For my first try at winter kiteskiing I waited for strong winds and took my trainer out. This was the winter of 09-10. I went out in the same field I was using to learn in the summer prior. The snow was good and covered all the grass which makes things easier. Look for areas free of objects sticking above the snow and it will save you time messing with lines. I am a strong expert skier with backcountry experience. I know this is hard to fathom from a MN native living in ND but I’m telling the truth. I am not the best skier in my group but these guys are pretty solid. Anyway, back to the kiting. The snow was wind blown but a few inches of soft below the crust. Hard pack will take less pull than deep powder.
I ski and snowboard but chose to use my skis for this first try. If you have a choice I would recommend using skis. I found this to be an advantage over boarding for a few reasons. Since I was new to kiting and this was really my first attempt at using a kite to pull me I didn’t really have a good grasp on judging wind direction and determining just where the wind window was. So skis are advantageous over a board in that situation because I had to reposition myself in respect to the wind. Also the kite lines get caught up in snow chunks and other events happen that cause you to have to move around when you are learning. It is simply easier to move any distance and re-position yourself on skis than it is on a board – I don’t care how good of a boarder you are. Also, I am much better on skis than I am on the board and I didn’t want my feet to be an issue on my first attempt. I wanted to concentrate on the kite and not have to think about what my feet were doing.
If you don’t ski or snowboard but want to take up kiting in the winter I would recommend going to your local ski area and getting some experience with skiing or boarding before trying to kite. This is for the same reason I mentioned earlier – you want to concentrate on the kite and what it is doing, not your feet and what they are doing.
So how did my first try go? I was able to move on skis using my Hydra 300. It takes some wind but it was possible. I had a hard time going uphill at all but it was a little against the wind too. I got to feel the pull of the kite I started to figure out how to use the figure eight pattern to propel myself. It was a lot of fun feeling that first movement. Keep in mind this is not the same as using a depower kite but it will give you some valuable knowledge that will be useful when you start to use a bigger kite.
- Try find an area that is flat with as little debris sticking out of the snow as possible.
- Get experience just flying your kite without boards before trying it on skis or a snowboard.
- Get experience on skis or snowboard before trying them with the kite – don’t try to learn both at the same time.