From side-of-the-road heli LZs to split tours off the Midi – Neil McNab has Cham wired. Photo By Seth Lightcap
Welcome back to the In My Boots 2012 interview series. We’re jumping in the boots of each our team riders to get the lowdown on what their best trips and deepest days of the winter were. Hopefully their adventures will inspire you to get out on your own epic shred missions this spring and next winter.
Up next we have Neil McNab, a veteran freerider from the UK who lives in Chamonix and guides backcountry splitboarding trips throughout the Alps.
Weapon of choice:
168 Flagship and Solution
Where did you shred this winter?
This winter I rode mostly around the Chamonix area, the Mont Blanc Massif, but also got out splitboard touring in Italy, Switzerland and Norway.
Neil shredding the Lygen Alps with a guided backcountry splitboard trip. On a boat!
What was your favorite trip this winter?
The Lyngen Alps splitboard trip would be hard one to beat this winter (although Chamonix was pretty amazing all winter too). There’s something pretty special about setting off from some remote beach in the Northern Fjords of Norway, Split hiking to a distant summit and then ripping the best line back down! It definitely makes for a good day out and doing it day after day makes for a great trip!
Why would you recommend a trip to the Lyngen Alps to other backcountry snowboarders?
The Lyngen Alps offer endless possibilities for splitboarding. There are no lift access possibilities, so everything is hike access which gives it a serious and remote feel. Most things are accessed by boat which adds to the atmosphere and many lines haven’t been ridden before. The terrain is amazing and there are king lines everywhere!
Did you visit any old backyard zones that were all-time?
We had such a great season here in Chamonix, loads of lines that haven’t been in condition for years became rideable early on. I found new lines around the Glacier des Grandes area, new lines around the Col de Grand St Bernard and explored the unlimited splitboard potential all over the Mont Blanc massif.
I guided 15 weeks on my Solution this winter and at one point I’d ridden nothing but fresh lines for 6 weeks in a row, pretty much, without crossing another track! Lots of the Chamonix classic lines were in the best condition I’d ever ridden them in. It has been a great winter for sure.
McNab hunts pow for a living and he’s damn good at his job – 2012 Season edit
Best line of the winter:
Hard to pick but I reckon the best ride I had was down a Glacier des Grandes variant, I found a new variant, a nice steep couloir that split in to 2 and then came back together into one massive steep couloir into a beautiful open rolling powder field. The run boasts over 2100m of vertical descent and was in powder condition from top to bottom!
Nothing to extreme but an amazingly fun descent to rip down for sure!
Deepest pow day:
I rode some of the deepest powder I’ve ever ridden this winter. Early Jan we had about a meter of snow over night and I spent the day wishing I had a snorkel! The deepest powder I ever rode though was in Krasnaya Polyiana in Russia. It snowed over 6 meters of snow in 5 days, we only saw the sun once all week but rode a clean fresh meter of snow everyday.
Scariest moment of your winter:
So far I have managed to get away without any proper scary moments! This is a good thing in my profession as a mountain guide though. When things get scary it usually means things are pretty serious and pretty bad!
One thing you learned about backcountry snowboarding this winter was:
You always keep learning! Listen to the mountain, trust your instincts and common sense is king!
Where can we see your riding footy from this season?
I managed to film a lot of my season with my Go Pro which can be viewed on my youtube channel ‘mcnabsnowsports’ or my web site at mcnabsnowboarding.com
Any people you would like to thank for another great winter?
I’d like to thanks Jeremy and the team behind Jones Snowboards for their support and some great kit development. The guys at Sweet Protection. The guys at Karakoram. Jeremy Sladen and Chris at ‘The Snowboard Asylum’ in the UK and Tom and Martin at ‘Zero G’ in Chamonix. Finally, all the guys that came out riding with me this winter and of course my family and friends here in Chamonix.