Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine 02
Issue Number Fourteen
Cam FitzPatrick airs it out on a Wyoming backcountry booter. Photo: Ben Gavelda
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Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine 04
life preservers EDITOR’S NOTE:
Surviving adversity on and off the mountain WORDS: ROBYN VINCENT P H O T O S : B E N G A V E L D A & WA D E D U N S TA N
n the mountains, we are small, vulnerable. When something goes wrong, our true character is exposed, on full display for the select few who brave the elements with us. Friendships are forged, deepened, or dismantled in these precarious alpine cathedrals. When I consider that truth, one harrowing day in the backcountry with this magazine’s new publishers, Jenelle and Olaus Linn, comes to mind. We were in Hakuba, Japan, outside Goryu Resort hiking beneath a jewel-toned sky. We climbed a ridge and glimpsed our objective—a slope of untouched, pristine powder dotted with thick trees, their branches sagging heavily with sleeves of white. As we descended, one at a time, our eyes on each other, the snow’s stability changed. Soon we found ourselves in an
Robin Van Gyn slices down the face of a peak in the Crazy Mountains, Montana. Photo: Ben Gavelda
avalanche path blanketed in debris. Each turn we made was breathless, wrapped in angst. We picked our way down that ridge to safety and glided through a gulley, its jagged, icy walls towering on either side. We were out of the woods, or so we thought. Our next obstacle in the land of the rising sun—a raging, winding, icy river—rose from the shadows as we descended a treed slope. We removed our snowboards and leapt down to the river’s deep, pillowy banks. Surely there was another way across. A faint set of boot prints emerging from the other side of the river told us there was not. We deliberated. Yes, the river was the only way. After a few giggles and jokes, futile attempts at levity, we shifted into serious river fording mode.
Olaus and Jenelle removed their snowboard boots and socks and rolled up their snow pants. They would cross the slick, rocky riverbed barefoot. It was the right decision, one that Olaus urged me to follow. He reached the other side mostly dry while his rapt audience, Jenelle and I, watched. Worried that without my boots on I would slip on a rock and plunge into the frigid, snarled water, I crossed the river wearing my boots and fell in anyway. I was utterly soaked in prickly, icy water. When I made it to the other side, Olaus was prepared. The gregarious snowboarder who I had shared laughs with moments earlier was a different person: concerned, methodical. He produced a towel and fresh socks from his pack and instructed me to remove my sopping boots and socks.
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Cover artist Mark Dunstan assisting Dude Dog with a stream crossing on Teton Pass. Photo: Wade Dunstan
I had to move fast, he urged. I dutifully listened. After all, Olaus is no stranger to the trials and tribulations that quickly ensue and unravel in the mountains. He spent his childhood on multi-week pack trips deep in the Tetons. Those trips prepared him to think fast in exactly these types of situations. Now, on the other side of the world, he was putting his Wyoming upbringing to use in a moment when every decision was critical, for the wrong choice could mean hypothermia.
every cumbersome incline, he was there to check in, to literally push me along.
Olaus followed close behind me on the hour-long traverse back to the resort. At
Yes, the Linns have come to my rescue on multiple occasions. Now they have
During another precarious situation, it was Jenelle who came to my rescue. I often like to say she nearly saved my life when we were in the remote Albanian Alps on a 10-day trek—lost, cold and hungry. During that trip, Jenelle wasted no time slipping into expert survival mode—starting fires with sticks, securing us shelter and preparing meals with scarce ingredients.
stepped in to save this magazine, too. Their recent purchase of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine from Planet Jackson Hole’s former publisher Copperfield Publishing is symbolic. It acknowledges a snow community of people whose stories should be told, preserved. The Linns see immeasurable value in that. They will be responsible stewards of this area’s vibrant, quirky culture. I’d bet my life on it.
Celebrating 25 Years of getting after it.
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Olaus Linn firstname.lastname@example.org CFO / FOOD DELIVERY
Jenelle Linn email@example.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER
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Jon Desabris Sarah Grengg Lucas Ayoub PUBLISHER
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Mark Dunstan CONTRIBUTORS
Jesse Brown Ben Gavelda Rob Kingwill Aaron Lebowitz Katie Lozancich Andrew Munz Josi Stephens ILLUSTRATION
Scott Askins Aaron Blatt Gus Booth Chad Chomlack Wade Dunstan Ben Gavelda Kasha Glowacka Danny Holland Rob Kingwill Olaus Linn Mike McKelvey Andrew Miller Shane Rothman Jared Spieker Â© 2018 Sharp Eye Deer LLC All Rights Reserved.
BACK IN LOCAL HANDS
Jesse Brown- P09
COVER ARTIST: MARK DUNSTAN
Josi Stephens- P12
FEELING THE MOUNTAIN
Aaron Lebowitz - P19 SOLITARY MOTION
Ben Gavelda - P24
Mike McKelvey on the moon. Photo: Scott Askins
Photography - P29 MINDING THE GAP
Robyn Vincent - P42 WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO ROAM?
Josi Stephens - P46
THE CRAZIES AND THE CROW
Ben Gavelda - P52
THE KEEPER OF THE KING
Robyn Vincent - P58
DENIZENS OF THE DITCH
Katie Lozancich - P66 THE MUIR MEANING
Lozancich & Vincent - P74 LIFEâ€™S TRUEST RICHEST
Rob Kingwill - P80
LEGENDS: JULIE ZELL
Katie Lozancich - P84 A PATH FORWARD
Robyn Vincent - P88 ON SNOWBOARDING FOREVER
Andrew Munz - P90
B L A C K
S P E I K E R
P : S E A N
J A R E D
F T. T H E B RY A N I G U C H I P R O + S N O W B O A R D C O L L E C T I O N
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JHSM co-founder Jesse Brown (right) arranges lighting for a shoot. Photo: Kasha Glowacka
back in local hands JHSM co-founder reflects on the magazineâ€™s past and hopeful future WORDS: JESSE BROWN P H O T O : K A S H A G L O WA C K A
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“We knew nothing about publishing, and even less about each other.”
lmost 15 years ago Jackson prosnowboarder Lance Pitman and I decided to launch the first issue of the magazine you’re reading. It was a curious endeavor for Lance and I—we knew nothing about publishing, and even less about each other. We grew up on different sides of the country, came from different backgrounds. But we shared one overarching desire: to tell the stories of Jackson Hole’s snowboarding community.
and we gave our magazines away for free with none left at the end of the year. When it was time for me to leave Jackson, I was faced with a tough decision. I didn’t want to see the magazine die and thought
As for me, I’m still trying to create something I can feel as passionately about as Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. What I do know is that I care about telling people’s stories and using my camera to do that. Now I’m working collectively with artists in my area to launch a communitysupported storytelling network. Think Netflix, but for a local community in which the artists and the community own the platform and keep the money flowing locally.
I remember working on our first media kit in the back of Lance’s Illuminati snowboard shop. It would introduce our idea to the world, allow us to gauge the community’s appetite. When the media kit, filled with fancy pie charts and graphs, arrived from the printer, we were proud of what we saw. Sometimes I look at it to remind me of those early days. Although we didn’t know the term for it then, we were also proud that the magazine was rooted in localism. It was born out of the desire to place local faces behind a publication that is for a community, by a community. We were accountable—many of our advertisers, writers, photographers and readers were also our friends and neighbors. We were building something different without even knowing it. Making money off the magazine, while something we considered, was hardly the main thing we thought about. Because we were not obsessed with profit margins, we sowed a certain legacy: We kept our content a 2:1 ratio of stories to ads, we created a beautiful ad-free photo gallery,
A couple months ago, Robyn told me the magazine was up for sale for a third time and that Olaus was considering purchasing it. I was psyched to hear that. After all, he epitomizes the word local. His family settled in Jackson more than a century ago. That he is an artist and a snowboarder means he is uniquely equipped to carry the torch.
about running it from the East Coast, but my heart wasn’t in it. However, my search to find a snowboarder to buy the magazine, someone to shepherd it on the path we had carved, was dismal. When Planet Jackson Hole’s former publishers, Mary and Judd Grossman, approached me about buying it, it seemed the best option to keep it alive. After that sale, I didn’t pay much attention to it, but I felt good knowing editor Robyn Vincent, and a few years later art director Olaus Linn were holding things down. They stayed when the magazine switched ownership yet again, from the Grossmans to Copperfield Publishing.
As I work on that venture, I’m constantly amazed how many similarities there are to what we were doing with the magazine and how much that experience laid a foundation for me to build upon. I’m forever grateful to the Jackson community and all the amazing friends that I made there. That’s really what the magazine was about for me and I hope what it will always be about: celebrating friends and having gratitude for Jackson’s anomalous snow community. jb Jesse Brown is a photographer and entrepreneur currently based in Hudson Valley, New York. @digi_ranch
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C O V E R A R T I S T:
wyoming-bred evolution Cover artist Mark Morgan Dunstan stretches his canvas across lands, ideas, time and space WORDS: JOSI STEPHENS PHOT OS: OLAUS LI NN
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“We have so much open land in Wyoming and every parcel is different which makes it a very complicated issue.”
s a child growing up in Wyoming, Mark Morgan Dunstan was enamoured by the endless miles of the open range. Today, he still hasn’t tired of exploring the land under his feet. His world, and the art he creates, is a slow walk down an unmarked road. One that’s punctuated with detours and curiosities, all of it coming together at the end in yet another unbroken path. He likes to find these nonlinear spaces to encounter ideas or aesthetics, “the ways that things are presented in the past or currently, where it’s not so much this linear thing or a set of steps that you can use to understand, it’s more a nebular type space,” Dunstan said. In such a space, “things are floating in contact with each other” and that leads to “surprising connections without determined outcomes.” Dunstan’s cover art is simple and pared back from the magazine’s past covers, including his cover art for JHSM’s 2011/2012 issue. His work for this edition is likely the magazine’s most political. At its core, the piece is about public lands and how their access affects people who spend their lives in nature. He believes there is merit in both public and private lands,
but that it all hinges on management. The issue is muddied, though, by a battle as old as time—man versus nature, with some recreationists front and center. “I guess that when it comes to recreation I find that there’s this really hypocritical stance that a lot of people are embedded in,” Dunstan said. “People want to use the areas for recreation but it feels like we need to sacrifice at least a little bit of these areas for preservation. We have so much open land in Wyoming and every parcel is different which makes it a very complicated issue.” Dustan’s upbringing, in a place with striking access to public land and the nation’s lowest population density, has informed a significant piece of his artistic output, both in content and method. Yet as an artist in a constant state of evolution and curiosity, he explores what comes, complicated or otherwise, in a particular and compelling way, all politics aside. He has created art in some form since as long as he can remember. His schooling, first at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and then the City and Guilds of London
Art School, has given him a deep well. His current work is more multi-dimensional and structural than paint and brush, a significant departure from years past. The assemblage sculpture work of British artists Mike Nelson and Helen Marten has inspired him to “process ideas by taking things apart and putting them back together in a different plane.” Even in its newest iteration, Dunstan’s art still addresses the mythical elements of his early influences, Leonardo da Vinci, Carlo Crivelli and the like who gave him a “really rich access point to the subconscious.” Whether you examine his body of work in its entirety or broken up, you’ll find deftness, intelligence and a finely tuned sense of humor. Dustan approaches his artistic life with the same industriousness and curiosity that informs his relationship with this wild, open land. See more of Dunstan’s work at markmorgon.co or follow him @mawrq
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TAI LORED TO THE TRI MLI N E SN OW BOARDS SHAP ED FOR HIGH ALTITUDE SURFIN G
ELEVATEDS U RFCRAFT.COM
@ ELEVATED_S U RFCRAFT
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feeling the mountain ‘Rated Radical’ snowboards from the Shaper Summit’s diehard testers Elevated Surf Craft owner and shaper Aaron Lebowitz riding one of his surfinspired board shapes.
