A Look at NoBoarding, Powder Surfing and Snow Surfing’s Legendary Roots

Everyone needs one of these boards in their quiver Photo Mike Hardaker | Mountain Weekly News

Who’s to blame here? Surfing has taken over mountain towns for years, even those located far from the nearest ocean. How is that so? Well back before snowboarding as you know it today, there were guys (most likely surfers) who thought “hey I bet I can slide on snow too.” And with that surfing on snow and the sport of powder surfing was born.

Powder Surfing Facts

For all the modern-day shred reading this, do you like riding with high backs? Well, it’s all due to one man, you can thank Jeff Grell who is also a snowsurfer and founder of Snowsurfing International. Grell not only invented the highback but he also started the first snowboard school in Aspen, Colorado.

To top it all off Jeff knows a little bit about surfing in the ocean too from his role as executive director of the Professional Surfing Tour of America. Back when Jeff started sliding around without bindings they would simply call it “boarding”.

Jeff Grell -Mountain Boy GulchPhoto Grell family archives

Jeff Grell – Mountain Boy Gulch Photo Grell Family Archives

Another much young pioneer in the sport is Jeremy Jenson who although lives in Utah embodies the surf / shred life to the fullest “I have surfed a bunch of times, I grew up obsessed with surfing at a young age but have been landlocked in Utah my whole life. Surfing turned me to skateboarding, then snowboarding… then powsurfing. – Jeremy Jenson Grassroots Powdersurfing

Jeremy Jenson ripping the JHMR backcountry on his Grassroots Powdersurfer Photo Grassroots

Jeremy Jenson ripping the JHMR backcountry on his Grassroots board Photo Grassroots

Now you might get confused with some of the lingo mentioned in the article, are these snow surfers, powdersurfers, or noboards? Personally, my feeling is there’s really no need to separate our tribe any farther then it already is.

“Powdersurfing, the perfect blend of skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. No bindings, no handles or ropes, just pure powsurfing fun.” – powsurf.com The video looks insane, true surfing while on snow with some skateboarding tricks to boot.

Powdersurfing Video

Regardless of what you call it noboarding, powdersurfing or snow surfing … if you dig the feeling of sliding on snow you will dig riding sans bindings..

Surfs Up in Boston, MA 1978

Surfs Up in Boston, MA 1978

Mark Halseth was possibly the world first Professional Snow Surfer, he actually found a yellow Snurfer on a frozen lake in Minnesota and being a Californian knew exactly what to do with this board. Fast forward to the age of 60 and “it’s so important for me to share snow surfing with a new generation, it has been a major force in my life”. – Mark Halseth Snow Surfer Productions

And the sickbird award goes to Mark Halseth pointing it on his Snow Surfer

And the sickbird award goes to Mark Halseth pointing it on his Snow Surfer

And another cool company making boards is PHNX Boards, founded by Steve Geiger, in Massachusetts. According to Steve, “The PHNX Board is really for “snurfing” rather than powder surfing or pow surfing. Snurfing is generally done with a shorter, narrower board for smaller hills with a few to several inches of snow. While we are developing a longer, wider board for deeper powder surfing, our market is back yards and back hills more than mountains, where there is a ton of untracked snow waiting to be claimed.

What we did with the PHNX Board is take the original snurfer concept and add a totally new kind of binding, what we call the “Rip-Cord Binding/Brake System”. It retains the step-on, step-off ease of a no-binding board, but actually holds you on for greater control and jumpability.”

Although there is a binding of sorts, we still consider this to be in the snow surf category because it isn’t a fixed binding. Check out the photo of Kinger laying into a turn on the PHNX board below.

Rob Kingwill on a PHNX Board Photo Mike Hardaker | Mountain Weekly News

Rob Kingwill on a PHNX Board Photo Mike Hardaker | Mountain Weekly News

What’s interesting to note is the fact that most of the companies and people listed in this article started out on the east coast. When the waves are flat and your local hills are the same, people tend to adapt especially these pioneers that helped shape the sport of snowboarding.

If these don't look like fun, your clearly reading the wrong website and feel free to move along, for the rest get stoked winter is here!

If these don’t look like fun, you’re clearly reading the wrong website, get stoked winter is near!

At the end of the day, you’re guaranteed without fail to have a heck of a time enjoying whatever you decide to call the art of sliding around on snow without bindings.

Look mom, no hands. Professional snowboarder Rob Kingwill ripping on Teton Pass Photo Mike Hardaker | Mountain Weekly News

Look, mom, no hands. Professional snowboarder Rob Kingwill ripping on Teton Pass Photo Mike Hardaker | Mountain Weekly

This is Part 1 of our Snow Surfing series, check back next week for full reviews on all these boards and more info on how this all came to be. One man whom unfortunately passed away in an avalanche and is credited for the modern day assault without bindings is Greg Todd.. (seen in the video above)

Looking for some boards to go surfing on snow?  Take a look at some of our favorite pow surfing boards.

The First Snowboard styles, fads and tricks come and go, however, the pure fun of riding powder will always remain the same. We found this video footage dating back 40+ years of some of the earliest recorded snowboarders Buck and Hawkeye absolutely shredding fresh pow.

Waiting for product details ...

About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. When not on a board, Mike worked for Snowboarder and later oversaw TGR's online publication. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief. Mike spends most of his time splitboarding in the winter months and backpacking throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the summer.

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