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NO SUCH THING A S A MINOR DE TA IL OBSESSIVE DESIGN
P.19 EDITOR’S MESSAGE Feet First
P.22 IN SEARCH OF SUFFERING Sled-Skiing & Camping In Alaska’s Chugach Mountains
P.20 JUST THE TIP Brett Tippie Meets Shane McConkey
P.46 THE JESS KIMURA INTERVIEW Make a Sandwich For This One
P.41 COMIN’ UP Talon Pascal
P.84 KILLING IT SOFTLY Christina Lustenberger Makes The Terrifying Look Easy
TABLE OF CONTENTS The Badass Issue
ON THIS PAGE Geoff Brown, Whistler backcountry."The clouds rolled in and it began to snow, so i searched for a unique composition that would highlight the elements as Geoff put together a backside double cork 1080. GUY FATTAL
P.38 CERTIFIED BADASSERY Master of Light
P.72 BEYOND Jon Turk
P.60 CERTIFIED BADASSERY Heavy Weather
P.96 GALLERY Hello Winter
P.64 MOUNTAIN LIFER Ricky Lewon
P.107 GEAR SHED Good Gifts
ON THE COVER Enjoying the cowboy days of Chugach, Alaska in the early 1990s with legendary pilot Chet Simmens, Trevor Petersen (left) and Eric Pehota (right) came up with an ingenious way to expediate unload times on high summits with steep, less-than-ideal landing zones. “It was an underpowered 206 with no baskets,” Pehota recalls. “You had to climb over the pontoons, it was a shitshow. So we figured if we sat on our skis, Chet could nose us in and if we both hopped off at the same time we could be done in under ten seconds. It felt efficient but years later I learned about violent downdrafts, random powerful gusts that could have blown us right up into the rotors. Once I got my pilot’s license I don’t think I’d do that without being strapped in.” MARK GALLUP
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Historically, the term “badass” originates from African American slang in the mid/late 1800s where “bad” was used to mean “good, in a very tough or ruthless way.” Adding the word “ass” to an adjective to give it a bit more zest—smartass, dumbass, crazy-ass—became widely popular in the 1920s. By the mid-50s, the Black community had coined “badass” as someone who refused to submit to the oppressive culture of the time. During the rise of funk music and Blaxploitation films in the 70s, “badass” was synonymous with the idea of confidence, toughness, and disaffectedness. And it went downhill from there. These days, the term, and idea, of “badass” has been largely co-opted by the mainstream media and marketing departments (aka: people who rarely, if ever, actually do anything badass). Is the new Rolls-Royce EV super coupe actually “maximally badass,” or is it just expensive? Even worse, there’s a recent trend of using the word “badass” to describe women doing something that, were a man doing it, would not be considered extraordinary: the female “badass” leading a corporate team or a company is a common example—she may be a badass, but it’s for more than simply being a leader. Likewise, is Taylor Swift really a “badass” for writing her own music, or is she just a very talented songwriter? Mainstream society needs to think more before it speaks (but what else is new?). Out here in the mountains however, badassery is alive and well. Because to go out and willingly and repeatedly do stuff that can break, maim, or kill you is totally badass. So is suffering weeks of frozen discomfort for a few shining moments of freedom and fun. Refusing to play by the rules has always been badass (especially the rules of gravity), and taking the hits or forging the paths so someone else doesn’t have to is the sort of badass we need more of. Kindness is as badass as it gets. The truth is, every issue of Mountain Life is a bit of a badass issue, because these mountains attract and nurture badass people. And they always have—astute readers will notice there are a lot of names and images in here of badasses we’ve lost along the way—legends and trailblazers who lived life on their own terms and continue to inspire us to do the same. The biggest badasses fly under the radar, and badassery is certainly subjective—though when someone starts telling you they are, they probably aren’t. (If we tell you though, that’s totally fine.) And while it’s easy to get badass while shirking responsibility, the badasses we like are kinda the opposite—it’s badass to leave the campsite better than you found it and the biggest badass of all is the one who does something for someone else and expects nothing in return. Here’s to a badass winter, giv’r. –Feet Banks
Paul McSorley and Marc-André Leclerc, Sioux Wall VIII 8. Scotland.
JUST THE TIP
Tatum Monod slogs up another face punch. Chugach Mountains, AK.
in search of
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Sled-skiing and camping in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains
words :: Taylor Godber photography :: Chad Chomlack
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“Can you build an anchor?” Camera operator Leo Hoorn’s voice crackles over the VHF radio with a calm and supportive tone. With skis strapped to her back, Tatum Monod claws at the snow on a near vertical face, searching for stable snow, a trustworthy patch to support the next step of her ascent. “It’s hollow. Nowhere for an anchor,” even over the radio the urgency in her voice is clear. “I can’t put my skis on here—gotta keep moving up.” Safely positioned atop an adjacent slope, but separated from Tatum by a large chute, I pull in the sharp, cold, winter air through my nose and close my eyes, doing what I can to relax the tautness building in my chest. Hearing a mountain partner in a
ABOVE Tatum and Taye, party lap. INSET Getting a handle on how deep it is can be tricky in Alaska.
crux and not being able to see her—or fulfill my duty to assist and look out for her—is unsettling. Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the rhythmic whoomp-whoomp of an approaching helicopter penetrates the tension of our radio comms and otherwise near-silence of the glacier. We’ve sledded more 50 kilometres from our camp, east of Valdez, Alaska, and in the past two weeks
we’ve seen and heard just a handful of specs in the sky—AS350 six-seater helicopters transporting other crews of skiers and snowboarders into the 3,000-metre lines of their dreams. The chopper draws nearer, forcing our camera-drone operator to quickly retreat in order to avoid a dangerous collision. Like a bird of prey, the helicopter’s shadow drifts across the obvious imprinted tangle of lines 25
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We hunkered down, busted out the snacks, the board game Connect Four, and got a glimpse at what it might be like as a collection of kernels in the bottom of a microwave popcorn bag, as the howling wind shook the walls. ABOVE/INSET Nadine Overwater is at home both playing in the windswept Chugach wilderness, or camping in it.
our Ski Doo snowmobiles have marked on the otherwise barren duvet of snow at the base of the ridge. Why is it so close? Surely they know we are here… Then a second buzz, close enough that Tatum and I can see faces through the domed side windows of the machine. They must see us…no? Below on the glacier, the remainder of our crew— Leo, Robin Van Gyn, Nadine Overwater, Darcy Keller, Chad Chomlack—watch with disbelief as the heli hovers, then settles on the ridge. Colourful, pow-eager ants file out, and prepare to descend in dangerous proximity to the slope Tatum is on. On that aspect, if they trigger a slide it could rip across and pull her down with them. It feels impossible that they didn’t see us… Production comes to a halt, which is the least of our worries. As the sun comes around the mountain, it pushes a curtain of light onto the face like the reveal at a Broadway show, illuminating the anticipated, beautiful, complexity of curves and shapes on the wall of snow. We’d
timed our descents to meet this first kiss of light, for safety reasons. But with Tatum still hunting for a safe spot to click into her skis and hugely susceptible to risk from the strangers above, the stage isn’t set how we’d intended. The time to drop is now… Welcome to Alaska. ••• We left Pemberton on March 29, 2022—a convoy of trucks and snowmobiles with sights set on Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, the northernmost collection of peaks in the Pacific Coast ranges. Friends in the area sent word that snow conditions were stable and blower—potentially the best in nearly a decade. Game on, green light to charge some committing lines and meet the edge of our capabilities on slope. Ideally, the best way to roll into a trip like this is with zero expectations but also, optimism is never higher than at the start of a shred trip. It’s a paradoxical (but essential)
mindset for an outdoor professional to hold a firm faith that everything will line up perfectly weather wise. The 40-hour, snowblasted road trips don’t make a lot of sense otherwise. In reality, the coastal storms that whip moisture off the Pacific and cake these mountain faces can be fickle, and Alaskan weather far less reliable than most other destinations. Tent-flattening blizzards are common here, and even the cheeriest attitudes can and will be tested, as we were about to learn, and relearn, and learn again… On day six, after waiting out two subsequent storms, we clambered from the tents like a litter of bears coming out of hibernation. Sleds buried, trucks stuck—everything covered in three times the amount of champagne powder forecasted. To skiers and snowboarders, stumbling out into waist deep pow is always a prelude of great things to come. But under this promise of bliss, Mother Nature whispers another message quietly beneath the wind. We 27
Tatum Monod gets some.
knew, undeniably, that conditions would be extremely dangerous following the storm, that any slope steep enough to ride down with this much snow, would be too avytouchy. So, we loaded the pow surf boards and plowed across bottomless flats in search of a low angle hill to float down and celebrate the fresh blanket of possibility. All the while knowing that regardless of how tactically we’d mapped out the distances between zones to efficiently ride a morning and evening objective—safe routes in and out—this much snow in the alpine would obliterate all shred plans for at least a couple days, if not longer. Plans change in the mountains, especially in Alaska. “Discovered” (from a shred standpoint) in the late 1980s by ski-plane pilot and skier Chuck McMahan, Thompson Pass quickly gained notoriety as one of the best heli ski spots on the planet. And for good reason— it’s the snowiest place in Alaska, recording an average 13 metres, 500 inches of annual snowfall, and holds the Alaska record for most snow in a single day (160 cm/632 inches). In the past 15 years, snowmobile engine advances have democratized access to the pass’ now-infamous peaks, and each spring, dozens of crews from around the world make the pilgrimage to Thompson/Valdez to shred, tailgate, and rekindle the wild, frontier energy these snow sports (and Alaska itself) are rooted in.