WORDS: AARON LEBOWITZ P H O T O S : WA D E D U N S TA N
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“If it’s not there, someone in the tent is indeed drawing it up in their head.”
he Shaper Summit (formerly the JH PowWow) is a gathering of snow tribes, each from a different background and ethos, all dedicated to a life sliding sideways. It is a gathering that refutes any notion of a dying industry. Yes, in recent years some have declared snowboarding dead. Burnt out. Stale and stuck in the park. There was a reaction to this end of days proclamation. Many gathered and discussed the essence of snowboarding, how to breathe life into something they love. They began to draw new shapes and old shapes, for both snowboards and the way they would ride them. They did more of what snowboarders have always done: listened to the elders and watched their lines, hucked with the gusto of the groms and grinned ear-to-ear like a child feeling the glide for the first time. Each year local pro-snowboarder Rob Kingwill draws some of those passionate, diehard snowboarders to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to test boards and celebrate snowboarding. They bring forth the past, present, and future of the sport under one giant tent at the base of the mountain. There are shapes of every size for riders of every style. Meanwhile, in the tent and in the tram and gondola lines, shapers and testers discuss sidecut and
taper, theories of performance, the state of the industry and its future. There is also no shortage of hooting and hollering with new and old friends, experimentation in form and function, exploration of possibilities, praise and criticism, gondolas full of stoke, boxes of pizza, trenches laid, kickers sent, swallowtails, local brew, late night bonfires praying for pow, and thousands of vertical feet engraved. To walk into the testing tent is a mix of candy store dreaming and a long awaited elementary school recess. Everything imaginable is sprawled across the racks. And if it’s not there, someone in the tent is indeed drawing it up in their head. More soulful young brands pop up every year to claim a seat at the table alongside the established pillars of the industry. One board does not fit all. Each vessel is designed with an intentional directive attuned the shaper’s style. Some focus on the curves of the shape, others the construction and build, some the aesthetic, and always on the way it feels riding the mountain. If a shape is worthy it may be “Rated Radical” by some of the most influential test riders in the field. al Aaron Lebowitz is shaping a brave new world. @elevated_surfcraft
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Rider and videographer Matt Hines grins ear-to-ear while hiking up for a Glory lap.
Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine
men’s rated radical
Read the rest at shapersummit.com
Arbor Clovis TESTER NAME
Benjamin Louis Pellegrino SIZE
Eric Odlin SIZE
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT
“Well considering that I hated the last version. This was a huge surprise. Figured it would be stiff and pissed for Carter. Not the case. Medium flex, easy to manipulate in and out of turns in all conditions. Everday big mtn ripper! Sign me up.”
“Yes please. There were other boards I liked better, but this board gave me the best feelies hands down. It may have been the pinkness but I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time on this swally was on my feet. Cant wait to own one.”
Elevated Surfcraft Shortboard TESTER NAME
Cliff Roberts SIZE
“Loved this board. Carved like nothing I’ve ridden before. Could lay it over as much as you could, and it would just want to go more. Short but stiff and poppy as hell.”
Issue Number Fourteen
women’s rated radical
Read the rest at shapersummit.com
Nitro Drop TESTER NAME
Micah Anderson SIZE
“This board was by far my favorite at the powwow! It was almost bad because one I got on the thing it was the only thing I really wanted to take out, even over my own board. It is super smooth and effortless in pow and just cruises groomers/ all mountain.”
Dinos Will Die Pow Reaper TESTER NAME
Ellie Turner SIZE
“This honestly would have been my favorite board at the pow wow of it was a little bit wider… I am a girl but wear a men’s 9 boot and had toe drag and heel drag a little when I laid over all the way for deep carves. I wanted to go deeper!!! And I think that board could handle it… one of my all time favorites.”
Niche Ember TESTER NAME
Alli Noland SIZE
“This might be my next board. incredibly light underfoot and super responsive. Last board of the day, but it made me feel like it was just the beginning. At one point, I looked for the Nitrous button, thinking I’d hit it by accident, but apparently, there isn’t one, just super fast fun. Even going faster than I should have been, it felt grippy stable on all terrain: bowl, trees, flats…”
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solitary motion The quest for mobile dwelling and a life closer to nature W O R D S & P H OT O S : B E N G AV E LDA
Writer and photographer Ben Gaveldaâ€™s custom wintertime rig is a converted trailer. Gavelda, a carpenter by trade, did the work himself.
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“Countless hours on the road make me ponder this choice.”
uarter-sized flakes pour from the sky, blotting out the black night. It appears a ceiling of white is crashing down. Halogen lights from the lodge cut into the blizzard and quickly fade into the parking lot island. It’s quiet. I’m one of only a few souls living on its flat confines in the Pacific Northwest near the U.S.-Canadian border. Inside my box of refuge the light is calm and glowing as a fire faintly cracks in the mini woodstove, keeping it at a cozy 76 degrees. Snow swirls past the sliding glass door like a reverse snow globe as I relax on the couch after a long day of riding. I’m comfortable, content, and deep down there’s a little feeling of triumph. After many months of creating this custom craft, living inside 128–square-feet all seems worth it. Yet countless hours on the road make me ponder this choice of a mobile existence. Rewind to June, when blistering temperatures and single digit humidity are working their beef jerky effect. The coarse gravel bites into my flesh as I squirm around on my back, grinding through rust and cutting off chunks of metal. The grinder howls its teeth-gritting whine as metal, paint and dust pour over my work clothes. Soon I hope to turn this skeleton trailer frame into a mobile home on wheels, built stout for the rigors of thousands of miles and hearty winter storms. That’s the dream, anyway. I keep reminding myself as the days go on like this. Each trip to Home Depot,
each parts order, each draw from my meager bank account, the gamble lies on days of powder and a quaint, mobile refuge to call home. I fit the crafting of this custom rig around days of building fine custom homes for wealthy folk. Building and carpentry is my off-season gig. I squeeze in a couple hours on the camper every day until I’m exhausted or the light fades or I fear the neighbors will file a noise complaint. Inspired by past trips and rigs, friends like Mike Basich and others who build boats, and the craze of mobile living pushes the project forward. It’s small and simple, yet it demands all the necessary components of a normal house. The electrical system, plumbing, nooks and customizations add up and there’s little room, literally, for error. To be warm, quiet and off-grid in winter, the camper cannot be designed like a normal RV. I route my plumbing lines inside. I beef up the electrical system and solar to power gadgets and camera stuff through the storm. I add two heat sources—neither of which requires a battery. Each decision passes through a tight filter of reason, whether it’s weight, flexibility, waterproofing, storage or more. Summer evaporates and autumn fades quickly, too. After a few delays on final components, I’m racing the cold and oncoming winter to seal it up and become road ready.
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Mike Basich peers into the setting Northwestern sun.
The maiden voyage is a bit nervewracking, hauling something I’ve dumped a significant amount of money and time into and taking it through the gauntlet of America’s highways. But by January I’ve stashed away just enough money to roam for a few months and make my way to the Tetons. I’m fortunate to park in a friend’s driveway in Victor, Idaho. The few, if any, RV sites open in winter charge as much as rent, which is a lot for a parking spot. Here the rig is a driveway chalet. Days and nights are split around the range, and on many occasions I end up in friends’ guest rooms, too. As the storms fade, I’m on to the
Northwest where I know of some superb parking. After all the time and money spent, where did it get me? Is there any way to really beat the costs associated with the expensive hobby of snowboarding? Is it worth all the hassle? Parking, showering, laundry and even cooking can become challenges in a small living space. Is it a richer experience to cram into a hotel room with friends and eat at the diner? Comfort is different for everyone. Cooking one’s own food in a time of Monsanto
spew or sleeping without the TV blaring or friend snoring is a luxury. Pooling time and resources puts us closer, though. It forces relationships rather than walls. It reminds us that we’re all in this together. While the nicest boho chic van or shack on a truck is cozy—it separates us. And why are there suddenly so many photos of people standing on their vans, their backs to the camera? Who took those photos anyway? Never mind. A mobile dwelling comes with experiences, too. Like sleeping in truck stops. Cruising beautiful byways. Peeing in a bucket.
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Mike Basich putting a rooster tail over a ridge somewhere close to the Canadian border.
Improving organizational skills and cleanliness. Having great conversation with a toothless guy named Guy from Kentucky while you sit in the cab of his tow truck as your rig is hauled away. Truthfully, a slopeside chalet in this inflated real estate market is a bargain, at least while parking remains. Back in the Mt. Baker parking lot, the squalls keep rolling in. There are times when I fear I might get buried and stuck so I move the trailer to a new spot. Various people come and go, some in Mercedes Sprinters worth half a house; others reside
in a buffet of vans, trucks and various fourwheel creations. None stay more than a few days. Lot living is calm and simple. If there were not some daylong physical activity I’m sure I would feel caged. Posting up here eliminates the daily three-hour haul over a treacherous highway. Instead it’s sleeping in, lunch breaks and plenty of down time. There’s no race to first chair even though I have an advantage. Powder days are a plenty, but there are gray days of firm and foggy riding, too. Being up here makes you commit, and that was part of the plan: to ride as much as
possible no matter what. It was also part of an urge to be closer to the raw outside. After all, that wilderness lies just beyond a thin skin of aluminum, a few inches of spray foam and a little bit of plywood.
