Photo and Video Feature

Holy Bowly 6

A Puzzle of Transition: Holy Bowly 6 at Timberline, OR

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“It’s the most iconic backdrop in snowboarding, which we’ve all been looking at for decades, and I got to put this alien landscape of bowly features in front of that backdrop—that’s insane. The invites are completely selfish—it’s about who I want to watch after spending ten days building. I put a few hundred of my favorite riders together with my 50 favorite photographers and videographers and just watch what they come up with. Hopefully it’s something that everybody wants to see.” – Krush Kulesza, Snowboy Productions

Snowboarding has its fair share of iconic spots. The hip in Riksgränsen, Sweden. The Red Ledge in Quebec City. Valdez, AK’s Mendenhall Towers. The Mt Baker road gap. All rites of passage that have defined our culture in one way or another. 

But few spots have seen as much ink as the volcanic cone of Mt Hood, OR. The Palmer Snowfield has been the backdrop of park-based progression since Windell’s and High Cascade brought summer transitions into the mix in 1989. From Roach to Donahue, Line to Lynn, Kotsenburg, Merrill and beyond, our past, current and future legends all gathered up there on the salted summer slush and continue to do so most years. It’s been shot so much that imagery from the glacier has begun to push passé. Not to say that the summer camps are any less relevant nowadays, or any less fun, it’s just that it has become hard to turn out riding and imagery with a fresh twist when the spot’s been ridden for three decades. How do you top 100-foot-booters at sunset? Maybe you don’t.

So, a sideways shift: The Holy Bowly. In its sixth year, the traveling brainchild of Snowboy Productions and honcho Krush Kulesza, it was something different: a transition-based even with the kind of curves never seen before under the vertical rock of Oregon’s highest peak. 

I’d never been to the Bowly before. It was either too far away, or it overlapped with my annual trip to AK. Shame on me. Because the Bowly was something entirely different in such a good way. It was a labor of love, a canvas for creative riders to find endless lines, all packed into a few acres of snow down near the bottom of the summer camp lanes. Upon those circular snow-sculptures you could keep it near the ground and stay entertained for days. There were plenty of tranny-finding transfers for riders with willing knees. A bank to slash here, a little gap there, and you could link ten-plus features top to bottom, then go find a new way through the maze until the lifts stopped spinning. 

And last week, a cross-section of snowboard culture showed up to ride under the shadow of a cloud-capped Mt Hood. Cummins carved, Lynn ripped backside airs, and Sweetin sent alongside a Japanese contingent, Euro heavies, up-and-comers, underground legends and seven-year-olds and 60-year-olds and everyone in between. The daily dig at 3pm brought 350 folks together to reshape this puzzle of transition. For nearly a week, the show went on, two-dozen riders distributed across the landscape at any given time, so much happening all at once that one could only capture the occasional blip in the cumulative momentum that built through the weekend. 

What follows is a small slice of a well-orchestrated and entirely loose gathering of snowboard culture—a new page in the iconic history of the Palmer Snowfield. 


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