Mt. Hotham, Victoria, Australia. This was my first time snowkiting. I was surprised how easy it was to transfer skills from the water to snow.
Your preference—snowkiting or waterkiting?
I still prefer kiting on water in summer, but in winter snowkiting is much more enjoyable. You can actually get fairly warm snowkiting in below freezing temperatures because you don’t get the wet and wind chill factor.
How was this last trip?
I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was a blue bird day. The sun was shining and, surprisingly, I warmed up so much that I had to remove some layers. The endless 360-degree views were spectacular. The best part: you can park your car right next to the snow and walk straight to the launch site. This makes snowkiting really affordable because you don’t have to pay for lift passes everyday.
This trip in particular I did with Kite Republic. I gave one girl her first-ever kite lessons on the snow with huge success—she was up and riding in three hours! It was incredible how much power the Naish Pivot had. I was able to ride a 10 m Naish Pivot (with Alana bar) in 8 knots of wind and could still get lots of power, explore the mountain and boost for jumps. It was such a cool feeling to go downwind and uphill at the same time. And the sun, blue skies and scenery were pretty spectacular!
How was it teaching someone how to snow-kite? How did she do?
The girl did incredibly well. She had no previous kiting experience but could snowboard which helped a lot. At first I taught her how to fly a trainer kite, then we attached the board to her feet and I held her harness as support for the first few times. She picked it up really quick and zoomed off by herself with some impressive control. She’s very excited to come back next year. That’s definitely a success I would say.
How does kiting on the snow differ from kiting on the water?
It was so easy to transfer from kiting on water to kiting on snow. I was up and riding straightaway. The only main differences are that you don’t lean back as much and you don’t need as much power to get going on snow, because there is less drag and friction on the board. Jumping and turning are fairly similar to the water as well. Regular riding and crashes are a little more taxing on your body, but it’s well worth it. My thighs burned from using different muscles to riding on water.
You change chop and swell of water to the hilly terrain of the mountain. You can use the power from your kite to pull you up and down and all around the mountain. Depending on the direction of wind this means you can be climbing up the mountain while kiting downwind. This is definitely something you don’t get to experience on water.
How well did your Naish gear do up in the mountains? Do any of the kites work better than others?
All the Naish kite range would transfer from water to snow easily but I found the Pivot was the best choice for the terrain. The low power range meant in 8-12 knots the kite was still stable, even when puffs of updraft floated through. It was easy to jump and I was confident that if I had travelled 200 meters from the launch spot I’d still be able to get back if the wind dropped slightly. If you are still dedicated to unhooked freestyle at the snow then I would recommend a Park HD or a Torch instead.
What was the best part about the whole experience? Anything you’d change, or anything new you’d like to try for next time?
The best part was the freedom to move around the terrain so quickly and easily. For the next snowkiting trip I’d like to do a cross-country expedition exploring large mountain ranges. My dream trip would probably be in Alaska or the Swiss Alps.
Any tips you’d recommend for those looking to take their kite to the snow for the first time?
Make sure to take all your kite sizes with you. It’s hard to predict how much power you really need on snow when you are used to kiting on water. Also bring lots of water, sunscreen and sunglasses with you. It’s easy to get thirsty and burnt with the wind and the sun reflecting off the snow.