Ben Gavelda doesn’t have a spirit animal. He is a spirit animal. @bengavelda
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gallery Spectacular snowboarding photos for your viewing pleasure P H O T O S : S C O T T A S K I N S , A A R O N B L A T T, C H A D C H O M L A C K , W A D E D U N S T A N , D A N N Y H O L L A N D , M I K E M C K E LV E Y , J A R E D S P I E K E R
Photo: Aaron Blatt Rider: Bryan Iguchi Location: Jackson Hole
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Photo: Chad Chomlack Rider: Rob Kingwill Location: British Columbia
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Photo: Danny Holland Rider: Halina Boyd Location: Jackson Hole
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Photo: Aaron Blatt Rider: Blake Paul Location: In front of Corbetâ€™s Couloir
Photo: Mike McKelvey Rider: Hans Mindnich Location: Corbetâ€™s Couloir
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Photo: Mike McKelvey Rider: Sean Loehle Location: The Cloud
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Photo: Scott Askins Rider: Mikey Marohn Location: Mars
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Photo: Jared Spieker Rider: Mark Carter Location: Jackson Hole
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Photo: Aaron Blatt Rider: Blake Paul Location: Jackson Hole
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Photo: Jared Spieker Rider: Cam FitzPatrick Location: Jackson Hole
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minding the gap Robin Van Gynâ€™s appearance in Depth Perception highlights one of snowboardingâ€™s greatest flaws WORDS: ROBYN VINCENT
The sun rises over the rocky ridges of the Sierra P H O T O : Mountains B E N G A V E in L DCalifornia. A Nevada
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hen Robin Van Gyn appeared in Travis Rice’s Depth Perception it was, well, “a big deal to a lot of people,” she said. The first woman to appear in a Rice film, Van Gyn entered a coveted cinematic space that the industry’s male eminence has long occupied. Rice’s decision to include the Canadian professional snowboarder “set a new standard,” she said. After the film’s October 2017 release, Van Gyn began fielding offers for projects headed by all-male crews that, historically, were out of her reach.
Indeed, the dearth of women depicted in snow sports media is deeply pronounced. In 2014, women comprised just 14 percent of athletes in major ski and snowboard films yet they make up 40 percent of the snow sports populace and 30 percent of viewers of action/adventure sports. They are also helping revive an industry that has hemorrhaged almost one million participants over the last decade. In 2016, women 18 and older were among the only two demographics fueling snowboarding’s
growth, The New York Times reported. (The other group was young men and women 17 and under.) In the dozens of snowboard films released in 2018, women scarcely appeared. There were, however, some exceptions. Unsurprisingly, Van Gyn was one. She joined Jeremy Jones in Teton Gravity Research’s Far Out. ( Jones also worked with another woman snowboarder this year—Olympian Elena Hight in Ode to
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Muir.) Two all-women’s snowboard films hit the silver screen too: The Uninvited by Jess Kimura and Vans’s first all-women production: Listen To The Eyes featuring Vans team riders Hana Beaman, Mary Rand and Leanne Pelosi. Still, there is more work to be done and recently, Van Gyn made sure to let the industry know. For her part in Depth Perception, Van Gyn won the 2018 Transworld Snowboarding award for Women’s Video Part of the Year, an honor for which she is no stranger. It was the second time she took home that title in as many years. (In 2017, it was for her part in Pelosi’s all-women film Full Moon.) During her acceptance speech,
Van Gyn didn’t mince words. Rice set an example “for everybody who makes films and all the brands out there to include your women,” she told the audience. Snow brands and media, Van Gyn explained, are stifling snowboarding’s growth when they exclude women or depict them as merely pretty faces. Alternatively, when women see other women riding big mountain lines or soaring through the terrain park, they see possibility. Rice, for his part, is keenly aware of the problem. In fact, he was seeking a woman rider to appear in one of his films long before Depth Perception. For his 2016 film The Fourth Phase, a three-and-half-
year project, he “really wanted to involve a woman, but for a number of reasons it didn’t work out.” During that time certain prominent women were working on other projects, he said. Years later, when Rice started planning for Depth Perception, he thought of Van Gyn, a denizen of the British Columbia backcountry. Although her experience in B.C. placed her on Rice’s filming radar, he has followed Van Gyn’s career for years. Van Gyn, he said, has essential qualities for riding British Columbia’s intensely dynamic terrain: “she is strong-minded, confident” and “one of the more certified pro-snowboarders I know,” he said.
Issue Number Fourteen Van Gyn began her snowboarding career at the University of Calgary more than a decade ago. She entered the competitive milieu—big air, rail jams and slopestyle before amassing backcountry experience and certifications that drew her to coach in the Andes and tailguide at Baldface. It was in the backcountry where she felt most at home and where she continues to push her boundaries. Of the Depth Perception crew, Austen Sweetin and Bryan Fox, Rice said Van Gyn was one of the strongest members. “I am not just bringing on a woman,” Rice told Van Gyn, “I am bringing on the right woman.” Still, it was a mental battle for
Van Gyn. Given her crew’s stature, she was “intimidated going into that project, like I had to snowboard better than I ever have.” It is a known scenario for many women who want to prove their worth in a space that has long been dominated by men. In addition to images of strength and resilience in films like Depth Perception and Far Out, Van Gyn is involved in other efforts to empower women. Recently she appeared at REI’s Outessa—a four-day allwomen retreat in Squaw Valley, California, that offered 450 women a supportive atmosphere to cultivate their skills in the outdoors. “That was one of the coolest events I have been to in a long time, just
Robin Van Gyn storming a big line in the Crazy Mountains, Montana.
to see people come out of their shells— mother-daughter duos, university students. It was a great culture to try something you have never done before.” For Van Gyn, part of her progression as a professional snowboarder includes finding meaningful ways to use her platform. Snowboarding, after all, is an individualistic pursuit. It is one fueled by a person’s independent might. But with a life in the public sphere “comes a responsibility to use your voice for something good.” rv Robyn Vincent is the editor of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. @TheNomadicHeart
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Alex Yoder drinks in the wild peaks of Scotland while filming Right To Roam.
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who has the right to roam? Lessons of stewardship, friendship and freedom from across the pond WORDS: JOSI STEPHENS P H O T O S : WA D E D U N S TA N
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n screen, Scotland is alive and dank, as if moss will grow on anything that sits unmoving for even a moment. It is also impossibly ancient, resolute and impervious to human hands.
It will tell the story of how Earth, like its inhabitants, is just a series of connecting bodies that are dependent on each other to survive. It will tell a story like The Right To Roam.
If the terrain is marked by progress, there is no evidence that it won’t just be casually swallowed up by time. Every material and method of man eventually rotting and returning to the dirt, every structure eroded, every grand idea made irrelevant by the next.
In 2017, pro-snowboarders MarieFrance Roy and Jackson’s own Alex Yoder teamed up with the local production crew WRKSHRT, Wade Dunstan and David Cleeland, for a Scottish exploratory mission. With the support of Patagonia, they set off to convene with the land and its people. Their tools were snowboards and the ability to forge friendships at every turn.
Scotland through the camera lens waits as old things do—passively, without resistance or judgement. It waits to be asked of the stories it holds.
It was a fitting collaboration. WRKSHRT captures human and wild connections in a
fresh and captivating way. Yoder and Roy, meanwhile, are mindful outdoor denizens. They all draw from the culture as much as the landscape or the agenda, treating the mission like a “choose your own adventure” book. Their endeavors are collaborative and unscripted, the fruits of their labor intimate and soulful, their lenses equally fixed on human connection and adventure. This method set the vibe for what was, at its beginning, a free-form, loosely planned journey into Scotland with a few good friends, an adventure mobile and some cameras. During the first days of the trip, Yoder and Roy met Scottish snowboarder Lauren
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MacCallum. Over a few pints in a local pub, she clued them in to the 2003 Land Reform Act. It grants everyone the right of access over land and inland water throughout Scotland for recreational and educational purposes. History and culture are at play here, MacCallum said. “You can go really deep and far back into how land was divided between clans. Even back to Gaels and Picts, the Vikings and Irish. … A lot of people respect that you do have the right to roam, there is that notion that Scotland has no trespassing laws. I am free to do as I wish. And that is a nice sort of liberty to have.”
In that chance meeting at a random pub, MacCallum was woven into the story that would become The Right To Roam. The film quietly draws the parallels between our land and theirs, laying out the responsibilities of what is considered a right and the debt that is accrued by such uneven distributions of public resources. It is people like MacCallum that give this country an inviting, enduring warmth while the Scottish landscape is a harsh contrast. The snowfall of 2017, the bleakest in years, did little to soften the terrain. The snowboarding was less about action and more about drawing lines in the snow as a way to carve out its secrets. Yoder and Roy’s explorations of it are an act of creativity and
making the most out of a little. The hard won Land Reform Act is just one part of Scotland’s bone-deep love of the land. The Scots co-exist with the natural world with tenderness and gratitude. They don’t conquer it, they tend to it. People have a strong sense of pride in sharing their country with one another, the freedom to roam as well as the respect and stewardship toward their land is all just assumed, Dunstan told Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. “They don’t know it any other way.” To see such a place through this lens makes it impossible to deny the power of stewardship. Dunstan, a Wyomingite, was
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“Without nature we’re nothing and without us it’s still everything.”
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Alex Yoder and Marie-France Roy finding new ways to access the goods in the Scottish Highlands.
acutely aware of the disparity between this land and America’s land. “To understand a concept so basic as the freedom to wander wherever you like shouldn’t be difficult, but it’s simply something we don’t grow up accustomed to in the states because we don’t have that freedom.” And therein lies the magic of such a simple story told by a small crew of free-spirited snowboarders. It poses questions that must be asked: What can we do when we are given the right to explore our lands without restriction? How can we hear the stories that our planet has to tell? While the crew was in Scotland, the battle for Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand StaircaseEscalante national monuments had just begun. In August 2017, President Trump scaled back the size of these protected areas, paving the way for potential mineral development. “We’re truly disillusioned about how scarce our protected land is in America and how quickly it’s shrinking under the new administration,” Yoder said. “What’s to lose carries far more weight than what’s to gain in this fight. I wish everyone would take a walk through nature more. Without nature we’re nothing and without us it’s still everything.” Such a notion begs the question: Once we know these stories, deep in our bodies, how can we properly nurture this gift of being free to roam?
