34 Search Results for ""moving mountains""
- From: TetonGravityResearch
Words: Pip Hunt
Photos: Re Wikstrom
A gloved finger etches a penis on a foggy window, then hastily circles it and slashes a line through the center. It’s almost as if our Tucker snow cat is filled with sixteen year-old boys. Rather than baseball, Alfalfa, and a “no girls allowed” sign, this moving clubhouse is filled tutus, sparkles and a pink wig. Pop music blares through the speakers and an old school ski film skitters across the big screen in front of us—though no one pays attention. Hannah Whitney, Utah Regional Director for SheJumps, gets down in the middle of the spacious cat. Before long, the entire snowcat bounces as seven women dance to “Call Me Maybe”. I’m not even through my first cup of coffee yet.
We’re heading up a snowy Kebler Pass, the unpaved summer road that connects Crested Butte to the rest of the Western Slope. Ten miles outside the funky, prayer-flag-draped ski town lies the Movie Cabin, the base for all of Irwin Catskiing’s daily adventures.
While Crested Butte is known for its low snow pack, steep pitches and rocky terrain, locals have always known that the “donut hole” weather pattern leaves only the Butte bare. Irwin regularly receives two to three times more snow than Mt. Crested Butte every storm. It receives more than 600 inches annually, making it a leader for Colorado ski area snow totals.
I slurp the dregs of my coffee before stepping out of the cat, taking in the panoramic view of the Elk Mountains and the minuscule movie cabin. We crowd inside the former Hollywood Western film prop and spread out around the fire to boot up for a day of skiing.
Guides can make or break the catskiing experience; but Megan Poden, CB local, mom, ski patroller, and guide extraordinaire greets us with more flair than we arrived with. Her hot pink wig, black tutu, and sassy ways set the precedent—things are about to get ridiculous.
Luckily, these ladies at SheJumps, a 501-c3 non-profit organization aren’t afraid of having fun. SheJumps challenges women to reach their fullest potential through outdoor adventures. This trip wasn’t about luxury lodging, and delicious food though; it was about the terrain and initiating a new SheJumps chapter in the Gunnison Valley. It was about introducing more women to a safe backcountry skiing environment, skiing pow, and challenging each other to break free of our comfort zones.
Six inches of fresh waited us at the top, and the cat was stacked with snacks and beverages. Our guides cranked the tunes up between each lap. We chased each other through lines of fresh soft snow on “2D or Not 2D,” sent the “Outer Limits,” and played through the endless, rolling terrain of “Long.”
“The terrain seemed endless,” Hannah gushed afterwards. “I’ve been out here touring before when I lived in the valley, but all of my surroundings seemed so much more accessible with the cat. I’m going to be dreaming about getting back here to ski more!”
But the real fun started every time the cat door closed. We laughed, and had a really, really, really good time.
“I think we just set the precedent for fun,” Kyra Martin, Director of Admin for Irwin stated at the end of the day. “Irwin sees a ton of male clients, but we’ve never had a cat full of women. We wanted to bring in SheJumps to show that women need adventure too!”
Prices: $500 per day
1000+ Acres of Terrain
10,000-15,000 vertical feet of skiing per day
- Blog post
- 1 month ago
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- From: johnwellsma
Description:John Wells and Pete Durr skiing the Thunder Glacier in the North Cascades. Filmed and edited by John Wells
"I have walked by the Thunder for about 10 years on many missions to ski Mt. Baker. Never have I seen the snow bridges and bergschrunds so filled in. This was a moment of exploration, perfect planning, and route finding that all came together in 7 minutes of big mountain fun. Enjoy, many more Mountain Man Missions to come this summer! Stay tuned. Winter has its way of bowing out, gracefully throwing in the towel moving on towards a new season and different weather cycles. With the close-out or shuddering of Winter the mountains are the fullest, the snowpack is settled and locked in for the spring, at these moments you can steal a line from the mountain gods before it is too late and summer is here." - John Wells
- 1 month ago
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- From: kimhavell
Chris Davenport skis a chute in Antarctica. Photo by Jim Harris.
“Through The Lens” is a regular column on TetonGravity.com that highlights the work of a photographer in the ski and snowboard industries. The series exists to celebrate the photographers who bring us extraordinary imagery, to get to know who they are, and to understand their process.
Jim Harris is a TGR success story. An athlete with an artistic eye and a photographer of great strength and perseverance, Jim hit the big time from an unlikely start. Through honest and thoughtful posts on the TGR web forums, Jim unwittingly developed a huge following and grabbed the attention of industry players. Proving himself time and time again in the field and at the computer, Jim has photographs, stories, and drawings featured across varied media spots, print and online, in the world of adventure sport. He is humble, adventurous, and bright, and gets things done.
Jim has been behind the lens for Sweetgrass Productions, Powderwhore Productions, Camp4Collective, First Ascent, Powder Magazine and more. From scaling 20,000-foot peaks in Bolivia to descending steep couloirs in Antarctica to negotiating a pack raft down Alaskan rivers, this motivated talent keeps at it as he proves that with heart and hard work, success will be a reality.
Jim’s sincere and straight-up approach resonates with his audiences. Follow his creative journeys as “GnarWhale” on TGR and as Perpetual Weekend online at his Blog, Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter sites. www.perpetualweekend.com
Forrest McCarthy melts water at a ridge line campsite as a storm rolls in. Photo by Jim Harris.
I was first interested in photography when I was a kid playing with this all-metal Nikormat that my dad had brought back from Japan a decade or two before I was born. I didn’t develop a twitchy shutter button finger until I was around 16 and started documenting the graffiti scene where I grew up. Looking back at those boxes of prints, I was pretty much just mechanically recording ephemeral art. A few years later I extracted myself from that scene by moving to Montana where I enrolled in Wildlife Biology and Fine Art courses. The blend of planning, creativity, daring, and community that made the street art scene compelling also runs through mountain culture. It didn’t take but a few weeks in Montana before I began pointing my camera at people on mountains.
Studying Wildlife Biology seemed like a good route to finding a job that combined adventure with critical thinking, plus I was good at plant and animal identification. An empirical science education has proved to be a good framework for learning about the world, even though I never took up wearing one of those flat-brim Smokey hats. The fine art courses were just for kicks, but I regret missing the memo that my university had a Photo Journalism school.
Andrew McLean skis the Chugach Mountains in Alaska. Photo by Jim Harris.
While I’d been registered on TetonGravity.com’s message board for years, I rarely visited until I moved to the Wasatch Mountains in 2007 and discovered it offered a way to meet backcountry touring partners. Then I began posting photos of ski tours and that led to invites on more missions. One of those photo essays prompted Gordy Peifer to offer me a spot on one of his Straightline Advenutures Ski Camps, and another trip report garnered an invite to shoot with Powderewhore Productions in Alaska. That AK trip, in turn, resulted in my first print-published words and photos (Powder Magazine 40.1 “Beast out of the Earth”). Then I won a TGR and Smith Optics photo contest where the prize was an Ice Axe Expeditions ski cruise to Antarctica.
I was sharing just for the sake of sharing and that idealism struck a chord with people. If I suddenly couldn’t sell photos and stories about the sort of trips I like to take, I’d be okay going right back to doing them just for the intrinsic rewards.
Hi-fives with Andrew McLean after discovering and skiing a rad chute in the Wrangell Mountains of Alaska. Photo by Jim Harris.
Media-makers who also are high-performance athletes hold a role I admire. Photographers who can climb and ski alongside top athletes are the ones who, most often I think, bring back something insightful to share.
Galen Rowell about tops my list of “photographers I wish had reincarnated as me.”
Christian Pondella has crafted a career shooting photos with skis on his pack, an ice axe in one hand and that shines through in his photos.
The Camp 4 Collective team brings boots-on-the-ledge perspective to their productions and it’s apparent in the art and illustrations of Renan Ozturk, Jeremy Collins and Adam Haynes.
Leslie Anthony writes with legitimacy in his words and Fitz Cahall’s Dirtbag Diaries carry that too.
What all of them have in common is this gonzo journalism approach where, because they can hang athletically, they’re able to convey a first-person narrative that offers candid, humanizing insights into the lives of super-human athletes.
On the business side, I admire the people who help others to create content in our ski media ecosystem. When done well, enabling other peoples’ creativity is good for one’s own income. The TGR Forums empowered me and I hope the web ad revenue more than pays for the server space.
Photographers Adam Barker and Chase Jarvis both open source some of their knowledge via web interviews and tutorials. They’re investing their knowledge in aspirant photographers while legitimizing their expertise at the same time. It’s both altruistic and shrewd.
Sunrise on Illimani, Bolivia, while the city of La Paz still sleeps. Photo by Jim Harris.
I want to be a really good storyteller. Sometimes when I speak, my thoughts branch into a tangent, then a tangent of that, until I’m caught in a spiraling fractal of storylines and everyone has stopped listening. So it takes some intention for me to spin a story well. Photo essays keep me on point and the narrative jogging along.
At some heady level, wilderness adventure stories like the ones I want to tell are another variant of Joe Campbell’s monomyth: the hero marches off into the wild, conquers something untamable, perhaps then realizes that the real conquest happened inside his or her head, and then returns home to share the new wisdom.
My challenge is that I don’t want to just tell those stories but want to actually watch them unfold too. Going up and down difficult mountains with interesting people carves as close to living that myth as I know how to get.
Alan Schwer hops down a steep ski line at 19,000 feet on Volcan Pomarape, Bolivia. Photo by Jim Harris.
The business-side of working as a self-employed creative is a murky learning curve. There’s no roadmap to “making it” and even things as dry as sending photos for an editor to review turn out to involve diplomatic maneuvering. Many working photographers will tell you that your photos are only valuable if you keep ‘em squirreled away, unseen by anyone but the editor, right until they appear in print. While I see the wisdom in that approach, the only reason I’m paid to take photos now is because I’ve enjoyed sharing pictures in the past. So, I’ve continued to post photos on TGR, though I’ve become more strategic about sharing.
The ski photo world is a tough one to find recognition in, in part because much of it has fallen prey to this syndrome of collaborative competition where somebody says “Oh! Look at what they’re doing. We should be doing that too.” Photo buyers, photo makers, and athletes all push one another to converge. One outcome is that photographers face an uphill battle when it comes to creating marketable work that also conveys individual style.
On the other hand, who wants to feel like they’re leaving money on the table because they’re too elitist to take routine photos? Faced with that question, I’m no strict idealist. I’m not exactly shooting decorative cupcakes, but I’ve dug into commercial projects, studio opportunities, and jobs outside the ski industry. Sometimes they feel like art school assignments where students replicate some Old Master’s painting. Even if it’s not an approach that I’m particularly interested in, it’s impossible not to glean something useful. Those Elinchrom-lit sets are great for learning technique but they’re not where my aspirations lie.
Tyler Jones leads a climb in the Waddington Range while Seth and Solveig Waterfall follow. Photo by Jim Harris.
When I was about ten I was way into these Redwall books about mice doing medieval things. My parents took me to a reading by the author, Brian Jacques, at the neighborhood bookstore and he described to us kids around him that he’d worked as a sailor, and a truck driver, and a milkman, and some jobs that I’ve forgotten before he eventually became a writer too. The notion that one could do a lot of things in a lifetime, rather than be stuck with just one profession, took root in my ten-year-old cortex that day.
Photography has been my main focus for the last year or two, but it’s not my only outlet. I still dabble in woodcut printmaking, painting, shooting video, writing, and teaching. If this photo gig stops working out, I’ll always have the latitude to sidestep into one of these other roles.
