I know I have been slacking on the blog, honestly after 2 months of insane travelling and being busier than I can ever remember, I didn’t even have time to think about it. Now that life is slowing down and I have got a handle on it I have some in the works. For now check out the biggest, coolest line I have ever skied. See you soon. Also another one here from another huge line in the pass early season.
As I go through the fourth security check, to catch a flight out of Kashmir, I can’t help but laugh at the thought that I was very close to not making this trip at all. After the experiences that I had, this would have been a much harder pill to swallow after the fact. They check us and our bags over and over again, at the start of this trip it would have surprised me, perhaps annoyed me but now it just seems normal.
With very little time to think about what India was going to be like, I came into the experience with a clean slate so to speak, I had heard very little about Kashmir and its ongoing problems. I knew that there was a strong military presence and had its problems in the past but I definitely didn’t know the details. After a little research I found out about the violence and disputed borders that involve Pakistan, India, Tibet and Kashmir. I can certainly see why people would want to fight over such a prized piece of land.
When the cultural differences and new scenery start to get more normal and you start looking behind all the good you start seeing the frustration of the people. The army is here in force and there seems to be at least half a dozen soldiers on every block in Srinagar, these Indian soldiers are getting paid at the expense of Indian taxpayers to stand around and protect or fight for something that few people seem to agree with. If I was a hard-working Kashmiri (and they do work very hard), this would make me frustrated.
Throughout the trip I got increasingly intrigued on the ongoing conflict of Kashmir. I started researching and picking locals brains on what they thought is the best way to move forward. The people of Kashmir do not want to fight but they also do not want to have the military presence (why would anyone want soldiers with big guns hanging around). But an independent Kashmir has it own problems. The answer is definitely not black and white, many people I talked to would not admit that one way or the other will be better. This conflict has many issues that our much bigger than them, this is very unfortunate because they are unwilling caught in the middle.
The other thing captivating my interest is seeing a complete freeski revolution over the last six years! I expected to see tourist skiers over here what surprised me was the amount of local Kashmiri’s shredding powder on fat powder skis and loving every minute. Talking to them they get visibly excited when they talk about powder. There are things in life that transcend language barriers and skiing powder is definitely one! These are people who have overcome many hardships and found something that makes them happy and enjoy life. It is one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen.
Walking down the street you say hi to everyone, often getting stopped by a smiling Kashmiri for quick small talk. In my travels nowhere have I been were people are so friendly. Nobody seems to be in a rush and they have a very chill vibe, maybe to a fault if you actually want to get something done. We are fortunate enough to be here to ski and enjoy their country so there are no worries.
Today was out of this world. We skied a run below the Gulmarg through these magical old growth trees fir trees, perfectly spaced, caked in snow and towering above us. We literally skied right into someones backyard, coming into the town of Tangmarg. From a far it seemed like there wasn’t too many people in the village but as we got closer, little kids faces appeared in the windows and soon they came running. Big smiles on their faces, chattering quickly in Indian, taking a breath every now and then to ask us for chocolate. They were infatuated with us, ski gear and camera equipment. Happy to have their photos taken and jump on our skis.
We walk a bit further through the village to get a taxi and man invites into his house for tea. Cold and wet, tea has never sounded better, a complete stranger inviting us into his house. His family marvels at our fat skis and costumes that we call ski gear. We settle into a room in his house and just try to take it all in.
You could say I have been having some fun this year. Check it!
This trip starts with a call from Douglas, it is much the same as calls in previous years. Hey Rubens you wanna go to (fill in the blank rad exotic location), it is a super funny question because he and I both know there is no way that I am going to say no! The interesting thing is I say yes to these trips without putting a whole lot of thought about what is really involved, I just know that it would be stupid to say no.
This call was made two weeks before we were supposed to leave. First things first, India requires you to get a Visa to go there. Between skiing/filming ridiculously deep powder in Revy I managed to fill out the necessary paper work and get it sent off fairly quickly. The skiing was so good I forgot about it for a while. I just figured that it would all work out, enter my first experience with Indian Bureaucracy.
