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Rob Mitchell launches into the heart of the Old West, at Jackson Hole.

Bluegrass A POWDER FIELDS Jackson Hole, Teton County, Wyoming, USA Words and Photos by Vaughan Brookfield

Welcome to the Old West!


should have Jackson Hole, Wyoming on their ‘Bucket List’. It’s a place that’s produced the likes of Travis Rice, and we’ve all seen the endless pow available in the mags and on videos. So when asked to shoot a story there with a bunch of empty-pocketed, half-wasted Kiwi shredders that had run out of fuel on their way to pick me up, I was thinking, “Shit! I don’t know if this is for me!” However, everything started to flow more smoothly that evening, especially the White Russians, and before we knew it, 3:00 a.m. rolled around and we were still partying. Legendary tales of Jackson’s powder trails were going round and we made a drunken decision to hit the road as soon as we’d sobered up. The crew consisted of Rob Mitchell, Ben ‘Ferret’ Vercauteren, Mark Anderson, Tim ‘Ruffy’ Williams (our guide) and myself, left to stand behind the lens. We hit the road from Reno with a car packed so full it lacked steering, and a bunch of grimy snowboarders just holding down last night’s dinner. It would’ve been disastrous if anyone got sick in such a confined

Riders on the storm…

space. After two days of driving we finally made it to Jackson. The floor of the car was completely swamped with rubbish – empty energy drink cans, beef jerky wrappers, and a potent smell of farts pervaded the limited air available. We were all ready to escape the car and find a bed to say the least! There’s loads of money in Wyoming it seems, I’m told it’s the richest state in the United States of America. So as you could imagine, everything is prêt-ty nice. We, however, were on a tight-as budget and needed somewhere warm but affordable to stay. We came across Hostel X – the only place right below the lift that’s cheap, but it’s sooo sweet. You can get a bunkroom with its own bathroom, heater, and sink… and there’s free coffee and a pool table downstairs. That’s where you want to book into if you need to do it ghetto-style like we did. Next morning we awoke to a gloomy cold day. I wandered half asleep down to the front desk, following the sweet aroma of coffee, to where the weather report awaited me. The forecast each day for the rest of our stay was covered in snowflake symbols. We’d expected snow, as we were in Jackson


By Ste’en Webster

SNOWBOARDING IS ADDICTIVE. Once it’s in your system, the desire to ride as often and as long as

possible overrides what many others might call the important things in life – like getting a nine-to-five, settling down, wife and kids, and a house in the suburbs. Back in the 1980’s when snowboarding first fired up, that was pretty much the stock option. Apart from being a rebellious snow-bum for a season or two, snowboarding on the weekends or during the annual family holiday was really the only box it was ever going to fit into. There were only a few contests or opportunities for top riders to make a buck, and even fewer riding-based career options.


“My contracts went up significantly when I was about 19, and ever since then I’ve managed okay. But back in the day there was definitely a lot of money borrowed from parents and never paid back, ha-ha. Nowadays I’m not getting rich, but on paper it probably looks like I’m doing pretty good. There are just so many expenses with this job – it’s crazy. I’m happy, and for the most part doing everything I want just off my snowboarding, so I feel blessed, yo.” Jake Koia, BC, Canada. PHOTO: JUSSI GRZNAR


After a day that’'d had its share of challenges, we felt free ollying off cornices, spraying each other & xxxXxxxXxxx straight-lining through New Zealand’s finest powder.

with crazily high avalanche danger meant we were stuck in this one zone for the day whether we had the world’s best jump lined up or not. Unlucky I guess. We didn’t let this hinder our motivation though, Will and Mitch scoped out an alternate angle they thought might just work…. The surroundings are mind-blowing – glaciers, blue ice, and gigantic white peaks. We were literally surrounded by New Zealand’s finest and highest terrain. We’re eager to start sliding, and get a heli ride up to where the run-in would usually start… we cruise down individually, yelling and hooting at how good the snow is and the turns we just got. The sun is out and layers are off as we start savagely building Mitch and Will’s jump. After an hour or so of digging and shaping, the jump is manicured nicely and ready to hit. Unfortunately the cloud decides to roll in and throw us another curveball. Looking for other features around the area, a shark fin style deal caught our eye, and Joram and I decided to try and get creative. Joram began sending some textbook front 3’s and straight airs over it. He looked like he was having a ball, his smile now even wider and whiter than normal. I joined in and began getting some turns on the frontside. We had such a good time hitting the shark fin that we’d soon forgotten how unfortunate we were that the dream jump 38 NZSNOWBOARDER

