THE ETHER - A GUIDING FORCE

Neil Mcnab pow surfing in Lofoten

 There are only a handful of British snowboarders who have managed to carve out a career lasting more than 30 years, but when you also consider staying relevant and still leading the way in certain aspects of the sport, that number quickly filters down to one standout – Neil McNab.

Neil has a long list of accolades and accomplishments that any athlete from any sport would be proud of but it’s his continued evolution to pursue the purist’s sideways lifestyle that makes him the embodiment of the Tonic ethos. Craig Kelly would be proud.
At 52 he teaches yoga and surf’s daily,  recently created his own range of custom-built snowboards, and is considered one of the world’s leading backcountry splitboarding and mountaineering guides - which is backed up by the likes of Jeremy Jones (Jones snowboards).
We recently caught up with our old friend and competitor to discuss how he stays on top of his game , how he continues to pursue his never-ending desire for the perfect turn, where his high-altitude journey began and more importantly where it’s going…

P: Just another day in the office, Greenland

What was it like growing up in Yorkshire and what was your first outdoor passion?

I spent most of my youth playing and messing around outside with mates. Our playgrounds were the woodlands and the windswept wet Yorkshire moors, so I grew up adapted to harsh outdoor elements. Sports wise, I was never into team games preferring to challenge myself individually. I dabbled in the early round of Skateboarding, competed nationally in BMX racing and started climbing at 8 years old through a friend of my parents and became quickly addicted. At high school it was either team sports, computer club or outdoor pursuits (climbing, canoeing, caving etc) so it was an easy decision for me.

When was your first trip to the big mountains?

My mum was a schoolteacher at the local high school. In the summer holidays, we’d head off around the Alps in our old VW camper, with a tent that shrank in the rain, walking and climbing.  Apart from long summer holidays, another benefit
of her being a teacher, was that she ran the school ski trip. This meant that we got to go along as a family, even though I wasn’t yet at the high school. I remember arriving in the Alps at night by bus and seeing the lights up high in the sky, thinking at first that they were stars and then realising they were the lights of building up in the mountains. I’d watched an episode of a kids show (Blue Peter) on TV about learning to ski and on the first day I just copied some of the older kids that had been before putting their skis on at the top of the nursery slope and tried out what I’d seen on the TV. By the bottom of the slope, I was snowplough turning both ways. I hadn’t noticed they were selecting the groups and I was put in the group that had skied the year before, despite having
only skied about 100m and headed off to the lifts. It was a fast-learning curve, but I loved it. That first experience in the mountains that winter changed my life. My mum also arranged the high school French exchange and I strangely found myself partnered up with the French exchange schools ski champion. I’d get to go off skiing with him and his family, he’d get to come and climb on the cold wet gritstone edges scratching up his delicate French skin climbing cold damp crack lines. I think I won that round.
  
P: Yorkshire grit!

How did you find snowboarding and was it your entry into the sideways world?

So, like most kids of my era, I skated during round one and kept coming back to it often through my life, but not often enough to be any good at it. I found snowboarding through skiing. I first tried it whilst visiting a friend in Chamonix when I was 14, I’d guess. It was pretty basic, more like a pow surf with foot straps. He worked one of the lifts over in La Buet, Vallorcine, so I got to run some laps on it. I remember it being fun, the snow was good, and it seemed pretty easy, but memory puts a gloss coat on things. After that, I followed my addictions to climbing and skiing.
I moved to Sheffield as a climber, but it was hard to make a living as a climber, so I ended up working at the dry ski slope and then started teaching skiing as snowboarding on the dry slope just didn’t look so fun at the time. I ended up doing my ski teacher exams and headed out to teach skiing in a small French resort called Vars in the Southern French alps. Snowboard racing was getting going big time in France at this time and all the local guys were out carving fine lines in hard boots. The ski school needed snowboard instructors, so they gave me a board, a hot 160 (much like the current Dupraz shape) and said go learn. I started off just tilting the board and carving and it seemed to work. One of the French guys saw me and asked if I wanted to do a night time snowboard course at the end of the week. I’d been riding a few days and thought that would be a good idea, get some tips and stuff, but I forgot that in French, the word ‘course’ means RACE! I was entered into the French national series night time dual slalom in Montgenevre on a steep icy slalom race piste. I ended up hitting the last gate and flying through the finish line headfirst. I was happy to not qualify for a second run. 