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Surely, the area has seen countless crews of women, but for all of us to be there together punching up and over the 2,678foot mountain pass, and charging across the glacier, all highly capable of navigating 29
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complex terrain on snowmobiles with a desire to push our personal limits on this trip as a team, was an empowering first. Two days after the storm (thankfully, alpine accumulation was substantially less than at camp) the conditions were as deep and perfect as they get. Glancing over either shoulder to see the other crew members in full formation, disappearing and reappearing behind the biggest waves of pow any of us had ever seen on our sleds, brought a new definition to “girl’s trip”. The following day forged our bonds even more—primo riding conditions and a full shred day that included roping up and supporting each other with rappels into a few lines, topped off with the satisfaction of everyone stacking a couple shots on classic flank-style slopes that Thompson Pass is known for. Our riding cups were finally filling up. In high-stakes, bigadventure environments like these, a cohesive crew dynamic on the slopes is non-negotiable. Back at camp though, and over the course of a long, cold, snow camping trip, keeping that unified spirit can be a tenuous social experiment. Trips like these can be sandbagged by a combination of strong personalities, different riding approaches and backgrounds, and the all-too-human (and thus unavoidable) dance of egos. When co-resonance can be found, and the ability to understand different perspectives and communicate clearly is exercised, what it means to be a team can yield the deepest of friendships and connections. When everything aligns, it’s what makes a “trip of a lifetime” so epic—it’s about the people.
TOP/INSET Taylor Godber stacks up big lines like firewood. BOTTOM Living large and feeling small.
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ABOVE/INSET Robin Van Gyn is happiest when the pow is cold and the tents are warm.
Amidst the monotony of camp routine (unpack, hang, dry, gas, eat, sleep, pack, coffee, go, repeat) comes the added challenges of incoming weather, unrealistic expectations, mental blocks, exhaustion, old injuries, new injuries, frost bite, soggy nights, snoring, bails, and flails. A less obvious essential when choosing who to crew up with on a trip that tests your limits is, who do you want to suffer with? In the face of all this (and minus 30 degree Celcius—pre-windchill—headwinds blowing into our faces each morning), we continued to stack 12-hour days out in the raw Alaskan elements with undulating grins and a new kind of perseverance (even when five-foot wind-loaded sastrugi ridges and random towering snow tornados pushed us off our intended sled routes and into the great white wild.) The untamed arctic winds had ripped
across every new zone we dropped down into, and over every line we hiked straight up. Each glacier field we managed to safely meander across (without falling into the abyss of a crevasse) had us sharing a single hope: maybe it would be okay here, 20 kilometres deeper. Eventually we gave up. Charging big open lines with confidence would be considerably challenging—icy in one turn, soft in another, firm and chunky on the next. Couloirs became more alluring, through hopes of protected snow and hop turns to manage speed. In the mountains, there’s a time to push forward with enthusiasm—it’s a mindset we all possess—but sometimes the more powerful, and more challenging, approach is to accept the reality of things and adapt. Having the ability to move around as we wished to explore with the sleds was helpful to scavenge what objectives looked to
be less wind hammered than others. As well, the demand of these lines to hike from the bottom to the top allowed us to familiarize ourselves intimately with the conditions on the way up and to memorize which turns to lay more into than others on the way down. As a mountain crew, we always plan for the worst-case scenario: What if someone falls in a crevasse? How to evacuate an injured friend in temperatures below minus 20 degrees Celcius and camp is 80 kilometres away…and the clouds are rolling in so heli-evacuation is out of the question? These thought processes provide a guideline for what to be prepared for, how to assess real risk, and how to avoid catastrophe. But there’s no such thing as being ready for everything in places so remote. And so there we were with a situation we never considered—overhead hazard; heli ski crew. 33
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In most big mountain regions, including Thompson Pass, there’s an unwritten courtesy between sled crews and heli operations: if one crew is posted up at a face to film or session, the other doesn’t interrupt the flow. Particularly in a region with the magnitude of terrain the Chugach range has to share, it’s easy to uphold the silent handshake. Especially if it endangers a life. When the heli powered down on the glacier, after dropping the guests at the ridge top, three members of our crew made their way over, just in time to meet the guide who had set tracks down the slope. They claimed to have not seen us. After punching 20 feet higher up the chute, Tatum thankfully found a supportedenough spot to clip into her skis. We both listened intently, still in unsafe territory, watching pinwheels (naturally released snowballs) form—signs of a dangerously heating slope—as hoots and hollers could be heard way too nearby for comfort. Parked below, our crew gave us play-by-play over the radio as each guest skied or tumbled down the mountain, one even hiked back up to find a lost pole mid slope as 15, 20, 30
minutes dragged along, testing everything Tatum and I had… Be patient, stay centered, keep it together or we won’t get down this mountain safely. On the glacier, our team was able to squeeze an agreement with the heli operation: once the guests got down, Tatum and I could drop. Thankfully, the pilot would wait to take off. Finally in the clear, Tatum dropped first, skiing in survival mode more than enjoying the experience as play. Still, she drew a beautiful line down the face, managing slough with confidence, and made it to her sled safely. As soon as her skis touched the glacier, I pivoted and let gravity go to work, holding on the best I could as my edges met powder, compact snow, and ice, multiple times, in no set order. I met Tatum at the sleds, we exchanged a laugh to dispel the discomfort, grateful to be safe, to have stayed calm, and to have wriggled out of a tight spot we didn’t see coming. In unlikely ways like this however, Alaska had met its reputation for nudging us towards our boundaries. This is what we came for. None of the crew rode the
gnarliest spines or lines of our lives, the challenges were more insidious in nature. They crept in when things didn’t go as planned, when our bodies, minds, and spirits felt stretched by the conditions and demands. Would it have been fun to ride perfect stable lines the entire trip? Of course. But the heart of exploration and adventure in any context, in any sport, needs the element of suffering. Crazy as it sounds, in a world obsessed with avoiding discomfort, we search for it. As modern-day explorers, adventure enthusiasts, athletes, we blast head first towards the unfamiliar—towards what some might perceive as danger. Not for a hit of adrenaline, not even to see new parts of the world, though that is an added bonus. We push forward, to uncover new parts of ourselves. The mountains, especially in Alaska, are just one door to walk through, in this journey to embrace the unpredictability of life and the numinous and peaceful quality that exists on the other side of fear. In this space, in suffering, we to truly embrace what it means to live.
Turn out those nightlights. Alaskan aurora.
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Remembering Bruce Rowles
MASTER OF LIGHT
Déjà-vu transports me back to the epic winter of 1999 when I spent hours with Bruce Rowles in his attic examining a freshly-developed slide sequence of me dropping a massive cliff on Blackcomb Mountain. No computers or Internet, just a magnifying glass on slide film. This was back when I had just won the first stop of the 1999 Freeskiing World Tour, but something else was on my heart and mind. I was guided to honour the passing of my great grandmother with a rose ceremony on Blackcomb. As I completed this important act of love to celebrate her soul, I noticed a beautiful sunlit hanging shelf. I was magnetized to this cliff, which I have since always referred to as, “Nanny.” The cliff whispered to me, but to get on top of it I had to lay down a two-by-eight board across an eight-foot chasm. That’s when I called Bruce to capture the moment. I walked the plank in order to access the take off. I stood on top, feeling exposed, yet safe, like an eagle in its nest. Looking south to the hanging snowfield where Bruce was perched, I smiled. It felt sweet to my heart to know my brother Bruce was in his element, working the light through both his camera lens and his heart. In fact, I felt safer knowing Bruce had me in his sight. Not only an incredible artist, Bruce was also trustworthy, kind and attuned to the sacred. He knew this was not just a cliff drop, but an offering to my ancestors. From my perch, I acknowledged all things above and below, and gave thanks to the spirits and the elements of the four directions: north, east, south and west. With a deep breath, I dropped in…
Looking at this photo transports me right back to this day, to Nanny, and to my brother Bruce Rowles, a true master of light. A true friend to all in mountains, Bruce Rowles succumbed to cancer in March of 2022. His spirit and artistic contribution to the Coast Mountain and Canadian ski communities will be forever cherished and greatly missed. –Jeff Holden
Skiing away from Nanny, I hit a 70-foot air just below, then Bruce and I headed back up to continue shooting as the sunset turned the white mountain canvas into gold. Before descending to the valley floor, Bruce told me that my spirit reminded him of his late friend Trevor Petersen, one of my ski heroes, and handed me one of Trevor’s poles—a gift I humbly received. Back then, the pole represented listening to the call and the voice; and having the courage to follow that leading that comes from a place deeper than one’s own mind. I’ve been skiing with the pole more frequently over the last five years. It’s become a staff of wisdom that represents not only listening to the call but doing the work to discern the meaning of the message before acting on it.