didn’t happen – it was probably more fun anyway! Will got serious and decided to hike right up the guts of a chute he’d spotted. He looked like an ant making its way up a drainpipe. Completely dwarfed by the size of the surrounding mountains, Will continued up the chute and weaved his way up the final metres to safety. A couple of tight but nice turns then a straight-line out, it was crazy to see how dwarfed he was by the immense size of the mountains we were riding. Will looked stoked on his little adventure and was now psyched and ready to hit his jump. It was a sketchy one, with loads of flat before the take off, so judging speed was always going to be difficult for the guinea pig. Will was ready and willing by this stage though, and ‘boom’ – he launched a massive backside 3. The landing was short and sweet but Will managed to get damn close to the sweet spot and rode on out of there. How he got the speed that dialed on his first hit really is astonishing! In one piece and keen for another hit, he dropped from the same spot and launched once again. This time he went a tiny bit bigger and only just caught the last metre of landing transition, as luck would have it. He’d done everything the same as the first hit but had come within inches of a serious injury. Not quite ready to call it a day, we agree to meet the helicopter further down

When it comes to stepping up to the plate, Will Jackways will hit a homer every time.

the hill. The four of us begin to hoon down the terrain below the dream jump, LOVING it! After a day that’d had its share of challenges, we felt free; ollying off cornices, spraying each other and straight-lining through New Zealand’s finest powder. We now all had Joram-sized smiles, thanks to an all-time last run at the end of the day! On the flight out we were shown some crystalblue glacier lakes and treacherously rugged Southern Alps terrain. We gathered back at the accommodation, exhausted, sunk a few beers and enjoyed Phil’s burrito mix while planning the next day’s events. Day two, and after breakfast, with Mount Cook as the backdrop, we piled into our vehicles and made our way through the inversion layer up to the sunny blue skies of Ohau. Ohau is the kind of mountain that can be incredible, with an array of accessible terrain all above a jaw-dropping backdrop. We were looking around the hill from the car park seeking out which aspects and lines would work the best for us. It was really hard to tell what was on though, and as soon as we got on the chairlift we realised there was a crazy crust on top of the off-piste snow. This crust was different to anything I’d ever seen before – it was thick, but just soft enough for your board to break through to the powder underneath. Riding

through it proved as difficult as riding a unicycle through quicksand. The snow controlled your board, rather than the other way around. This crust, or ‘riming’, was amazing to look at and proved to stack quite nicely. I got the idea to turn the thing that was holding us back into something that could actually work in our favor. I stacked it up, strapped one foot in and sent a couple of airs over this phenomenon known as ‘riming’. Mitch and Joram were stoked to be freeriding the mountain and found themselves lapping the park and then hurtling their way down the groomers, ollying off every bump in sight. Will, in the meantime, had begun to build a bump onto one of the fences above the park and eyed up a steel beam on the end, proceeding to do numerous textbook boardslides off the beam to an overhead-high drop. So there’s an example of a trip that didn’t go without its challenges and surprises, but turned out to be a good time nonetheless. We had two amazing mid-winter days, the first planned well in advance, and the second planned over breakfast. Neither day turned out how we expected, but both delivered their fair dose of good and bad luck that in turn resulted in a very welcome adventure, and another story to tell about the wilds. NZSNOWBOARDER 39




I’VE SPENT THE LAST FEW WINTERS over in Canada’s Interior Mountains, this last one by far being my most memorable. After a shred mission back home in New Zealand last  winter I was rewarded with a wildcard entry to compete with the big hitters in  the U.S. stop of the  Freeride World Tour. This opened doors of opportunity that I couldn’t have  even dreamt of previously. Being asked to partake in  filming a  backcountry documentary and working with a super pro photographer  became means of hooking up  some heli time  and flying  into luxurious backcountry lodges for some unforgettable splitboard magic.... It’s 5:00 a.m., quick check outside, damn, it’s puking 50cent flakes. Corbin’s Subaru is waiting in the driveway; time to go. Grab my gear, backpack loaded with necessary equipment, splitboard, check, definitely need that. Drive down to pickup Gord, it’s already accumulated 5cm in the time it takes to get across town. Got to love the weather warnings in Revelstoke BC, they mean business! Three hours later we arrive for  flight briefing and learn there’s no way we’re going to fly today, leaving us to  ponder on reports of 30cm that fell in a few short hours back at Revelstoke Mountain Resort! Next morning dawned grey overcast and a quick check, we’re on to fly. With 45+cm accumulated in last 24 hours it’s hard to hide a grin as the heli arrives and fills the air with that sweet smell of av gas exhaust fumes. The flight in is awesome, face pressed hard against the windows, drooling at the endless terrain laid out below. We spent 5 days filming at Sol Mountain lodge, a two story pimp-ass  lodge fully catered, even

Author Scott Heale launches a classic method into the Revelstoke wilderness in what turned out to be the best season in years. PHOTO: RYAN CREARY

NZ Snowboarder 55 Preview  

Preview for the Issue number 55 of NZ Snowboarder Magazine

NZ Snowboarder 55 Preview  

Preview for the Issue number 55 of NZ Snowboarder Magazine