"I love the feeling of the glide, the feeling of the turn, the rail or the edge biting into the arc."

 
P: Cuts like a knife, but it feels so right, Baquiera

I assume things got better after that!? 

I quickly became addicted to it and after that first season I never looked back. I went straight down to NZ and did a winter there. I did a comp and won a trip to Australia for another comp which was a great trip. Later, back in NZ I ended up on TV dropping a cliff band with ski legend Glen Plake.
Back to Europe I taught skiing to fund my addiction, now in Italy and started racing the local events. At the end of the season, I entered the British Championships. I’d never met a snowboarder from the UK, and it was a bit of shock to be thrown into the UK scene which was pretty wild at that time. I won an event SG, came 2nd in GS and 2nd in Slalom and entered the pipe (more of a ditch), my first ride in soft boots. I picked up a sponsorship with Burton and headed down to Argentina. In Argentina I won the national race series, which paid for my trip, and got to ride with Brushie and Iguchi and started Freeriding.
I returned to Europe and started competing racing World Cup and became British Champion for a few consecutive years. I was completely addicted to the feeling of turning or carving a snowboard. The feeling of laying it on rail and cranking power through the edge at speed. I’d spend all my time just carving and cranking sharp turns on the edge, over and over.

Do you think your racing background and board control made you a better freestyler / freerider?  

I guess the discipline of racing and carving has given me the ability to turn with precision, power and feeling as a freerider. Not sure how much it helped as a freestyle rider, but I was always more interested in flowing lines, drops and riding the mountain than hitting kickers or the park.

P: Steep and deep in Kamchatka

When did you move more towards freeriding and what has kept you and your riding evolving?

After competing for 4 years WC, I had had enough, and my interest had moved onto riding mountains. I’d continued climbing and as well as rock climbing, had developed an interest and passion for climbing in the high mountains. Eventually these two passions started to converge, and the high mountains started calling me as a snowboarder and mountaineer. I quit the comps and moved to Chamonix to pursue a career as a pro freerider (before this was really a thing!). My passion for the mountains as both a climber and rider allowed me to access and feel comfortable in situations and environments where many people would be out of their comfort zone. I started concentrating on trying to create flow in my riding in more and more challenging, untamed and untracked terrain. The better you get, the more fun lines you can ride and the better you ride them. Snowboarding became an endless search for the perfect line and the perfect turn. It’s a journey I’m still following and is still evolving day by day. This search for the perfect turn keeps me evolving and progressing. Every time you come close to that dream turn or dream run the goal posts shift and you want a little more from your riding. It’s ‘the feeling’ pure and simple that keeps me going.
 
P: Rip it off and start again... There's an art to perfectly placed skins

Has splitboarding changed your approach to snowboarding, or do you still ride resorts for fun sometimes?

I spent years hiking lines on foot, then with snowshoes and eventually splitboarding came along. The first split I tried was so bad to ride I went back to snowshoes for another season. Eventually I realised the potential splitboards offered and started to bolt bits onto them to stiffen them up for the ride back down. I’ve always found split boards to be a real compromise when it comes to the feeling of riding. Great for up, but pretty average for the ride back down. Recently we’ve started making my own design of boards with ‘Mcnab snowboards’ and we now have a split called the Lann, which really does ride as good as the solid board version, so I’m made up. The Lann is an all-mountain carver, charger and pow surfer in one complete package. I love riding in resort, I just love carving, surfing and shredding the mountain and if the lift gives me access to fun terrain, I’m happy to ride lifts, slash banks and carve pistes all day long. But if the snow is good out the back, then that’s where I’ll be. splitboarding has given me the ability to head out and find untracked zones, both near and far from the crowds. If there’s pow, it’s got to be untracked and there’s got to be no one there and that’s when splitting comes into its own. 