KRISTEN DILLON Squamish REALTOR®
DANA FRIESEN SMITH Whistler REALTOR®
YOU FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS, WE’LL FIGHT FOR THE REST
TALON PASCAL Culture Keeper
words :: Feet Banks
Born and raised in Mount Currie, Talon and his friends started their pit house—a foursided log pyramid built over a twelve-foot by twelve-foot hole in the ground—in the summer of 2020. Their goal was to build it in a manner as close to the traditional Lil’wat style as possible—something that hadn’t been done in years. “Nowadays, most people don’t really know about how things were done in the past,” Talon says. “Like, with this pit house, we got the design from ethnographic accounts from
Talon Pascal has been described as “an elder’s soul shining out from a 17-yearold’s body,” and his passion for rediscovering traditional Lil’wat Nation culture and art certainly supports this. But get him out in the bush, putting in long hours peeling logs on a traditional-style istken, or pit house, and the conversation can turn to Talon in traditional Lil'wat attire with his handmade bow and arrows. BRITTANY ANDREW more teenager-y topics, like snipers. “Did you know the deadliest sniper in World War I was an Ojibwa named Francis anthropologists and old books.” Pegahmagabow?” Talon asks as he places a new roofing log onto the Talon’s desire to learn the traditional skills and techniques of his main house structure. “He had 378 confirmed kills and over 100 more ancestors shines equally bright through his other artistic passion— unconfirmed.” since age 11 he’s been making traditional Lil’wat-style short bows, History, it turns out, is a passion of Talon’s. He intends to study arrows, and even knives. archaeology after he graduates, and has already accompanied “My parents don’t hunt with a bow,” he says. “I hardly know a team from Simon Fraser University on an archaeological anyone who does. But when I was a kid, I was really interested in investigation/excavation of a Lil’wat village site on what’s now known making my own bow. I was researching English longbows and my dad as Signal Hill, above Pemberton. Artifacts recovered suggest the said, ‘Hey, we used to make bows around here too you know.’ And village was inhabited 200-375 years ago. that was the start of it.”
LEFT Talon's obsidian blades. TALON PASCAL. MIDDLE Qwilquen (left) and Talon have been working on this traditional istken pit house for the past three summers. RIGHT: One of Talon's short bows. FEET BANKS.
"The Squamish Nation would get obsidian from near Mount Garibaldi and sometimes trade with us, or the Chilcotin would have it too in the Anahim area. The Chilcotin were our enemies though, so not sure how much trading was going on there.”
Talon harvests his bow wood—yew is best, but juniper, yellow cedar, dogwood or vine maple will work too—right here in his traditional territory. “You look for a suitable tree,” he says. “And if a whole tree is mostly free from knots what we could do is split it in half and then you get two bows from one tree. Then you let it dry—it could be six months to a year depending on the wood. Juniper you might be able to work it a few weeks after you cut it but a deciduous wood like maple, that takes at least a year.” Living and hunting in the denser forests of the Coast Mountains, Talon explains, ancient Lil’wat hunters preferred the short bow for its manoeuvrability in thick brush. Recently, he’s begun gluing the gut sinew of a deer onto the outer side of his bows, for added strength. The bowstrings are also made the
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traditional way—from sinew or twisted hide. When it comes to fully traditional arrowheads, the main local material is basalt, chipped the right way, but nothing beats obsidian. “Obsidian can be honed down to the sharpest edge on the planet. Some surgeons even use obsidian blades because it’s said the incisions don’t leave a noticeable scar. In the old times we would have to trade for obsidian as we don’t have a good source in our territory. The Squamish Nation would get it from near Mount Garibaldi and sometimes trade with us, or the Chilcotin would have it too in the Anahim area. The Chilcotin were our enemies though, so not sure how much trading was going on there.” Local elders have given Talon what advice they can from memory, but he says he still relies on the Internet for a lot of his bowmaking techniques. “That, and trial and error. A lot of people could tell me about it, but they had never done it themselves. That makes it even more important that I know how to do all these things. This way I can teach other people and this valuable knowledge won’t be lost.” As an aside, the Guinness World Record for longest longbow shot, set in September 2022, currently stands at 330 metres (1,083 feet). It’s likely safe for now—Talon still has high school and a pit house to finish.
Check out more Talon at instagram.com/westcoast_culture_keeper
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INTERVIEW words :: Feet Banks
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Jess Kimura—the Internet biography site tells me—makes between one and five million dollars a year. She was born January 1, 1985 and stands 5 feet 5 inches tall. She’s a professional skateboarder and filmmaker who “enjoys snowboarding as well.” Considering it puts the entire history of human knowledge into the palm of your hand, the Internet has always kinda been full of shit. “One to five million dollars? A year?!” I reach Jess in Mexico to break the good news. “Someone tell my sponsors,” she replies. Turns out everything on that biography site is wrong: Jess is barely five feet tall, she was born in 1984 in Vernon, BC (the only thing the site got correct) and while she certainly shreds on a skateboard, Jess Kimura is most definitely a snowboarder—one of the most influential and respected in the sport. She’s also had a big year, dropping both The Uninvited 3—her third full-length, all-women’s shred flick—and Learning to Drown, a deeply personal film chronicling Jess’ iconic snowboard career and her battle through the quagmire of grief and despair following the tragic loss of her partner Mark Dickson. What was supposed to be a ten-minute video about honouring Mark by overcoming her fear of water and learning to surf ended up a 40-minute emotional blitzkrieg of passion, perseverance, strength, and pure, stripped-down honesty. I caught up with Jess (aka: Dumpster Spice, aka: Danger Pony) in Mexico on an autumn surf stopover on the way home from chasing winter down to South America. She video-called it in after a dawn patrol surf session. We talked for 55 minutes about everything from why working at Wendy’s as a teen ruled (“I feel
, Sorry bro Dumpster ill Spice is st na not gon make you ich a sandw comfortable eating there. There are protocols in place. We wash the lettuce.”) to why cats with short legs will always be slightly funnier than chinchillas, to what it’s like to be misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and classified an invalid by her doctors at age 20. Let the record show, it’s highly recommended to watch Learning to Drown before reading any further. It’s on Vimeo or YouTube (maybe the Internet is good for something after all).
Jess Kimura: Yeah, part of it came from anger. Probably like anyone who gets shoved down a bunch in their life or told they can’t do something that they dream of, there’s anger there. I think for me there was passion too. Like the desire to do something that people couldn’t imagine yet. But yeah, it really fired me up when someone would tell me I couldn’t do something. So that made it easier for me since there was plenty of motivation to pull from. I remember the old days back when the Internet was newer and people could leave anonymous comments. And every single time—every single time—if it was a post or a photo of a girl snowboarder, the comments would be: “Who unchained her from the stove? Go make me a sandwich”. Or “That doesn’t look Anchorage, Alaska 2010. The last shot in her iconic Think Tank film segment. "That part was the reason my whole career blew up." ALEX MERTZ like a sandwich.” Always about the sandwich. And even if the girl was doing something really good Mountain Life: I wanna start near the beginning. You’re young it would be like, “My five-year-old brother can do better than that.” but not that young. You’re snowboarding. You’re realizing there’s Or talking about how she looked, “I’d bend her over” or, “That chick no lane for women in the industry—no video part and, minimal (if looks like a dog, good thing she’s wearing goggles.” Or whatever. So any) magazine coverage. No comps, or if there are there’s no prize I was like, you guys are gonna say something dumb anyways, so I’m money. You’re broke, living in Whistler with no ski pass, just riding just gonna go off the deep end and be total dirtbag disgusting and street and working as hard as you can and saying “F*#k it, if I don’t obnoxious and scare the shit out of people because I don’t give a shit fit in any categories I’m gonna make my own category.” Did that what you think—and don’t even bother coming up to me and telling come from a place of anger? me to go back to the kitchen.
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ML: Like, offense is the best defense, right? Pre-emptive dirtbaggery, Dumpster Spice… Was that sort of a persona or a character that you invented, but then when the lights are off and no one’s around, you’re a different person? Jess: I mean, I’ve always just had a really f@#ked up sense of humour and I’ve encountered many people who have all these stupid expectations for how girls are supposed to act. So, I have had a lot of fun making those guys feel uncomfortable or not being what they want me to be. But then add anger to it, add all those feelings of being ignored and rejected so many times and everyone telling you to make a sandwich. Then yeah, it all jacks up for sure. But when the lights are out, I’m just a dirtbag with good intentions.
ML: Fifteen years later, the industry is finally embracing women, in part because of your riding and your work to shine a light on others. Has your relationship with what fuels you changed? Jess: There’s been a social shift, especially the past couple years— brands are realizing they have no girls on their team and need to catch up quickly if they want to save face. I don’t take it as personally anymore, I think in part because I don’t feel so desperate to prove anything anymore. The girls are progressing so quickly now, the proof is right in front of us.
ML: Does it ever feel like a trend, like there is a danger things could revert? Jess: I think it is gonna stick, for sure. The dam has broken. The big thing was just that opening, for a flood of girls who already had potential, but didn’t think there was anywhere to go with it. Or they weren’t sure if it was something they should even be pursuing. They just needed someone to give them a chance. Look at skateboarding right now. Look at the Olympics and the Japanese girls that are all like 12 years old. Within a couple years, these little kids have completely taken over. Women’s snowboard big air is the most exciting event to watch right now because the athletes are progressing so fast. At the same time, you learn that some people might never change. Like even now, my friend, a girl I’ve been mentoring for years, is finally starting to have some success. She was pushed aside for 15 years and now some of her friends are complaining—dudes. They want to be pro snowboarders too and they’re saying it is not fair, “You don’t know what it’s like to be a white guy in this. Like, your success is because girls are trending right now.” Dude, I can’t believe that. It’s just…you guys are so dumb. But you know what? Someone who’s never heard no in their life reacts really badly when they start to hear it. And we’ve been hearing “no” our entire lives, so we ain’t shook.
And every single time the comments would be: “Who unchained her from the stove? Go make me a sandwich"...
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Whistler backcountry, 2021. "The first year I stayed home actually trying to be a backcountry boarder."
ML: When we talk about building your own space in the sport, carving a path, that path has always been there for dudes.
ML: Like, hey Jess do you have any shots of you hitting the same tree a bunch of times?
