Powder Surfing, Noboarding and Snow Surfing’s Legendary Roots

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

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 powder surfing was born.

Powder Surfing History

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!

“Powdersurfing, the perfect blend of skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding. No bindings, no handles or ropes, just pure powsurfing fun.”

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. Powder surfing is something all snowboarders can, will and should enjoy at some point.

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


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.”

Now in modern days the powder surfing torch has been passed, learn more in our Wolfgang Nyvelt Wolle Interview 

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.

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.

Looking for some boards to go surfing on snow?  Take a look at some of the top 5 powder boards.

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. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief.

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