Halifax Ski Centre
Lift count : 3 x Drag-lifts
The Halifax Ski & Snowboard Centre is a Snowflex dry slope, situated on the top of a hill just north of Halifax, which is between Leeds and Manchester. Snowflex is much preferred to the other form of dry slope - Dendex - as it's both safer and nicer to ride. If you've been on a Dendex dry slope before and been put off, you'd be surprised at how different Snowflex feels.
In addition to the slope, the Center includes a children's play area with somewhere to get food and drinks, but perhaps of more interest is the real pub serving real, local ales. There's also the close by A.K.A Snowskate shop run by local rider Wayne Taylor, which has a fresh selection of snowboard goods. There is no specific changing area to speak of at the slope.
The main slope at Halifax is 150m long and is serviced by two lifts: a button; and a drag. The slope itself has some permanent freestyle features in the form of a kicker, a 1/4 pipe and a really small table. There's also a mogul field running down the left side, but that doesn't seem to be much use to anyone, especially snowboarders. These features do mean that there isn't much open slope, especially at the top; but that's not what Halifax is about.
The beginners' slope is made from Dendex and is serviced with a rope tow. Nothing exciting here. There is a small, beginners' Snowflex slope too, but that's not often used.
The main slope sometimes appears a little shabby and both the button lift and the sprinkler system can be temperamental. If the weather is dry and the sprinklers aren't performing, the end result is a slow, sticky slope. Regulars apply washing up liquid to the base of their board; it's not ideal, but it does work. The folk in charge of the slope are dedicated to improving the facilities and the snowboarding scene in general, but some of that will depend on available finance.
If you're getting ready for your first snowboarding holiday, learning the basics before you go can be a wise option. Quite a few people continue to learn here, as it's cheaper than the nearby Castleford slope. Be sure to take gloves and clothing that covers your arms; Snowflex is soft to ride on, but you can still pick up grazes or carpet burns. Also be prepared, as you'll most likely be starting off on the Dendex.
Board hire is included in the price of the lessons, but for recreational slope use, it's an extra £2.
Halifax is all about freestyle. The slope is firmly rooted in the British scene, hosting numerous competitions such as the AIM Series and the Westbeach Snowflex Series. It's even featured in the International snowboard film, In Short, produced by über pro David Benedek. And there's good reason for this.
Forget for a moment the nearby indoor snow slopes and look at Halifax's trump card: a well shaped booter that's available every day of the year. Halifax's kicker has fostered some serious freestyle ability in some of the best UK riders. It has been responsible for the development of a strong scene of locals pushing their skills week in, week out. Quite simply, a jump that can be hit again and again and again.
There are dedicated freestyle nights every Wednesday, with the difference being that they will bring out rails/boxes to the slope.
Intermediates and Freeriders
Halifax isn't suited to the developing holiday snowboarder, looking to stretch their legs before the annual snow trip. The dryslope surface will feel too unfamiliar when used once or twice per year. You're likely better off brushing up on one of the indoor snow slopes, it will be closer to home. Freeriders should simply forget it. Halifax has nothing to offer you.
Halifax offers numerous pricing options for slope use, all of which can be found on their website. This flexibility is a big plus. There are two interesting features to note. First, Halifax uses a clock-in and clock-out system, giving you the option to spend your time as you see fit. Handy if the weather turns against you, for example. You can even carry your unspent time over to another day, if needed. Secondly, there is the option of buying a season pass. If you're planning on riding here a lot, it's something worth considering. £350 for an adult works out at less than £7 per week, and it's cheaper still for students and juniors.
Perhaps Halifax isn't currently in its best working condition, which is a shame as this is an otherwise excellent UK slope for freestyle, and it's not a bad option for learning either. The dedicated rider can get a lot from this dryslope.