My very first time kiteboarding, if you could call it that, was with a snowboard, a rock climbing harness and a 3m trainer kite in a park by my childhood home in Wyoming, Michigan. The kite came with handles, so I hacked together my own control bar out of a one-inch aluminum tube and some nuts and bolts, wrapping it all together with hockey tape. The experiment ended up far from a success, with my kite wrapped around a soccer goalpost. I’m sure the wind was terrible, and the snow was crusted with ice, but despite the failure, it was enough to keep my curiosity for power kites alive.
If snowkiting was the gateway fix that got me obsessed with kiteboarding, in the two-decade love affair that has followed, I’d be hard-pressed to count the number of epic snowkiting days I’ve had on more than one hand. In all my years of chasing snow with a kite around the Rockies, Wasatch, the Cascades, the Sierras and Canada including my time on
the North American Snowkite Tour (yes, we had a snowkite tour), I still have very few sessions of ‘epic’ status to report.
If my prognosis of snowkiting seems gloomy, it’s a necessary preamble to offset the glorious weekend trip I am about to describe. When snowkiting is good or even epic, its three-dimensional terrain, endless options for exploration and the insane feel of carving fresh tracks make you forget the boredom of waiting for wind, failed attempts and insufferable, crappy conditions of sessions past. Earlier this winter, when my fiancé Sensi Graves mentioned that she was co-hosting a women’s snowkiting camp with Australian Jennie Milton in Island Park, Idaho, it perked my curiosity. Jennie is a backcountry skiing and snowkiting bad-ass, wired with the passion and drive for snowkiting like no other. She has spent most of her adult life in pursuit of the perfect yet elusive snowkiting session and loves sharing her knowledge by organizing and educating riders about the world of snowkiting through her ‘AdrenaJen’ clinics. So, when it was time for Sensi to load up the car and drive 10 hours east towards Island Park, it was all too easy for me to hop in and tag along. Similarly, our good friend and neighbor Colleen Carroll did the same at a moment’s notice, and we all headed towards winter wonderland… To read the rest of Winning in Wydaho subscribe to Tkb Magazine.