Solveig Waterfall skiing from the summit of Mt Waddington, BC over a cavernous crevasse. Photo by Jim Harris.
One thing that distinguishes me from the pack is that I like unstaged, one-take, expedition shooting. Long and difficult trips are full of little victories and disappointments and they make for great photographic moments. As a member of an expedition team, I share credit and blame for the ups and downs I’m chronicling. Every bit of the process from planning, traveling, climbing, skiing, cooking, laughing and just surviving together is rewarding.
There are a couple big hurdles to being an expedition shooter. One is keeping one’s gear alive in the cold, wet, sandy, camera-killing places. That takes diligence but isn’t rocket surgery. Another is that one has to learn to suffer with grace. That takes practice and some balanced brain chemistry.
The biggest hurdle, however, is managing the dual loyalties of being both a weight-pulling team member while also caring enough about one’s audience to stop helping your buddies and grab the camera. Jabbing a camera in someone’s face in a cruxy moment can be a bridge-burning move. It takes a pretty keen awareness of the group dynamic plus articulate communication to balance photographic and team needs.
Before leaving for our first trip together, ski mountaineer Andrew McLean told me he was willing to ski for the camera but that he didn’t intend to re-hike anything for a missed shot. If you’ve skied with Andrew, you know that he zips uphill then right back down. Either I had to bully him into slowing down or learn to be quick on the draw, get the shot the first time, and not sulk when I misfired. I went with the second approach and haven’t regretted it.
One-take shooting is an ethos I’ve embraced. Shooting actual skiing down actual lines, as opposed to the ubiquitous one-turn-wonder approach, feels truthy. As a bonus, there’s a lot more skiing involved in a “work” day.
Chris Davenport skiing in Antarctica. Photo by Jim Harris.
Three years ago, three friends and I spent a month backpacking and then rafting across Wrangell St Elias National Park. That trip changed my view of what’s achievable by a small, unsponsored team. I felt empowered by our success and humbled by the times I faltered.
Back at home, I tried to summarize the story via a long column of captioned photos. The resulting trip report garnered a lot of attention that I never expected. Something about our mix of ambition, unique route, and amateur status really resonated with people, and not just the outdoorsy ones. Traffic poured in from Digg, Reddit and other link-sharing sites.
Years later, I’m still feeling the reverberations of that trip. I’ve been back to the Wrangells once and have plans for another trip this year. I’m also packing today for a crazy Mexico adventure that I’ve been invited on because a couple of Alaska’s most-audacious wilderness travelers saw my photo essay and thought I’d be a good fit for their team. Looking back, it is comical how many doors have opened for me based on something that I never guessed would have much impact.
Forrest McCarthy midway through a 120 mile traverse of the Abaroka Beartooth Mountains. Photo by Jim Harris.
There’s been this recent uptick in the ski industry’s acknowledgment that what we do is risky. At a fundamental level, action sports culture pushes the idea that “advancing the sport” or “pushing the envelope” is the loftiest goal an athlete can strive for. I think that presumption deserves some scrutiny because it is steering our risk-taking. We’re not going to revert to blue-square level skiing in movies but it’s worth acknowledging that there are perhaps less death-defying ways to “advance the sport.”
For me, that means looking for trips that are challenging because they’re remote, or because they require an endurance component, or because they offer a quirky perspective on the norm. Both writers and photographers search for unique angles. As someone with a growing grasp of both pursuits, I’m positioned to connect interesting story ideas with smart photos.
Jim Harris' Powder Magazine cover photo. Skier unknown.
A few years ago, I watched an acquaintance trigger and then swept by an avalanche. It was formative. It changed how I communicate with partners, how I plan for a tour, and is a continual reminder to make conservative choices.
Soon after that incident, I began teaching avalanche classes. Now that I’ve shifted to proselytizing wilderness skiing for a living, teaching the prophylactic aspect of it feels essential. Not only does it feel like righteous work but teaching avy classes also helps keep my skills honed.
At the other end of the spectrum, one of my photos is running on the cover of the new Powder Magazine Photo Annual. For someone who’s only been making a living as a photographer for just over a year, it’s like putting boots on at 9:30 and somehow still catching first chair. That cover isn’t recognition I’d expected to have so soon in my photo career, but I’m grateful for it.
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- Blog post
- 4 months ago
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- From: kimhavell
“Through The lens” is a regular column on TetonGravity.com that highlights the work of a photographer in the ski and snowboard industries. The series exists to celebrate the photographers who bring us extraordinary imagery, to get to know who they are, and to understand their process.
Tristan Greszko, a gifted athlete and photographer based in Jackson, Wyo., is known for his creation and adaptation of unique angles in photo and art imagery. Greszko enjoys working in various artistic mediums including alternate photo processes, screen-printing projects, film, and other creative outlets. His work on projects like the Tiny Jackson Hole video in 2011 catapulted him overnight into the public realm. And, as local lore goes, he is one of a handful of skiers to straight-line “Once is Enough,” a serious and steep line in the JHMR backcountry.
Greszko took art classes in high school and later began to develop his photo skills through on-snow work in Vermont. After moving to Jackson in 2006, Tristan co-created the Teton Artlab, developing this multi-purpose, non-profit venue to provide affordable workspace for local artists. The lab maintains a quirky and creative atmosphere in which artists congregate and collaborate.
Keep an eye out: With his distinctive captures and creativity, Greszko explores new ways to share his world of photo and art from a deep well of talent.
1. The Start.
In 2005, I moved from Atlanta to Vermont for a job snow reporting at Okemo and was in charge of shooting “Photo of the Day.” I also bought my first camera and shot the now-defunct Vermont Freeskiing Open. The years between 2005 and 2010, I spent almost every waking hour immersing myself in photography, learning, failing a lot, and collecting a few decent images here and there.
In 2010, after 4 years working in the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort marketing department, I left my job to devote more time and energy to being a professional photographer. By that spring, I felt I had a strong portfolio and a skill set competent enough to finally, truly call myself a photographer. And now, two years later, I feel like I'm starting to produce some great images. So, I feel like, in many ways, I'm just getting going.
2. The Inspiration.
The most obvious choice is my dad, though it comes with a big footnote. The older I get the more I realize how similar we are in so many ways. He had a rare, boundless curiosity about the world, a mischievous sense of adventure, and was obsessive about his interests, which I very clearly inherited. He was a technically perfect, beautiful skier, had a dark sense of humor, tinkered with art and photography, and had a passion for the mountains that bordered on religious fanaticism.
The footnote is that both of my parents died when I was 14. I was just a naive little kid in 9th grade when it happened, so I say all this after many years of reflection, coming to terms with it all, and you know, building up a bit of a mythology about who he was. It's hard to say if I'd be as driven or independent as I am today if I had a more normal, happy childhood, but his influence is undeniable and I couldn't imagine a better life in spite of it all.
There are a few industry people that inspire me, too, right now.
Steve Casimiro of Adventure Journal has a wonderfully articulate way with words and images that explain this eternal search and the insatiable lust for adventure that we're all seeking. He does it casually and poetically, and very well.
Curt Morgan of Brain Farm Cinema … Well, there's no one like Curt out there. We went to the same high school back in New York. He has accomplished some very big things to say the least.
Tahoe photographer Andy Bardon is a good friend of mine who shares a similar aesthetic and work ethic, and is a machine in the mountains. It's been awesome seeing him start to blow up.
3. The Future.
I think my goals are pretty simple. I'd like to sustain a lifetime of exploring, adventuring, and being curious about the world, and working really hard and dreaming big. I'd like to think that my work inspires people to live better, and seek out richer, more rewarding experiences too. Hopefully, I can continue to find amazing people along the way to share the adventure with — finding and keeping interesting, passionate people around me is always an important necessity. And, as for my dreams, well, I'll just keep those to myself for now. I like it better that way.
I'm at a point where I'm confident, have some momentum, and feel like I can do some big things if I start pushing and putting my work out there. I like to fly under the radar and evade unnecessary attention but when I think about where I've come from in the past few years — and what I'm capable of now — I'm really excited for the future. I'd like to step up into a much bigger arena and work with bigger clients: The North Faces, Patagonias, Red Bulls and National Geographics of the outdoor/adventure world.
4. The Business.
I like this quote by artist Chuck Close:
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
The most important thing I've learned is to get out and actually DO what you want to do. It’s important to go out and TAKE it instead of sitting around waffling about it. If you pursue something long enough, you'll find an audience, and you'll definitely find a way to get by, and probably thrive. A lot of people think giving it all up and moving to the mountains is crazy but I think the opposite is true. It’s crazy how most people live —working in an anonymous job in an anonymous city. I work hard to stay afloat but it rarely feels like I'm truly working, at least not in the way it felt before I moved to Jackson.
5. The Source.
I like shooting with the unknowns — the people who you've never heard of and who ski harder than most and keep their mouth shut about it. Skier Andrew Whiteford and I shot a lot when we moved to Jackson and he's done really well for himself. Good friend and ripper AJ Puccia has been another favorite athlete. There are a few other shots of people you've probably never heard of that are some of my favorite photos ever. These are all athletes that can do anything you ask, happy to shoot, look good while doing it, and are super humble at the same time.
I crave frequent change, stimulation, and novelty. Lately, I've been shooting a lot of random personal projects like some short videos of this summer's crazy wild fires (in Big Piney, WY and Jackson) and photos of the Northern Lights that were going off in Jackson in the early fall. I've also been road tripping all over the West for the past two years shooting a whole range of weird, amazing locations. And, I just completed an exciting Teton aerial shoot that I've wanted to do forever.
6. The Industry.
Remote control/drone platforms are definitely next in line to blow up big time. Where the military goes, so goes civilian technology. I bought a Cinestar 8 multi-rotor helicopter this past spring. It's already allowed me to shoot some stunning photos and video, but I'm basically still operating with training wheels. When it all comes together, the cinematography and unique perspectives are really stunning.
7. Career Highlights.
-Construction of the JH Tram - I have thousands of shots of every step of building the new JH tram over the two-year construction period. No idea what I'll ever do with them but it's awesome to have been the sole photographer on such a piece of history that's so close to the community.
-Tiny Jackson Hole - I spent a ton of time, 400-plus hours making that video and the response blew me away. It was a labor of love for sure and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.
-Alpinist Spread - Alpinist 33 featured the Grand Teton as that issue's mountain profile. One of my favorite shots ever run was a double-page spread on the opening page of the article, Grand Teton: A Map of the Wild by Renny Jackson. Given the Grand's influence on American alpinism, it was an honor to be in such legendary company.
-JH Tram Heli Shoot, 2009 - We did a sunrise shoot of the new tram with Corey Gavitt of TGR. It was my first time shooting out the door of a helicopter, with patrollers throwing bombs below us, patrollers dropping into Corbet's, and the new Tram in perfect morning light.
-TGR/Erik Roner ski-BASE of Cajun Couloir - Erik Roner is an amazing guy and completely nuts. So, seeing him ski base Cajun while perched up above in the old tram was a really special thing though the anxious anticipation beforehand was really intense.
-Aerials in Indian Creek - the first time I shot climbing with the “Octokopter “- also completely terrifying flying the helicopter off the top of a giant boulder and trying to ease up next to a climber 80 feet off the deck but overall it was a great success and learning experience. It took me another three months before my first epic crash!
To follow Tristan:
- Blog post
- 4 months ago
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- From: leelau
Eric Hjorleifson holds the Dynafit Mercury on the left and on the right is his frankenboot Titan that started it all.