Jess: It has. The same way snowboarding was seen as a joke by the ski industry at first and riders had to push through that because they had a vision. But since the beginning of snowboarding, that path has been there. It’s definitely hard for guys these days since there are so many other talented people after the same thing. But cry about it, you know? We have to make sandwiches AND be good at snowboarding.
Jess: Yeah. I have that! What else do you need? The first time I saw the film, it was what it is now. And I, like, fell over and died. I could not…It kind of destroyed me to see it, and to hear Mark’s voice with those images, and to see all the physical trauma I had sustained, all the crashes and stuff. I had been so driven to keep going, keep going, don’t complain…forget what just happened and keep going. It sounds dumb, but I had no idea I had gone through so much. So, it was kind of traumatizing to watch.
ML: You have been pretty up front about helping others your entire career. Through The Uninvited videos but also through bringing girls on trips, sharing hotels, letting them shoot with your filmer. You’re one of the icons of the sport and still out there Robin Hood-ing it, putting others first.
The worst thing you can do with success or popularity is to use it to make other people feel shitty.
Jess: I don’t think that the allocation of resources in women’s snowboarding in particular, is fair. And so I will try to ask for more money so I’m able to use more of it helping other people. I want to help the girls that were me ten years ago. The ones who don’t have a lifeline.
ML: That’s one of your superpowers, and is also quite likely the secret to a good life—the desire to help others. I think another superpower of yours is your mix of strength and vulnerability. In action sports, or when I was a kid they were called “extreme sports,” there’s a tendency for people to put up walls or masks, to play a part of the wild and cool dude. And then here comes Dumpster Spice, the toughest one of all, in Learning to Drown, and it’s 100 per cent honesty.
2015. "The season from hell. Wearing a Dickson hat the Wasted Youth boys handed out at Mark's funeral a few months earlier." ERIN HOGUE
Jess: Why not? I am not down with the whole “too cool” mentality. I hate that shit. The worst thing you can do with success or popularity is to use it to make other people feel shitty. The quickest way to break down someone’s walls is to just be totally…I feel like it’s a buzzword these days, but…just be totally vulnerable.
ML: I think people from all walks of life can relate to that movie because you don’t see that kind of honesty very often anywhere. What was it like to make the movie?
ML: And did watching it help you realize the pressures you put on yourself, to be strong, to deal, to not deal or to power through or whatever?
Jess: Yeah. I mean, I was worried about so many things when it came to releasing it. But eventually I just said, “F@#k it, I’m gonna be exactly what I am.” If I’m living through a mental breakdown, fine. If I’m ugly crying onstage at every film festival, fine. The interview was shot in one take. I went into some zone. And it must have been meant to be, for me to tell this story—because at that time, I was not in a state to even put a sentence together. I was frazzled, and I had never worked with big-time filmmakers before. I met those guys for the first time the day before we shot. And I just talked for two hours, one take, and it ended up carrying the whole movie.
ML: What’s it like to watch it now? Jess: It wasn’t supposed to be that big. It was just supposed to be a short film, less than ten minutes. And Ben Knight, the director, is this creative genius who doesn’t show stuff to people until it is done. He disappeared for a couple months. He’d call and just request things like, “Hey, do you have any crash videos?”
Jess: I don’t know. Sometimes I watch it and get a little inspired, like, “Yeah! I can do it.” Because with my mental health, I’m still trying to get a hold on that. I still have a lot of ups and downs—a lot of downs. And it’s brutal feeling like there’s something wrong with you. 53
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"I hit my head on a concrete barrier in Prince George, first filming trip of the season. The only time I've ever fainted standing up was after this happened. It was pretty scary but I didn't really say anything to the crew. Just wrapped my head with an ice pack." BRANDON CONRAD OR MAYBE CALE ZIMA? (Head injuries suck)
I’m stoked that I did something and showed that side of me because maybe that can help someone else understand they‘re not alone in feeling that way. And sometimes, I just don’t want to see certain parts of the film again or it becomes too much, and I just sneak out the back door to post some memes and wait for the Q&A to start.
ML: It feels like discussions about mental health have come a long way since the old days. I read that you were misdiagnosed and told you were basically an invalid who would be lucky to even hold down a job, let alone live your snowboard dreams. Jess: Yeah, we didn’t talk about this in the film, but I was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 20, overmedicated and tranquilized to the point I didn’t even feel like a human anymore,
just a shell who slept a lot. They put me in all these programs and groups for young people who are severely mentally ill, which I thought was so wrong even though they would just keep telling me I needed to be there, and if I wasn’t hearing voices then it’s because the medication was working. So I had definitely let go of my dream to be a pro snowboarder. Actually, I found this paper the other day in my old boxes of stuff from this job program I was in. It had a script I had written out, “Hi my name is Jessica Kimura and I am in a program for people with disabilities. I’m wondering if I can ask you some questions.” I thought maybe I could work for a snowboard or skateboard magazine. I had this list of mags and media outlets written out below and the first one was [Vancouver magazine] Concrete Powder. But their name was scratched out and beside it I had written, “DICKS.” So I guess I called them.
ML: I’m curious, was it always dude doctors or were there women doctors involved in those days and that whole fiasco? Jess: What a crazy question that you just asked, because it was always male doctors. But recently I got connected with a female psychiatrist in Squamish. And not only that, she’s cool and she’s a badass and she listens. And for the first time in like 20 years, I feel like I have someone who has my back and hears me and is actually helping me. It’s been life changing. That’s interesting though, I never thought about that.
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I had been so driven to keep going, keep going, don’t complain… forget what just happened and keep going. total stranger who has walked the same path. It’s just so cool to have someone look at you and say, “I get it.”
ML: Speaking of connection, what’s your DMs looking like these days since this movie came out—have more and more people fallen in love with you? Jess: Well…I got a DM from Jason Momoa.
ML: That feels like it might be the pinnacle of DMs. Jess: Yeah. I felt like maybe I should just shut my account down after, you know? Especially since I’m apparently worth between one and five million dollars. The Five-Million Dollar Dirtbag.
ML: That should be the title of this story. Okay, so now we have a new winter on the way and with three Uninvited movies under your belt, do you think you will snowboard this year at all with no cameras? Just fun riding days?
TOP Whistler backcountry, 2021. TYLER RAVELLE INSET Checking the shot with Ivika Jürgenson for the first Univited film. 2017. ROSEY MEYER
ML: She probably relates to your journey too. I’m not sure it’s always been smooth sailing for women to succeed in the medical industry either. Jess: There was a female heart surgeon who came to one of the Uninvited premieres in Salt Lake. She was in tears and told me, “I understand. I’m a surgeon and understand exactly what you’re saying. Like you don’t even have to explain it. I’ve been laughed at and pushed aside my whole career.” She was a snowboarder too.
ML: It must feel awesome when that happens. To realize all the work and passion you’ve put in makes a difference in someone’s life. Jess: Yeah. I guess I don’t take that as so much of a personal compliment, but more as this beautiful moment of connecting with a
Jess: I don’t know. Probably not. Everyone has a phone in their pocket so there’s always a camera nearby. I do have a new project I want to use to hype up some other people, shine a light on them. I want to focus on making stuff that’s inspiring and has a bit more depth and meaning than, “Hey, look at me doing this trick.” Also, I’m working on an event—The Uninvited Invitational. I want to get a shitload of prize money to give to the girls. And it’s not gonna be just first, second, and third, it’s gonna trickle all the way down.
ML: So, it sounds like you will continue along this path of doing everything you can to lift others up. But after all these years of work and pain—and a lot of great times too I imagine—and after three movies showcasing women and all the podcasts and interviews like this. Does it feel like you are winning the battle? Or even halfway there? Do you ever get tired? Jess: Nah, I’ll keep going. I don’t ever wanna be put in that box of some activist feminist. I was never saying, “We need to coddle these girls!” or “Girl power!” or “We deserve it just ‘cause we’re girls!” I was just saying, “Give them a chance.” It’s not that hard. And when you do, just wait and see what happens. People should be given equal opportunities, no matter what kind of sandwiches they make. Learning to Drown and The Uninvited Trilogy can be streamed online. Jess Kimura is a master of memes and runs a pretty hilarious feed at Instagram.com/jess.kimura 57
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Lewon holds the Whistler Sextathalon record for longest geländesprung (like a ski jump but in regular, fixed-heel bindings) at an astonishing 167 feet. The Sextathalon was an unofficial event/ party featuring a downhill race, a moguls course, a GS, a slalom, an “extreme” race, and the gelande.
