and the snow holding the log in soften and the log popped right out. We made an attempt to get the log back into the snow the same way, but just couldn’t get it right so our attention turned to the big kicker.

The bigger kicker was great because we did a quick hike up to the top of the pipe and strapped into our boards. You dropped into the pipe and hit the left side wall, not enough vert to get out of the pipe, but enough to pop little backside 180’s and butter tricks. Then you just did a straight line down to the kicker. Depending on your speed you could easily pop off and do a grab or spin and land on the pipe wall with enough room to stop. Or it was very easy to ride up 180 tap or air up and down fakie with a nice grab.

It was really funny, because we were the only ones up there the entire day with our snowboards. There were several hikers that would stop on their way by the pipe and just double take that there were people in the half pipe riding snowboards when it was 80 degrees and the mountain had been closed for almost two months. But they just stood there and watched us for 5-10 minutes waving and clapping when we hit the jump before continuing on with their hike.

We got up to the pipe at about 10 a.m. and rode until just after 3 p.m. I would have loved to keep going but hiking up the pipe over and over had me exhausted and I caught my edge trying to come around on a front side 360 and hit my head pretty hard. Even though it was so much fun, it was time to call it a day.

The day was so much fun and definitely will be one of the days of the 2006-2007 season that I will always remember. Nothing better than hanging out with friends in less than ideal conditions having the most fun you can possible have on your board.

James Ritchey



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