On November 23, Eric “Hoji “ Hjorleifson gave a talk titled “The Evolution of Touring Gear” at the Escape Route in Whistler. Hoji has been instrumental in the development of a lot of gear, but lately, in particular, has contributed knowledge to the current lineup of Dynafit “Free Touring” boots. For those of you who aren't backcountry gear geeks, these are the Dynafit Vulcan, Mercury and One. These boots come about as close to the ideal of having an excellent walk mode and lightweight, while maintaining stiffness and burliness for downhill performance. This line of boots seeks to marry downhill and uphill performance in one package, but at different price points.
Hoji is no stranger to skiing enthusiasts. Much to his own self-admitted surprise, the way he annihilates powder and pillows skiing on Dynafits opened the minds of many a skier who'd previously viewed Dynafits as specifically for the one-piece scholler sausage-stuffed skin suit crowd. Footage had started circulating almost two years ago about his exploits on those bindings.
Hoji's talent and fetish for modifying gear had also caught the attention of the denizens of internet forums, many of whom seem to have way too much time on their hands and have dissected and discussed Hoji's gear choices. Indeed the gear-queer interest has been so stalker-ish that there have multiple threads dedicated to Hoji and his gear including Ask a Hoji, Ask a Hoji Part 2 and no less than two threads dedicated to Hoji's custom Frankenboot modification of the Dynafit Titan.
This interview continues the Hoji stalk and was supposed to be short, just talking about boots. However, Eric is an articulate and astute character, a thinking man's skier if you will. His thoughts about skiing, ski touring and gear were well formed and informed. On with the questions.
Lee Lau: How old are you, where did you start skiing, when did you start heading into the backcountry and where do you live now?
Eric Hjorleifson: I'm 29 years old. I started skiing in the Canadian Rockies. Lake Louise was my home mountain. I first started heading to the backcountry when I was about 16 or 17, and I now call Whistler home.
LL: You're known for your skiing segments. You showed some versatility this season by bagging some lines in the Freshfields Icefields north of Golden and more notably the North Face of Clemenceau (with Martin Lefebvre, and Chris Rubens). How much mountaineering or ice-climbing have you done?
EH: Not much pure ice-climbing. A bit of mountaineering. Most of my climbing is limited to front-pointing on crampons. My good buddy Matty Richard has been trying to talk me into doing more but I always end up skiing pow.
LL: Finally, before we talk boots, some people might be surprised to know that you edit your own videos. Why did you start doing that and how did you learn?
EH: Around the time that MSP did “Push” in 2009 they gave athletes the opportunity to edit their own segments. I'd always been fascinated by how videos came together and was sometimes disappointed when particular lines or mountains I would ski would end up not used. You can't really blame the editors for that. They weren't there so there's no way they could know how I was feeling on a line and they have to work with constraints of time and flow. I really enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in the creative process. For that I owe a bunch to Scott Gaffney who helped me learn how to edit and put footage together in an artistic package.
Basically, I sometimes have a strong emotional connection with a particular segment, or day, or trip. It's a feeling that's hard to put into words. Learning how to edit my own segments allows me to try to put something together that tries to capture the moment.
It's hard to keep on top of editing software, but I try as much as I can. The technology moves so quickly. As soon as I learned Final Cut, people are now moving on to Avid. But it's fun to try.
LL: Let's talk about your boots and your modifications. A lot has been written about the boots which gave you notoriety: the Dynafit Titan. What is your title with them and why did you start modifying boots?
EH: Officially, I'm a consultant to Dynafit in a contractor capacity. What this means is that I share my ideas about the boots and give them insight. You've got to appreciate that the North American market is a small part of the overall market for backcountry and that my modifications were for a North American market. To be more accurate, it’s even smaller than that because the people who were really looking for something like my modified Titan were from BC, the Pacific North West, or the Western US, so the market's even smaller than that.
I was actually a bit surprised by the attention paid to the boots. I mean, I knew that people were curious about them, but I didn't know to what extent. Personally, from skiing in racing boots all the time and using alpine-trekkers, fixing broken gear was getting kind of old and I knew that if I didn't look into something with a walk mode I'd be looking at losing toenails or maybe toes when I got older.
I won't repeat what I did with my Titans, as it's been described in a bunch of different articles, but basically, I customized the boot so it fit my skiing style, which is centered and relies on lateral movement. I also wanted to improve the walk mode so I modded the Titan so I could remove the tongue when skinning. In the 2009-’10 season I was filming with Matchstick at Golden Alpine Holidays and I was shooting footage of self propelled lines with Dynafit FT12 bindings, my 4FRNT skis and my modified Titans. I developed a ton of confidence filming and skiing on that setup and I've never looked back from there.
The Escape Route is a longtime Whistler locals' backcountry gear hangout and a fine place to display Hoji's art. In the top picture from L to R: modified Titan, frankenTLT5, Dynafit Mercury and Dynafit One. The Vulcan is in short supply and the only pair the shop had were bought that very day.
LL: There was quite a stir when Dynafit took you on in 2011 and then made it long term in 2012. How did you come to meet Dynafit and then ultimately they become comfortable enough for them to take you on in an official capacity?
EH: It started out here at this store. Escape Route was a Dynafit Competence Center, which basically meant that the staff had a lot of technical knowledge and expertise about the product line. Around two years ago, I first met with the folks from Dynafit who were there to talk to Escape Route and a bunch of Whistler locals, who were longtime users of the products, raced ski-mountaineering and hard-chargers in their own right. Some people from Dynafit were there and were kind enough to let me show the modified Titan. I showed them footage of what I skied at Golden Alpine Holidays with Dynafits on these modified boots.
To be honest, I didn't know what they thought initially. These guys practically invented a lot of the gear we took for granted, so maybe it was a bit much to expect them to open up right from the start. I get the feeling we're coming at this from a different perspective than they are in some parts of Europe, as you can probably appreciate. But credit where credit's due, the guys, especially Federico Sbrissa, were open to suggestions and as we worked together more and more we meshed.
What was a revelation, too, was the first time I saw the DNA boot. It was meant for a totally different application than the way I ski or approach lines but I could see the direction it was going and it was a great direction. Then the TLT5Performance came out and I had a chance to use that boot as I was coming back from knee surgery. I wasn't charging quite as hard as I had in the past due to rehab and I really got a chance to appreciate the lateral stiffness and that fantastic walk mode. Of course, I modded that boot, too, and ideas really came together as we were marrying the technology and features from that boot into something that also had good downhill performance yet could also be light. And we wanted to keep that fantastic walk mode. After lots of work, what came together is the line of Free Touring boots.
LL: Something's that not well known is that you don't get prototype boots very quickly. You wear a size 25.5 boot and most prototypes are size 27. How do you get around that when in the middle of the product development cycle?
EH: Like I said, I ski a ton with Matty Richard. Matty's a size 27 foot. Matty's actually part of the test team and he gives me a ton of feedback on the boots and how they feel. I get a chance to see how the boot is working. Because I ski with Matty a lot, I can also sometimes guess or he'll tell me if he feels like there's something off or not quite perfect. As you know, the prototype Vulcans aren't quite the same as the production. The productions will be a bit stiffer.
It's a good thing they don't have to wait for my go-ahead for the Vulcans. Those boots are in short supply. I don't have boots yet ... Dynafit's taking care of paying customers first - good for them, but maybe you and I have to be patient!
Hoji with the modified TLT5 Performance on picture left. Matty Richard is Hoji's skiing partner in arms on picture right.
LL: Speaking of stiff boots, I'm 160 lbs. You're about the same weight. Matty is also not a big guy. It seems a little crazy that people are now “complaining” that the Vulcan is too stiff, given that for so long the internet skiers have been asking for a stiff boot. What do you think about the Vulcan versus the Mercury?
EH: I was just talking to Julian (Stoddard - the Dynafit rep) about this. It's almost the case that guys our size can't really stress gear out the way that bigger guys can. Mass matters. I do think it’s kind of funny that people are now saying the Vulcan is too stiff. It's got the kind of crazy lateral stiffness that I like because my skiing style is to really carve hard and move laterally - something that probably comes from the racing background.
Right now I'm on prototype Mercurys, and I'd say that almost all the time it's perfect for me. Everyone's different though. They have different sized bodies. Different ski styles and ski in different conditions. Of course, there's also a big difference in price between the boots so I'd say that it's good to have choices.
LL: Some people are modifying the Vulcan/Mercury. For example some people are modifying the tongue so it can be more easily removed in the uphill/downhill transistion. How much do you still tinker with gear?
EH: I don't think I'll every stop modifying gear! I'm never happy. Whenever you think something's perfect you'll find some way to improve it. The difference now, though, is that I've got the company behind me and lots of people - very experienced people - to use as sounding boards, and to bounce ideas back and forth. It's a huge advantage to have support. I can't talk much about what's in the works, but wait till next year. I know – it’s ridiculous that this season has just started and we're already talking like that.
One example mod for the Vulcan/Mercury is the James McSkimming modification (right) which is to cut off the square tab from the external hard plastic tongue thus making the tongue easier to remove. Keep the tongue on for the downhills and take it off for the uphills for free-floating stride.
Click Here To Buy The Dynafit Mercury
Click Here To Buy The Dynafit Vulcan
Lee Lau is an avid skier and outdoorsman embarking on many adventures with his loving, and sometimes concerned wife, Sharon. He has over 15 years of experience skiing, ski-touring and dabbles in mountaineering. In the “off-season” he is occasionally found working in his day job as an intellectual property lawyer when he is not mountain biking. As a resident of Whistler and Vancouver, British Columbia, Lee's playground extends mainly to Western Canada, including South West B.C. and the Selkirk.
- Blog post
- 5 months ago
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- From: TetonGravityResearch
By Andrew Orowitz and Dalton Harben
Photos by Dalton Harben
It’s no secret that the mid-Atlantic region is home to some of the highest elevation peaks east of the Mississippi. But as backcountry skiers based in the Northern Greens, the thought of skiing south of the Mason-Dixon line had never really been a high priority. That all changed when Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the eastern seaboard – and set up the high plateaus of West Virginia with some of the best early-season powder conditions in the country.
The monster hurricane-Nor’easter hybrid was still ravaging the New York and New Jersey coastline when seasoned storm chaser and owner of Worth Skis, Dalton Harben, called me to explain why it was crucial that we get in his truck and drive south to ski 3-plus feet of snow in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, immediately. He sent over photos of buried cars and untracked tree lines to back up his powdery claims. The wintery images became etched in my mind. Dalton also mentioned something about product testing for Worth and the overwhelming desire to ski powder. That it was some sort of sickness. I laughed it off.
Even if it was 45 degrees and raining in Vermont, it was completely ridiculous to even consider driving 24 hours for 24 hours of human-powered storm of skiing in the mid-Atlantic Appalachians. Or was it?
Almost instinctively, negotiations were made with loved ones, personal days were requested of bosses, and skins, long underwear and goggles made their way into backpacks. Our unlikely Snovember adventure was actually coming together. At around 9 p.m., we began our 12-hour journey through the Halloween night to ski hillbilly powder upon arrival in the morning. What had started as a joke the day before had suddenly become very real. With the Tundra fully-loaded, we hightailed it out of VT and down the New York Thruway to meet our friend and fellow storm chaser, Matt Cote, at the Kingston, New York Park & Ride.