Josi Stephens loves words, art, horses and naps. @mustang_josi
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the crazies and
the crow Journey into the heart of Montanaâ€™s Island Range and its checkerboard of land ownership W O R D S & P H OT O S : B E N G AV E LDA
Jeremy Jones doing what he does best: exploring hard-to-reach places with his board and his legs.
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he sound of flapping nylon follows the rhythm of howling wind gusts. A continuous blast piles snow around the littering of tents, slowly constricting them as the storm pushes through the night. A spring squall in the Crazy Mountains of southwestern Montana is delivering. It’s late April and far out in an island mountain range high above the plains, a crew of 10 is camped out. They’re exploring this lesser known range. When and where to ride will be the new challenge when the storm ceases. Sensitive snowpack and private property confine their exploration. Yet this range is rich with lines and the crew is in it for the long haul. The trip was born from the mind of prosnowboarder Jeremy Jones, who roped in fellow riders Wyoming’s Mark Carter, Canadian Robin Van Gyn and a Teton Gravity Research production crew. Aside from a little snowmobile support haul in camp, the trip is foot-powered. For Jones, taking this extended camp out method in the spring is all about exploring new areas with a safer, slower approach. “To be in mountains I have never seen before continues to really excite me,” he said, marveling over the conditions the crew enjoyed after the storm. On such footpowered trips, “stability with good snow is something very rare and special, especially in this range.” Considered an island of mountains, The Crazies are a lonesome mass of rock surrounded by a sea of plains. They span nearly 600 square miles. At lower altitudes, they contain thick forest and lush drainages. Up high, steep, jagged peaks top out at the
Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine
The Crazies are often referred to as an island range: a pocket of wild peaks with flat prarie on all sides. They have become a flash-point in the battle over land-use and access in the West.
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11,214-foot Crazy Peak. Their isolated position leaves them prone to strong winds, which often grate away snowpack. However, this past season they’d seen record snowfall. Their namesake comes with interesting lore, too. According to Rick and Susie Graetz of University of Montana’s Department of Geography, one such tale involved Native Americans who attacked a wagon train of white settlers coming through the Mussellshell Valley. “A woman’s family was killed, and it is said, she ran into the mountains to haunt the tribe. Another has it that a woman settler was separated from her wagontrain and wandered into these peaks. People thought that she couldn’t survive without going mad, so the range was dubbed the ‘Crazy Woman Mountains.’” Another tale, free from colonialist undertones, stems from the Native American Crow people who called the range Awaxaawapìa Pìa (Ominous Mountains). They believed the mountains had metaphysical powers and remained unpredictable. The Crow also believed in the mountain’s spiritual significance and travelled into them for vision quests. When it comes to the mountains, not everyone sees them in the same light. For some, they’re the most magnetizing playgrounds on the planet. Others simply like to look at them from a safe distance. Then there are the few who want to capture and own them. The latter is a touchy, complicated subject here in the Crazies. Shrinking public lands and lethal private property rights are indeed alarming naturalists and recreationists alike. But perhaps stranger than America’s battle to protect public lands are its public land islands. These areas are swaths of public land circled by private property with little to no access to the communal terra.
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Jeremy Jones, Robin Van Gyn and Mark Carter scope lines.
Montana has a lot of them and the Crazies fall somewhat into that category. “I had no idea it was such a checkerboard of private land,” Jones said. “I guess it is somewhat common in Montana. But California, Nevada, and Wyoming, where I have done most of my snowboarding—the mountains are pretty much open to anyone.” Early land use in the Crazies boils down to this brief. When settlers spread westward the federal government incentivized railroad expansion by offering every other mile for free. This created a checkerboard of land ownership. Lands that were not later wrapped into national forests were sold off and many became private ranches. Although there are a handful of public routes, these private tracts guard a good amount of pristine forest, even a few select mountains. “I have never had a situation like this, where
I looked at a pristine mountain deep in the wilderness and was told we should not go there because it is private property and the owner may come after us,” Jones said. In the end, the crew was not deterred. They camped for 10 days and rode two to three peaks or lines a day, legitimately on public land. And there were countless other ones Jones wished he had time to ride. The potent and packed terrain made for quick ups and downs rather than long approaches. Long lit spring days aided the riding, too. “To be able to live in the heart of the range for as long as we did was unique,” Jones said. Because everything is close together, it is easy to hike and ride multiple peaks in a day, Jones added. The range is full of tightly stacked, steep lines of size and variety. Capable and committed, the group’s pursuit and perception grew each day. It came
with sunsets burning over layered ridges of the Absarokas to the south and calm, clear cobalt nights as the moon glowed off the glazed white grounds. Sprays of fresh snow briefly blurred their sights. Memories were logged of knife ridges, lake basins, bowls, couloirs, un-navigable rock walls and long powder lanes. Minds and bellies were filled with laughter, tales and camaraderie. Pale blue shitbags were filled to the brim at a pace of 10 a day. Bodies were worn, ground by sun and snow. Living among the mountains in winter, even with elite gear, is tough. Yet it’s a life that inspires. Existing in wilderness shows who’s in charge all the time. In the end, we don’t own this land or its mountains and never will. It owns us. bg Ben Gavelda doesn’t have a spirit animal. He is a spirit animal. @bengavelda
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Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine 60 Snow King’s Cougar chair waits hungrily for riders in the early dawn light. Photo: Ryan Dee
the keeper of
the king Wyoming’s first ski hill has carved one man’s path to the throne WORDS: ROBYN VINCENT P H OT O S : RYA N D EE , S CO T T S H EER & S H A N E RO T H M A N
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“If it lived on the East Coast, people would herald the King. It would be called ‘The Snow God.’”
rickety chair lift cranks up the deserted, blustery mountain. On the biting ride to the top, dense forests ensconced in snow sparkle but barely quiver. The trees, flanking every corner of Snow King Mountain and blanketing its south, east and west aspects, contain vast secrets. For most skiers and snowboarders forgo the forest’s steep labyrinthine pathways. The motionless Snow King summit is a galaxy away from the hordes of sleek GoreTex jackets and GoPro-helmeted masses at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. A handful of skiers and snowboarders exit the Summit chair lift and quickly pick their way down the mountain. The modest “Panorama House” and creaky observation deck look out humbly onto the Tetons rising behind the town’s grid of gleaming lights. At 1,571 feet of leg-burning purgatory, Snow King is one of the country’s steepest mountains of its size. It is largely used as a training ground for Jackson’s fledgling ski racers. Most others, meanwhile, overlook the King. After a big storm, beanie-clad residents cruise past the quiet mountain, en route to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Snow King, after all, is no match for JHMR and its shiny tram with 4,139 feet of vertical rise.
Already, Snow King has undergone a transformation since Max Chapman, president of SKMR LLC, bought the then-floundering resort in 2014. The hill, where Teton ski pioneer Bill Briggs opened his ski school in the 1960s, is now outfitted with a mountain coaster and ropes course that draws summer tourists to its canopied forest. Chapman and company have also added a number of other improvements: a new Rafferty ski lift and ski runs, an updated miniature golf course, new snow making machines and brighter lights for night skiing. The most significant changes to the mountain, though, are still on the horizon. Some Jackson residents who affectionately know Snow King as “the Town Hill” worry about high-priced renovations; that the 80-year-old resort could become a soulless spectacle. Still, Snow King urges that its plans will keep the King alive and viable. Part of the King’s master plan, the publicly scrutinized blueprint for how it will grow, includes a road that would cut into the steep frontside of the mountain; expansion to the east and west to accommodate beginner and intermediate skiers; a large restaurant at the top and eight-person gondola cars. Those proposed changes hinge on an ongoing environmental analysis by
the U.S. Forest Service which will come out sometime in 2019. How the King should evolve is a battle local snowboarder Shane Rothman, of Free Snow King, wages with vigilance. If time spent on a mountain equates to gold then Rothman sits at Snow King’s throne. On a quest for powder, he arrived in the valley 14 years ago from New Jersey and worked at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for several years. Then in 2011, after he moved into a home at the base of Snow King, he left JHMR and applied to work at the King. Wyoming’s first ski resort became his new backyard and he was intent on exploring every untold line, every patch of dense forest. He did. Today, Rothman is the King’s most visible and vocal denizen. Like a mad scientist with the mountain as his laboratory, Rothman was constantly brainstorming about the King while he worked there, scribbling his ideas on sheets of paper, “trying to solve little everyday problems and over-analyzing things to the max,” he said. His Snow King job application for snowmaking and terrain park included a plan titled “Snow King 2020,” his vision for how the King could progress into the future.