…and the need for speed
words :: Feet Banks
Above the line of record, Rick Lewon is a highly-decorated professional ski racer with a career spanning two decades. He’s also a certified coach and instructor, and one of the most talented ski tuning technicians in Whistler history. On the other side of that line, however, strange tales of Lewon’s raw talent, savage character, and comedic antics permeate the Sea to Sky community: Lewon once skied fresh pow for 18 hours straight while on acid in Niseko, Japan; he was there for the first-ever Air Jordan cliff drop; he was once banned from being within 500 metres of any member the Canadian National Ski Team; he stopped a ten-person brawl in the Whistler cab loop all by himself, no—he started that brawl; he eats a pound of bacon every morning; he outpartied Mötley Crüe; he threw his skis through a ski patroller’s car windshield at the base of Blackcomb and got banned for life; he’s snowboarding now; he hit 200 kilometres per hour down The Saddle on a pair of 235 centimetre speed skis; he drinks blood; he sells frying pans on The Shopping Channel; he’s got ski wax worth a thousand dollars a bar...and on and on it goes. Whispers, rumours, hearsay, and gossip swirl like the fat, juicy flakes of an early season snowstorm until it becomes difficult to separate truth from legend…
“Well first of all, that ski patroller deserved it,” Lewon says. “He drove over my skis the morning of a race. And also, it’s half a pound of bacon, not a pound. A half pound on top of an eggs benny at the Southside Deli. It’s called ‘Eggs Lewon’.” The titular breakfast, he explains, would usually help revive him after a hard day’s work and a and even harder Whistler night. “Near the end of my racing career, I worked in Japan for three years. Testing skis and stuff for Mizuno sports, I had to learn Japanese. But the last year, I invested in this ski tuning shop in Whistler, in the basement under the Southside. I got back from Japan and my partner had kind of mismanaged things—we were $60,000 in debt. So, I borrowed money from a loan shark who wanted to kill me and basically, I had to go to work. I didn’t ski much that year because I was just really serious about tuning skis and paying this guy back.” None of this has anything to do with eggs or bacon, but when Ricky Lewon launches into a story, the best course of action is to sit back and let him run. Just now entering his sixties but looking a decade younger, Lewon tells stories the way he used to ski race—fast and confident, but with the ability to deftly carve into side tangents without losing momentum. Born in North Bay, Ontario, Lewon’s German father had him skiing almost as soon as he could walk. He began racing at age eight and before his twentieth birthday was runner-up in the Pontiac Cup series, the best amateur race series in the country.
“I grew up on a 500-foot vertical ski hill,” Lewon explains, “one of the first places that had man-made snow and it was like glare ice. So, I got good and eventually was top 25 in Nor-Am, which is the equivalent to Europa Cup. I was very close to making the Canadian Alpine Ski Team…I probably made it on results and criteria, but I never really trained much and, uh, I had a little bit of an attitude problem. “So, in 1982 I joined the Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) pro tour, which was great because they would fly us to races and we didn’t have to drive. Prize money, if you won a race was like a thousand or fifteen hundred bucks. But you know, that was 40 years ago so it wasn’t bad money.” In his rookie year on the PWA tour, Lewon won four of the ten races and hit the podium a few more. “Two or three times I didn’t qualify because I got too shitfaced the night before. Like my first race in Whistler, for sure I didn’t qualify.” Despite not always following the guidebook, Lewon’s professional career would net him dozens of podiums (and at least one alleged fist fight with a competitor the night before finals in a head-to-head GS race). He graced enough magazine covers and made enough money to avoid tree planting in the summer months, a job he still calls “the absolute worst.” “Ricky’s physical skill was equally matched by his mental skill,” says Canadian World Cup downhiller and Whistler icon Rob Boyd, who befriended Lewon and later competed against him in local 65
No stranger to winning races, Lewon is best known locally for winning the infamous Garfinkel’s Cup pro race, then later stealing the cup from the Garf’s trophy case when the bar was closed for renovations.
races like the Garf’s Cup. “In pro races there are mind games and Ricky had that mental athleticism. He’s also really fast out of the gate. I never beat him in a pro race, so let’s leave it at that.” From 1981-91 Lewon raced across Canada, the US, and Japan and dipped a boot into speed skiing in South America. “I went 198 kilometres an hour in Chile, stayed up for almost a week, met some crazy Argentinians, followed them around for a bit and then realized this speed skiing is fun but not for me. I almost cracked 200 though.” Whistler became Lewon’s home base, his boisterous personality fitting right in with a ski town finding its own groove on the world stage. “The town was partying for sure, and people were out ripping the hill every day—guys like Larry and Tommy Charron, Tim Gluck, Curtis Christian, Herschel Miedzygorski, Jordan Williams—they lived up there. But I’d be coming off seven months of racing, so I was happy to just relax and party. I didn’t ski that much.” He was, however, present the day Jordan Williams first skied off the now-infamous double cliff drop on Whistler Mountain. “He did it on a pair of 210 Atomic GS skis! Skis so skinny, these days people would think they are for cross country. It was awesome.” Lewon and Williams met racing at the weekly Kokanee Race Series, which saw huge local talent competing for little more than bragging rights and free beer at après. “Jordan was laid back, so we got along. That’s where I met [Extremely Canadian co-founder] Pete Smart too,” Lewon says. “This big dude came up to me at the start of the race and says, ‘I heard about you. I’m gonna kick your ass.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah? Get in line.’ And then, you know, we became friends and his wife Jill, years later, even hired me as an Extremely Canadian guide. And I ended up getting to ski the best powder on either mountain in places I’d never been before all because of Pete.” [Side note: “I was drinking at Merlin’s,” recalls Jill Dunnigan. “And I came home and told Pete, ‘I just hired Ricky Lewon!’ And he was like, ‘We’re gonna get kicked off the mountain!’ But it all worked out. We love him and Ricky behaved most of the time…maybe not so much on the Hokkaido trips…”]
"Well first of all that ski patroller deserved it…"
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Lewon now enjoys one of the best parking spots in Whistler, just metres away from the infamous ski vs. windshield incident that saw him kicked off the pro tour for two races and banned from Blackcomb for life (it was actually only about ten years).
Misbehaving, or as he puts it “Doing the wrong thing at the wrong time,” is nothing new to Lewon. There are a number of rumours he flat-out refuses to address other than with a sly wink and a “There were a lot less rules back then.” Speaking of back then, and coming back full circle, Eggs Lewon turned out to be an essential part of Lewon paying off that aggressive loan shark and saving his ski shop, while still living the Whistler ski bum lifestyle of the early 1990s. “I’d pick up people’s skis from all the hotels every afternoon in this big cube van I had painted up with the World Pro Ski Tour logo,” he says. “I’d pick ‘em up, hundreds of skis, we’d tune ‘em all and I’d drop them off around midnight. This is when Tommy Africa’s was the hot spot, so I’d pull the van up there, park in that little driveway out front and party till three or four in the morning. Someone would give us a bottle of tequila or a two-four of beer we’d have to replace
the next day and three or four of us would pile into the van and our buddy Ruff would tow us back to the ski shop. Then we’d go into the shop, party a bit more, maybe get a few hours of sleep, then open the shop so people could pick up their skis. By 10-10:30 a.m. I’d go up to the Southside Deli, Eggs Lewon, sleep in the office for a bit and do it all again. Unless it was race day. “Whistler would have a ski race on Tuesday and Blackcomb on Thursday. I’d work till the last minute, get on the lift, rush over to the start gate and, you know, race. A lot of the pros in the professional category would train pretty hard. They didn’t like it too much when I’d show up smelling like a roach and win. You’d win a sweatshirt or something, it was all about having fun and some people would take it so seriously. Even more so these days, some people are so fanatical and serious. It just drives me crazy—it’s skiing, go out and have fun. It’s good for you.”
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The Unknown Sender words :: Unknown photography :: Unknown location :: Unknown sender :: Unknown The Sender Unknown—a shredder who opens Air Jordan on Whistler Mountain early in the season, lands lower down the slope than most and maybe even cranks a slow, lofty 360 off the third step. Unlike the lemmings who will surely follow however, our hero mysteriously disappears into the valley cloud below rather than hiking back to the Peak chair to claim victory. These quiet shredders are the souls of our sports, the true badasses motivated only by airtime—and lots of it. It wasn’t that long ago when to be cool meant to be discreet, go big, and then go home. Zen-like skiers and snowboarders wore black, kept their hoods up, and went as large as anyone—but they didn’t bring camera crews and rarely even talked about it. Among the unofficial crew of those in the know there may be a sly nod of approval in a lift line or at après, but these mountain assassins live mostly, poetically, in the shadows and the snowstorms. On occasion, if you are lucky, you will still witness such humility, yes, even in Whistler. Be it in the backcountry or front, you may one day come across a cliff with only one track into it and one track leaving the “hot tub” below—the only evidence of an anonymous huck. To witness such feats live requires a lifetime on the mountain, or pure luck—there will be no commotion, no count down, no cameras rolling, just a send of the purest kind. The Unknown Sender rides with complete self-confidence, humility, and an uncompromising desire to feel alive and challenged. Their mere existence—elusive but extraordinary—dares us to be different. In a world gone mad for spectacle, ego, and “content”, dare to be the Sender Unknown. Guaranteed, your soul will thank you.
BaddAss™ Polar Bear
words :: Jon Turk illustration: Lani Imre The tent swayed gently in my dreams, like a lullaby. After nearly three months on this expedition, these rhythmic pulses of the fabric walls were infused into my subconscious. Wind spilled off the cliffs, holding the ice out to sea. This meant that tomorrow, Boomer and I would have safe paddling, continuing our circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic. Then, suddenly, the tent jerked with an uncharacteristic abruptness. Jolted awake, I instinctively reached for the 12-guage shotgun that lay loaded between us, but Boomer already had it—one finger on the trigger, his thumb reaching for the safety. A polar bear had ripped a hole in the vestibule and there we were, face to face, an arm’s length (or a paw swipe) away. I don’t know what I smelled like to the bear, but its stale, seal-meat breath was overpowering, even to my feeble human nose. For a moment, the three of us—me, Boomer, and the bear—held motionless. Then Boomer and I began hurling insults, not bullets, until the bear’s torpedo-shaped head—with the beady eyes, black nose, and cute ears—receded from our space. Through the new hole in our tent, we watched the huge animal casually turn and saunter away. To our shock and consternation, we then noticed four more polar bears milling about, just 25 yards away. All of this is fact. But beyond the raw facts, what happened that night? Why did the bear investigate, and then leave? What was it bear thinking? I understand that in attempting to answer these questions, I am breaking numerous biological and literary taboos— anthropomorphizing this non-human creature. Yet, it is my belief that our animal friends and neighbours are sentient, conscious creatures, just as we are, and their behaviour is driven by the same nerve pathways and brain structure that propels our actions and activity. And, in my opinion, polar bears have a lot to teach us. Clearly, that bear could have swiped through the tent in one powerful charge, grabbed Boomer or me in its jaws and carried us away with a loud crunching of bones. The bear did not do that. The bear was not hunting us, as it would hunt a seal. This also is fact.