Reports of icy roads, widespread power outages and gas shortages continued to stream in from the Canaan Valley. But as far as we were concerned, it was ski season, we were storm chasing and all was right in the world. Buoyed by yet another cup of coffee, the morning light and the thought of skiing powder after the endless off-season, Matt C. took over the driving near the West Virginia border and the truck began it’s steady ascent to an elevation of around 3,000 feet.
Arriving at the Cannan Valley Resort bleary-eyed and nearly delirious, we were greeted by an officer who took one look at us and said, “I hate snow. Hate it.” Moving right along, we signed up for $10/night rooms that included breakfast, lunch and dinner, but no heat. Seemed fair.
We hurried along to our first objective: the White Grass Touring Center, just a few miles down the road from our accommodations. Right away, Chip, the ski area’s beloved and bearded manager, invited us into the rustic base lodge to warm up by the woodstove and get ready for the ski. From the “donations only today” note on the ticket booth window, to the dogs and kids running around, to the timeless feel of the well-worn hut, it was clear that what White Grass lacked in vertical, it completely made up for with a pure, unadulterated love of skiing.
Maintaining a unique yet familiar mountain vibe, White Grass attracts a certain type of BC skier, one that longs for the serenity of an untracked glade and the company of a few close friends. After just a few minutes in the lodge, White Grass had already left an impression on us. A former Vermont resident himself, Chipper (as he is affectionately known,) explained that to him, the Canaan Valley represents “Vermont South.” Sharing a love of mountains, a laid-back lifestyle and a passion for skiing, it’s easy to see why. He was eager to get out on the local terrain and the fresh snow, and after all night driving in the truck, we were all more than ready to finally get out on the skin track. After a few quick laps, our group of nearly a dozen broke off into smaller groups and began exploring the various tree lines, backcountry huts and open meadows.
Deprived of sleep and with a few thousand feet of vertical under our belts, one way or another, we all made it back to the White Grass base area. While the region was still without power, we warmed ourselves from the inside with a jar of moonshine that was making the rounds. Before long we got word from Chip that we had been “evacuated” from our hotel. Luck had been on our side up to this point, and I wondered to myself whether the three of us would be sleeping in the back of the Tundra instead of our well-appointed hotel room. When we arrived back at the front desk we were informed that due to the heavy moisture content of the snow, they were concerned the hotel roof could collapse. Fortunately, they moved our group to a 4-bedroom cabin complete with a fireplace (for the same $10 a night fee.) I guess this is what they mean by southern hospitality.
After stoking up the fire to try to warm up our cabin, we were treated to an all-you-could eat dinner of pork loin, roasted potatoes, chicken soup, salad, rolls and cake back at the hotel. Sitting around in the dark with a bunch of friends, skiers who were a long way from home, we shared stories and made a plan for the next day of skiing before heading back to the cabin to for an early night.
First thing in the morning, we grabbed a quick breakfast back at the hotel before heading over to check out another ski area just down the road called Timberline. The clouds and snow of the day before had lifted and we could finally get a feel for the lay of the land. Right away we could see that Timberline had a better pitch and more vertical than White Grass. Right away, Jon S. who was visiting from Massachusetts, set a very efficient skin track up to the Summit. After a few laps, Dalton, Matt and I knew our Snovember West Virginia ski adventure was coming to end. We had a 12-hour drive ahead of us. The skiing, snow quality and location had far exceeded our expectations – but more than anything, we were comforted by the familiar feeling of sliding around on snow, with good friends (both new and old), and knowing that Winter was just beginning. The ride home was exactly what you would expect. Long, dark and at times painful. We’re used to it. We made it back home to Vermont around midnight to find that snowing was once again falling in the Green Mountains. Thinking back, it would have been easier to exercise a little patience and to wait for the snow to come to us, but where’s the adventure in that? We all agreed we would do it again in a heartbeat.
Click Here For More Photos From This Trip
- Blog post
- 6 months ago
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- From: SamPetri
On Sept. 20, 2012, legendary ski guide Theo Meiners, pictured above, died in a fall at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, during the International Snow Science Workshop. He was 59 years old. Theo was the owner and operator of Alaska Rendezvous Heli Ski Guides in Valdez, Alaska. Below is a story about a trip that ski photographer Flip McCririck took with JP Auclair and Kent Kreitler during its first season in operation.
Photos by Flip McCririck
It was rugged at first — just a seemingly random roadhouse on the side of the Richardson Highway in Valdez, Alaska, with a helicopter parked out back. It was 2001, the first season Theo Meiners’ Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Ski Guides operation was open for business. He had four guides, a handful of clients and an endless sea of mountains to explore.
Rolling into the Rendezvous in a rented RV in late May was Kent Kreitler, JP Auclair, cinematographer Ben Mullen and then Freeze Magazine photo editor Flip McCririck. They were in search of the magical, mystical “Hatchetland” — a zone made famous in Standard Films’ snowboard movies.
It was the crew’s last-ditch effort to finish their segments for Matchstick Productions’ “Ski Movie 2: High Society” and for Poor Boys Productions’ “Royalty.” It was late in the season, conditions were questionable and budgets were blown. But they heard Theo could take them where they wanted to go.
“We were throwing all caution to the wind,” Flip McCririck said. “We were trying to save their segments. There wasn’t that much snow in Alaska that year and we were kind of bummed, to be honest. We weren’t that stoked. But then we met up with Mr. Stoke himself, and everything changed.”
An extremely excited Theo Meiners welcomed the crew with open arms and a grand smile. Though he had limited resources on his recently purchased land, he set them up and they got down to work. In the big mountain arena, the making of movies is often at odds with risk management. Theo hammered the message of sticking to protocol, making a set of rules and using them, McCririck said. This, along with his stoked ease in the mountains created headspace for the team, critical for the making of compelling imagery. Theo’s method and style of delivery is at the root of how most crews now work and play in big mountain terrain.
“We totally and completely crushed it. The images appeared in Freeze and the next year, the Kreitler shot appeared on the cover of Warren Miller’s SnoWorld. It wouldn’t have been possible with out Theo. Theo saved the day.”
McCririck’s images were some of the first to come out of The Rendezvous and keyed skiers in on the fact that there was a new heli operation in Valdez.
As the Rendezvous has evolved over the years, it has became less of a place for film crews and ski movies and more of a place where anyone who loves to ride powder can come and have the best day of their life. When Theo passed away, he was in the middle of expanding his lodge for the coming season to accommodate all the skiers and snowboarders who now come every season. Currently the Rendezvous crew, including his son Aidan and daughter Ali, are in Valdez helping finish the expansion and to ready the lodge for winter.
“Sad times up here at 45 mile,” Aidan Meiners said. “We are working hard moving forward with my dad's vision for the Rendezvous, gives us something to do while we grieve."
Theo Meiners made it happen for so many and in his passing, it seems like the whole ski world is grieving. His unbridled passion and his stoke for a life in the mountains will stay with us forever. He is deeply missed.
Please enjoy these photos from the first season at the Rendezvous and be sure to make your way up there — it will be the best riding of your life.
- Blog post
- 7 months ago
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- From: TetonGravityResearch
DYNAFIT PRESS RELEASE:
Boulder, Colorado — Dynafit, the world’s only full-line full-time backcountry brand, recently negotiated a long term contract with professional skier Eric Hjorleifson. In July of 2011, after an extended informal friendship, Dynafit originally signed Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson as a North American athlete and boot consultant. Now a year later Hoji is a member of the International Team, and lead consultant on boots and bindings.
Human powered athlete Eric Hjorleifson is already hard at work designing and testing new products for 2013 and beyond. His influence in the Vulcan/Mercury/ONE boot development (launching this Fall 2012) has already changed the way the industry looks at alpine touring boots. Recent awards from Powder Magazine and Backcountry Magazine prove these boots are game-changers. Imagine what will happen when Hoji gets his hands on the bindings .
“Officially signing on to work with Dynafit's boot and binding product development teams is fantastic”, Hoji explained in a recent conversation. “I’m excited for the next few years, I believe there are going to be some very interesting developments with product in these segments, enabling skiers to go further, climb higher and shred harder than ever before.“
Jim Lamancusa, North American Sales and Marketing Director, believes the brand’s reputation as uphill oriented is long over. “We still believe in moving fast through the mountains and making transitions seamless, but the next generation skier makes no compromises in their backcountry gear. The ’Complete Skier‘ needs gear that performs great in-bounds, in side-country, and the backcountry. Hoji is coming into a team that is helping us create great products for this next generation.”
An athlete-driven brand from the beginning, Dynafit is committed to designing faster, stronger, and lighter gear for ambitious backcountry athletes who never compromise. Development of each product is pursued in concert with a select team of athletes, and no product decisions are made without clear go-ahead from the team.
Based in Munich Germany with North American Headquarters in Boulder Colorado, Dynafit arrives on top first with the biggest smiles, with plenty of power left for the ultimate ride down. The highest mountains and most extreme conditions require both the lightest and most bomber gear in the world – no compromises. That is why Dynafit invests in the world’s top athletes, designs, and technology.
- Blog post
- 9 months ago
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News: Burton U.S. Open Moves T News: Burton U.S. Open Moves To Vail After 30 Years In Vermont, Adds Slopestyle Event
- From: TetonGravityResearch
Vail, Colorado – The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships, at home in Vermont for the past thirty years, are moving to Vail, Colorado, in 2013. The change in location was announced monday by Burton Snowboards and Vail Resorts. After 27 years at Stratton Mountain, Vermont, and thirty years in the state, the event will be held February 25 – March 3, 2013, at the area of Vail Resort known as Golden Peak.
Along with a change in venue, the event is shifting focus. Attention has long been centered around the halfpipe at the U.S. Open, with other events like racing, rail jams and big airs shifting in and out of the lineup over the years. When the contest makes its debut in its new home next season, slopestyle, which is now an official part of the Olympic Winter Games lineup, will be stepping boldly up to claim an equal share of the spotlight.
The news that the U.S. Open will no longer be held in Vermont, the state that gave birth to both Burton snowboards and the contest itself, is roughly the equivalent of the organizers of the Rose Bowl telling football fans that the game is keeping its name, and all the people who put it on are the same – it's just no longer going to be played in Pasadena.
"I just want to thank Stratton Mountain in Vermont, where the U.S. Open took place for so long," said Jake Burton, in a statement announcing the move. "Stratton not only hosted the Open for 27 years, but also played a pivotal role in making resort riding a reality. Vail is an incredible mountain and has been my snowboarding home-away-from-home for over twenty years. I have no doubt that the U.S. Open at Vail will only grow in its legacy as the premier rider-driven event in the world."
The U.S. Open is almost as old as snowboarding itself. In its heyday, the event was less of a contest and more of an annual gathering of the tribes, and as such, it drew and created many of snowboarding's biggest names. Because so many of snowboarding's legends claim U.S. Open titles, including Craig Kelly, Terje Haakonsen, Todd Richards, Danny Kass, Kelly Clark, Shaun White, Kazu Kokubo, Torah Bright, and more, to win a halfpipe event there is to go down in the annals of the sport's history.
"I grew up nine miles from where the Open was held," said Clark, a 29-year-old native Vermonter, two-time Olympic medalist and nine-time Winter X medalist, who cut her teeth as a pre-teen at the U.S. Open. "I went as a kid to see Terje and all these big-name pros ride, and it was really inspiring to be able to experience that as a spectator. But I'm optimistic and excited about the future. It will take on a new identity in Vail and will look different than it ever has, but it still will remain one of the pinnacle events in snowboarding that embraces the core of the sport."
