Where's your head at?

Posted on Monday 21st March, 2011 Times Viewed: 3551
Kaz Willmer reports back from Week 1 on the Pila Snow Camp in Italy, and realises sometimes you've just got to 'man up', and break that fear boundary.
It's the morning after the night before, and after a whole 45mins sleep, I've waved goodbye to all this week's campers on the snow camp with the Animal pro riders and Why Aint You Jibbing snowboard coaches, run by BoardnLodge Holidays.

Since 6am, I've been putting alcoholically-wounded riders on transfer buses home, after last night's Why Aint You Jibbing party in Aosta.

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But we had a right to celebrate, as we'd come to the end of a powder-fuelled week of jibbing and fresh tracks on the mountains of Pila, Italy, under the magical coaching of Animal's Kate Foster, and professional snowboard coaches Steve Addicott and Elliott Sampson.

Locals we spoke to said they hadn't seen so much snowfall in 33 years. Some of us campers hadn't seen so much powder since Japan. Others had never seen so much snow, and it just kept falling throughout the week. In fact at one stage, it didn't stop snowing for 40 hours.

This meant our original itinerary for the snow camp was altered to meet the insanely awesome snow conditions, and it was by day two that front flips were being thrown off wind lips, and by the end of the week backflips were being thrown from giant off-piste boulders into untouched powder fields.

We drew our fresh tracks through plenty of tree runs, and found ourselves at times wondering whether we were off-piste or on-piste because of the huge amounts of powder. Since Steve Addicott had local's knowledge of the area, he knew exactly where to take us, and we were more than stoked by the amount of snow he seemed to have laid out for us.

When on-piste we split into groups, and played with frontside and backside 180s and 360s, buttering, and jibbing natural (and unnatural!) features across the mountain, under the instruction of Steve's technical training.

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One of my top afternoons was spent with Kate, cruising through some tree runs, attempting 180s off a powdery windlip, and finding plenty of untouched pow, while practicing some of the flatland tricks Steve had taught me earlier in the week. I'm more than stoked with how the week went because I really had the determination this week, and many of us broke more than a few riding demons – or 'man up', as Steve would say.

At the end of the week, the snow clouds cleared and we woke up to a final day on the mountains under bluebird skies, with fresh powder awaiting our tracks. We spent all morning cruising the fresh powder, traversing across a ridge to hit some fresh jumps, before tracking out more powder fields in the sunshine. We all hit up the BBQ in the spring warmth for lunch before heading to the snow park, which had opened for the first time this week.

We split into groups again, with different groups hitting different levels of jumps, but I rode under the guidance of Elliott, and plenty of credit to him for stoking a few of us up on some of the kickers and boxes. We spent all afternoon lapping the park til it closed, and I came off the mountain more than stoked. This day was my ideal perfect day riding, and it was a perfect end to the week, with snow grins from everyone.

Some much-enjoyed beers on deck chairs finished the day and started the evening as we meant to go on, before we headed to Aosta for Steve's annual Why Aint You Jibbing Party.

Some awesome laughs, good times with buddies old and new, and plenty of alcohol topped off a top week, and now as the last of this week's campers head off, I'm chilling in a deck chair, overlooking the Aosta valley, before 18 new campers turn up this evening. I'm so stoked to be here for a second week and to enjoy this sweet riding, awesome food, and fun times, and can't wait to get back in that park and back on that mountain with the crew again from tomorrow. Bring it on!

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