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ABOVE: An intrepid local heads up the King the hard way. Photo: Ryan Dee
His blueprint described a town hill rooted in community, scarcely focused on profit. He called for local lifetime passes for the same price as a JHMR season pass (in 2011, that meant roughly $1,700). Snow King Hotel (then the Ramada), meanwhile, would house a hospitality college/trade school. A volunteer board of directors would manage the hill and a nonprofit would operate the mountain complete with terrain parks and a halfpipe. While most of those ideas didn’t take hold, a few of his
OPPOSITE: The man, the myth, the absolute legend: Shane Rothman. Photo: SR
suggestions did in fact come to fruition: A Snow King hall of fame, Latino outreach efforts, and safety bars for the Cougar chair lift. Rothman realized one other part of his plan. From the forest he dragged rainbows, logs and stumps and built an “all-natural terrain park.” Though the resort never marketed it, the park gained popularity. People were riding the King just to lap the park. Still, he had little support from
the resort. “I felt like Marty McFly trying to explain how to make terrain parks, and why they need to make a commitment to win back hardcore locals and the next generation of kids,” Rothman said. With new owners, change ensued. When Snow King built the coaster and bulldozed Rothman’s favorite forest zone, home to a jib line and myriad wildlife, he grew despondent. How much more would the King change? Someone needed to
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document what was happening and provide a forum for discussion. Rothman “really didn’t have a choice,” he said. “Staying silent would’ve driven me into a pathetic state of depression.” Free Snow King was born. For Free Snow King, Rothman has written nearly 1,000 online posts that scrutinize development at the King, its owners, the way local government responds and how media covers it. But he doesn’t hide behind a screen alone. For nearly five years, Rothman has attended almost every Jackson Town Council meeting with a Snow King agenda item. He has marched up to the podium and spoken during public comment dozens of times despite his lukewarm feelings about public speaking. He is “still shaky up there” but when it comes to the King, Rothman “will debate anyone” in a public forum. In his quest to free the King, Rothman amassed a trove of Snow King paraphernalia. He has a huge drawer full of notebooks, papers, planning documents. Hundreds of unsent emails sit in his inbox and scores of open browser windows bog down his phone. He estimates nearly 10,000 images and screenshots of King related content live on his computer and in hard drives, including videos of Snow King descents and wildlife encounters from cameras he set up near his home. One such video made local headlines for capturing a collared white wolf feasting on an elk carcass. He has footage of a collared
mountain lion, too. Rothman winces at the notion that he is just another NIMBY (not in my backyard) type, of which Jackson has no shortage. He says he is advocating merely for the
backcountry terrain is a treasure, he said. It is home to wildlife that are members of a dynamic ecosystem: cougars, coyotes, fox, pine martens, deer, elk, moose, flying squirrels, weasels, owls, hawks, goshawks. Oh, and the occasional hungry wolf and mountain lion. Rothman’s obsession with the King stems from the notion that the Town Hill is an anomaly. “There really isn’t much to compare it to,” he said. “It’s an antique ski area that basically went back to being wild. It’s the backdrop of town that’s overlooked by 99 percent of the winter people, always overshadowed by the Tetons.” If it lived on the East Coast, for example, people would herald the King. “It would be called ‘the Snow God.’” For those who do ride its precarious, often rutted face, its dense trees, the King compels one to bow down to nature. It is a north-facing, icy obstacle course of natural features and variable conditions. Snow King’s history, meanwhile, exemplifies this area’s pioneering outdoorspeople, making it all the more important to preserve, Rothman said.
King’s responsible growth especially given the majority of the land is public, owned by the U.S. Forest Service and the Town of Jackson. Instead of the proposed eightperson gondola that could shuffle up to 2,400 people per hour, Rothman suggests a small eco-friendly tram. He also sees little reason to expand the King’s boundaries. Its
A 2016 Planet Jackson Hole article detailed its storied past: “By the 1920s, the popularity of alpine skiing began to overtake traditional nordic skiing as the preferred winter leisure sport. In 1926, innovator Mike O’Neil made the valley’s first documented ski jump on Snow King. He was also the first to use two poles instead of one. The
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‘Hoback Boys’ (Banty Bowlsby and the Hicks brothers—Sam, Ed, and Joe) entertained locals through the 1930s with their trick skiing. Their high-speed ski circus show featured jumps through hoops of fire.
mining company and an engine from an old Ford tractor. Snow King officially opened in 1939. By 1946, Rafferty put in a chairlift, this time powering the apparatus with an army pickup truck.”
Neil Rafferty, Fred Brown, Jack Yokel, and Grover Basset all helped promote skiing in the valley and Rafferty, in particular, was instrumental in establishing Snow King as the state’s first ski resort when he fashioned a rope tow with cast-off equipment from a Casper
Fast forward nearly 72 years from Rafferty’s pickup-truck powered chairlift to a mountain grappling with growth, in the midst of an identity crisis of sorts. For Rothman, the way to solve such a dilemma is simple. The King “should be a reflection
of everything that the community and surrounding environment represents.” That means reminding the public their stake in public lands. In one of his recent Free Snow King posts, Rothman wrote: “Ski resorts have increasingly ‘privatized’ these public lands over the years, and have been inviting huge amounts of commercial development along the boundaries, while
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OPPOSITE: The King’s venerable Summit
Photo: Ryan Dee
RIGHT: Shane once constructed an entire natural terrain park in the woods complete with a warming hut.
Photo: Scott Sheer
influencing local politics with their economical desires to keep growing. Mountain communities are disappearing as they become transformed into ‘resorts.’ Very few ski areas that lease public lands are operated by the public. Snow King Mountain has the potential to be a much needed voice, and role model for the industry. … You own Snow King Mountain, it’s time for every local to take on the responsibility of guiding it into the future with a smarter and balanced approach.” Before the King, Rothman was never all that vocal about, well, anything. He didn’t consider himself political let alone an activist. His time spent trading secrets with the trees, though, has convinced him the value of protecting sacred natural spaces, of fighting for what’s wild. In the process, he’s learned about himself, too. “I’m a lot better at caring about issues than I used to be,” Rothman said. “I feel happier and mentally stronger than when I was just a selfish snowboarder that didn’t care about much beyond the forecast.” rv
Robyn Vincent is the editor of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. @TheNomadicHeart
Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine 66 Shane Rothmanâ€™s wild GoPro footage of his Scary King descents.
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he emcee booth couldn’t have been in a better spot on the Dick’s Ditch course at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It was right in the thick of the action, perched near one of the massive sculpted turns. From this vantage point, emcee Jeff Moran had a perfect view of the competitors weaving through the banked slalom course. This made it easier for Moran to heckle the participants on the loudspeaker while Elliot Alston, a.k.a. DJ ERA, played everything from heavy metal to hip-hop. The two men brought the party. Dick’s Ditch isn’t your normal banked slalom, after all. It has personality. Imagine a bobsled track plopped in a narrow ditch. Start at the steep Amphitheater Bowl, now add some man-made turns, a wiggle or two, a couple massive jumps, and you’ve got a Dick’s Ditch course. Well, kind of; the design is always dictated by the year’s snow conditions, which have historically varied from powder to absolute crud. But that’s the beauty of it, you never know what you’re getting yourself into. It began with an avalanche Emceeing was a first for Moran. Over the past 18 years, he’s been more acquainted with the start gate and the burn of navigating an ass-kicking course. When he was the head snowboard coach and director of the Freeride Program for the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club, he encouraged his snowboarders to race too. But competing was merely half the experience. Sure, vying for a spot on the podium was motivation, but for him, Dick’s Ditch is also about commiserating with competitors at the bottom of the course.
Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
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denizens of the
ditch One the longest running banked slaloms is distinguished by a rugged, unpredictable course and its fearless riders W O R D S : K AT I E L O Z A N C I C H P H O T O S : R YA N D E E & J A C K S O N H O L E M O U N TA I N R E S O R T
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That’s because simply making it to the finish line alive and uninjured is a huge accomplishment. The course is notorious for getting extremely rutted, which only heightens the potential of being launched into the sidelines. A few times, course designers ( JHMR’s Park and Pipe crew) have been extra cruel, placing the finish line at the lip of a jump. In addition to burning lungs and screaming legs, participants had to absolutely pin it over that jump to make it through the finish line.
is accented with gold and rubies. For locals, there’s an ingrained sense of pride that comes with showing it off around town. From groms to pros What began as a tribute to Porter in 1999 has indeed evolved. Organizers initially modeled it after Mt. Baker’s Banked Slalom, considered the pinnacle of banked slaloms. But JHMR, where snowboarders
The race’s origins are just as extreme as its finish line. It began with an avalanche. In 1966, ski patroller and race namesake Dick Porter was running a route in the ditch when he was caught by a slide and completely buried for roughly 90 minutes. Rescuers dug him out and whisked him down to the Alpenhof Lodge at the base of the resort. To mitigate his ensuing hypothermia, they placed Porter in a hotel room bathtub. Halina Boyd, Kelly Halpin and Nikki Lee sharing some stoke. Photo: Ryan Dee Porter, now 81, hasn’t skied that are a small but mighty minority, decided to route since, but you might see him near the do things differently. They welcomed skiers finish line. He even wears the same goggles to boost participation. This duality allows from that day. In 2017, he gleefully handed people across disciplines to come together. out the grand prize: the coveted Dick’s Ditch belt buckle. Those buckles mirror the “It creates a community vibe — everyone event: they’re unique. Fit for a rodeo king is out there: young and old,” Moran said. or queen, the intricately carved silver buckle
“Plus, anyone can do it. You can go fast or slow, but the beauty of the event is you’re all riding the same course and having the same experience.” With 18 different categories, there’s a class for everyone: amateurs, masters, and pros. Groms can even compete at the age of 12, which has allowed for entire families to compete together. With that inclusion, the course started to change. Gradually, it became less of a banked slalom and more of a ski/ snowboard cross style of racing. This was most evident in the inclusion of big jumps. Those features stood out to big mountain snowboarder Halina Boyd. Beyond the event, Boyd’s snowboarding has taken her everywhere. She has carved a first descent on Wyoming’s Gannett Peak and explored remote zones in China’s Altai Mountains. Considering that a bulk of her life is spent in airport terminals, she’s thankful to have a challenging event in her backyard. Comparing it to Mount Baker’s slalom, which she competed in two years ago, she found Dick’s Ditch significantly more challenging.
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In Washington, it’s about precision. Minute factors, like the wax you use, can shave seconds off your time. But, “with Dick’s you’ve just got to give it your all,” she said. It embodies Wyoming’s “Wild West” identity. Conquering such a rugged course requires a tactful blend of speed and strategy. Some years, because the conditions are so variable, it’s simply about surviving. The wiggles are a testament to this, they’re notorious for eating racers alive. One year the race started with one. Boyd remembers that it was so rutted out that speed no longer mattered. Those who stood on the podium at the end of the day did so by simply staying on their feet.
year she competed alongside a solid group of women that all raced together in the pro division. Mother nature was gracious on practice day, and they arrived at a course blanketed in forgiving powder. Pinning through the practice lap, they kept going. Soon they were racing down to the Thunder lift looking for more stashes of untracked snow. “It was this incredible bonding moment, where we all came together,” Boyd said. Today, those women are some of her closest friends. The community that’s created is what makes Dick’s so special, and something that’s harder to find at bigger events. At the end of the day, Dick’s is a competition first and foremost, but the racers aren’t afraid to have fun.