While the break in tradition is a clear heralding of the end of an era in snowboarding, what the contest potentially gains with the move is significant. With conditions ranging from fog to sub-zero temperatures to sleet and ice storms, weather has tormented competitors at Stratton for years. And while Vermont once was the epicenter of snowboard culture, and the U.S. Open the crown jewel of contests, the globalization of the sport and the addition of major events around the world have contributed to a packed competition calendar. Traveling to the Open's remote location has become less of a pilgrimage and more difficult for today's competitors and spectators to pull off.
Vail, meanwhile, is a two-hour drive from Denver and its international airport, and is located in an area of the Rocky Mountains that has a high concentration of snowboarders and skiers. The potential pool of spectators to draw from is huge, as is the effort that Vail is putting into keeping them entertained once they get there. Along with a festival area at the base of the venue, Vail is hosting a series of free outdoor concerts, among other things.
Burton representatives remain steadfastly tight-lipped about the company's reasons for leaving Stratton, other than to say that Burton is committed to "progression", and the move is in line with that philosophy.
Progression is a word snowboarders use like Hawaiians use the term "da kine". It can mean anything, and nothing, depending on the context. Looking at the run that the slopestyle event is to be held on, however, it appears that progression in this case refers to the course itself.
Future Olympic slopestyle gold super-contender Mark McMorris said: "It's on a perfect run. If you look back to the Honda Vail Sessions that used to be here, they were the biggest jump contests in snowboarding. It's where all the new tricks happened. [The first 1260s in a contest were landed there by David Benedek and Chas Guldemond in 2007.] This is the same idea. It's on the same face of the mountain where the Sessions were held, and will have huge jumps, and history will for sure be made."
Vail Resorts recently invested in an extensive upgrade of its snowmaking system, installing 27 automated snowmaking machines on Golden Peak. The investment has turned the area into a training center, attracting athletes like alpine ski racers Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller to the resort to run laps in the early season. This is significant, in that downhill racers need steep-graded runs – the same type of steep grade that slopestyle course designers need to be able to build the kind of big jumps with long, steep landings that the new generation of slopestyle competitors have been begging for for the past two years.
"I know it sucks that it's leaving Vermont because it's been there forever," McMorris said. "I made my first pro podium at the Open. I have great memories from it, for sure. But Vail is so nice, and it's going to be so great to make new memories here. In the end, it's still the U.S. Open, that's not changing – it's just going to be in a different place."
Photo via actionsportsfusion.com
- Blog post
- 10 months ago
- Views: 418
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- From: ryandunfee
To say Brody Leven has been slogging uphill in the ski industry might be an understatement. Whether it’s been skinning, ice-axing and roping his way to the top of Utah’s backcountry, biking up closed mountain passes to get to the base of an objective, or living on a shoestring budget in an RV with stolen electricity in the parking space of a friend’s house, the living hasn’t been exactly easy. But it appears the going may get a little less tough, as Brody has recently signed with international outerwear brand O’Neill, thanks to a little help from snowboarding’s most infamous shred-mountaineer, the Jeremy Jones. I sat down with the recreational writer to find out how the good life came together for him.
How the hell did you get to ride with Jeremy Jones? It took me two months just to get a fifteen-minute phone interview with him?
Jeremy has been phoning me, relentlessly, for over a year now. Finally, while sitting at dinner in Salt Lake, a friend called me out: “You can’t just keep ignoring calls from Jeremy Jones. If he wants to ride with you, just take a few laps with him to cool his big-mountain-jets. I know it’ll suck, but you just have to do it.” So, O’Neill arranged the O’Neill Experience, bringing us to Whistler to finally get it over with and let my phone stop overheating from the constant ringing.
In fact, after month 6 of calls, I finally changed his number from “Jeremy Further” to “Ignore Boarder” in my phone.
In reality, though, I met with Jeremy because Team O’Neill Snow was in Whistler filming for the O’Neill Experience, a web documentary series following the nine-member team. I am so humbled that Jeremy made it here and was willing to work alongside me on some photoshoots. Skiing with my hero was the experience of a lifetime, and calling him a teammate is even crazier.
How did you end up getting on the team?
Very aware of the quality of O’Neill’s mountain gear, I met the crew at the trade shows last winter and forged a relationship based around long-distance calls I can’t afford, justifying my affinity for tight pants, and mercilessly begging for stickers. We signed a deal that is truly going to present O’Neill as gear designed for the rigors of any ski discipline.
I think it’s pretty well-known that you’re not allowed to start doing any ski mountaineering until after you’re married and have prostate issues. What gives with all this enthusiasm for ropes and crampons at such a prime young age?
An enthusiasm for unaltered mountain lines allows me to combine my rock climbing and skiing obsessions. The necessary technical skills, the inherent adrenaline-fueled fear, and the life-or-death nature of ski mountaineering are exactly what I crave in the mountains. Until a few years ago, park skiing was my only interest. Upon moving west of Ohio, I found something else. While laying on my side and trying to catch my breath, having fallen off a rail, my eyes made their way to something that I didn’t know existed: mountains outside the park.
What kind of projects or support are you looking forward to getting into with O’Neill? Does this change your challenging financial circumstances at all?
In addition to my website, brodyleven.com, making me millions, and the hundreds of endorsements gained from my Instagram account (@brodyleven), O’Neill will be jet-setting me around the globe on private helicopters in search of pristine corn for me to ascend, summiting just in time for it to turn to sticky slush.
The O'Neill Experience is my first project with the team. There, I got to interact with all the unique personalities of the best riders on the planet and become part of the family-style atmosphere at O'Neill Snow. You know, one where we serve one another out of big bowls and share utensils. I've also gotten my hands on their new 2012-13 gear. It’s sweet. It's tested really well in the Whistler conditions, which vary by the minute. Check out photos and videos from the O'Neill Experience at www.oneillexperience.com.
- Blog post
- 10 months ago
- Views: 337
- Not yet rated
- From: brigidmander
Angel Collinson hangs out at the Northern Chugach Mountains while filming with Teton Gravity Research for its newest movie, The Dream Factory. Photo by Adam Clark.
Angel Collinson has been on the rise ever since she came on the big-mountain ski scene a few years ago. At 21 years old, she has won the Freeskiing World Tour in 2010, 2011 and came in second overall this past season. The industry has taken note, including the Teton Gravity Research production team. This year, TGR took Angel up to the biggest venue of all – Alaska – to film for our newest movie, The Dream Factory.
We caught up with her to find out how it was to shred with skiers she grew up admiring, what she has planned for women’s freeskiing, and why she may forgo a ski trip to South America to bang nails at home in Utah.
On the opportunity to film with TGR in Alaska:
I got the call from TGR this January asking if I'd like to film with them. I was already committed to a full season of big mountain competitions, but filming with TGR has always been a dream of mine and I wanted to make both agendas work. The first trip was with Erik Roner up to Haines, Alaska. It was cool to have a small group, and Erik was really great with tips and advice to help me feel more comfortable in the new situation of heli-skiing and filming. Because of my busy comp schedule, I could only be up there for a week. I still learned a lot.
On Alaska, round II:
The other trip I took with TGR was up in the Northern Chugach, flying out of the Knik River Lodge, with Dana [Flahr], Seth [Morrison] and Sage [Cattabriga-Alosa]. By the time Dana and I got up there in mid-April, a lot of the snow was good, [but] it wasn't good enough to be filmable. It has to be almost perfect. It was frustrating, and we didn't ski that gnarly of lines. That being said, we still got to ski some sick lines, and the last day we were up there were the biggest lines we had skied yet.
On showing up ready to charge on a new stage:
My racing background has laid out a really good foundation for strong technique, so when I'm on top of something gnarly, I'm excited and confident, ready to fire it up.
Looking at all the [AK] terrain, I thought to myself: "I know I can ski that, and ski it fast and well too, if the conditions were right," and knowing that definitely made me recognize where I've come to in my skiing, looking up at huge lines knowing they are definitely within my ability. I feel like I have been training my whole life for Alaska lines.
Angel Collinson rips a line in Alaska's Northern Chugach Mountains. Photo by Adam Clark.
On stepping it up to the next level:
I am going to transition into other travel and film projects [instead of competition]. It's hard to improve your skiing when you are traveling and competing all the time — you don't have a lot of training time. I can't wait to actually have time to improve, and my focus is on working on tricks and bigger airs. Once I feel like I can confidently throws tricks off of most cliffs and consistently stomp big airs, I might do a comp here and there — those are the things that I want to bring into the competition field.
On moving out of the parents house:
Well, my brother John and I are still living in Little Cottonwood Canyon with the fam, spending every day building a house as a family at the mouth of Little Cottonwood. Our goal is to have the house done by the fall, and then John and I will move in together. I can't wait to share a house with just him. He's always been my best bud and favorite person to ski with.
Yesterday I was taking down ski posters and magazine cutouts from the room I lived in since I was little, and there were all these pics of Sage, Seth, and Dana. It was crazy to be like, I was looking at these pics when I was 10 years old and getting fired up, and now I just got done with an AK trip filming with them! A dream come true.
On appreciating - and accomplishing - life:
While it's cool to have a lot of distinguished accomplishments, if you didn't have fun while doing them, to me they are not as meaningful. And on the flipside, maybe you didn't really accomplish anything but look back on the time period and it brings warmth to your heart and you feel like you are really ALIVE. To me, that's a success, and something to be proud of — to look back at accomplishments, or lack of, and say, "Yeah. I'm doing it! I'm living, I'm happy, and I appreciate everything I got." To come out of a season feeling like that is what I'm the proudest of.
- Blog post
- 1 year ago
- Views: 223
- Not yet rated
- From: sampope
In April, I spent 12 days camped between Cordova and Valdez, Alaska, on the Woodsworth Glacier at the base of the famed Pontoon peak, in the Chugach, filming Ralph Backstrom, Todd Ligare, and Griffin Post for Teton Gravity Research’s newest film, The Dream Factory.
Todd Ligare, Griffin Post, Ralph Backstrom took sleds from Valdez almost all the way to Cordova, Alaska — a 25-mile trip through the Chugach.
We used snowmobiles to cover the 25 miles from Thompson Pass, and though we started in Valdez, our camp was actually closer to the town of Cordova. While camped, we used some of our limited SAT phone time to get snow and weather reports from the guys at Points North Heli, who are based out of that town.
Todd Ligare, Griffin Post and Raph Backstrom hike for their turns.
Though everyone knows Alaska for its heli-skiing, it’s a little-known-fact that many of the same zones that are accessed by high-dollar heli clients can also be accessed by snowmobiles. To our knowledge, we were the first group to use sleds to get that deep into the range. There’s some sweat equity involved, but unlike heli skiing, you won’t be panhandling on the streets of Anchorage to buy a plane ticket back to the Lower 48. Unless you wreck your snowmobile, which is easier to do than you might think.
The sun sets on the TGR campsite.
Of our 12 days out there, probably 10 of them were sunny, but we did have a couple down days. Anyone who’s spent any time filming up there knows about the Alaska Slow Roast; sitting around in a lodge or hotel waiting for something that is completely and utterly beyond your control — the weather. Roast time can be anywhere from a couple hours, to a day or even weeks, but there are always distractions: the Internet, movies, trips to town. One might even occasionally indulge in an adult beverage.
But the glacier takes the Roast to a whole new level. When the weather is bad, there is literally, NOTHING TO DO. You can sit in the tent and stair at the walls, you can walk outside and stare at the mountains. You can contemplate your wasted college degree, lack of a 401k, or any kind of long term plan. If your iPhone has any battery power left, you can play Tiny Wings. The options are pretty limited.