Furthermore, I have encountered many polar bears during my Arctic expeditions, and despite their potentially deadly speed and power, no polar bear has ever hunted me, as it would hunt a seal. Oh yes, every now and then a polar bear kills a person, but most of the time they do not, even when the opportunity arises. Facts. It is my belief that polar bears recognize that humans are not seals, or seal-like creatures. And here’s where I go out on a limb—and where most polar bear biologists and experts not only disagree but pooh-pooh me—I believe that polar bears recognize that humans have higher-order intelligence; they can tell we are different. Probably they understand that despite our puny bodies, we are dangerous, but beyond that… could it be that polar bears feel that we are like-minded creatures—comrades, not prey, and fellow travelers on this planet? When those five bears smelled our unwashed sleeping bodies, they loitered around, curious, wondering how to interact with us. The bravest of the five took the initiative to check us out and she (or he) sauntered over—apprehensive and curious—while the others held back. This BaddAss™ bear gently slipped a claw through the fabric to peek in. When we hurled insults (not bullets) in response, the bear decided it had learned enough and returned to its buddies. Mission accomplished. That bear taught us a vital lesson about survival that night. Bears have stayed alive by combining their BaddAass™-ness with restraint; bravery with curiosity, meticulous observation with judicious retreat. Am I being too hippie-dippie if I say bears comprehend that there is a balance in this mysterious world? And that in their unknowable bearminds they understand that sometimes the best survival strategy is to restrain their power, to live and let live? Back in our newly ventilated tent, Boomer and I prepared to paddle across Makinson Inlet, where we would encounter strong winds and moving ice. We would need to rely on a bearlike combination of BaddAss™ bravery and the attention to know, understand, and feel every nuance of this environment. We survived Makinson Inlet, but beyond that I wonder if maybe the bear was also teaching us that to survive on this planet, humans need to survive with this planet. That there needs to be a balance—to live and let live, to recognize, honour and revere the many complex interwoven powers in the world around us, even if we can’t precisely understand and articulate them. That the real BaddAsses™ are the ones balancing power, restraint, and respect.
Jon Turk is the author of Tracking Lions, Myth, and Wilderness in Samburu published by Rocky Mountain Books. jonturk.net 73
Tantalus words and photo :: Blake Jorgenson There is nothing more enrapturing than a dramatic mountain scenic, even as it haunts us with its presence. We are drawn to the mountains because of their power and beauty, but most of all because we cannot control them. The size, the access, weather, and light sweeping across a mountain face appeals to those looking for a challenge of the mind, body, and soul. For those brave enough to venture, the mountains are worshipped as modern-day gods. Secretly, however, we also try to conquer them—sneaking between the cracks of opportunity, getting as close as possible to their fury. Reveling in their marvel—and vulnerable to their power—only then do we truly feel alive. 74
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Art vs. Skate The miscreants roll up
"Concrete Vessel," archival pigment print.
words :: Ace MacKay-Smith
Out of Control seems an appropriate (if perhaps purposefully cheeky) name for the Audain Art Museum’s newest exhibition skateboard-themed art show, but after watching a skateboarder finally land a skate trick after umpteen tries, the exhibit could more precisely be described as the Art of Control. A career artist who grew up skateboarding, curator Patrik Andersson poured three years of effort into this show, which features 19 international artists/ skateboarders presenting across two floors of gallery space. Kiriko Watanabe, curator of the Audain’s Gail & Stephen A. Jarislowsky gallery, assisted with show engagement, while skate historian Natalie Porter added her expertise and perspective. To keep things street, Antisocial Skateboard shop helped preserve the urban in urbane via a secret-room installation
showcasing a number of artists previously featured in the shop’s Vancouver space. “The exhibition is set up like an obstacle course that encourages visitors to navigate the show with an attentiveness similar to that required of a skater,” Andersson says. “These ‘stumbling blocks’ help us feel and think about the contemporary relevance of skateboarding both inside and outside the museum walls.” Inside the show, Andrew Dobson’s “Cuneiform” (named after the inscriptions found on ancient clay tablets) features photographs of the glue left on walls behind the “No Skateboarding” signs skaters have ripped down. Across 160 such photos, Dobson finds joy in repetition (and rebellion) but also creates a language of restriction. Tim Gardner’s “Blackout” is a photographquality, amazingly-detailed watercolour painting of a stumbling, intoxicated man. Photos of skatepark walls 77
These ‘stumbling blocks’ help us feel and think about the contemporary relevance of skateboarding both inside and outside the museum walls.
TOP "Venice Parking Lot," watercolour on paper. TIM GARDNER MIDDLE "Paving Space" oak modular sculpture by RAPHAËL ZARKA. Skater: Joseph Biais. MAXIME VERRET. BOTTOM Marble barriers, not a board in sight. MIRAE CAMPBELL.
may not sound exciting, but Amir Zaki’s stunning digital photographs draw you in like beautiful large format landscapes. While the works in Out of Control certainly deserve to be in an art gallery, part of the appeal of the show is the conversations it starts about art, skateboarding, and the meshing of low and high brow culture. Of all the “sports,” skateboard could be seen as the most creative or artistic. Similar to an artist mixing colours to put lines on a canvas, a skater integrates components of the urban environment—stark pavement, painted curbs, walls, ledges, obstacles— and creates fluidity—lines—within it. Other artistic industries, most notably fashion, routinely draw from skateboarding for their next big trend. Visual art, showcased on skateboard decks, transforms these “toys” of motion and sport into cherished items often hung on walls like traditional art. In 2019, fine art institution Sotheby’s auctioned a complete set of artist decks for $800,000. Skaters are often artists themselves (or is it the other way around?). Pioneers of the sport like The Gonz, Lance Mountain, Ed Templeton, and Andy Howell are respected visual artists while legend and “Godfather” Tony Alva regularly plays in a band. There are even artists among the artists—in the 1980s Rodney Mullen blew minds with his artistic representation of skating on flat ground and today Richie Jackson and Daewon Song interpret urban obstacles with an imaginative eye unlike other skaters. In Whistler, the Audain Art Museum stands bold as a centrepiece of the resort’s cultural corridor. A few dozen metres away, the skate park lurks in the forest. Sitting on an impressive 50,000 square feet, the Audain was built in 2016, the same year the Whistler Skate Park expanded to almost the same size, making it the second largest in Canada. Audain curator Kiriko Watanabe says she’d often see skaters sitting on the museum steps or skating the long entranceway bridge. “I wanted to invite them in.” Like most communities, Whistler Village boasts a number of “No Skateboarding” signs, while one of the key tenets of art museums has always been “look but don’t touch.” And yet, both skating and art offer a sort of freedom. Watanabe, Andersson, and the Out of Control show hope to use similarities to bridge the gap between the two communities…Bridge the gap, then kick flip it. Out of Control: The Concrete Art of Skateboarding will be exhibited until January 8, 2023 and the Audain has skate storage at the front entrance, so you are welcome to come before or after your sesh.
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CAMPFIRE COOKOUT & SNOWSHOE ADVENTURE DESK: CARLETON LODGE
words :: Dave Basterrechea photo :: Kyle Wolochatiuk
Papa Jordan 80
The early years of sled-accessed snowboarding in the Sea to Sky were always an adventure—you never knew what waited up a drainage until you went. In December 1999, Kyle Wolchatiuk and I finally managed to check out the Rutherford for the first time. We didn’t realize it’d be a bumpy 20 kilometres in (on Ski-Doo Summit X’s with four inches of travel), and by the time we reached the cabin the sky was cloud-filled and light was flat, so we opted not to head onto the ice cap and instead went south in hopes of finding some trees to ride. Within minutes, we noticed the most perfect air-to-rock ride we had ever seen. It looked like Whistler’s famous Air Jordan double drop, but much bigger. We took reference shots on the Polaroid, scoped lines, and made plans. We’d be back. That Polaroid photo circulated among the entire Treetop Films crew and Jonaven Moore said he’d be into heading out the next sunny day. That day came about a month later and we left at first light—Jonaven, me, Kyle with the still camera, and Brad McGregor shooting 16mm film. The sun was already hitting the face when we arrived. We checked out the landing and quickly scooted back up top. Jonaven won the ro-sham-bo to go first and rode a direct line straight down the face. I just saw a blur of him airing and then coming out the bottom to cheers. My plan was to hit an air, land on the snowfield, drop as much speed as I could, and then ride the rock out. It took a while, and numerous radio checks, to get into and confirm the correct position…I dropped in. The air felt bigger than I anticipated, but the landing and snow were perfect. I dumped as much speed as I could, but was still going pretty fast when I pointed it, blind, into the lower rockslide section, where I picked up even more speed. When I reached the snow at the bottom, the compression sent me head over heels, but I got up, rode down to Jonaven and the boys to high fives and disbelief at what we had just ridden. What an awesome day to have shared with those guys. We went back a few times to redeem but the conditions never lined up. I know some local skiers have hit “Papa Jordan” and tried to air the lower section instead of rock ride it, but I don’t think anyone has landed it…yet.