But if there is anything more daunting than the wiggle, it’s the jumps. In 2013, Boyd tentatively eyed the road gap jumps. They were serious Kayson Jones in the gate after Lucy Schultz. Photo: Ryan Dee business. Maneuvering around them was the safer option, but Boyd’s time was sure to suffer. She realized that if she hit them right, it would be the quickest way to the finish line. Approaching the first road gap, she charged and hit it head-on. Not only did she land it and the subsequent gaps, but she also landed into first place for the women’s professional division. “I hadn’t won a major event in my career yet, so it felt really good to go out and pursue a goal,” Boyd said. “To also race with some of my peers was pretty cool because we were able to do it together and be supportive of each other.” While winning was sweet, the camaraderie she experienced was more indelible. That first
There isn’t a particular trope that fits a Dick’s Ditch racer. “As snowboarding becomes older, Dick’s Ditch is a reflection of the generations that now exist within that sport,” Moran said. Snowboarding icon Julie Zell, 50, competed in the past two races. Last year, one young competitor could be seen cheering her on from the finish line: her 12-year-old son Ronin. “It felt special to be out competing again— especially with Ronin,” Zell said. A series of head injuries, had kept her away from any amount of aggressive riding. Two years ago was the first time she had whipped through a start gate in about 15 years. At one point in her career, she spent four seasons racing giant slalom on both the World Cup and International
Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine 72 Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
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Halina Boyd was a repeat gold winner in the ditch. Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Snowboard Federation circuits. But her skills extended past the race gate. She also broke boundaries in the freeride realm. A pioneering big mountain rider, Zell stunned the male-dominated snowboarding world, capturing first descents on steep Alaskan lines in the Chugach mountains. Nearly 30 years later, it was a style of riding she had the chance to relive at this year’s Beartooth Basin freeriding event. “I never thought in a million years that I would do another freeride competition,” she said. A VIP wildcard entry pushed her to compete. She left Beartooth with a first place win.
‘Like riding on the edge of disaster on every single turn’ Back in the 2018 ditch, Moran said he saw a whole variety of characters whiz by his emcee table. In addition to locals, potent riders like Chase Josey were on the roster. Josey, an Olympian and member of the U.S. Snowboard team, made the trek from Hailey, Idaho, to compete in the men’s professional division. It came down to sixtenths of a second, in which Josey emerged victorious over second place winner and teammate Pat Holland. One of the event’s most decorated champions, Rob Kingwill,
placed third. “Every year I walk in with a target on my head,” Kingwill said with a laugh. Running late for inspection day last year, Kingwill rushed into registration and left his board outside Jackson Hole Sports. After finishing the paperwork, Kingwill grabbed his gear and jumped on the gondola. As he reached to tighten his ankle straps at the top, he discovered they were gone. Someone had swiped them. He believes it was a ploy to keep him from examining the course. To spite the culprit, Kingwill previewed the course with just
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“To ride it at full speed and try to race it was like riding on the edge of disaster on every single turn.” his toe straps anyway—something he recommends to no one. The professional division at Dick’s is also unique that a snowboarding legend like Kingwill, who’s 43, can go head-to-head with a 23-year-old Olympian like Josey. Age is just a number on race day, because everyone is on the same playing field. The former U.S. Open Halfpipe Champ, 2x Banked Pro Masters Champ, and owner of the apparel company Avalon 7 has been a Dick’s Ditch staple since practically its inception. He’s lost count of how many times he’s won, but his guess is seven. Over the years there’s been no shortage of antics.
was like riding on the edge of disaster on every single turn,” he said. “It was a battle because everything was on the line—and that’s what makes Dick’s Ditch so fun. It can be real rowdy some years.” Fully pinned on one of those turns he almost lost it. Somehow, he got his feet back underneath him. Not only did he survive, he managed to claim victory as well. These are the Dick’s
“One year Travis Rice and I made a gentlemen’s agreement where we had to spin over every single jump,” Kingwill said. His most memorable race was in 2015. Kingwill was fresh off of a win in the pro Riders assess the competition. Photo: Ryan Dee masters division at Baker and Ditch moments of glory that have come to felt the pressure. Sure enough, the course define the event. was as brutal as it could be. There was a gap jump that sent a huge portion of the racers Glory or not, Kingwill loves how the race over the handlebars. Whiteout conditions unifies people. “It feels like the community made it difficult to see. Carnage ensued. built [the course], that’s what’s cool about Kingwill knew that the toughest element banked slaloms,” because the more you was waiting for him on the upper portion of ride the better it gets. That’s why the resort the ditch: a tight, unforgiving wiggle. opened the course up to the public a week prior to the event last year, Jess McMillan, “To ride it at full speed and try to race it
JHMR’s event coordinator, explained. You can’t create those massive banked turns with a machine, it comes from the riders themselves. JHMR has big plans for the future, starting with returning the course to its roots with a more traditional banked slalom design, but with added flair. “[Baker] has this super cool toilet bowl feature, and I would love if we could do something like that,” McMillan said. Meanwhile, the talent pool has increased as the event has grown. The goal, Kingwill said, is to eventually be on par with Baker’s, which gets about 400 competitors each year. Right now Dick’s hosts about 130, but the sky’s the limit for expansion. Building up the event could lead to something even more exciting: a banked slalom world tour. Kingwill has only heard rumors of the idea, but should that ever come to fruition Jackson would no doubt be high on the venue list. “For now it’s good to see everyone come out and get nervous for a minute,” Kingwill said, and that’s one quality that will never change about Dick’s Ditch. kl Katie Lozancich is a writer, photographer and artist living in Jackson Hole. @katielo.photo
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the muir meaning How Jeremy Jones is nurturing a movement of politically engaged outdoor enthusiasts W O R D S : K AT I E L O Z A N C I C H & R O B Y N V I N C E N T P H OT O S : N I C K K A LI S Z / T E T O N G R AV I T Y R E S E A R C H
The sun rises over the rocky ridges of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.
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“Climate change will drastically change American life as we know it.”
or environmental activists, the election of U.S. President Donald Trump was a devastating blow. It would mean the end of the U.S.’s involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement, the unraveling of the Clean Power Plan, that climate deniers would find their way into top policy positions, and the list goes on. In one day, the clock was turned back on years of advocacy work by folks like prosnowboarder Jeremy Jones and his team at Protect Our Winters. A despondent Jones rode his bike to work the day after the presidential election. Crisp air and the natural beauty around him in Truckee, California, was a potent dose of caffeine. It pulled him out of his postelection stupor. He knew the fight would continue. And in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, they would replace climate deniers with climate champions. They did. Political activism is nothing new for Jones. Since founding the environmental advocacy group Protect Our Winters in 2007, Jones has traveled to Capitol Hill countless times. He’s met with state and federal lawmakers. He’s canvassed neighborhoods, spoken at rallies and inspired the action sports community to make the connection between their love for outdoor adventure and the vitality of the planet. Still, with a climate denier in the White House, he
knew he needed to do more. So he went outside with some cameras and invoked the spirit of one of his conservation heroes.
Seeing the Stars The Sierra Nevada, Jones’s backyard, became the setting for his “most important film” to date: Ode to Muir, released in 2018 by Teton Gravity Research. For the past 15 years, John Muir’s manifesto, My First Summer in the Sierra, has lived among Jones’s expedition gear. Finally Jones would bring the legendary naturalist and author along for one of his outdoor adventures. In Ode to Muir, Muir’s words are scored to shots of nature’s rumbling silence. More than a century old and yet stunningly ageless, Muir’s musings about nature are given new life and meaning. Olympian and POW ambassador Elena Hight joined Jones in what was her first multi-day winter backcountry camping and splitboarding experience. Although a neophyte to Jones’s wild world of first descents and foot-powered missions, Hight, ideologically, was an obvious choice. She uses her public platform to discuss environmental issues like climate change and pollution and speaks across the country at events. Filming Ode to Muir reaffirmed her efforts: “It has completely shaped the
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Elena Hight negotiates some tricky footing while fully loaded and donned in snowboard boots.
path I want to take and given me a spark,” she said. The lessons contained in Ode to Muir will inspire more people to protect these wild places too, Hight added. Jones and Hight embarked on a 40-mile foot-powered adventure into the John Muir Wilderness to not only explore, but also reflect on the importance of these sacred wild spaces. Jones used the Sierra Nevada to unpack symptoms of a warming climate for his audience: drought, more wildfires, loss
of agriculture and irreversible changes to the environment. Throughout the film, Jones is candid. He grieves about the disconnect between lawmakers and the outdoors. “You got to get in nature, then fall in love with nature, to want to protect nature,” Jones says in the film. “I don’t think our elected officials value it as much as they used to. Historically you look back and it was a big deal for businessmen and politicians to go and sit by
the campfire and see the stars.” Muir’s great, great grandson, Robert Hanna, noticed that problem, too, and did something about it.
‘More beautiful than anything built by the hand of man’ Three years after the 2008 recession, California was scrambling to revive the state’s economy. State lawmakers brainstormed various solutions. One option they considered: cutting funding to 70 of
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Elena Hight rests in the shade of a foxtail pine near the treeline.
California’s state parks. On the chopping block was Mono Lake, the oldest lake in the western hemisphere. Hanna was horrified, for he spent his childhood at that desert gem. So he took a page from Muir’s playbook. In 1903, Muir brought U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to Yosemite on what would become a pivotal three-day camping expedition.
Greg MacGillivray, director of the film National Parks Adventure, explained: “A character unto himself, Muir had been born in Scotland but grew up in Wisconsin before heading West as a fledgling writer and glaciologist, where he fell madly in love with Yosemite. He wrote of the stirring emotions he felt there: ‘It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.’”
Muir, MacGillivray wrote, “argued that it would be an incalculable loss if these ‘temples of nature’ were to be hunted, logged and mined into oblivion. Muir—not to mention Yosemite—convinced Roosevelt. Already a devoted conservationist, the President returned to Washington fired up to argue that America’s wild assets must belong to the public and must be staunchly preserved by the laws of the land.” More than a century later, Hanna took
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Kristin Olsen, a California State assembly representative, and California State Senator Ted Gaines canoeing on Mono Lake. That outing was a smaller piece of a bigger grassroots effort but it helped shift the tide. California legislators voted to save all 70 parks. Muir’s life “is an exact reflection of something that all of us can look back at, and say, ‘That’s how one voice can change the world,’” Hanna said. A couple snowboarders walking in his great, great grandfather’s footsteps is definitely a first, but it’s “badass.” Indeed, Hanna insisted that if Muir were here today, he would have grabbed a splitboard and broken trail alongside them.
‘I can no longer vote for climate deniers’ While Jones knew that this story needed to be told, he had no idea how his audience would receive it. The reception at Ode to Muir screenings was different from any other film he’s shown. The emotion was palpable. During the Q&A discussions, people asked sombering yet hopeful questions: “I’m so terrified of climate change—what can we do?” At one point Jones was approached by an audience member who paid him the greatest compliment he’s ever received. Jones remembered: “He said to me, ‘I’ve been a Republican my whole life, but I can no longer vote for climate deniers.’”