Anyone who knows Griffin Post, knows that he’s a motivated guy. To my knowledge, he’s the only professional skier with an M.B.A. In fact, while we were roasting in the tent, he was outside making real estate transactions on the SAT phone. No joke.
On the second day of our Glacier Roast, Josh Swierk, owner of the Robe Lake Lodge, showed up to help us pass the time. And being a true AK local, he showed up with several, semi automatic weapons. We were all excited, don’t get me wrong, but for Griffin this was a totally different thing — it was the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. You see, Griffin skis big lines, takes big air and he dreams big. And Griffin’s dream was to fire a semiautomatic weapon, off of a moving snowmobile. And it just so happened that we had a snowmobile AND a semiautomatic weapon. Actually, a few.
And so for most people, while the AK Slow Roast is an opportunity to sleep, waste time and complain a lot, for Griffin, it was the opportunity to fulfill lifelong dreams and you don’t get to do that every day.
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- 1 year ago
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Daron Rahlves, Jess McMillan A Daron Rahlves, Jess McMillan And Chris Davenport Ski The Ring Of Fire
- From: drahlves
The Spyder Active Sports Land Yatch is seen parked in front of Mount Lassen in California. Skiers Chris Davenport, Jess McMillian and Daron Rahlves have been on the road skiing volcanoes out of this rig for the past two weeks.
Words by Daron Rahlves
On May 2, Captain Grant, our event director at Spyder Active Sports, hit the road in the Spyder Land Yacht from HQ in Boulder, Colo. After one stop in Salt Lake City to pick up Jess McMillian, the two were back on I-80 West to meet up with Chris Davenport and myself at Whole Foods Market in Reno, Nev. This is where we loaded up the back garage with the food cache we were going to rely on for this epic trip called the “Ring of Fire.”
The team’s mission: to climb and ski 16 volcanoes from California to the Pacific North West Cascades, practically back-to-back in a two and a half week period.
My plan was less of a commitment, but still a mission in itself: to tour for four days and ski five volcanoes.
Starting in California with 10,457-foot Mount Lassen and 14,162-foot Mount Shasta, I was committed on the trip through Southern Oregon for 9,495-foot Mount McLoughlin, 9,182-foot Mount Thielsen and 9,065-foot Mount Bachelor.
What an opportunity to top-out on iconic peaks and score creamy corn in prime May conditions. It was a pleasure to hang out with Davenport, who has so many experiences summiting amazing mountains all around the world and the enthusiastic charger, Jess McMillian. I was eager to learn a few tips on preparing and achieving these ascents.
Jess McMillan, Daron Rahlves, Jim Morrison and Chris Davenport on the summit of Mount Shasta.
I’m always hungry to ski. Growing up in Tahoe I learned to appreciate the mountains. Then taking on a racing career, it kept my skiing experience locked into resort skiing. My desire to see what’s out there and work to get it is at an all-time high. My interest is not all over the planet, but more of what’s out my back door and this trip was a dream opportunity. From Cali to Southern Oregon skiing volcanoes and taking in the surroundings of old growth forests, pristine lakes, ancient lava flows, wide open panels and terrain filled bowls after earning it delivers a stronger connection to the adventure.
The weather was just what we needed. We scored with clear nights and sunny days with calm winds, or none-at-all. On some days, you could light a match on top of the peak.
Daron Rahlves blasts down Mount Shasta.
Northern California and Southern Oregon turned out to have a lot more snow than I expected. We could start skinning right from the road or parking lot and even had to walk in over a partially snow covered dirt road 3 miles to the McLoughlin trail head.
Days started with wake up calls from 3:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. for the best climbing conditions and to limit the physical exertion by avoiding the intense solar radiation. Hulk Shakes, Bare Naked Granola, Greek Yogurt and fruit fueled us up for days on the Ring of Fire tour. Clif shots, gels and electrolyte drinks / water were mostly what I consumed on the way up to keep the pace moving and keep Dav and Jess close. Dav would get so fired up on the hiking and at times I’d shake my head when I was dripping wet and my heart was pounding. My motivation was to take one step at a time to ultimately ski down, but deep down I can say that his outlook made for a better experience and made me take in the beauty of what we were doing and where we were.
Chirs Carr, Jim Morrison, Jess McMillan, and Chris Davenport after skiing the West Face of Mount Shasta.
Reaching the top was a great feeling and then to share it slapping high-fives from excited friends tops that off. We had a variety of snow conditions, but most vert was dry, smooth chalk to buttery corn on the open faces. Then it went into the trees and made for the most fun tree GS skiing chasing each other through a maze, picking lines at speed. When it tightened up and we had trouble locating skin tracks and were surrounded by massive trunks and an enclosed canopy from the trees, I was able to help out the team with navigation using my Garmin Rino to track back the route. It was total disorientation in those old growth forests and without a GPS we would have added on lots of time and expended a lot more energy.
Oregon's Mount McLoughlin as seen through the trees.
To put eyes on home base was a huge relief. Now we could wind down and most of all the feed was on! Protein waffles, egg scrambles, recovery shakes, fruit, Red Bulls, jerky, cookies and water. Heavy caloric intake sessions would then be followed with packing up the drying gear lying in the sun and then the wheels began to roll to the next one on the hit list. We had all kinds of great snacks for the road trip and then once we found our next place to post up, we ate like royalty with in-house recipes a Whole Foods nutritionist planed out for us.
Chris Davenport updates his Twitter and Facebook followers from the summit of Oregon's Mount Thielsen. Follow him on Twitter @steepskiing see more updates at #volcanotour.
Thinking back to the trip a recurring moment that set it apart was reaching the top of each volcano, we could then see the next volcano and look back to the one we did the day before. To see where we were, standing on what we just climbed and then gazing out to the north for the next day was a very cool feeling.
Thanks to Dav for dreaming up the Ring of Fire Tour and to Spyder and Whole Foods Market for helping us make it happen.
Follow the adventure at blog.spyder.com and think about getting after a few or all of these volcanoes yourself. My favorite was Mount Thielsen. It was the full package, with skinning, booting, rock climbing to the summit, great views and the best skiing I had. We left the Land Yacht at 6:08 a.m. and got back by 11 a.m.
Daron Rahlves skis from the summit of Mount Thielsen at break-neck speed. He also hits a pine tree like a slalom gate. Awesome.
Thanks to Johnny Cash for putting these words into my head on the daily climb, “I fell into a burning ring of fire, I went down, down, down and the flames went higher…” The broken record effect kept me plugging away.
- Blog post
- 1 year ago
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- From: johnkaiser
In early April, I skinned and snowboarded some classic lines in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range with 10 shred friends. We scored a last minute cancelation reservation at the Williams Peak Yurt, operated by Sawtooth Mountain Guides, planned a menu and pulled together a crew of riders including Wyatt Caldwell, Spencer Cordovano, Taylor Carlton, Cory Smith, Pat Lee and Jeremy Black.
The three-hour approach went smoothly with blue skies, sunshine and easy skinning. Everyone took shifts pulling the 60-pound food sled up the 6 miles to the Yurt at 8,000 feet. We spared no expense in our prep for the three-day trip fresh fruit and veggies, steaks, chicken and of course enough liquor to drown out the loudest late night lumberjacks.
The Williams Peak Yurt set up.
Our porter, George, arrived with the other 40 pounds of food, joined us for a couple Bloody Marys and told us about recent weather patterns. One week earlier they had gotten rain up to 9,500 feet, but since then, it had stayed cold and had snowed about a foot. George headed back out to civilization and we headed uphill for a quick tour in the Marshall Basin. After digging a pit and getting some solid warm up turns, we headed to the yurt for an early dinner and a late night sauna.
On day two, we got an early start as far as snowboarders are concerned, and were skinning by 8 a.m. Our group naturally split into two squads, the fast moving and short tempered “Team X”(X-treme) and the mellower, frequent break taking “Team Y”(Yurt-team).
An hour of skinning put us in Profile Basin where we found a single skier about a quarter of a mile ahead of us. There was some frustration in the group that we had blown an opportunity, were missing freshies and were getting scooped by a solo skier. Where the hell did this guy come from anyway?
We watched the skier begin the boot pack up the cooler coulior called “Redemption,” so we decided to go after the two other main chutes, “Jesus Christ” and “Whats Up Dock.”
After a quick plan about camera placements we split up and started toward our respective targets. Three groups climbing the couliors, three cameras off to separate angles, plus one camera on Taylor Carlton, who was jibbing a boulder the size of a house down by the lake.
Rock to fakie … no pun intended.
By the time I was in filming position at the other side of the frozen lake, the unknown skier had already blazed to the top of Redemption and schralped back down to the lake in tight and symmetrical turns, farming the vert for as many mini-slashes as possible. Our group at the bottom struck a conversation, “Nice turns, how was it up top?” A woman’s voice responded, “Thanks, it was nice. Good snow.”
Holy shit, Han Solo skier was a woman! It turned out that she had skinned in from the road (6 miles) and was going for several couloirs that day. …The Redemption couloir was her warm-up and she was up and down it before we could even get a tri-pod out. This woman was crushing it.
Our three groups of riders got up and down their respective couloirs with smiles and high-fives at the bottom. Spencer Cordovano was clearly the most puckered in the group, “That was as close to God as I ever want to be,” he said. It was a big day capped off with banquet beers and another sauna session.
On day three we woke up to some howling winds and a few inches of fresh snow. We stayed low and safe, skinning back over to the Marshall Basin to take a look up at KB’s couloir. It was “a little breezy” at the top, so we decided to post up for a couple hours in hopes that the skies would clear.
Shredding What's Up Doc?
It's a steep one!
We found semicircle of small trees, used our snowboards and MTNApproach skis to form a wind break and built a small campfire. A little lunch and two hours of hopeful stalling by the fire and we had to pull the plug. Visibility was terrible and not showing signs of improvement, so we took one-lap down to the lake and then skinned back up to the yurt for grilled cheese and naptime.
The Scrabble board came out after a badass steak dinner and we finished the day off with another sauna session.
On day four we cleaned up and went home. With one solid day of pow-filled couloirs in the sunshine, we all felt that the trip was a huge success. Wyatt Caldwell summed it up, “Man, all I need to be happy is a little slice of dirt and a sweet lil’ Yurt.”
- Blog post
- 1 year ago
- Views: 190
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- From: SamPetri
“In the end, to ski is to travel fast and free — free over untouched snow country. To be bound to one slope, even one mountain, by a lift may be convenient but it robs us of the greatest pleasure that skiing can give, that is to travel through the wide wintery country; to follow the lure of peaks which tempt on the horizon and to be alone for a few days or even hours in clear, mysterious surroundings.”
— Johann Wolfgang "Hans" Gmoser, Helicopter-Skiing Pioneer
For a month of the year, ski-guides Brennan Lagasse and Jeff Dostie live in a deluxe ski-camp in the sky. From mid-March to mid-April, the two Tahoe-based backcountry professionals head to Cordova, Alaska, to run Points North Heli-Adventures’ new helicopter-accessed ski-touring base camp — the first of its kind in the Chugach Mountains. A dream of the late Kip Garre, Points North owners Kevin Quinn and Jessica Sobolowski-Quinn obtained the permit last winter to start the 5-star winter camp and opened it to the public March 18, 2012. Now Lagasse and Dostie are the gatekeepers of the ski touring paradise.