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Killing it Softly Ski mountaineer Christina Lustenberger is blazing a smoking trail of first descents with a quiet but effervescent style that makes the terrifying look easy.
words :: Kevin Hjertaas
Lusti skiing powder in the Revelstoke backcountry. The prominent peak in the background is the iconic Mount Cartier (2,600m). MATTIAS FREDRIKSSON
etting your hair caught in a pulley is the opening of a good comedy scene—unless you’re dangling from a rope halfway up an ice cliff in the remote British Columbia interior. Christina “Lusti” Lustenberger laughs when she retells the story now, but it’s only funny to other twisted alpinists. “That was actually really fucking sketchy. I was fully schnitzeled,” she admits. Lusti and her ski-mountaineering partners had been on the go for almost 12 hours at that point. They were trying to move quickly through a dangerous part of a radical first-descent route when her long, curly brown hair went from flowing in the wind to jamming between her rope and mechanical ascender. Unable to move up or down, she was completely stuck in a bad spot. “I was putting my full body weight on my hair, and it wasn’t coming out,” she recalls. It’s comically rare for hairstyles to impact mountaineering, but before anyone could chuckle about it, Lusti would need to find a way to get free. 85
Lusti and Brette Harrington climbing a couloir up the Frigg Tower.
STEVE SHANNON. INSET Lusti.
Ski mountaineering at its outer limits—the edge defining what is possible to ski and survive—has always been celebrated for what it is: a serious pursuit. The heroes climbing and riding impossibly steep and dangerous mountains have become a large part of skiing lore. In North America, characters like Doug Coombs, Chris Landry, and Doug Ward will have their stories recounted for generations. Collectively, these tales create an image of what this type of skiing looks like and what type of person leads the charge. It all looked very solemn, hard—grim even—until Christina Lustenberger. A grizzled hardass pits themselves against a cold, unforgiving mountain, battling the elements upward until the climax when the hero sets their jaw, risks it all with a grimace and points their skis downhill. That cliché looks nothing like Lustenberger’s photos and videos. It’s serious, but if Those depict her and her friends smiling and laughing while skiing with impeccable style and it’s not fun, why high-fiving in matching, colourful, puffy jackets. would you go back Of course, behind the pretty pictures is the same gruelling training regimen, deep motivation and all the requisite cold-mountain suffering; skiing bold first descents demands and do it over and this of its practitioners. And over the past few years, no one has put up as many impressive over again? ski lines as Lusti. She has earned the figurative crown worn by those past heroes, but there’s a subtle difference in how she wears it. Her combination of uncompromising alpinism and giggling irreverence makes that cutting edge look fun. “It’s supposed to be fun, right?” she says with a shrug as she paces the Revelstoke, BC home she shares with husband, Mike Verwey. She’s packing for an August ski trip to Chile and trying to explain how, when paired with the right partner, a team’s capabilities and attitudes can align in a perfect synergy to expand their comfort zone. “With that [skill and experience] comes a lightness while moving through the most difficult terrain,” she says. Her most recent first descent, the Polar Moon Couloir on Baffin Island, highlights that phenomenon. Lusti and favourite ski partner Brette Harrington (see recent movie, The Alpinist, for an idea of her climbing resumé) saw the line from a plane last spring and were instantly drawn to it. The 1,200-metre chute that cleaves the Walker Citadel looks like death on a stick to most skiers, but it’s also alluring in a haunting way; a deep, vertical ribbon of white framed by dark rock walls, interrupted at its midpoint by a 160-metre ice cliff. 87
Lusti charging Polar Moon Couloir, Baffin Island. INSET Polar Moon from afar. Encircled is the area shown in the main image. JORDAN MANOUKIAN
“We were so far away from any type of rescue or help. We were out there,” recounts Lusti. “It’s a gnarly line, but things were going well. We climbed the ascent couloir, built an anchor to rappel in, and skied the hanging face above the serac ice. When we got to the ice, it was business time. Then on the second rappel, our rope got stuck, and all of a sudden we felt this huge blow from the weight and reality of where we were and how cruxy the situation was.” They still had another 45-metres below them to get to the exit couloir. Their solution to the tension? Smile at each other and break it down into little steps. “We cut our rope into two 10-metre sections and did four mini rappels,” says Lusti. “Stuck on this crazy chunk of mountain, exposed to a lot of risk, we were just hanging off this anchor we’d built and laughing at each other. We were hour-whatever into the effort and out of water, and just giggling and getting through it.” They were smiling but they recognized how critical the situation was. “For sure, we have to be proficient and get ourselves out of the mess we’d gotten into, but together we make a strong team. And I think with that sort of trust you can add an element of fun in these crazy landscapes. It’s serious, but if it’s not fun, why would you go back and do it over and over again?” When one spends 30 years dedicated to a sport, they earn the confidence to enjoy such challenges. Born in Invermere in 1984, Lusti grew up ski racing at Panorama Mountain Of course, behind the pretty Resort where her parents owned the ski shop known to everyone as, of course, pictures is the same gruelling “Lusti’s.” From that little local club, she trained and worked her way right to training regimen, deep the Canadian National Team and the 2006 Turin Olympic Games—adding a top-ten finish at a World Cup giant slalom in Germany. She’d reached the upper motivation and all the requisite echelon of the racing world, but Lusti was just getting started in skiing. cold-mountain suffering; skiing Having accrued multiple knee injuries, she retired from racing and moved bold first descents demands to Revelstoke, where she turned her focus to backcountry skiing. Freeski icon Eric Hjorleifson recalls Lusti’s early backcountry winters: “I remember hanging this of its practitioners. out in Revy and watching her ski her way through all the core skiers in town. She’d go out with these people and ski them into the ground. Then they’d have to take time off to recover, and Lusti would move on to the next group. She’s relentless. She loves the grind.” Lusti’s pace was relentless, but also measured. She knew not to rush it when absorbing the lessons of safe mountain travel. Six years after leaving racing behind, Lusti earned her ACMG ski guide qualifications; another career path for most skiers that includes avalanche, first aid and guiding courses, work practicums and exams spread out over a few years. At the same time she was preparing to start a new career as a guide, the ski media had also started to take notice of her smooth, capable and impressive skiing. Many ex-racers try freeskiing for the cameras, but their style, developed on icy slopes, often doesn’t always translate well to film. Hjorleifson watched Lusti master this aspect of the sport. “She has a polished technique, very strong with a lot of power, but she’s been able to adapt that and become efficient and very smooth. She still maintains the strength in her turns, but she doesn’t look like a racer—she’s adapted to the environment.” Sherpas Cinema saw the same thing and featured Lusti in their film, Children of the Columbia. It earned her a nomination for Female Athlete of the Year at the 2019 Powder Awards, the kind of recognition sponsored skiers build entire careers on. She's also become a staple in Teton Gravity Research's annual ski film, cementing her place as one of the sport’s best and most recognized athletes. Most pro skiers would be content putting out a film segment every year that keeps sponsors happy and fans watching. But Lusti has always been drawn to ski mountaineering, where rope work and technical climbing are required. Hjorleifson admires that. “She’s so motivated on her own goals and ambitions with ski mountaineering that she doesn’t fit into the mold of a normal pro skier. She just does exactly what she wants to do, and in a way, that’s why she’s the best.” So, in what seems to be a fourth act after racing, guiding and movie skiing, Lusti is combining her fitness, mountain skills and skiing technique and taking it to where her heart is—amongst steep, rocky, glaciated peaks. In recent years, she’s teamed up with professional climber and closet skier Harrington to push steep skiing into bold new realms; the duo can climb things skiers can’t, and ski things climbers can’t, collectively blowing minds in both worlds. One of those blown minds belongs to freeskier Cody Townsend, the biggest name in backcountry skiing these days with his The Fifty YouTube series. “Lusti is one of the best ski mountaineers in the world; in North America she might be the best,” says Townsend. “The lines she’s skiing first are aesthetic but with such a high degree of difficulty that she’s leading ice climbing pitches with skis on her back. Only a few people in the world are doing what she’s doing.” 89
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A perfect example of this cutting edge ski mountaineering was Lusti and Harrington’s 2021 descent of the Gold Card Couloir. The line dangles between Mount Burnham and Mount Grady in BC’s Monashee Mountains like an ice-age, mountain-sized snotsickle. It’s a line for skiers to fantasize about but never actually ski. Just to reach the base of the 800-metre couloir, the team—Lusti, Harrington and Andrew McNabb—had to drive 45 minutes up logging roads, ride snow machines for over an hour with all their gear, then ski tour for two hours. Their first attempt ended halfway up when spooky ice conditions turned them around, and they had to reverse their efforts to get home by 7:00 p.m. After a day recovering and eating massive amounts of cheesecake, they again left early, determined to make the descent a reality. The subsequent pictures and videos—seen across all major climbing and skiing media outlets—could trick one into thinking it was easy: Lusti smiling at the top, coiling a rope around her leopard-print neck tube with light reflecting off her Oakley goggles and shiny North Face down, or her powerful, perfectly balanced turns on the narrow snow between jagged rock and blue ice. Lusti’s Instagram caption only adds to the image, “Cute and Cold. In that order.” Which returns us to the moment when “cute” had a cost that left Lusti dangling from her hair and that rope. Stalled halfway up the couloir and struggling to find a way out of the jam, she wracked her brain for a solution. “I was really stuck, and we had no time. So, I took out my V-threader with the little knife blade on it and cut three inches of hair out of my Micro Traxion.” The ordeal put the crew further behind on what was already a dangerously long day. “We had to redline the upper pitch and push on the descent. When we finally skied it all down to the lake, it was time to turn on headlamps. We still had to ski out to the sleds and ride back to the trucks in the dark.” The Gold Card Couloir was a significant accomplishment, but it was just one of five notable first descents that season for Lusti—the kind of annual output that has become standard for her. But more than the volume of descents, it’s how she makes the terrifying look easy that has earned her the respect of her peers. There’s no gold medal handed out for skiing the scariest, most impressive lines, but those involved in the sport seem happy to pass the proverbial crown to Lusti and see where she’ll take it.
