Words/Photos: Stephan Jende, Featured Image: Josh Tranby
What is Holy Bowly? Holy Bowly is the brain child of Snowboy Productions founder Krush Kulesza. A yearly event that start all started in Japan in 2012. An event that isn’t based on how well you are scored or how many flips you can do. It is merely an event to bring the greater snowboard community together at the end of a long season to find creative lines through a hand shaped course made by Snowboy productions and the diggers who spend the week and half sometimes in not so favorable conditions to make a one of a kind flow park that features bumps, berms, volcanoes, rollers, quarter pipes and much more.
As we all know the coronavirus has affected the way we live and travel over the last year and due to it the 2020 Holy Bowly was subsequently canceled. So for 2021 the event that normally hosts upwards of 300 riders featuring your favorite pros to local riders was cut in half due to keeping everyone safe. But that didn’t stop those who received the coveted invite from shredding the park.
Tony Wagner, Kyle Kelley, Josh Tranby, Jesse Paul, Matt Chase and myself were part of the few who were lucky to receive and invite.
Tony’s Road To Bowly started a couple months before. Suffering a minor broken leg earlier in the season he has been healing up for the majority of the winter in hopes he’d be able to lap the infamous setup. His journey out to Mount Hood started here in Minnesota with an old ambulance that he converted into a camper and drove across country for a month and half excursion. Visiting the cost and spending the week in Government Camp Oregon for the week of Bowly.
Josh, Matt, Kyle and I flew out the Sunday before Day 1 and stayed in an Airbnb in just down the mountain in Rhododendron where we spent the 6 nights in hanging out after a long day of boarding, playing rummy 500 while catching up with friends who we haven’t seen in some time.
Our mornings would start off pretty casual usually myself or Josh would be the first up to start cooking breakfast for the crew. Being the snowboarders we are we forgot to buy coffee at the grocery store and were stuck making the instant coffee that the Airbnb host had provided us. Due to this we usually made a pit stop at a coffee trailer called Besties Coffee. Highly recommend it.
Upon arriving to the base of Mount Hood there were parking lot hangs as we geared up. Before catching a lap down fully geared up. Backpacks filled with camera gear, water and other snacks to munch on while on the mountain all day and a shovel in hand or strapped to the outside of your pack.
While I spent most of my time hiking the course scoping out different angles to capture photos. Usually off in the woods somewhere, the rest of the squad as Kyle puts it was “vibing with new and old friends”. Whether you were going big on the hip or finding your inner surfer it didn’t matter as long as you were having a good time. It was all about “the community of all the riders lapping the park with no judgement and just having fun for the sake of it is why we all snowboard” Josh says.
Each day ended with a community rake session. Most of the features if not all of them can not be groomed with a cat and thus have to be hand raked. That is a must at any Holy Bowly. With over 100 riders laying slashes, jumping and quite literally shredding the course for 5 hours in warm slushy weather the course is pretty beat up. At the end of the day if we didn’t have all hands on deck helping to rake and slip the course it would make for a pretty rough ride the following morning. In addition, it is a way to give back to all the diggers who spent countless hours shaping a rideable piece of art.
That is a week at Holy Bowly in a nutshell and unlike most private events or contests the course stays open to the public after the private session days. If you ever land an invite to Holy Bowly I highly recommend going and if you don’t get an invite it try to catch a public day. You won’t be disappointed.
Huge thank you to the Snowboy Productions crew, everyone at Timberline and all the diggers for making such a rad event possible!