Located on a border of the company’s heli tenure, Points North now drops backcountry skiers and snowboarders at the camp in the Chugach for a week to access an area seldom traveled by humans. Opportunities for first ascents and descents abound, and the quiet, remote winter camp provides a serene, non-motorized, less expensive, yet more valuable skiing experience in a mountain range notorious for high-priced heli-skiing operations. In early April, TetonGravity.com traveled to Cordova to check out Points North’s set up. It was so epic, we stayed for 10 consecutive days.
Situated at 3,500 feet above the Rude River, in the right conditions you can ride that vertical to the valley floor, right out the front door of your heated Arctic Oven tent, which also has electricity thanks to a generator. If the snow is not looking right on that aspect, a 40-minute tour takes you to the top of a ridge where you can view Cordova Peak and Cordova Glacier, then drop about 2,500 vertical-feet of wide-open north facing velvet powder. On lazy days, you can lap this face until you feel like touring home to crack one of the 130-plus craft beers you and your crew flew out for the week. Next year, maybe consider bringing a keg.
Stepping it up, you can tour deep — for miles — using low-angle glaciers to warp to other valleys, kind of like a moving sidewalk at the airport. Classic AK ramps, obscure couloirs and delicious, terrifying spine walls toy with your curiosity. What’s around the next corner? How far can we really go? Has anyone skied that? No, they haven’t. But you can. And you do. The mountains are yours. There is no stress — just you, your skis and your friends in freaking Candy Land.
Like any ski trip to the Chugach, you are at the mercy of the weather. When it’s snowing, you can’t ski. There are no trees for definition and the vertigo is vicious. So you hunker down and wait for it to go blue. This isn’t so bad when you’ve been touring harder than you have all winter for three days straight. Don’t forget, you have a generator to power mini speakers, so you can pump the Grateful Dead on blast while you talk about environmental sustainability with Brennan Lagasse — who teaches Environmental Science at Sierra Nevada College — while 24 inches of snow stacks up outside. Or, you know, you might want to fire up the DVD player and watch Talladega Nights or Caddy Shack for kicks. It’s up to you. Meanwhile, Jeff Dostie, who used to work as a sous chef, will be cooking up something hearty and delicious: moose steaks from Cordova, linguini with meatballs, Copper River salmon, tri-tip steak, lasagna, chicken stir-fry, a triple pork stacker sandwich with cheese. Let the sustainability debate begin.
With a vibe somewhere between skiing the Haute Route and being on military rec leave, the scene at Points North’s touring camp is classic AK. You’re burning diesel and propane to stay comfy at camp, but you’re going long, skiing hard and discovering untouched mountains with good friends using human power. The helicopter simply drops you off and picks you up. At a price of what two days of helicopter skiing would cost, you’re out in the mountains for a week, having a decidedly different Chugach skiing experience.
A 90 second clip of an after-dinner jam at Points North Touring Camp.
Points North has plans to set up as many as four of these ski-touring camps along its heli tenure border in hopes to open up even more terrain to skiers and snowboarders. This would also allow for groups to travel through the Chugach from “hut to hut” – just like they do in the Alps. The Chugach Mountains hold some of the most perfect ski slopes in the world. Points North’s ski touring program makes this terrain all that more attainable.
For more, visit the Points North website.
All photos by David Stubbs.
- Blog post
- 1 year ago
- Views: 483
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- From: SamPetri
Today, Icelantic Skis announces the addition of professional freeskier and entrepreneur Julian Carr to the Icelantic team. Julian previously skied on Atomic.
Julian, who has been a professional freeskier for 10 years, has an impressive resume. In 2006, he set the world record cliff drop on skis when he front flipped a 210-footer in Engleberg, Switzerland. Caught on camera, the feat won him Powder Magazine’s photo of the year. Julian has published his ski writing in national magazines and has been featured on the cover of national publications three times. In competition, he has been awarded the Freeskiing World Tour’s Sickbird belt buckle. And of course, Julian has accomplished all of this while running his successful company and cult-like brand, Discrete Headwear.
In light of Julian moving to Icelantic, Tetongravity.com caught up with the Salt Lake City-based freeskier to talk about his change in sponsorship, the best run of his life, and world enlightenment. Read the interview below and scroll down to watch Memoirs From The Mountain Episode 9 with Julian Carr.
TGR: Why leave a large company like Atomic and go to a smaller company like Icelantic?
Julian Carr: Atomic is amazing, Atomic's staff is amazing, and I've gained friends there that will last. I have nothing but great things to say about them, their product and my experience with them. It was pretty cool being part of a company that has so much history. And on the flip side, with Icelantic, it's cool to be with a young company that is creating their history everyday. The Icelantic team is built around some outstanding individuals that are busting their ass, busting moves and getting it done everyday. The creative and positive vibe you absorb from their team reeks with enthusiasm and success. I couldn't be happier.
TGR: Are you going to come out with your own pro model on Icelantic?
Julian Carr: I will be developing a ski with them, yes. Will it be the Julian Carr pro model? Probably not. Not my style. But rest assured, it will be a kick ass ski with kick ass graphics. The ideas are churning already.
TGR: What Icelantic skis do you ride on now?
Julian Carr: The Gypsy. Such a bomb ski.
TGR: When did you start hucking huge cliffs? Can you remember the first huge cliff you dropped? What attracted you to it? What did it feel like? What makes you want do it again and again?
Julian Carr: About four or five years ago, I was stuck I the 50-footer zone, but I finally had an intellectual epiphany that landing off a 100-plus footer would feel the exact same as a 50-footer. All I had to do was maintain my composure and relaxed status in the air for maybe one second longer — tops. So one day I hiked into the Hellgate backcountry with Adam Clark. I eyeballed and lined up an 80-footer we named "PAC-MAN," that I've jumped about sic additional times since. I just simply thought my way through it. Of all people, check this out, Rob Holmes was with me, he probed the landing as I was up top directing him where to probe. It was a go. I liked it and Rob Holmes liked it. As I was stamping out my in-run, now check this out, Jamie Pierre rolls up. First time I met him. He checks out what I'm up to and respectfully gives me my space and watches me line it out. I give Adam the green light. I punch it — a nice straight air, kept it tight, hit the ground and it felt exactly like all the other 20- to 50-footers I'd done. At that moment, I knew it was game on. The next year I jumped, straight-aired, a 175-footer on Dec. 4. I ended up jumping that cliff four times that year in Wolverine Cirque. Front flip, back flip and a spread eagle on April Fools day. And I went to Switzerland and got off a 210-footer. In that year alone I probably jumped over 25 different 100-plus footers. What a fun season, I also got to heli-ski in AK with Kreitler and Tom Wayes and skied the best line of my life. Tom Wayes said it is still one of his top runs he's watched. Love that dude, I call him Caveman.
TGR: Who is your favorite skier of all time and why?
Julian Carr: Billy Poole. He could ski anything put in front of him. He had my back in the mountains and I had his. Cheers Billy boy.
TGR: What's the best run of your life so far?
Julian Carr: Ha. I guess I already touched on it, but it was in Haines, Alaska. Last day of trip. Just an insane line with a spine gap transfer ramp jump thing, land, bust a mandatory left that led to six house-sized pillows, then out. I skied it well and got three published photos from that one line. It was my last line of the trip and I'll never forget it. And being able to do it in the presence of Wayes and Kreitler was really cool for me. I love sending big airs, but I really just love skiing straight-up and to cruise around Alaska with two of the best skiers and get their endorsement meant a lot to me.
TGR: The logo of your hat company Discrete is inspired by The Tower Of Hanoi — a legendary puzzle that asks monks to stack 64 discs one-at-a-time from one column to another, according to specific rules. Smaller versions of this puzzle exist as a game. Have you solved this puzzle? How long did it take? How does the concept of this puzzle apply to you and your company?
Julian Carr: I love this question. I learned of the Tower of Hanoi in a computer science class called Discrete Structures. Obviously, that is also where I got the name for Discrete, too. Anyway, yes, I did conquer the tower, it really isn't that hard, but the solution is an algorithm that I actually had to design a computer program to execute the algorithm on. It was much easier with only five discs verses the 64, though. Ha. In the real Vietnamese legend, once the 64th disc is complete, the world will be enlightened. And get this, this is also supposed to go down in Dec. 2012, so the Mayans and Vietnamese might be up to something.
TGR: How might Discrete and Icelantic collaborate in the future? Any ideas in the works?
Julian Carr: Plenty. I'll be cruising around with those guys in Germany for ISPO, then skiing around Switzerland, so we'll be getting chatty, for sure.
TGR: You grew up in Salt Lake City and you live there now, what keeps you in SLC?
Julian Carr: Clean, safe and beautiful are the fundamentals of SLC. But beyond that, it's a world-class city with world-class snow. I love skiing, but I also love having friends in SLC that don't ski. I can go chill out with them and just be me, not Julian the skier all the time. Love it
- Blog post
- 1 year ago
- Views: 420
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- From: media-75233
This is the third and final episode of Jen Hudak's web series titled, "Moving Mountains." The following is a video description from Hudak:
In the midst of the craziest contest season of my life last year, I managed to escape to Japan for an epic adventure. Accompanied by my good friend Julian Carr, founder of Discrete Headwear, we met up with filmer/editor extraordinaire John Roderick of Neu Productions, world-renowned photographer Erik Seo, and our guide Nobu Murai. We were headed to experience the isolated parts of the Japanese Mountains to the North near Furano-- to step even further away from the contest scene, away from sponsors, away from business. It was time to reintroduce myself to the joys of skiing, of creativity, of fun.
With a 5 a.m. wake-up call the next morning, we loaded our van and made the venture north. By 8 a.m. we had arrived at our hotel and by 9:20 a.m. we were on the tram. By 10 a.m. we were about ready to throw in the towel. Conditions were about as bad as they could have been for Japan. There was nothing to do but laugh, so I did- quite heartily- and shortly thereafter everyone else laughed too. Thankfully Julian was there to keep the confidence up. He is incredible for that. (Maybe that is why he can successfully front-flip 200+ ft cliffs.)
After working for a few hours, Julian managed to find a few airs to get off of, and after a mini-melt down from me, he convinced me to ski a small line and drop into snow that resembled conditions I skied when I blew my right knee. By the end of the day we were feeling a bit more comfortable with the conditions. We worked hard for the shots that we got, and though they weren’t many, they were as good as they could’ve been. But we were all wondering what we would do in the coming days. We needed snow, a lot of snow.
Apparently the snow-gods were listening and they blessed us with a bit of a storm. When we woke the following morning and looked outside, it was clear that there would be some fresh snow, but we figured only about 6-10″. It would help. We could milk some pow turns, but we would still have to look for that northern aspect and jumping off of anything might still be questionable. We headed out, slightly skeptical but mostly optimistic.
It didn’t take long to realize that it had in fact snowed about half a meter up top. Right away we were getting face shots. The new snow was deep and it didn’t seem to be letting up. From run to run, our bootpack would be filled with new snow. This went on all day. We got shot after shot. I skied some of the deepest snow of my life and got to do it with one of my favorite people. I got to ski for me again and it was extremely refreshing. A few airs, lots of pow turns and endless smiles. As you can see by this edit, we got it good for the next few days.
I am so grateful for this life and am so grateful for moments like this that provide the reminder. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and forget just how lucky we are. Life is a blessing. Remember to try to make the most of it everyday, and you’ll be on a good path.