Do you have any favourite fun runs for hot laps, side hits, etc, or is it just secret pow stashes now?

These days I just love surfing mountains. I don’t mind where I am or what the conditions are, I’ll find fun stuff to shred, banks to slash, hits and drops to fly off. Obviously if there’s fresh untracked pow to ride that’s my first choice and if I have to hike for it I’m in all the way. I’m not into that powder day rush and race for lines, I hate all that racing out there and charging down as fast as you can to get in another run before it gets tracked. It’s like you’re not even appreciating the runs you’re doing as your in too much of a rush to get back to the lift. If its busy, I’d rather hike out by myself or with friends, chill out on some high peak, feel the calm of the mountains surrounding me and then drop into a dream line or two at my leisure.
 
P: Face time on a leisurely dream line

Sounds perfect!
Do you miss anything from the competition days?

Yeah, I did love the racing. I kind of moved out of it just when I should have been sticking with it. I’d just started doing well and when I quit, I had a couple of the top coaches from big teams, come chat to me saying I should keep going as I had potential to go all the way. The 98 Olympics came up shortly after and I would have qualified with my WC ranking, but I had already left the scene and my heart was in Freeriding. After moving to Chamonix, I set up my own coaching and training courses with first ‘Kommunity Snowboard Camps’ and then more freeride based courses with ‘Mcnab Snowboarding’. I also worked developing the snowboard teaching and coaching systems for the UK with BASI and was elected Olympic team captain and coach for the Nagano Olympics.
 I still love the coaching and teaching side of the sport. I love analysing technique and performance, breaking things down to basic movements and progressions. I often look at many of the top competitors even today and see gaps in their performance or ineffective technique due to a lack of technical understanding and training. I think racing gave me a great feeling and understanding of how a board works and what we can do to it through tilt, flex and pressure through our feet. It’s also helped me design our boards at ‘Mcnab Snowboards’ like the Lann which explores all my ideas on how a board can and should perform.

When did you discover yoga and was it initially just a way to avoid or recover from injuries?

I’ve always worked on my fitness, stretched and trained, to be able to perform at the best of my ability in any of the sports that I pursue. I have a pretty addictive side to me and when I get into a sport, I’m all in. I’m impatient and want to explore the fundamentals of the sport and build solid technique and high performance as quickly as possible. Often this means changing the physical attributes of your body by training in specific ways and so training has always been a big part of my life routine.
I’d always stretched but saw yoga as something soft and too easy to waste time on, you know, when I could be doing proper ‘training’. I’d grab a few stretches from a yoga book but that was as far as I got.
Then one day I decided to go along to a class with Ruth (my wife). I thought I’d get in some stretching whilst they all had a chat and lay down and relaxed, but in fact, whilst they all flowed through their ‘easy’ poses I sweated and shook, whilst they breathed and balanced, I panted and fell. I found it desperate and uncomfortable, but then at the end my body felt strangely good, like I’d not really felt before and so I went again. With practice I became accustomed to the movements and learned how to breathe and flow. Things started to change within my body and within my mind. I started to feel calmer and kinder and generally more positive and as per usual became addicted to yoga too.

 
P: Mind, body and soul surfing go hand in hand

What made you decide to teach it, and how has it impacted your life in general?

