Monday, August 29, 2011

Coming up for Air /// Part III

Over the past years I have discovered that striving for your dreams will only take you so far. It is only when you find passion and joy in that pursuit that things somehow fall into place.

When Anthony B called me asking if I wanted to go skiing I said ‘Yes’. When he asked me if I wanted to go skiing in his favorite old sled zone I said ‘Hell Yeah’. When he asked whether or not it would be cool if there were no longer sleds allowed and touring was the only access, thus making us the only people there I said ‘Let’s F’ing do it!’. When he asked if I wanted to do it all with Nimbus Independent, Julien Regnier, and for an article in one of my favorite ski magazines, well, I didn’t say anything for a moment, but my heart definitely skipped a beat or two.

One week later, and with 120 pounds of gear each, for our spines, legs, hips, and necks to labor over, our crew began a 20 kilometer tour into one of the few unfrequented areas around Whistler. Our goal, to ski some of the massive pillows that existed there while camped in a snow paradise for 10 days. And while it’s always nice to have a plan in mind, it’s often not the one Mother Nature opts for.

Julien still smiling at 14k into the tour
P// Self

While usually the issue in these situations stems from not enough snow, high freezing levels, or rain, we had a problem of a very different variety. Relentless precipitation that served to turn the landscape into one of the wildest paces I have ever seen. We were met with forty to sixty centimeters of snow everyday, for six days straight to be exact. The result was plenty of snow precariously perched and piled up to twenty feet above the cliffs upon which they rested. Bottomless enough to make forward momentum impossible except on the steepest of slopes, or sheer drops. While this may seem like a wet dream for anyone who makes the pursuit of snow they’re life, a better analogy would be to a drug overdose with no clinic for one hundred miles in any direction. Tents would cave, cook shelters collapse, absolutely nothing would dry, and without constant late night shoveling of the tent, asphyxiation became a very real issue.

One of the many, many, many pillow zones to be had

P// Self

But when the goods of all goods are only one hundred feet from your camp, it’s hard not to at least go out for a spin everyday. All too quickly the world became a wash of snow, below, overhead, in your face, and completely surrounding. The next few days were some of the deepest skiing I’ve ever encountered and with skiers who I’ve looked up to for as long as I can remember to boot. Eventually the call to leave was made on Day 6 as we’d just discovered a new zone of pillow madness. Not because of conditions, or group attitude, but because all the camera equipment had simply stopped working. Long days in the relentless snow had melded with cold nights in the tent to produce overly fogged lenses, frozen mechanical parts, and batteries that would respond to nothing short of a holistic resurrection. So leave we did, but stop we did not as we ventured to the Duffy Pass north of Whistler for the next four days where more pillows were discovered and dealt with accordingly. When it was all said and done, everyone was equal parts stoked, exhausted, and pleased with the results, perhaps a pinch of sore to toss in for good measure. Look forward to the Nimbus episode coming out this September, can’t wait to share the fun, and especially can’t wait to make it back to that magical place.

The rest of the season came sweeping forward as the snow scales once again fell in favor of Utah and I made my fifth trip back home for the season. Eighteen hours of driving, along with way too many cheesy puffs, and I found myself on the tails of a massive storm that had just left Utah and left spring sunshine in its wake.

Twin Peaks at Sunrise en route to an epic day at Wolverine

P// Self

Met up with Carston Oliver and company to shoot hits and lines that would usually scare the piss out of me, but having a good friend on the same level makes everything almost unreasonably comfortable.

Spines do exist in Utah despite popular belief
P// Carston Oliver

Spring pow and hometown homies, nothing better
P// Mike Schneider

“You’re gonna do that too aren’t you?” Cody Barnhill to me after Carston had just tossed a Cork 3 over a thirty-five foot cliff and into a less vertically inclined landing.


“Might make for a better photo if you just straight aired,” piped in Keith over the radio.

“Not gonna happen.”

Carston setting the pace for the day in Utah

F// Self

Final touches on an oversized booter while the sun plays hide and seek
P// Self

That pretty much sums up Carston and I when we go skiing. Unreasonably similar and irresponsible at the same time.

From those days it was back to Whis one final time, where I ‘d plan to transition back into spring shredding and park riding until June as things heated back up. But sure enough I was met with an email when I got home, asking if I wanted to go ski some powder this summer, and if I could speak Spanish. With all questions like this it’s best not to let you brain muddle up the situation with unruly things like logic, reason, responsibility, and financial constraints.

Chili anyone?