We were supposed to leave on the 15th of February, a Tuesday. The Thursday before I still haven’t received my Visa or my passport that I sent away, so I start calling them to see where it is. They assure me that it has been sent back to me. The ladies at the post office are getting to know me quite well. By Friday nothing has shown up and I’m starting to get a little worried. But with continual calls to the Indian consulate they assure me that it was sent on the 8th but can give me no tracking numbers. It has been dumping snow so I figure it is just a little late. Not much to do but wait it out over the weekend, no worries. Keeping a positive attitude I was very convinced it was all going to work out.
By Monday morning I had all my stuff packed and was sitting on the couch twiddling my thumbs waiting for the mail. Yeah just like the good old days or something like that. By twelve I had checked twice, called three times with no luck. No more mail for the day, I figured I was shit out of luck, no India at least not on schedule. I was exhausted from the last couple of weeks and feeling a little bummed. There wasn’t much I could do but wait, and hey it was snowing so it could be worse.
Six’o’clock my phone rings, it is Anthony Bonello at the consulate. Somehow after demanding an answer of where my visa and passport where, he has tracked down my visa still at the office. Unbelievably at the last possible hour my passport is found. My stoke level went through the roof and started driving towards Vancouver in a wicked snow storm. A couple of red bulls later I made it into Vancouver.
Now, somehow I am on a plane to India which is pretty damn amazing. That is just part of the joys of traveling, you can’t get mad you can only embrace it.
This trip is a real doozy, two weeks in India, heli available, snow in the forecast and wicked crew; Anthony Bonello (our fearless leader and camera man), Blake Jorgenson ( the one and only) and Tristan Knoertzer (the young shredding Frenchman)
This place has completely blown my mind, I’m not sure why it surprises me that the Himalayas are so sick! Gulmarg is just the foothills to the big mountains, I can’t imagine what hidden gems they behold. That being said sometimes bigger isn’t always better and the powder tree skiing here is on par with the best tree skiing that I have ever done.
We are well into our trip now, we are adjusting to the different ways of life. Things don’t start early here, so when it is good out you have to adjust your patience level. It all works out at some point. The food has been great and we are adjusting to being cold and slightly damp most of the time. Simple luxuries we take for granted at home, such as regular heat and power are no longer a luxury.
Where and how to go skiing? This is a little more complicated because there are a lot different options and many different variables. Is the gondi opening, is it clear enough to fly or do you just hang out down low and do road laps? Luckily we have been using the heli when we can fly but it seems to be best for only one run in the morning and then we get fogged out. This is working out great because we bring our skins and can spend all day out there.
Special Thanks To;
So this blog has become a blog of many thoughts and photos over an extended period of time. Photos have been taken along the way and the writing has happened on days off over the last couple of weeks. It has broken thoughts and stories because every time I sit down to write I feel different and want to express something different. What comes across to me is how awesome powder is and how exhausting and awesome this winter has been. Enjoy.
This has been one of the best months of my life. The last couple of years have been great but a little on the lean side. It really makes you appreciate it when it is this good. It wasn’t off to the best start but then at Christmas it all switched around, a couple of huge storms and we have gone from a record low snowpack to well above average. Days off have been far and few between with the only reason for a day off is need to rest an aching body. Even when it has stopped snowing the skiing has been epic and relatively stable.
So far I haven’t managed to leave the interior, which is no problem by me. Many days filming up at RMR, around Revy, some quick cat trips to K3 and Retallack, filming and shooting with Salomon Freeski TV, Sherpas and Vshaw productions. It has been one of the most productive couple of weeks of my life. Shooting deep powder and pillows, it seems to be the year of the face shoots. I can’t tell you how many cliffs I have gone off completely blind from all the blower powder in my face, but you know the landing is soft and pillowy so there is no problem.
Day to-day life is on stand still, computer time consists of staring blankly at the computer screen, too tired to think about anything other than skiing more powder. My house is a disaster of empties, gear and people staying. Revelstoke is buried under a deeep blanket of snow with snowbanks reaching near capacity. When it is this good you have to put all possible energy into enjoying as much of it as you can. I feel like I have done a fairly good job of this!