Like with most things I get into, I want to be the best I can be at it. It’s not about competing against others, its more an internal drive that I have. I want to understand the thing inside and out. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and I’m never going to be a Yogic scholar, but I’m interested in how it has affected me and how it helps me on a day-to-day basis, and I find this fascinating. If it can help me in these ways, then I’m interested in how it can have positive effects on others too. Teaching Yoga gives me the ability to give and share with others the benefits that I get and feel from Yoga. I’m still learning and exploring my own practice in Yoga, I think it’s an endless journey, but that just makes it even more worthwhile pursuing to see where it leads and what it can do.

Do you have any advice on longevity for the ageing action sports athlete/enthusiast?

As I get older, my body definitely needs more attention. Easy movements that you never noticed before start to become an effort or give you pain as you age, especially after a lifetime of non-stop activity. I’m 53 now and I’ve been athletically and obsessively active on a daily basis, for at least 40 of those years. It definitely takes its toll.
In your teens and twenties its effortless, you’re invincible, you recover and bounce. 30’s and even 40’s I felt strong and at the top of my game. Late 40’s and 50’s, well things get tougher. It may be that I moved to the coast and now surf everyday as well as climbing 3 or 4 times a week but jumping out of bed is a lot more of an effort recently. Yoga helps me get through the stiffness and eases the aches and once I’ve awakened my body it still works pretty good most of the time.
These days I work less on weight training and punishing my body and more on alignment, general fitness and deep range of movement. I find that flowing movement and correct alignment is key to maintaining high performance and a supple but strong body makes this possible. Eat well, stay hydrated, work on core body tension and alignment, do body weight exercises and work on deep range of movement. Be kind to yourself and allow for recovery… unless the surf is still pumping, then just give yourself a kick in the sore aching ass and get back out there.

Apart from yoga do you have any other none riding regimes to stay strong and healthy?

I do a lot of deep range movement, sometimes with light weights, like 20kg. Lots of squats, but hold a weight and add a bicep curl or overhead press with each rep. I do a lot of body weight exercises and body tension exercises. Before I go to the mountains, I try to do some aerobic exercise and go running a few times per week, but mostly I find that Yoga gives me most of what I need. Yoga can be as hard as you want to make it, a real legs, arms and core workout with breath and mindfulness thrown in.
 
P: Splitboard expedition in Greenland

Any advice for people wanting to get into splitboarding?

Splitboarding gives you immediate access to terrain and areas that might be outside the boundaries of the patrolled and controlled resort. Beyond the boundaries you’ll be riding on a snowpack that you might know very little about. As splitboarders the high mountains become our playground, but this playground is very serious and comes with many rules that we must follow. Learning about the snowpack, the tensions and bonds that are under your feet is very important. When we are splitboarding we are constantly making assessments and decisions, second by second, step by step. Weather, temperature, altitude, wind speed, aspect, sun, shade, angle, shape, what’s above, what’s below, what’s the history, what happened yesterday, last week, last month… All these things affect your every decision and the evolution of your day. With experience these are things that we notice instinctively or search for. When I travel to the mountain in the morning, I’ve already run through the evaluation of most of these elements and used them to assess my plan for the day. I have a plan A, plan B, plan C and whole lot of plans in between. Splitboarding opens doors to a new and incredible world, but you need to treat it with the respect that it deserves. In the high mountains we are never an expert, we never stop learning. 

After a life in the mountains, you moved to the coast recently… how have you found that transition?

I’ve lived in the mountains since 1987 which is when I did my first winter season. Since then, until Covid locked us down last year I’ve ridden full time every winter and in the early years many summers too. When not riding I climb and work summers in the mountains as a Mountain Guide too, the mountains have been my life all my life. Ruth and I got married in Chamonix, both our girls were born there. We lived there for 25 years or so and it got to the point where I already knew what tomorrow would bring. It was time for change and so a few years ago, we (the family) decided it was time for something else. We made the decision pretty quickly one weekend, the next week we drove to the coast to see if we all liked the idea and the area and put the house on the market when we got back. We moved a month later. I still work in the mountains, but we decided maybe we didn’t need to live there all the time too. I’m an addicted Surfer and being in Chamonix I wasn’t ever going to get the time in the ocean that I need to feed my addiction and so in the end we moved to the surf.

