I started snowboarding back in 1998. At eight years old I was gifted an electric orange, Oxygen Joker snowboard for Christmas. Little did I know as I hugged my first snowboard so ecstatically, it was going to pave out how I made all my major life decisions. From whom I hung out with to which colleges I applied to, it was all rooted in snowboarding.
Starting at that young age, I grew alongside snowboarding. I started with the early stages of falling leaf and bruised tailbones that always seemed to finally heal right as I caught another heelside edge to begin the healing process all over again. But there was a new emotion inside of me that was created when I began sliding down the snow: passion.
With this drive, I explored the thrill of high-speed carves and I started competitively racing. Boarder Cross opened my 12-year-old eyes to a world of jumps and feeling weightless in the air. So I became more focused on the terrain park and becoming an adrenaline junky. Searching for bigger and better parks at different resorts, I started traveling during the winter months.
From Pennsylvania and New Hampshire to Oregon and even across the world to New Zealand, I was happily living life chasing the snow. Or so I thought.
Once I moved to Summit County in Colorado at age 23, I quickly found out the true meaning of storm chaser. I never experienced powder this deep, this consistent with such steep slope angles before. It turned all that I knew of snowboarding into something new and different.
I started slowing down my turns to fully slice through and create a barreling wave. I was carefully critiquing which line I would take to get to the bottom and spent less time in my head and more time in the present. I was reconnecting with nature, the reason why I am even on a snowboard. This was a turning point. I knew I needed to regain my focus and respect of the mountains I took for granted so easily when it comes with lift access. This is when I stopped hiking the terrain park and began hiking mountain peaks.
My splitboard is a 145 Jones Discovery. It fits my 5’0” figure perfectly and doesn’t turn down a challenge. With each step, my skins catch the traction and propel me further than the last. Muscles fully engaged to keep my momentum forward up the steep traverse. I am aware of my body, aware of my position on the mountain, aware of any dangerous terrain to avoid and which technical line I should choose for my decent. I learned most of my backcountry knowledge through courses, clinics and backcountry talks. It is necessary when you’re out there to be in that full awareness, so don’t skip out on a professional course to assist in decision making.
Snowboarding can be defined as an extreme sport, a hobby, or just an activity you tried on your last vacation. For some, it’s defined as a lifestyle; a lifestyle that matures as you do. Snowboarding helps you find where you belong within the mountains. And for me, that is not just at the summit, but the entire body of the beautiful peak that mother nature created for our wild side.
Banner photo by: Scott Schlegel
Founder of Thumbs up Birds, Kelley Wren resides in Breckenridge, Colorado. After graduating at Plymouth State University in Journalism, Kelley took off for some bigger mountains to nest in. When the winter months melt into Spring and Summer, you can find Kelley doing everything outdoors. From mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing and even professionally dog walking, she is always on the move and enjoying all that nature has to offer.