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Local Knowledge
It took a major commitment to get there and even more just to get suited up everyday at 10,000′ but snow kiting in Utah has got to be one of the great winter trips for wind & snow lovers. Like anything worth while, just getting there was an adventure in itself.
It began as a caravan from San Francisco with half the crew flying and the other half driving 20+ kites, snowboards and skies to Skyline, Utah. Somewhere east of Winnemucca, Nevada at 3 in the morning, Johnny’s car broke down so we packed everything into 1 SUV with 5 sets of wind and snow gear, dog and riders for the remaining voyage east. Sometimes you need to scuttle half the fleet just to get to your destination.
After 15 hours in the car, we arrived to beautiful wide open Utah. The setting at Fairview Canyon at mile marker 14 on HWY 31 aka- the Big Drift- is awe inspiring. The 180 degree Utah sky at 10,000′ is just sublime. We rigged and had our first afternoon session in the rolling hills, meadows and steep bowls surrounding the launch site. Besides us, there was a handful of snow mobiles that might buzz by then disappear but nothing else but back country for miles around.
Snow kiting is just as it sounds. You choose either skies or snowboard and get pulled around on your kite- up, down, around and over what ever terrain you choose. It’s an absolute beautiful and pleasant way to explore the back country and get to experience the similarities of paragliding when coming down the mountain on an updraft. I rigged my 13m foil kite, launching with ease and immediately got pulled across the meadow on my snowboard.¬†Holy bejesus this is fun!
very high 2It took me the rest of the day to get comfortable going back and forth and finding the subtleties¬†of the site but I was hooked. My goal was to get more time with the new foil kite and that’s what I got- from relaunching in gullies to down looping up the mountain.
Snow kiting has all the benefits of kiting on the water without the consequences of water itself. I dropped and tangled my foil kite quite a few times in the 8-12k breeze and easily unhooked and walked up the line and bridle to unsort it all out. Granted- even walking the length of 15m line and untangled your kite in powder is an exercise itself. Transitions are almost effortless without the footwork required on a normal foil or directional board.
I got a bit greedy towards the end of the day and kited myself right into a gully and wind shadow dropped my kite in the process. All the waiting & pulling on my lines would not launch this kite. Then came the pack up and 1/4 mile hike back to the launch in the knee deep powder. One step at at time, I thought to myself as a huge grin spread across my face from my 1st day of snow kiting
For the full adventure- head here
Steve Bodner
USA-4