 
P: Getting into the rhythm of the ocean in Anglet

Has surfing a lot more helped your snowboarding at all? Do you set any goals for your surfing or is it purely a fun/soulful endeavour?

I set goals for surfing every time I go out. Sometimes it’s just to be chilled and feel the ocean more, sometimes it’s all about performance and trying to learn a manoeuvre, a turn or just to be in the right place at the peak and read the ocean better. But surfing is hard and I’m pretty average. The ocean is a constantly changing playing field so you also need to be adaptable all the time and change your expectations and sometimes just be happy to just be out there or it can get frustrating pretty quickly. You might go out thinking I’m going to work on this turn going left and everything is going right or closing out or just not doing what you thought and so you have to be ready to change and get into the rhythm of the ocean as it is and not as you thought it might be.
I love learning from the ocean and adapting with it. The ocean is powerful, and you have to learn how to be with it. In that way it’s a bit like the backcountry, you need to respect it and be in the right place, read it well and move with it. You can’t fight the ocean and you can’t fight the mountains. In this way surfing and snowboarding have a deeply soulful element to them, you really have to learn to be at one with your surrounding in order to truly be in the moment and understand where you need to be and how to flow with the elements.
The mountains give you time to stop and assess. The ocean is moving and changing, and it takes more time and effort to get were you need to be. You might be paddling against a current or being driven back by wave after wave on the inside and so you need to be one step ahead all the time as someday there simply is nowhere to hide and no rest. With snowboarding you can set goals and work on them. You can say ok, today I’ll work on this turn or this feeling and choose the terrain and conditions to suit the task, you can repeat the exercise over and over until you learn it.
The changing playing field of the ocean makes it a lot harder to set tasks and work on specific things. I find that it’s like an overall level of experience and skill that changes with time. Like you don’t realise you’re getting better but suddenly the wave gives you the opportunity to try that ‘thing’ and you do it and surprise yourself. Then you do it again and again and it like you’re now looking at trying something else and maybe you stepped up a level, or you’re just falling and learning how not to do it, which is just as important sometimes. Surfing is very feeling orientated, it’s so quick and short lived but the feeling blows your mind and stays inside you, that’s the addiction. Surfing has definitely changed how I snowboard. Snowboarding gives me the opportunity to surf the perfect wave every run. I treat every bank, transition and change of angle like a feature in the face of a wave and just want to slash and carve the f**k out of it.

 
P: Designed with knowledge - Handcrafted with Science. Neil's custom quiver of shred sleds

You’ve just started making your own snowboards-was that an itch you’ve always wanted to scratch? how did it come about, and have there been any unexpected learnings?

I’ve been riding for various snowboard brands for the past 30 years and have ridden so many different boards with so many different ideas thrown into them. Camber, rocker, spoon, camber and rocker, the list goes on. But in all this time I’ve never ridden a board and felt like yeah this is the one, you’re not going to improve this one. I’m pretty big and ride a fairly wide stance at 64/66cm and yet I rarely find boards that allow for this stance width. I might get a 166 freeride board and the hole pattern for the bindings is the same as the 156 or 160. I’m like, who’s using those inside narrow holes on a board longer than 160? No one, so why not move the hole pattern out a bit? I rode for Jones for the last 10 years; it took them about 7 or 8 years to finally widen the hole pattern for the big guys and make the board wide enough for our bigger feet. I’ve fully loved the whole exploration of different styles of riding and different board designed for the different divisions, park, freeride, powder, surfstyle etc and Jones has been leading the charge on many fronts. There are quite a few brands that now have a diverse range of boards for different styles of riding, but I sometimes wonder if the people designing the boards actually know how a snowboard really works? Do they understand about foot pressure, the changing dynamics of pressure in a turn, how edge tilt and pressure are linked to flex, camber and sidecut?
Over the past 30 years I’ve come up with a long list of questions about why they do this and why not do that. In the end I just needed to know if my ideas worked and so we threw them all into one board that is basically designed for how I ride and how I want to ride. It’s a custom shape with a custom sidecut, flex and camber designed to all work together. It’s a surf inspired freeride board, designed to roll smoothly into the turn and powerfully crank out of it and is designed as wide as your boots and as long as your stance dictates. We made a prototype, and I rode it wondering if I’d just go, ok that why they don’t do these things, but it was crazily good, and I just couldn’t stop riding it. It totally re inspired me for snowboarding and made me just want to carve harder, ride faster and slash every bank and hip on the mountain.
  