The line dangles between Mount Burnham and Mount Grady in BC’s Monashee Mountains like an ice-age, mountain-sized snotsickle.
Gold Card line.
Never for glory. Hucking strictly for the soul. Ski or die. – ‘Nuff said. Skier :: Matt Elliott Photography :: Andrew Bradley Whistler Mountain. 03/30/2017 (Veteran ski patrollers said they had waited 35 years to see this beast get sent.)
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1. A winter glove with anti-smell lining, you say? Count us in! SWANY’S X-PLORER glove is made to handle anything winter can throw at you. The extra-warm Triplex Alpha insulation and stem finger construction keep fingertips warm while remaining waterproof and breathable. Handwarmer pockets, pre-curved fingers and full leather palms come standard on these timeless beauties. www.swanycanada.com // 2. The BRACELAYER WOMEN’S KX2 ALPINE is a supportive thermal base layer with built-in knee and hip support to keep your joints protected and warm this winter. Fleece-lined with a thin layer of perforated neoprene around the knees and hips, these compression tights increase stability and balance while helping to reduce joint impact and knee pain. Perfect for snowboarding, skiing, and other cold-weather activities. www.bracelayer.com // 3. Wintercapable and trail-ready, the MERRELL BRAVADA 2 THERMO is a women-specific hiker that fits like a sneaker and hugs the ankle with added insulation to keep you warm and confident throughout winter. www.merrell.com // 4. The YETI ROADIE 48 WHEELED COOLER is built for navigating tailgate crowds and taking lunches to go, with the same cold-holding power you’d expect from a Tundra Cooler. And from the handle to the durable wheels, this thing is virtually indestructible. www.yeti.ca // 5. Forget, “no friends on a powder day.” The best days should be shared with the best people, with the best skis under your feet. The Blizzard Hustle 11 ski is built off our tried-and-true freeride-oriented profile with a waist width that gets wider as the ski gets longer. An all new, lightweight wood core shaves some weight so you can go further and charge harder. www.blizzard-tecnica.com // 6. Updated with sustainable fabrics and improved features and fit, the FJÄLLRÄVEN NUUK PARKA is a perfect choice for changeable weather conditions. A long, generous parka that reaches down over the rear and thighs, the Nuuk protects against the wind and rain, and the synthetic padding will keep you warm in really cold temperatures. www.fjallraven.com
7→ 7. The iconic PRIOR POW STICK SNOWBOARD has been revised for 2023 with shorter, swifter swallowtail sections to minimize deflection and maximize edge hold without sacrificing pow floatation. An all-new blunted nose provides weight savings, and a slightly shorter overhang makes it nimbler and more versatile in the trees. This is the ultimate flotation ride, and it’s available in 156, 160, 167, 176 and 181cm. www.priorsnow.com // 8. The HILLSOUND TRAIL CRAMPON ULTRAS are a lightweight, reliable, and comfortable option for winter trail running, hiking, and fastpacking in the mountains. They provide the confidence to focus on your performance and the experience, rather than worrying whether next step will be a slippery one! www.hillsound.ca // 9. JACK WOLFSKIN’S ROUTEBURN PRO JACKET offers reliable protection from any weather you can find. The insulating Primaloft® fill and TEXASHIELD PRO shell fabric are both made from recycled polyester which effortlessly withstands cold gusts of wind and rain showers. An adjustable hem, and comfortable stretch fleece insets assure optimal freedom of movement, and three pockets offer easy access for all your adventure essentials. www.jackwolfskin.com // 10. Fresh tracks to hardpack, the new SENDER 106 TI is your ticket to ride the whole mountain. With double LCT, Air Tip technology, dampening technology, and lightweight Paulownia wood core, the ski has it all to fly beyond the boundaries and roll through mixed conditions without hesitation. www.rossignol.com // 11. On multi-day trips and multi-sport days, the WOMEN’S AURA AG 65L PACK from Osprey is a great fit. This versatile pack features adjustability in virtually every direction (a little something Osprey calls “gravity-defying” comfort) and a patented mesh panel that keeps it off the back for breathability. For a 65-litre pack with a ton of storage and organization options, it also cinches down nicely to double as a daypack, making it handy for short jaunts from basecamp. www.osprey.com // 12. Compact and travelready, NOCS PROVISIONS BINOCULARS offer the highest-grade optics in a rugged, impact-absorbing exterior. Fog proof and even waterproof, these ‘nocs are perfect for all mountain ventures this winter season. www.camplifestyle.ca // 13. THE NORTH FACE WOMEN’S SUMMIT BREITHORN 50/50 HOODIE is the ideal mid-layer for high-output activities, utilizing 800-fill ProDown to deliver warmth in challenging conditions. And a lightweight design helps you move farther, faster. www.thenorthface.com
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14. Rocker? Yup, we added some of that to the SALOMON QST 106 SKI to give you a more playful feel. Sidecut and taper? Tweaked that too for stronger turn finish. We also added a healthy dose of double sidewall technology, a dash of cork damplifier and a skosh of C/FX for a powerful, stable, and versatile ski with a personality built for everything from railing groomers to searching out fresh lines in the backcountry. www.salomon.com // 15. The new ESKER APPROACH is a performance orthotic made sustainably in Canada entirely from natural fibres. Thanks to the innovative use of wool, these insoles will not only keep your feet feeling warm, dry and supported, they‘ll help keep your gear shed from smelling like a wet dog. www.eskerinsoles.com // 16. The SUREFOOT CUSTOM SKI BOOT combines an ability-specific shell, heater-integrated liner, and a custom orthotic to deliver the most comfortable, best-performing ski boot on the market. Using a gel-like memory foam material, Surefoot liners are custom molded exactly to your foot. Think how great a memory foam mattress feels, then imagine that level of comfort in your ski boots! www.surefoot.com // 17. Helly Hansen took their award-winning ELEVATION INFINITY 2.0 SKI JACKET to greater heights this year with our most innovative and responsible waterproof/breathable technology. Our unique LIFA Infinity Pro™ fabric is an inherently hydrophobic textile that delivers durable waterproofing without the use of chemicals. Taking input from professional freeskiers, we upgraded the jacket design to elevate mobility, temperature control and visibility. www.hellyhansen.com // 18. A huge leap forward for backcountry safety, the MICON LITRICTM AVALANCHE AIRBAG is your new go-to pack. The bright minds at Arc’teryx and Ortovox have spent the last 12 years designing and refining this bag to be as lightweight and easy to use as possible, with an electric system that you can deploy multiple times and recharge, even out in the backcountry. www.litricavalanchesafety.com // 19. The OYUKI GOSHIKI YAMAPRO 3L JACKET is an easy pick for demanding freeriders getting after it in stormy conditions. With an articulated performance fit and tough-yet-breathable two-way stretch fabric, plus enough pockets to keep your on-hill essentials organized, this jacket will keep you going through any weather. www.evo.com
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20. Never worry about getting chilly buns again. For those born cold, the PHOENIX PANT is simply the warmest layering option for your legs. Period. Using lightweight, Primaloft Thermoplume insulation, Orage has created a top-notch layering piece that is perfect for those ultracold days on the mountain. www.orage.com // 21. Equally at home exploring deep snow, bumps, and trees, NORDICA’S UNLEASHED 98 W is the perfect daily driver for adventurous skiers. To amplify your confidence, it pairs a wood core with carbon and a sheet of terrain-specific metal. This design boosts edge hold and dampens vibrations for an exceptionally smooth ride. Its rocker profile thrives in any terrain and all conditions while the traditional camber underfoot offers exceptional response and plenty of pop. Combine all this with an early-rise tip and tail for additional floatation and you’ll never want to leave the slopes. www.nordica.com // 22. Available in high or low-topped versions, the Fubuki Niseko 2.0 are the lightest and warmest fully waterproof rubber boots you’ll ever wear. Constructed of EVA and lined with thick moisture wicking fleece for ultimate comfort before and après the ski hill, these boots are rated to -30˚ Celsius. Reinforced ankle support for added stability and aggressive rubber tread for the slipperiest conditions means you won’t regret this purchase once this winter! www.escaperoute.ca // 23. The KHROMA KINETIC JACKET is Rab’s softest ski mountaineering hardshell. Their signature Proflex fabric is a trifecta of backcountry comfort: it’s stretchy, breathable and durable. Forget about strain and struggles, the shell’s flexibility makes transitions in the mountains smooth like butter. And the stretch and breathability don’t come at the expense of durability: the fabric’s tight weave practically repels damage from rocks, trees, ice axes, alders and the like. Check it out, with matching bib pants at www.rab.equipment/ca // 24. The ELAN RIPSTICK 106 is the perfect one-quiver ski, offering an unmatched pairing of grip and flotation. Built for skiers seeking exceptional performance, the 106 delivers power, smoothness, manoeuvrability, and precision across the entire mountain. Ski legend Glen Plake says,“This is one ski I can take anywhere in the world and trust it in any condition.” Hard to argue with Plake. www.elanskis.com // 25. The durable and warm MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR STRETCHDOWN HOODY weaves pockets of down insulation from a single stretch fabric in an ultra-engineered construction, giving you more freedom to move for your full range of winter activities. www.mountainhardwear.ca
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