Snow chasing around the world, exploring some of the best mountains for snowboarding, we caught up with Jen and Mick of The Snow Chasers to find out a little more about their travel adventures.
Firstly tell us about yourself.
We're Jen and Mick and we decided to trade in our corporate life to explore the world, especially seeking out new places to snowboard and ski. Jen’s background is marketing and e-commerce and mine is optometry and project management. Apart from travelling and snow, we love hanging out with animals, camping, hiking, keeping fit and eating well. I grew up riding and racing motorbikes and continue to ride when I can. I've really got into enduro mountain biking of late - you've got to get that downhill fix when the snow has melted!
The Snow Chasers, Jen and Mike
What drove you to seek out adventure, not dream about it, but do it?
Although we did a fair bit of travelling while holding down careers (holidays and occasional longer breaks between jobs), we knew that our hearts were set on longer adventures. About 5 years ago, we decided that furthering our careers was not as important as discovering the world so we made a plan to work less and travel more. Luckily with a bit of a plan, that dream became a reality last November as we embarked on a 9-month North American adventure. We will still see ourselves working a bit here and there but our priority is definitely extended travel adventures.
What age did you start snowboarding?
We were both late bloomers. Jen didn’t start until she was 29 and I didn't jump on a snowboard until I was 25. We would have loved to learn as kids but growing up in Perth (Jen) and northern NSW (Mick), we were as far as you can get from mountains and snow!
How easy was it to learn and master?
Jen will tell you she hated it at first! She did 5 days of lessons in Chamonix in 2005 and was about to give up but luckily it all just clicked on the 5th day. I had many a whiplash injury when I started but even so was pretty hooked from the get go. Becoming competent didn't really happen until we did our first full snow season in Banff, Canada in 2007/08. As far as mastering is concerned, I don't think we've done that yet!
What do you love most about snowboarding?
Every time we buckle in, we get a little bit of an adrenaline rush. It's about being out there on the mountain, wondering what new terrain you're about to discover or if you've got what it takes to pull off the next trick you've been practising. When you're riding on the limit, your mind can't be occupied with anything else so it's such an awesome way to be 'present' - my kind of meditating! But most of all, getting to share all these experiences with like-minded friends, in some of the world’s most beautiful places, is a feeling that is really hard to beat.
Discovering New Terrain
What advice would you give to kids learning to snowboard?
Persevere! You might be getting a bit battered and bruised and it might be a cold day, but once you get going nothing beats that feeling of being out there with your mates. And always get mum and dad to put you into a block of lessons - not only will you learn to do it properly from the get-go, you'll be riding with a bunch of people who are in the same boat as you and most likely will become your riding buddies.
Freestyle Practice Freestyle
Best snowboarding experience on your travels so far?
There are so many so it's a tough one. I'd probably say Delirium Dive at Sunshine Village, Banff. It's pretty gnarly terrain, which can only be accessed if you have avalanche gear. There’s something so satisfying about riding and conquering challenging terrain that really scares the hell out of you!Delirium Drive, Sunshine Valley Banff Delirium Drive Delirium Drive, Sunshine Valley
Any accidents, incidents or moments of fear?
Yeah! I dislocated my shoulder in Val Thorens in 2006 and broke my shoulder requiring surgery in Colorado 2013. Jen's been pretty lucky - apart from concussion a couple of times, nothing too serious! But no regrets - you can have an accident walking to the shops. As for fear, I think I scare myself every time I ride, whether it's hitting a big jump in the park or dropping a steep chute off piste! But I think it's a healthy fear. Luckily we haven't had any really scary moments, like being caught in an avalanche.
Taking A Fall
Favourite snowboard brand?
There are so many great products out there, but I've been a bit of a fan of Capita Snowboards over the past few years.
Capita on the wedding day!
Most inspirational snowboarder that you follow?
Travis Rice. He's an awesome rider and he's great for the sport. He's always pushing on what can be done on a snowboard, both in the park and in the backcountry. Oh, and he's made some awesome movies too!
You have now travelled all over, snow chasing, where is your favourite destination to date?
Another tough one! Every place we've visited has something special but if I had to choose, Canada and in particular Revelstoke. Rusutsu in Japan would be a close second.
Revelstoke, Canada. Rusutsu, Japan
What advice would you give to someone wanting to chase their dream of adventure travel?
Do it! What's stopping you - the new car, the bigger house? Those things are not nearly as important as you think if your heart is set on travel. Just upgrading your house could pay for your travels for the next 2 years or more alone! Nothing is holding you back but yourself and once you realise that, I think with a bit of planning you can make it work.
Where to next and why?
Currently, I’m about two-thirds of the way through some contract optometry work (travelling around Australia providing relief cover where required). It's not a bad way to see Australia! In Feb 2017 we're moving over to Queenstown, New Zealand. We plan on doing a summer (mountain biking, hiking, camping, etc.) and a winter season there. We spent many winter holidays in Queenstown but we're looking forward to exploring this amazingly beautiful part of the world with much less of a time restriction. High on our list is to do a season in Europe, namely Austria. We've always wanted to have an extended time in the Alps and as my family is from Germany originally, it will give us a good chance to learn some German. That will happen after Queenstown so probably 2018 or 2019.