P: Holy Japow Boardman!

That’s awesome! Afterall that’s what it’s all about.

You still climb a lot. Tell us about the rescue you took part in in Alaska a few years back and what it was like receiving the medal of valour?

When I’m not riding or surfing, climbing is my job. I’m a Mountain Guide so I take people climbing for a living in the summer. I’ve always loved climbing, the feeling of pulling on small holds on steep angles, the flow of movement, the problem solving, the physical challenge, climbing ticks a whole load of boxes for me. When I was young it was a massive part of my life. With a group of friends, we basically scavenged our way around Europe pushing our broken car around and climbing every day. In order to be a backcountry snowboard guide I needed to train to become a UIAGM High Mountain Guide. This is a 4-year course, its independent of the Snowboard Instructor’s qualification which only allows you to teach snowboarding in the resort. The UIAGM High Mountain Guide course is a climbing and mountaineering specific qualification and is the only qualification recognized internationally and that allows you to work in the high mountains anywhere in the world. We cover everything mountain based, ice climbing, mountaineering, rock, mixed, ski touring etc. Getting on the course is a challenge, you need a long list of big climbs all over the world, big north faces and high peaks. You make up a list and then apply for the course. I did the French course in Chamonix. There’s like 300 candidates and they run a knockout style week of climbing challenges to whittle the numbers down to 10%. Out of the 300 or more, 30 get through to the course. Then the hard work begins. One of the summits on my list was Denali in Alaska. I went over with a few friends to try to climb the Cassin ridge, one of the harder routes up to the summit but we got turned around due to bad weather. We didn’t get a good weather window for our planned climb, so we decided to do the regular West rib route instead. Big storms plagued the season and yet some people tried for the summit in the storms as they couldn’t wait for better weather. A Korean team got stuck in a storm and one of the party went missing. The next day myself and my climbing partner Andy Perkins took a radio from the Rangers at advanced Base Camp and headed up in a storm to try to find the missing climber. We found him near the summit on the high plateau and called the rangers. 3 rangers came up to help us lower the unconscious Korean down the mountain as conditions progressively worsened. We lowered and dragged him down for the next 8 hours until we reached a high camp where we left him with a doctor in a tent and headed back down through the night to our lower camp. The climber lost some fingers but survived and was flown out on the next clear weather window. That same day we headed up to the summit and then headed home ourselves.
Much later I was awarded the PMI Mountaineer of the year award and we received the US citizens medal of valour for our efforts.
It’s not the first time that I’ve helped individuals or stranded parties out in the mountains and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The high mountains can be a very unfriendly environment when things go wrong or the weather changes unfavourably. It’s just the normal thing to do, to offer assistance if you can. One day maybe it will be me needing help from a fellow mountaineer.

 
P: The day job - UIAGM High Mountain Guide

You run splitboarding courses in lots of different locations now. How do they compare, and what’s your favourite?