As I write this final blurb I am supposed to be in route to Vancouver to fly to India. Due to some complications with tourist Visa and the mail, I’m without a passport or a Visa, which makes it quite hard to leave the country. It is a quite the hiccup along the road but hopefully it shows up soon and I can leave to go shred powder in India.
Like a lightbulb turning on an idea pops into my head. I’m standing on top of fun, sketchy jump that I have hiked up to hit one last time. The landing is bombed out and I already have a good shot of it but it was so fun I couldn’t resist one more hit. I hike up a couple more steps in hope that I clear the bomb holes. The film crew is ready and I count down, soon I’m accelerating towards the lip. I hit the lip and launch into a huge lawn dart ( might be insignificant to some but this is the first one I ever tried, maybe even though about, for some reason this seems like a good idea), what a cool feeling flying head first through the air. At the last second I tuck my head and flip to my feet. My next vision is of a bomb hole engulfing me, crushing me into a little ball! Great idea Chris!
This came on the last day of a four day filming extravaganza with the Rocky Mountain Sherpas and Blake Jorgenson at Retallack. The crew of skiers couldn’t be matched, Rory Bushfield, Dana Flahr and Matty Richard. The previous days before this were spent filming for the new Salomon Freeski TV, with another all star crew of Douglas, Abma and Heimer! The snow was epic the entire time and we spent our time filming powder, pillows and road gaps. Pretty much the funnest thing that you can film.
It has been one helluva a January with storms lining up and dumping more snow than we know what to do with. Well, maybe not the last part but I have to say that I haven’t done that much shoveling in a long time. I can’t remember the last time I had a January this good. The ski hill has been getting pounded and I have had some of my best ski hill runs ever down Kill the Banker. But enough blabbing, filming is great for getting shots of your friends because the shot is already set up for you. I managed to capture some really cool shots over the last couple of weeks. Enjoy
A day of shredding with friends on my favourite run in the world. Check it out
Check out the first webisode of “Best Time of Your Life”. It takes you through the amazing early season skiing that I got in. Be sure to check back from time to time because there are plans to put out more over the season. The next piece of great news is I bought a new computer. So hopefully I can get a little more video out there for you all to enjoy. Pretty handy having those little Go Pro’s everywhere you go. Very Stoked!
It has been a crazy week in Revy, with lots going on! The FWT stop and the Salomon Sales Meetings going on at the same time, I have been managing to split my time between the two. To top it all off we got hit by the biggest storm the mountain has had to date. The powder skiing has been pretty incredible and everyone has a smile from ear to ear because really who doesn’t like a little powder. The storm has been causing delays in the event but it looks like all is a go tomorrow with some better weather coming in. Trying out the judging thing for my first time. Super fun, maybe even a little nervous, don’t want to piss anyone off. It is a rad judging crew with Jim Jack leading the charge, Dash Longe and Jamie Burge as my counter parts.
Hope everyone is playing safe and enjoying some delicious powder. I know I am.
It’s dark, cold, snowing and getting late, we are lost, well we are kinda of lost. We are on our way into a cabin that we have GPS coordinates for but we are in the most deceiving treed terrain that you can think of! We resort to checking the GPS every 100 ft, at times we are so disoriented we are facing the complete wrong direction.
Rewind a couple of hours earlier, a couple of good friends (Rob, Harly, Gord and Emma) have decided to come along on a harebrain scheme that we cooked up over the holidays. We have booked a cabin for two nights but people are working and skiing on the day of the first night. Supposedly the cabin is pretty easy to find (a 15km sled ride to a 1hr tour in), we are all fairly knowledgeable individuals so we figure, what the heck we can just go in at night. This will just add to the sense of adventure especially since no one has made this trek even in the daylight. We pack up our stuff grab a quick delicious burger at the Big Eddy Pub and make our way to the trailhead by 4 pm, it’s already dark. By five we are pulling out of the trailhead, sleds packed and skiers in tow. The first part of the journey goes relatively uneventful, one pull cord and a couple of clutch starts later we make it to the touring portion of the trip. I go to turn the sled around and proceed to get it stuck in a ditch. Well at least its out of the way.