The TGR crew slept in dome tents in a high-alpine camp while filming Ode to Muir.
The results of the U.S. midterm elections— Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives and climate friendly policy makers won in important battleground
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states like Nevada, Colorado and Montana—also brought Jones vindication. “It reminded me of an expedition, where election day was really summit day,” he said. Indeed, leading up to the election, POW ramped up its campaigning urging recreationists to keep climate issues front and center at the polls while Jones traveled the country screening Ode to Muir. The celebration, though, was short-lived. That same month, as people grappled with the aftermath of California’s deadliest fire, the Camp Fire, the Trump Administration quietly released the sombering National Climate Assessment. Trump officials released the report, a 13-agency, federally mandated study, the day after Thanksgiving. It was weeks before its originally planned release and while many Americans were unplugged—nursing turkey hangovers, watching football and shopping for Black Friday deals. Why did the Trump Administration hurry the report’s release on a holiday weekend? A look at the report is telling. It contradicts Trump’s climate denying rhetoric, outlining how climate change is already impacting people’s health and the economy in demonstrable ways. And it paints a stunning picture of the future: climate change will cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars and drastically change American life as we know it. Such revelations are daunting for even Jones. Still, he said, “we’re going to keep fighting.”
Katie Lozancich and Robyn Vincent like a good collaboration. @katielo.photo @TheNomadicHeart
Jeremy Jones and Elena Hight approach a summit bathed in California sunshine.
Issue Number Fourteen
Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine
How the mountains enrich friendships, deepen perspectives WORDS: ROB KINGWILL
he mountains are where the best friendships are made. Friendships that last a lifetime, built on joy and trust and unforgettable experiences. When we go snowboarding with our friends, we share so many things, good and bad—jokes in the lift line, secret stashes of powder, unforgettable views, frigid temperatures, harrowing avalanche conditions, and pure moments of stoke that only transpire while riding a snowboard in the mountains. This past spring I spent a week at Mike Wiegele Heliskiing in British Columbia, Canada, with my good friend and prosnowboarder Seth Wescott. Wiegele’s is magical—a place of dreams for snowboarders like us. And it isn’t just the riding. They have some of the best food in Canada, spread out in a giant buffet of gourmet dishes, from fresh mussels and elk to sushi, pasta, and the list goes on. At the end of the day, we slept in little cabins with the most comfortable beds imaginable (so
PHOT OS: CHAD CHOMLACK
comfortable, in fact, that I’m buying the same one for my house). And of course, they have helicopters. Helicopters that will whisk you to more than one million acres of unbelievable terrain—steep couloirs and expansive glaciers flanked with prehistoric blue ice. Such trips with good friends are indelible. And this particular one also happened to be a reunion of sorts. Eighteen years ago, Wescott and I went to Wiegele’s for our first heli-trip together. We had already been traveling around the world on the U.S. Snowboard Team competing in halfpipe and boardercross, but that trip was something different. It was freeriding; being in the big mountains, slashing powder. That trip was real snowboarding at its highest level, and the passion for it flowed through our veins. After that trip, our friendship grew stronger and it was the starting point for our annual “freeride camp” together that has taken us to some of the craziest places on the planet.
This time around, Wescott and I found ourselves high-fiving in a helicopter at Wiegele’s again, ready to chase lines and slay powder for LLBean and the Warren Miller cameras. It’s surreal in a way, to think about how many experiences and adventures we have shared on our snowboards, and how we had somehow come full circle, back to the place where it all started. Deep in the mountains with pure feelings of freedom floating through powder snow. Those experiences propel us forward toward the next epic run, toward the next unseen vista. Our lives are truly enriched when we find kindred souls who share the same passion and are willing to chase it with us.
Rob Kingwill is a Jackson OG. @robkingwill
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Seth Wescott gets himself a handful of British Columbiaâ€™s finest crystalized water.
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Rob Kingwill is the true king of the method air and this is a vintage example of his craft.
PERFECTING THE ART OF THE TURN SINCE 1972
BUILD YOUR DREAM BOARD WITH US! WWW.WINTERSTICK.COM
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hree giant swords suited for a medieval castle hang on Julie Zell’s wall. Those first place accolades, from the King and Queen of the Hill competition in Alaska, did not come easy. The third time Zell competed in that big mountain snowboard competition, she did so with a sprained coccyx (the small bone at the end of the spinal cord). She fell snowboarding in the Hobacks at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort one week before the competition. It was one of the most painful injuries she’s suffered, but Zell refused to concede. She wanted to win alongside friend Steve Klassen, with whom she celebrated victory at the same event the year prior. Following that win, they also dominated at the Verbier Xtremes (now part of the Freeride World Tour). A repeat felt imminent in Valdez until they both got hurt. At the competition, Zell ignored the fact that she couldn’t stand up straight. In between runs, she filled a plastic bag with snow and pressed it along her tender low back. As she waited for her turn, she thought of a quote from the book The Tao of Pooh: “A fish can’t whistle and neither can I.” In other words, success meant understanding her limitations; failure would be to ignore them. That day Zell and Klassen both worked within the limits of their injuries and chose lines that played to their strengths. It was a decision that resulted in a first place win, one that cemented Zell’s pioneering status in the freeride world. Beyond her accomplishments in Valdez, Zell built her life around snowboarding, but it all began with dreams of surfing. “The first time I saw Gidget I was always sure that my soul landed in the wrong body and the wrong town,” she said. The 1966 sitcom depicted sand, palm trees and California beaches that were a continent away from her hometown of Syracuse, New York. So the next best thing to the crashing waves of the Pacific? Labrador Mountain, a modest ski hill of 700 vertical feet and roughly 250 acres just 30 minutes from Syracuse. Zell was ski racing there by the age of five. She saw possibility all over that mountain and also experimented with freestyle—ballet, moguls and aerials. Zell kept at it earning a ski racing scholarship to University of Alaska in Juneau. The snow had hardly dried off her skis when the school cut its team. Zell looked for a different university to pay her way and found herself at Montana State. The situation repeated; the school cut its
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JACKSON HOLE LEGENDS:
julie zell A big mountain snowboarding icon in the midst of a career comeback W O R D S : K AT I E L O Z A N C I C H PHOT O: GUS BO OT H
Jackson Hole’s snowboarding matriarch Julie Zell somewhere in Alaska’s Chugach range circa 2008.
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team and Zell found herself uncertain of a path forward. Instead of moving home, she decided to trade her skis for a surfboard in Hawaii. It was a whole new challenge and Zell’s daily scuffles with the ocean perhaps made it easier to listen to the words of her (now late) brother Jimmy. He told her of the incredible mountain haven where he lived. “You’ve got to get out here,” he said. And so she packed up her Ford Fiesta and joined her brothers Jimmy and Jeff in Jackson Hole. The closest to her in age, Jimmy took her under his wing. He brought her to the Steak Pub where he worked and trained her (part of his ruse for her to pick up a shift he didn’t want). “Could you imagine just showing up with your little sister and announcing that she’s taking your Friday shifts?” Zell said with a laugh. Sibling antics aside, he had good intentions. The bar had a ski racing team and this would allow her a spot. But powder skiing was laborious, especially on a pair of skinny 198-centimeter skis. As she struggled, Zell watched a small group of snowboarders effortlessly gliding through the fresh snow. It reminded her of surfing—except she wouldn’t have to worry about paddling. That was it. The freedom of snowboarding had grabbed her. Making the transition, though, was rocky. At the time there weren’t many mentors, people to show her the ropes, but the gatekeepers she did meet left a lasting impression. During her second year in the Tetons, she connected with Robert Garrett, a.k.a. RG. His iconic surf style shaped Zell’s riding. Counting RG, Jackson had roughly 12 to 15 riders that comprised a tight-knit community. One other rider, Chris Pappas, heard about Zell’s racing career. With his encouragement, she returned back to the slalom gates, competing on the weekends
and balancing three jobs. She wanted to go professional, but a crash in which she blew out her knee would derail that dream. Determined to finish her best season, she strapped on a knee brace and competed anyway. It helped, but the damage was done. While one door closed, another opened with the King and Queen of the Hill competition in Alaska. If that wasn’t tempting enough, at the time Jimmy also happened to be in Alaska. Just as he wrangled her to come to Jackson, Jimmy prodded her to join him in some of the most daunting terrain in North America. Colossal mountains loomed in the distance as Zell and Jimmy hitchhiked from Valdez to Thompson pass. On that drive, she excitedly tapped Jimmy’s shoulder while pointing at Meteorite Mountain. While Alaska was where she felt most at home, snowboarding took her all over the world: Uzbekistan, British Columbia, New Zealand, and the list goes on. At one point she connected with filmmakers Todd and Steve Jones of Teton Gravity Research. Her snowboarding is not only immortalized on the silver screen in TGR’s first film,The Continuum, but also in the TGR films Harvest, Uprising and The Big One. A female in a male-dominated sport, Zell reported no shortage of challenges, and few people who understood her struggles. Prize money was incredibly disproportionate. She remembered a male snowboarder who was awarded $4,000 for a third place win at Verbier Xtremes in 1996. That was $1,000 more than what she won for first place. Meanwhile, the female third place winner won a basket of chocolate and a bottle of wine. Sponsors were ruthless then as well. If she couldn’t do big airs on her big mountain lines, they weren’t interested. “On the whole it was brutal, I often felt unheard,” Zell said. Subtle things
ate away at her too: instances in the backcountry where men ignored her perspective or snatched a line she scouted. Those experiences taught Zell to be careful with whom she rode and traveled. Women also had limited options when it came to equipment. Her men’s board was too wide, something she learned on a terrible crash in Corbet’s Couloir in which she shattered the bones in her right hand. Still, Zell kept riding. Today Zell, 50, is busy raising her son Ronin. He is following in her footsteps and recently won the first freeride contest he entered at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s IFSA Junior Freeride event. He followed that win with a fifth place finish at the North American Junior Freeride Championships at Snowbird in Utah. Those victories made Zell one proud mama. Ronin, meanwhile, is sharing in that familial pride as he watches his mother return to her mountain milieu. This year she stepped back into the competitive sphere with two impressive wins: at the Beartooth Basin freeride event in Montana and Jackson Hole’s Dick’s Ditch banked slalom. She was still basking in the glow from those wins when, months later, dozens of TGR athletes selected Zell for the Teton Gravity Research Hall of Fame. The first woman to be inducted, Zell joins legends Rick Armstrong, Micah Black, Doug Coombs and Kent Kreitler. That induction acknowledges a career of perseverance and defiance, one that holds water for women who are increasingly demanding equity in the outdoor sports world and beyond.
