Unfortunately, relatively few snowboard resorts have a halfpipe. Why? Well… do you know how to build a snowboard halfpipe? It certainly ain’t easy! This is off-putting for your average ski resort. Fortunately, you can make your own snowboard halfpipe with the right equipment and enough snow.
Here are 6 steps to building a snowboard halfpipe:
- Find the perfect spot.
- Move the snow to create a rough outline.
- Gather the right snow.
- Perfect the deck and wall dimensions.
- Smooth out the surface.
- Test the halfpipe.
Of course, if you happen to have an industrial-grade machine and half a million cubic feet of snow, you’ll be able to create an Olympic-grade halfpipe. However, I’m going to assume that you have neither of these resources (if you do, you lucky son of a gun!)
This guide will focus more on how to build a snowboard halfpipe yourself with limited resources. Be warned, it won’t be easy! Honestly, you’re probably better off building a snowboard jump. But several readers have requested it, so here’s how to build a snowboard halfpipe…
How To Build A Snowboard Halfpipe
1. Find The Perfect Spot
Building a halfpipe is no easy task.
Be prepared for a very long day in the elements!
To avoid wasting unnecessary time and effort, try to take maximum advantage of the natural landscape.
Look for areas with slopes or where the snow is higher.
Almost half of your work is already done if you have a small “hill” on one side.
Another thing to look for are areas where the snow is smoother… If you find a natural area where the snow doesn’t have any lumps, you can use this to form the base of your halfpipe.
Soft and fresh snow is also easier to shovel, reducing the work you need when creating your halfpipe.
Of course, you also need an area wide enough and long enough to host your masterpiece. Start small! An Olympic scale halfpipe is pretty huge! (Check out How Long Is A Snowboard Halfpipe?)
While you won’t always get the perfect terrain, keeping the landscape in mind before building your halfpipe can save you a lot of time and effort during the building process.
2. Move The Snow To Create A Rough Outline
Once you’ve mapped out the terrain, you can start shovelling the snow!
Create a rough outline.
However, you’re very unlikely to have that much space, manpower or snow.
Make it smaller, while keeping the walls higher and pipe width constant.
For example, if you’re making a pipe with 10-foot (3.05-meter) walls, then you’ll need at least 30 feet (9.14 meters) between the two walls.
Smaller snowboard halfpipes can help with some tricks but obviously don’t allow you to generate as much speed as a large one.
If any of you do manage to create an Olympic level halfpipe yourself – send me a picture or some footage! I’d love to write an article dedicated to your masterpiece.
3. Gather The Right Snow
A helpful tip to help you create the basic outline is to use heavier snow as a wall.
Shovel the lighter snow to form the “pipe.”
You can also experiment with different wall heights (although it’s advisable never to make the walls near vertical!)
Once you’ve carved out the basic pipe outline, bring in fresh snow to create the walls, landing area, and smooth finish.
If you can find the perfect natural snow nearby, then great!
Otherwise, you’ll have to bring in a truckload or two of snow.
An alternative is building “bricks” for the walls then packing snow around it. Dealer’s choice.
Keep in mind: snow quality is crucial to making the perfect snowboard halfpipe.
Always look for smooth snow that doesn’t form lumps easily. Lumpy snow can affect the smoothness of the halfpipe and cause injuries when riding.
Experts recommend adding one layer of snow, misting it with water, and then adding another layer for a smooth, compact finish.
I told you this wouldn’t be easy!
4. Perfect The Deck And Wall Dimensions
Once you’ve added fresh snow to create a deck and walls, start perfecting the halfpipe’s dimensions.
Although you can make it smaller, a standard halfpipe will have a 22-foot (6.7 meters) wall height.
Shaping this by hand would be insane!
I recommend starting with a couple of feet high (~4-5 foot if you can manage it).
This keeps it buildable whilst still allowing basic tricks and air.
The best way to perfect your halfpipe’s dimensions is to measure the wall height regularly.
The key is to create a symmetrical pipe with a consistent distance between the walls. This should be regardless of whether the walls are 22 feet (6.7 meters) or 10 feet (3 meters).
While there are no restrictions on the dip height, you’ll have to keep the curvature consistent for safer snowboarding. The ideal snow pipe should have a curvature radius of 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 meters), regardless of the dip height.
5. Smooth Out The Surface
Once you’ve perfected the curvature, deck, and dip dimensions, it’s time to smooth out the surface of your halfpipe.
This process may (will) be tiresome.
But it’s also quite fun.
You can get creative when smoothing out the halfpipe.
Use a shovel to get extra snow out of the way, or use a piece of wood to smooth out the walls.
Also, make sure that there are no lumps in the snow, especially at the dip. The last thing you want is to get thrown off balance at maximum height!
Remember, this process will take time depending on the snow quality, so avoid rushing it. If the snow is too soft in some areas, smooth it out by spraying water onto the snow’s surface to let it harden.
If you’re committed to creating a full-size halfpipe, you can get a “snow monster” machine to cut and smooth out the pipe’s surface. (You probably have to own a snowboard resort for this to be appropriate).
6. Test Your Halfpipe
Now that your snowboard halfpipe is done, start practicing your snowboarding skills.
But before going straight in for the triple cork, take a test run.
Go carefully on all ends of the halfpipe and pay attention to any lumps or inconsistent areas.
Also, look at the halfpipe’s speed and whether the landing area is safe. If you struggle with slow speeds and inconsistent landings, you’ll need to look for faults and fix them.
Add more snow to cover up holes or remove snow to smooth out lumps.
Hey presto, you have a halfpipe!
Thanks for reading my whistle-stop tour of how to build a snowboard halfpipe.
That said, building your own halfpipe is not something I’d advise (although it was a widely requested article).
As you can see, building a snowboard halfpipe requires time, effort, and dedication. With the right tools, enough snow, and a willingness to complete it, you should still be able to create a small halfpipe for recreational snowboarding and skiing.
Don’t expect to end up with an Olympic sized superpipe!
Happy building (or riding).