Summer is a tricky time for snowboarders. On one hand, there’s the obvious: it’s hot. When outside temperatures call for t-shirts, shorts, and cold ones, rarely is any sort of snowfall cooperating as well. Then, there’s the issue of training. How do you stay in shape for something as specialized as snowboarding when even your most sweeping, majestic local peak is showing grass and dirt?
Since we don’t have any sort of desire to just twiddle our thumbs while we wait for the first low-pressure system of the fall to come through, we thought it’d be good to hit up our friend and 805 Authentico Gabe Taylor and chat.
For those not in the know, Gabe is a professional snowboarder. After growing up on the sunny beaches of California, he’s now found his comfort zone living and snowboarding on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. He’s a modern-day multi-hyphenate citizen and is outstanding with a board under his feet. He’s also one of the best people to talk to, not only about how to pass time productively in the offseason but also in general.
Looking back at this year’s most recent season, Gabe said: “Overall, it was pretty awesome. Save for the three months of high pressure. The Eastern Sierras got dumped on in December making for one of the better months of snow I’ve ever seen, then it went dry for three months. Luckily I was able to get up to Canada and scored. Then I came home to Mammoth for winter’s second surge in April.”
“Our storm systems in December dropped snow on pretty low elevations, making a few zones rideable that hadn’t been for a few years,” he continued. “We toured this one face that had some of the most amazing snow I’ve ridden in years. Steep, with really safe avalanche conditions, which made it a blast to shred confidently. There was also a line I got on in Canada that still sits on top of my memory bank. Super steep spine with a few pillows at the bottom. It was pretty rowdy and required heads up decision-making for the entirety.”
Thankfully, even in the doldrums of summer, Gabe says you shouldn’t get down on the lack of snow. Why? Well, because the snow is always so good in the winter you have no excuse to not make up for the lost time. It also helps when you’re as naturally optimistic about everything as Gabe is.
“Honestly it’s hard to be disappointed when you’re out in the mountains,” he said. “And I usually set my expectations quite low. Ask anyone that goes out into the backcountry with me and they’ll tell you my parting words from the trailhead are, ‘This might suck and we may have to turn around. But I’m down!’”
There are always rough patches, however, he reminds us. “That being said, there was an afternoon in April we went out into the backcountry thinking there’d be a nice 7” layer on top of everything,” he recalled. “Which there was, unfortunately, it didn’t stick to the old snow and everything was sliding. It was enough snow to push you around if you weren’t careful, so we just packed up and followed our skin track back to the trucks.”
And then there’s always the issue of not having enough time to hit every mountain one wants. There are worse problems, certainly, but it’s a problem nonetheless. Red Slate was one of the ranges Gabe’s still kicking himself over missing this last year. “It’s a massive mountain pretty far off the beaten path,” he said. “It has some incredible terrain on it but everything needs to be right to score on it. Snowpack, snow stability, crew, etc., and for whatever reason, it didn’t work out for me this season. Next year for sure.”
Regarding his offseason training, Gabe stays busy. He’s anything but sedentary. “I ride bikes a ton, both mountain and a bit on the road,” he said. “I’ll also hop in the gym a few days a week but I’m known for the quickest gym workouts ever. Some pull-ups, bench presses, leg moves, curls and I’m out of there. It’s like those 5-minute abs videos from the 90s.”
“Mammoth is the absolute shit in the summer,” he continued. “So many trails to hike and bike on. I actually use the summer months to scout stuff for the winter. With the ease of access, it can open up your eyes to lines and features you may have not thought about snowboarding in the winter.
You can’t keep Gabe out of the snow for too long, though. “I’m hoping to make it to New Zealand in August,” he said while hinting at taking advantage of a Southern Hemisphere winter. “It looks like they’re having a great season, and I have a few friends down there I’d love to link up with.”