Perhaps one of the most exhilarating
things to snowboard on is a half pipe. A half pipe is a
combination of gracefully arcs and glorious straight stretches
that allow you to perform skateboarding tricks with your
snowboard. The only other thing that can compare to a half
pipe is a snowboarding bowl.
A half pipe is a ramp that is constructed partially with
terrain and partially engineering snow placement. For this
reason it may not be feasible for most people to build their
own half pipe at home. Of course, where there is a will
there is a way and for that reason we will look at the basics
of how to build your own half pipe.
The first aspect to consider is the location of your half
pipe. You wish to find a location where the terrain will
reduce the amount of work that you must do. If you are trying
to build a half pipe that is 6 feet high on flat ground
you will need at least one full dump truck load of snow
for each side of the ramp. If you happen to have 6 feet
of snow or more you may be tempted to try to dig out your
own ramp. Unfortunately the volume of snow you need to remove
is even greater than that needed to build the contours.
The ideal solution is to find a spot where a small hill
or bank can form one side or more of your ramp. Being able
to use an existing detail of the terrain will greatly reduce
the amount of work that you need to do. When looking for
terrain features to work with keep in mind the basic details
of any half pipe. A half pipe should be about 6 feet high,
8 feet across, have a flat surface about 8 feet long and
a landing pad at the top of each ramp about 4 feet wide.
One of the most important details of a half pipe is the
transition or curvature of the ramp. Getting the right curve
is critical to the ride ability of your ramp. If the curve
is too tight then your snowboard may not be able to flex
enough to land securely and you will tend to fall or be
off balance each time you land. If the curve is too gently
then you will find the ramp to be slow and you will have
a very hard time getting air. Following the edge of an imaginary
circle that has a radius of 8 or 9 feet creates the ideal
curve of a ramp. This is a fairly standard radius for any
ramp regardless of how high the ramp is.
Another important consideration is the final construction
of the ride surface and the maintenance of that surface.
There is quite an art to constructing the best surface and
many companies offer courses and tools for this purpose.
The surface of your ramp is a combination of hard packed
snow and ice. You want to have a solid surface that will
not shift or break up when being ridden on but not solid
One way to help create a good surface is to layer snow with
water and allow it to freeze. Your actual construction process
will vary depending upon the type of snow you are working
with and the temperatures. Begin by compacting a layer of
about 12" of snow and then, if needed, misting water on
top of the compact snow. As you mist the water on the compacted
snow add another foot of snow so that it will adhere to
the layer that you just created. The thickness that you
will require will vary but 2 layers is usually a good start.
Building a snowboarding ramp can be a huge undertaking but
is possible to do. With a little hard work, some training
and the correct tools, you too will be able to build a reasonable
About the Author
Jakob Jelling is the founder of
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