Female SOLOists: Meet Taylor Godber – the pro snowboarder who’s carving her own path
When it comes to enviable lifestyles, Taylor Godber’s is one to elicit a serious case of the green-eyed monster. The pro snowboarder spends her winters on the slopes of pristine mountains and her summers surfing her way around the world. In between, she’s an accomplished chef, yoga teacher and a writer, too.
“I guess I’ve always had very varied, diverse interests,” she tells me from San Clemente, California, where she’s based for part of the year with her partner – pro surfer Greg Long – and their adopted rescue dog, Mango. Tomorrow, she will head back to Whistler, British Columbia, for more backcountry snowboarding through unmarked terrain.
“It’s magic. It’s like being on the moon,” she says of going off-piste. “It’s like you have this one opportunity to paint this line down the mountain and you’ll never get to ride it again.”
Often in boarding you’ll be the token girl. But that’s changing
In March, Taylor, 35, was part of an all-female, sled-powered team who made a trip to Alaska’s Chugach Mountains – the northernmost collection of peaks in the Pacific Coast ranges – which is known as one of the best (and most challenging) heli-skiing spots on the planet.
“For all of us to be there together punching up and over the 2,678ft mountain pass, and charging across the glacier was pretty badass, was pretty empowering,” she says. “Often in boarding and surfing you’ll be the token girl, or the plus one, but that’s really changing and it’s great to see.”
The beauty of being present in the wild just got me
Apart from one school trip to the slopes, Taylor didn’t start snowboarding until she was 15. “It wasn’t exactly love at first sight,” she jokes. “But my best friend in high school was a big boarder, so I’d skip class to go with him.”
She adds: “I was being bullied at school at the time and being in the mountains provided some much-needed solace for me. After I graduated, I moved to Whistler on a whim. Eventually, I started using snowmobiling and split-boarding to explore the backcountry. The beauty of being present in this wild space just got me. I was hooked.”
I love cooking with a headlamp after a big day on the mountain
She got into cheffing by cooking for friends who worked long shifts up in the oil fields in Canada. “I was waitressing to make money to fuel my passion for snowboarding and was wanting to make a shift away from selling unhealthy food to people.” “I always joke that cooking for people is my love language, whether it’s chopping veggies with a headlamp after a big day in the mountains or cooking over a campfire in Baja with a big group of friends.”
Her passion for food complements her love of adventure. “I get so excited exploring new flavours in new destinations,” she says. “One of my favourite places to discover new food is Indonesia. I love shopping for fresh ingredients in the outdoor markets there, getting to know locals and finding little hole-in-the-wall spots. The fact that the surfing is also awesome there helps.”
Indonesia was also Taylor’s first taste of solo travel. “I went to Bali by myself and I got such a high from wandering around and exploring, following my nose,” she says. “What I love about travelling by yourself is that you’re really running on your own intuition, not other people’s opinions or influences.”
When you spend time solo in nature, the details pop
One of Taylor’s favourite spots to experience catskiing (guided backcountry exploration) is Island Lake Lodge in Fernie, British Columbia. Although most of her backcountry boarding routes are too dangerous to attempt solo, Taylor says she loves to go hiking alone.
“One of my favourite things to do is to hit the trail, camp overnight and get up with the sunrise and a coffee,” she says. “When you spend time solo like that in nature all the details really start popping. Like this morning, on a hike with my dog, I noticed a tiny mushroom. You start to have a bit of a relationship with the mountain which is what I try to do in my boarding life, too.”
As you’d expect from a chef, Taylor has the best travel snacks. “One of my favourite cold-weather snacks is to take the stone out of a date and fill it with coconut oil,” she says. “I also like to prep and pack chia blueberry pudding. When you’re on the road you need things that are nourishing, but also tasty.” Her other suitcase staples include a microplane for grating ginger and garlic, and SmartWool socks for staying “warm not sweaty”.
Through travel, I uncover new parts of myself
Whether it’s shredding a mountain, surfing a wave or slaying the kitchen, Taylor says she’s constantly searching for a “flow state”. “I love that sense of stillness in the chaos,” she says. “You can get it sitting in the ocean, laying a turn in the snow or on a hike when the sun beams down through the trees.”
Chasing these moments, Taylor reflects, is what drives everything she does, especially travel. “I’m always blasting head-first into the unfamiliar. But it’s not just for the adrenaline rush. I’m not just uncovering new parts of a mountain or new parts of the world – I’m uncovering new parts of myself.”
Taylor Godber spoke to Kate Wills, author of A Trip of One’s Own, for Female SOLOists – a monthly column for SOLO on women exploring the world their own way. Catch up on the other interviews with Ana Hop, Jessica Nabongo, Anna McNuff and Leilani McGonagle now.
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Images: courtesy of Taylor Godber