Katie Lozancich is a writer, photographer and artist. After spending one summer in a teepee near Grand Teton National Park, she left California for good and moved to Jackson. @katielo.photo
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Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine
a path forward PA S S I O N P R O J E C T:
Adam Dowell wants to carve a bright future for low-income youth
Jeff Musselman’s son Ryder won a Travis Rice pro-model board at the gear sale.
WORDS: ROBYN VINCENT
ometimes dreams crystallize in unlikely places. For Adam Dowell, his path to snowboarding began miles from the mountain, in one man’s plush leather seat at the now-defunct Reid’s barber shop in Jackson. Dowell’s late mother Terrie Dowell owned Reid’s. It was the spot for family haircuts, beard trims and, of course, plenty of chitchat. One day a frequent Teton traveler, at Reid’s for another trim, glimpsed photos of Dowell’s three siblings on their snowboards. “Where is Adam?” the curious traveler asked. Did 10-year-old Dowell snowboard like his brothers and sister? “No,” Terrie replied. Money was tight and Dowell was the youngest of four, she explained. Keeping all the kids busy with several different activities meant they couldn’t afford snowboarding equipment for Dowell. Curiously, the man was compelled to change that. After Terrie swept up the man’s hair clippings, he handed her a $500 check. “Go buy your son a snowboard,” he said. Almost as quickly as the ink dried, Dowell and his mother were out dutifully buying a board. It was a fruitful shopping trip. That purchase spurred Dowell’s lifelong love of snowboarding. It also helped him carve a 15-year professional snowboarding career. Now, Dowell is realizing his next dream: to be the (not so) mysterious man in the barber shop for other kids. Because for Dowell, snowboarding has always been more than a sport. It was his release when his brother Levi died and when his mother Terrie died two years later. Dowell, 16 at the time of his brother’s death, struggled to cope with his grief. He got into trouble, suffered anxiety, depression. “I really had nothing else going for me except snowboarding,” he said. “So, I buckled down on what I wanted, to be a pro and travel the world.” In the summers, he worked seven days a week, 14 hours a day “to literally save every penny I had for winter.” It paid off.
Issue Number Fourteen Dowell went professional, snowboarding all over the globe and collecting checks from sponsors. Life was good until nearly five years ago when Dowell acknowledged what his body was trying to tell him. Professional snowboarding had taken its toll. In between his far-flung travels and helicopter rides, he pushed his limits and amassed a long list of injuries—broken ribs; compressed vertebrae; whiplash; a torn MCL, PCL and ACL all in the same knee; torn ankle ligaments after hitting a tree. Surveying his physical health, Dowell had “a pretty big wake-up call. I couldn’t keep it up forever and provide a future for my family.” After he left the pro circuit, Dowell worked as a personal trainer to athletes and a coach to young snowboarders in the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club’s Freeride program. Still, he wanted to give back to those who lacked an entry into snowboarding, the sport that broadened his vision when his world was shrinking. In summer 2018, one year after Dowell and his wife Amy Dowell had their son Asher, he launched Carving the Future and held its first fundraiser, a gear auction. “I suppose I also started Carving The Future because I want [Asher] to grow up and see how important it is to help others,” Dowell said. Carving the Future will use the funds it raises at auctions and competitions “to keep kids who live in the mountains from being stuck inside all winter simply because of finances,” he said. He is focused on resort towns, because these areas often have “a massive gap between working-class families and those
who can actually afford to get on the mountain.” Indeed, Teton County, for example, has the highest income disparity in the nation. While a few billionaires have skewed that statistic, a historic housing crisis is deepening the financial woes of workingclass people, making it hard to survive let alone buy snowboard equipment or a ski pass. That’s problematic in a place where winter consumes nearly half the year. All that extra time kids spend indoors, often unsupervised, could lead to substance abuse. Iceland provides a compelling example on how to mitigate such risks. Twenty years ago, teens in Iceland were among the heaviest substance abusers in Europe, WBUR reported. “Fast forward to 2017, and the country boasts the fewest drinking, smoking and drug-taking youth on the continent. The turnaround is credited, partly, to an American psychologist and drug researcher [Harvey Milkman] who was convinced that replacing artificial highs with natural highs—before addiction began—could change a society.” At the center of the “Youth in Iceland” program is getting kids involved in “healthy recreational activities.” In Jackson, that means snowboarding. As CTF grows, it will sponsor advanced athletes to pursue snowboarding as a career and support veterans who want to use snowboarding as a form of therapy. Eventually, Dowell will expand his work throughout the state and nation. Because sometimes the best medicine “is one good day on the mountain.” rv
91 Carving the Future founder Adam Dowell sending one off a big Alaskan cliff in his wilder days.
“All that extra time kids spend indoors, often unsupervised, could lead to substance abuse.”
Support Carving the Future at carvingthefuture.com
Photo: Andrew Miller
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on snowboarding forever Pulling the curtain off commitment (and the lack thereof ) in a modern-day ski town WORDS: ANDREW MUNZ I L LU ST R A T I O N S : RYA N D EE
Issue Number Fourteen
t goes without saying that snowboarding is a seasonal sport. In a ski town, that means one’s relationship status is equally subject to change.
comprised of two sketch comedy shows and one full-length original musical, all of which premiered in Jackson. After all, growing up in
One minute you’re wrapped in the throes of lust, bagging goggle-tanned chicks or powder bros through a Tinder binge session only to punt them out of bed at first light (if not sooner, because “I need to get up early for work”). But once the snow melts and people head back to the “real world,” one might think Jackson’s dating pool empties and tumbleweeds roll through the Town Square. And one would be wrong. With each seasonal shift, a whole new batch of
90-daywonders fill the void. For a culture that’s obsessed with hidden hot springs and insider info, the complete lack of emotional commitment and overabundance of ready and willing one night stands remain the ultimate secret of the Modern Day Ski Town™. This concept of seasonal shifts, “no girlfriends on powder days,” Rainier tall boys, and bluegrass nights is the backbone of my I Can Ski Forever theatre trilogy,
Jackson afforded me a front row seat to the often comical and wholly frustrating world of dating during ski season. The musical—the only show of the three with a plot—followed the exploits of Ben, a fresh-from-Georgia transplant seeking meaning and purpose among Jackson locals. He falls for a barista named Kelly, who has almost given up on Jackson before she finds
love and builds a new life with Ben. Over the course of two acts, we experience two winters in Jackson and watch Kelly and Ben’s relationship evolve, and ultimately crumble—another tragedy of the transient lifestyle. A series of satirical side-plots take place in the meantime; a group of rich cougars pooling their exorbitant wealth to solve Jackson’s housing crisis (spoiler: they fail); a musician cheating on his girlfriend from one band with a girl from his other band; a premiere of the newest “Big White Mountain Productions” snowboard film White Powder, etc. The show is available on YouTube, but the two preceding shows, featuring random sketches and vignettes, have all but disappeared from the public arena. Here in this issue, we feature (for the first time in print) “Summer Bro, Winter Bro”—a sketch that debuted in the first I Can Ski Forever in 2014. Perhaps for its relatability, the sketch became an audience favorite, appearing again in the 2015 sequel I 2 Can Ski Forever.
Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine 94 EXCERP T FROM I C AN SKI FOREVER:
Summer Bro, Winter Bro A GIRL steps out onto stage. Throughout the sketch she delivers all of her lines to the audience. GIRL: It’s been really fun living in Jackson so far. There’s so much to do and it’s super beautiful. I have some great friends and I meet new people every day. And the dating scene has been extremely plentiful and quite diverse. Don’t believe me? This was my winter boyfriend Chad. CHAD
enters, wearing full snowboarding gear.
CHAD: S’up. GIRL: Chad was super nice and so laid back. He always had a great story to tell. CHAD: The mountain was pretty sick today. Just fuckin’…shreddin’ it up on Bridger. Hit up the stash park for a bit. Got a beer. GIRL: That’s
CHAD: Totes. GIRL: And on the completely opposite end of the spectrum, I met Todd in the summer of 2012. TODD enters, wearing shorts, sunglasses and a trucker cap. TODD: Yo. GIRL: Todd
was so outdoorsy and was always taking my dog hiking with him. Sometimes he even took me.
TODD: Did you go on the river today? Epic. I was on the river all day. That’s why I’m so tan. It’s weird, you were on the river? How did I not see you? I was on the river all day long.
CHAD: Have you ever noticed that the only thing that makes it a Slice of the Day is the bell peppers?
GIRL: I finally felt like I was playing the field. It was like I didn’t have a type anymore, and just any guy was good enough for me. What was nice is that I didn’t have to force them to be active. They were always so busy.
TODD: Michael Franti just writes good music, you know?
CHAD: Hey. Yeah, we’re
gonna hit up Teton Pass tomorrow so I don’t know if we’ll make it back in time. Can’t pass up on some gnarly pow, know what I’m sayin’? Haha, yeah… TODD: Hey. Yeah, we’re heading up Granite Canyon tomorrow, so I don’t know if we’ll make it back in time. Can’t pass up a bluebird day, am I right? Haha, so epic… GIRL: It’s just really refreshing when your interests fall in line with someone and things just gel. We had so much in common. Like our favorite beers… TODD: What kinda Belgian style IPAs you got on draft?
our taste in music…
CHAD: Did you catch Yonder at the Garter last month? So sick. GIRL: Ultimately, it’s just nice to know that no matter the season, there’s always going to be a fresh batch of completely original men to choose from. CHAD and TODD step forward. They speak the following dialogue together. CHAD & TODD: I just think that in life it’s really important to have a passion, and I have that passion. I feel like I’m not like those other guys who just waste their life away, you know? I have a purpose. Plus, I’m still in my twenties. I might as well just hit it hard now and figure it out later. Haha. For sure.
CHAD: Sick, “Peeber” Tall Boys are three bucks here.
Andrew Munz is the best skier on this mountain.
taste in restaurants…
TODD: I think the deck at the Brew Pub is opening soon…
now taking reservations for 2019-20
Robin Van Gyn rides a line in the Crazy Mountains in Montana. Photo: Ben Gavelda
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