With my company, ‘McNab Snowboarding’ which I started in 1995, I run all sorts of Snowboard courses, from technique, to coaching, from Freeride shredding to backcountry expeditions and everything in between. As a UIAGM Guide, (and ISIA Snowboard/Ski Teacher), I can guide all over the world and venture into some of the most isolated mountain ranges out there. I’ve snowboarded in a lot of faraway places like Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, NZ, Argentina, USA, Canada. I guess I lived through the golden age of snowboard exploration and travel, as now a days I try to control my carbon footprint and travel as little as possible, preferring to explore the potential right here on our doorstep in Western Europe. In answer to the question though, my two favourite spots to explore splitboarding are the remote east coast of Greenland and the fjords of Arctic Norway. Norway and Lofoten in particular is my favourite place to Split and is, at the moment, the only location I keep on my calendar in terms of travelling to ride.

Neil McNab splitboarding in Lofoten 
P: Staying ahead of the storm in Lofoten

You’ve probably seen the effects of global warming a lot more than most over the last 20 years or so. What are your thoughts, and do you have any advice on how people could help improve things with small changes?

It's crazy how much the mountains have changed in the last 20 years, it’s even more noticeable in the last 10 years. When I moved to Chamonix the glacier d’Argentiere came right down into the gorge above the valley floor, since then its retreated up into the Argentiere basin up into the high mountains 1000m higher up. Likewise, the Mer du Glace is unrecognizable now compared to even 10 years ago. The high mountains suffered the 1 degree of warming around 10 years ago, it effects the higher altitudes very dramatically and everything that was held together by permafrost and Ice is now all falling down. Climbs and lines that used to be classics are now unrideable and unclimbable. I work in this environment every day and to see it change so fast is scary. When you look at how we live and our financial dependence on using fossil fuels you wonder how we will ever change?
I personally struggle with justifying my lifestyle, whilst trying to be an ambassador for climate change. I try to do my bit day by day and then with regards snowboarding and my courses, we try to locate courses in one location for a set duration to avoid unnecessary travel, we try to get our clients to car share and our trip destinations are now located closer to home and we split rather than heli. Although Snowboarding as a sport is in no way environmentally friendly, I believe that sharing the wild locations and the untamed environment of the high mountains can inspire people to believe in the power of nature and make them want to change their ways both on and off the mountain. Although I feel like part of the problem, working in the mountains that we are also threatening, I hope that sharing my experience with my clients and showing them the importance of our last untamed wilderness, my actions are somewhat justified. I’ve teamed up with Protect our winters UK to try to play a part in change and to learn and educate myself on how I might do that better and pass on a stronger message.

Describe your perfect day?

Haha… Sharing the mountains or the lineup with a ‘small’ group of friends in untracked fresh or perfect waves or both. My biggest dislike is crowds and noise in places where we should be few, respectful and quiet. 

So, what's your Tonic?

I love the feeling of the glide, the feeling of the turn, the rail or the edge biting into the arc. I love the flow, the power of gravity pulling or the wave pushing, and I love the speed. I love the creativity and the learning that never ends. I love the feeling of the tiny movements of control through my feet that change everything with regards my line, speed and flow. I love that every moment is a new opportunity to create a better and stronger feeling, to learn something new and to progress.
When these feelings are absent, when I cannot feel the glide, If I’m away from the ocean or far from the snow, the feelings rest inside me, I can pull them from my subconscious and live those moments and feed my passion.
The feeling of flow is never far from my thoughts.

P: The never-ending art of the perfect arc

Any last words?

We all need to chillout and be kind more.

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Go and checkout Mcnab Snowboarding for all of Neils amazing snowboarding / splitboarding courses (including avalanche search and rescue training) in some truly amazing locations with one of the most experienced backcountry guides you'll find.

Also have a look at Mcnab Snowboards - an All Mountain Freeride inspired, independent custom Snowboard & Splitboard brand, blending 30 years of cutting edge freeride philosophy and the search for the perfect turn, with a unique approach to snowboard design and hand crafted eco technology.

Follow Neil on Instagram @mcnab_snowboarding @mcnabsnowboards


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