Riding in the Trees

22 Feb, 2008

First…read up on Tree Well Safety

I ride in the trees a lot here in Steamboat. This mountain is known for having some awesome tree runs because of our Aspen trees, put in powder and it’s ideal riding conditions.

Tree riding is not for beginners. Any rider that plans to ride in the trees should be able to stop quickly, make short quick turns and have total control over their body and snowboard. There is no second chance when riding trees. If you are out of control, your chances of getting injured or death are greatly increased. Wearing a helmet in the trees will help.

Yes, I do not wear a helmet. I’m a firm believer in being in control and not riding outside of my skill level. I won’t deny that I have had some close calls in the trees where a tree branch underneath the snow has stopped me and I definitely take the risk by not wearing a helmet. Always wear goggles, branches do have a tendency to smack you in the face sometimes.

Here are some pointers for snowboarding in trees:

  • If it’s your first time in trees, have a friend or someone who knows the trees take you.
  • Know the area where you are riding, the safe exits in and out of the trees. The better you know the terrain, the trees, the safer you are.
  • Ride with a buddy and stay within eye sight of each other. Generally when I ride with others, one of us leads and the other follows staying within eye sight. This helps in case of any injuries and accidents.
  • It does help to follow lines but be careful with that as well. You could follow someone’s line who has to back track out or goes through terrain beyond your skill level.
  • Tree riding is about quick snap judgments. You must be able to ride making quick judgments but also have your mind tell your snowboard. If you are slow in either…don’t go in the trees.
  • Don’t focus on the trees, look at the open spaces between the trees when riding.
  • I generally spot my line as I ride through the trees but not everyone can do that depending on what type of trees you ride in. Aspen trees are skinny and can be close together so I can spot my line up to 10 feet ahead.
  • Keep your speed in tune with the terrain you are riding. I ride in the trees that have a decent incline but are not steep. Riding in the trees on flatter terrain means trouble in terms of tree wells and harder to get out if you get stuck. If you ride steeper terrain, you’ll have to speed check and control your speed more.
  • Ride knowing your conditions and ride knowing there are hazards. If it’s early season, chances are not much is covered up yet from the snow. I ride in lighter snow, so it’s easy for me to stop in the trees and have no problem with getting speed again or staying afloat. Heavier snow, if you stop in powder it’ll be harder to get out.
  • Do not stop next to a tree, again…know about tree wells.

Last weekend I took some video footage while snowboarding. We got about 6 inches overnight but in the trees it seemed like a bit more snow. I rode alone that day and rode a line that I am very familiar with. I held the camera at my waist in my right arm (I ride Regular).

I removed the sound from the video because my camera captures my breathing very well.

While holding the camera, I tried my best to keep the camera where I was looking so you can see how I ride and make judgements on slowing down or my next line.

I’m not deep in the trees here, I made a point of going out onto a run and then hopping back into the trees.

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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  1. Crispy
    February 22, 2008

    Damn, I wish I had trees like that near me. Were you riding the F1?

  2. Shayboarder
    February 23, 2008

    Yeah I love those trees, usually fresh tracks. I was riding the Ride Concept TMS in that video.

  3. Erica
    February 24, 2008

    Cool trees Shannon… we have some tree runs kinda like that in Mammoth, but I have never seen anything like what you captured here, there. Good footage!

  4. Shayboarder
    February 27, 2008

    Thanks Erica! I’ll try to get more tree riding footage where you can see me ride or one of my riding partners.