- Blog post
- 2 years ago
- Views: 192
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- From: dankostrzewski
December 2, 2011
— Dan Kostrzeski
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. guide, former Crystal Mountain patroller and serious ski mountaineer Seth Waterfall spends his workdays guiding clients up massive alpine peaks in the world’s highest ranges. But on his days off, Waterfall sets his sights on deep overhead days or big vertical lines such as the first and unrepeatable ski descent of the Nisqually Ice Cliff on 14,411-foot Mount Rainier. Tetongravity.com caught up with Waterfall between guiding seasons for his recap on no-fall conditions, serious rockfall and skiing some of the world’s biggest lines.
Teton Gravity Research: Describe the Ice Cliff line you skied on Mt Rainier last spring?
Seth Waterfall: There is a feature on the mountain called the Nisqually Ice Cliff and it’s part of where the Nisqually Glacier comes off the summit and runs south and actually runs around this rock ridge. As you are descending the left side drops off a huge rock cliff so with the ice and the rock it’s probably a good 1,000-foot tall cliff. But last year with all the snow from La Nina, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it, but there was a strip of snow that ran continuous between the rock ridge and the ice cliff.
If you skied down above the ice cliff, you could get over into this snow strip and ski down that. So two friends of mine, Tyler Jones and Andy Bond who both work at RMI with me, on April 21 we decided to go up to Camp Muir. We actually had another route in mind but this was our back-up plan.
TGR: Why did you pick that line?
SW: There are just a few routes on Rainier that haven’t been skied down. A lot of them are what people used to think of as really steep ice climbs, but now people are skiing down them — which is one of the coolest things about living in the Northwest, that you can ski down people’s favorite ice climbs.
So we went up to Muir in a storm, but we had a good forecast so we went to Camp Muir woke up in the morning and had blue skies. We headed out from Camp Muir, which is at 10,000 feet elevation and went up to the summit in about 3 1/2 hours and investigated our line on the west side of the mountain that we wanted to ski. But we found lots of rime ice and water ice and not good snow. So we came back and decided to give the Ice Cliff a try, since no one had ever skied that, we believed.
It went pretty straightforward, we were able to locate the entrance, ski down and the skiing was really exposed but not terribly steep — maybe 45 degrees and one small pitch of 50 degrees. But it was really firm so it was definitely heads-up skiing, no hip checking or anything like that. We skied it in about ten small pitches then just a little jump over the bergshrund. Actually, the trickiest part was weaving through the crevasses below the route and trying to get out of the Nisqually Glacier and onto the Muir snowfield.
We popped out on that took a little break and decided to ski all the way down to the Nisqually bridge, which is about an 11,000 vertical foot run.
TGR: So was it a first ski descent of the Ice Cliff?
SW: Well, a couple weeks after we did the trip I ran into a friend who said that Mike Hattrup skied it back in the nineties. I know Hattrup so I sent him an email and he said “no way”— that he’d never heard of anyone ever skiing it before. So I’m pretty confident that no one had ever skied it before.
And now the whole thing has fallen apart — there’s about two miles of rock debris underneath. The whole cliff we skied down is detached and collapsed and totally changed forever, so nobody is ever really going to do it again.
Sounds like it was a super inspiring line?
We were pretty psyched on it. Then just to have it fall apart after that is pretty weird.
TGR: What do you think caused the cliff to crumble?
SW: I think it was all the snow that was sitting on it. Once it started to melt it was undermining the rock. It was obviously super unstable to begin with. Stuff like that happens every fifty years on Rainier — some big rockfall.
Part 2 - Antarctica
TGR: What was your most inspiring trip this past winter?
SW: My most inspiring trip last winter was my trip to Antarctica with Peter Whittaker and Ed Viesturs. It’s a place I’ve wanted to go for a long time and it’s such a cool continent to go to. The terrain there is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life and there are huge ice caps as far as the eye can see and then the Ellsworth Range sticks right out like a buzz saw —just a super straight line of craggy peaks. It’s a magic place and I’d love to go back.
TGR: What surprised you most about the environment down there?
SW: What surprised me the most was the reliance you have on technology down there. The reliance you have on your planes and fuel to get you in and out. Without the logistics set up down there, there is really nothing. And the feeling of remoteness, if I go to Africa or if I go to Asia I always feel like there are other people around, there are cites and all these other things — you feel remote when you are in the mountains, but you can basically walk out of any of those places. And in Antarctica you can’t walk out, there is no place to go.
TGR: What is different about skiing in Antarctica?
SW: It’s interesting because Antarctica is both the highest continent on earth and the driest continent on earth so they don’t receive very much precipitation at all, but what they do receive stays as snow. And it gets these really cool light effects and the snow blows around so it looks like diamonds hanging in the air. But the ski conditions were typically just a few inches of snow over a firm base and sometimes ice, so it’s way different than what I’m used to skiing in the Northwest, which is just tons and tons of sick powder.
TGR: Anything different from an avalanche perspective down there?
SW: Yeah, it’s funny from an avalanche stability perspective, because even on flat terrain you get this whompfing sound. Up here it would totally freak me out, but down there it’s really common — even on flat terrain that won’t avalanche, you get these big air pockets trapped in the snow and you can hear it rolling along for like a quarter mile. It would last forever. Then you could hear it moving down the valley, it was totally insane.
But as far as avalanches, especially ice avalanches and cornice falls, they just don’t have them because the glaciers move so slow and it’s so cold there that you don’t really have seracs that collapse. We saw some debris and the guys that work down there said it was from two years ago. Where in Alaska or on Mount Rainier that stuff changes day by day. Down there it’s on the year-to-year program.
TGR: What did you wind up skiing in Antarctica?
SW: We ended up skiing some moderate stuff. The less steep stuff was really glaciated and there was lots of crevassing around. We actually got on some stuff around Union Glacier Camp, which is the main logistics base that you fly into. Around there it’s really variable from really sun affected and really hard snow to just a few inches of powder over really firm base. It could be good skiing but it also could be really bad skiing.
And the wind goes to work on stuff pretty quick down there. It will blow snow from one side of the mountain to the other. Depending on the way the winds blowing the powder will either be on one side of the range or the other.
Part 3 - Denali
TGR: Antarctica, the Ice Cliff and you’ve skied off Denali as well?
SW: Yeah, one big ski descent on Denali. That was in 2009 right after I got back from Mount Everest. I met up with a my friend Tyler Jones and he had camp set up at 14,000 feet so we did one day from the airstrip to 7,000 feet, then to 14,000 feet, rested a day, then went to the summit and then skied back all the way.
A lot of people down-climb the West Buttress, but we ended up skiing down it and spent another rest day and then skied all the way out.
TGR: What was the toughest part of that trip?
The toughest part of that trip was that I actually had Giardia from Katmandu and didn’t realize it. I was super sick up there. By the time I got done with that I’d just come from Everest, spent a few days with my folks and then went right up to Denali and every three days or so I’d be violently ill. By the time I got back home I’d lost twenty-five pounds. I was pretty weak by the time I’d got back.
TGR: Anything on your hit list for this winter that you’re excited about?
SW: So this winter I’m excited to see La Nina coming back because I’m a Northwest guy. I’m pretty excited for a good ski season. I might get a chance to go back to Antarctica with Dave Hahn, so that’s in the works. That’s just one of the coolest places on Earth and I’d love to go back. In the springtime I’m possibly heading back to Everest — after a year off I’m ready to get back on the big one. And that’s it, that’s my horizon right now.
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November 7, 2011
Moving Mountains is a three-part web video series that follows Jen Hudak as she recovers from a season-ending injury, competes in the 2011 X Games at Buttermilk and travels to Japan. The video profile of the five-time X Games medalist offers a glimpse into the athlete's life.
In this episode, Hudak prepares for one of the biggest halfpipe events of the ski season.
"Imagine life, elevated," Hudak writes on her Vimeo page. "Every emotion, sensation, vibration is powering 10 times higher than usual. If you can grasp that, then you can grasp the X Games and this episode of 'Moving Mountains.' It’s all about pressure."
Episode three will be released in the beginning of December, Hudak said in an email.
"I hope that everyone can enjoy this edit, understand a little more about what goes on behind the scenes at X Games, and get stoked that winter is right around the corner, opportunities abounding," Hudak said. "Life is about pushing yourself — dream big."
To catch up, watch episode 1 here.
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- From: johnclarydavies
October 26, 2011
— John Clary Davies
Jesus stands at the top of Chair 2. As skiers and snowboarders unload the Whitefish Mountain chairlift and ski around a swath of firs, a life-size figure in a turquoise cloak stands with his head bowed and hands held high.
Jesus’ place on the mountain has come under scrutiny. On Aug. 24, Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber decided not to renew the Knights of Columbus’ special use permit. However, last week, Weber withdrew his earlier decision to deny that permit to the Catholic men’s group that placed the statue nearly 60 years ago. Weber reversed his decision after an archeologist reported the statue could qualify for the National Registrar for Historical places. While they plan to reissue the permit, Weber intends to take a 30-day public comment period beginning next week. The final decision will be made after Jan. 1.
The Knights of Columbus erected the statue in 1955 as a way to commemorate the service and sacrifice of veterans of World War II. According to Phil Sammon, the Forest Service media coordinator for the area, the idea came from the 10th Mountain Division, the army unit that specializes in harsh terrain, who frequently passed by similar statues while moving through mountains during the war.
Originally, Weber decided not to renew the 10-year lease after a group from Wisconsin, called Freedom From Religion, issued a letter of complaint that alluded to a recent court decision and potential Supreme Court violations of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Weber received legal advice to not issue the permit given the information they had at the time, said Sammon.
Since then, the Forest Service has received hundreds of emails and calls decrying their decision. Sammon also said they have since learned that given the length of time the statue has been there and the purpose for which it was initially erected, it could qualify as a historical site. Even Montana Republic Congressman Denny Rehberg asked them to change their mind, and ultimately they did.
“It’s been a part of the skiing history and local heritage there for nearly six decades,” said Sammon, “and gosh, I heard from people who have had kids who have had their birthday party there, and people who have gotten married at the statue, and people who go there for their first run to get a picture and some people who go there every year to pray for a good season.”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, the co-president of Freedom From Religion, disagreed with the statue’s significance.
“I was born in 1955,” said Gaylor. “I am not a relic. I’m not historic. This is bogus. This is cement. This is a dime a dozen tacky Jesus statue. This is not a Michelangelo. This is nothing. It means something to Catholics. It doesn’t mean something to anyone else.”
The mission of Freedom From Religion is to keep religion out of government by upholding the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Gaylor said they’ll ask the Forest Service to again reverse their decision.
“We’re not a Christian bureaucracy, we’re a secular republic,” said Gaylor. “We can’t support Jesus shrines on federal property. When the government gets behind one religion that religion is entitled. There are plenty of skiers out there that are entitled to use this mountaintop that are not religious, or are not Christians. They’re claiming this is a war memorial. This is bogus. This is a sham. It excludes all the brave Jews and atheists that fought in World War II.”
Gaylor said that public comments are irrelevant because it’s a constitutional issue and called the move a stalling tactic. Undeterred, she said her group had a smoking gun — evidence that the government called the Jesus statue a shrine, not a memorial, which she says would disqualify it from becoming a historical site.
“You can’t just call a devotional shrine a memorial and get away with it,” said Gaylor. “I think it’s just ridiculous. I think it’s a political machination. This member of congress interfering and the Forest department running scared I guess, but they need to stand up for the constitution.”
Nathan Hafferman, a Whitefish atheist snowboard instructor who’s lived in the area for 14 years doesn’t see what all the controversy is about.
“I think Jesus should stay,” said Hafferman. “It comes down to who is he really hurting?”
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