We don our skis and skins, load up our heavy backpacks laden with delicious food and some tasty adult bevies! It’s only an hour skin in, we didn’t exactly pack light. An hour later we are still much closer to the sleds than the cabin, all I can think about is, how easy it seemed on Google earth. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. After our fifth stop in the last half hour, enthusiasm is dwindling. “Alright lets go for another 10 min and if it doesn’t get better we turn around” I say! Finally we get on a recognizable ridge and make some progress. The progress is still slow due to heavy packs and 30 to 40cm trail breaking. We make our way up the ridge and when we reach the right elevation we contour right to reach another ridge. At this point our 1 hr mission has taken 3hrs. According to our GPS the cabin should be right at the bottom of this ridge. It is no more than a 200M slope down but in the dark it looks huge. Skiing off down into the dark abyss, not really sure if the cabin is down there, is a daunting decision to say the least. Its cold and windy on the ridge and the sleds are even further away so we say “screw it” and drop down. I drop down first, I hit the flats and see a dark shape looming in the distance. As I get closer it takes shape into something that resembles a cabin. I want to make damn sure that it is before I yell back to my friends, It is! I let out some serious cries of joy and excitement. In no time my friends join me and are rushing inside to make a fire and get the chill out of the body. I can pretty safely say this has been one of the happiest I have ever been to see a cabin! I had visions of wandering around in circles trying to find a tiny little cabin next to a clump of trees. The cabin heats up quickly and everyone relaxes in the warmth and toasts to the start of another great adventure. We head to bed exhausted from the days events, with grand hopes of a great day of skiing.
We gingerly get out of bed in the morning, get the fire and breakfast going. The sun is coming and going with the rising and falling of the valley fog, none the less the day looks very promising. We tour up behind the cabin to the high point on the ridge to get our bearings. We climb above the clouds to a breathtaking view peaks poking their heads out of a sea of clouds. We look across the valley to some tantalizing lines that need some tracks laid down on them. We head down for some creamy pow turns in the sun. We tentatively make our way through the terrain, everything looks and feels bomber but the feeling of being way out there can not be escaped. The line we spied from afar looks good to go ! We drop into deep perfect Selkirk powder, the hoots and hollers are made with growing satisfaction. One more run on the way out and we are back to the cabin. Time to get the fire started, glasses filled, dinner made and hey maybe there was even some time for some late night tobogganing!
Getting away from the hustle and bustle of normal life even for two days is rejuvenating. Chopping wood, melting snow for water, staying warm and enjoying the quiet peaceful nature of the mountains takes precedence over computers and cell phones. The cabin trip is a quick one but it services its purpose well. A great adventure, good friends, good food, good drinks, great skiing , a great real life rejuvenator!
I am walking across a ridge, the sun is out but it is cold, the wind is howling from the north and the snow is blowing around me like I’m in a perpetual blizzard. It is times like this that you put your chin a little further in your jacket, pull your hood up and just wonder what and why. A day of touring or skiing consists of anywhere from a few of these moments to a lot. Moments of contemplation of one’s self, that require you to dig a little deeper. With little feeling in your toes or fingers and the sharp wind blowing against your face, it might seem stupid but these are the moments that make you feel alive. It is that ability to push through a little pain and a bit of suffering that gives you a sense of accomplishment. The ability to come home after withstanding the elements and mountains. Part in thanks to amazing technology (thank you to all my sponsors) and part in knowledge of the outdoors.
Any day in the mountains brings you out of your shell, your senses are heightened, you feel better and you can think clearer (well, at least about skiing). The worlds problems fade behind you and you can fully enjoy mother nature’s beauty.
It is very interesting how snow and mountains work. Take for instance the past couple of days. We had a big storm depositing over 50cm of snow. Immediately avy danger goes through the roof, my friends and I are perfectly content to ski deep perfect powder in the trees out of harms way. The next day with a little time for the snow settle, we slowly and tentatively make our way up to the alpine. To our surprise we find perfect blower snow that is not wind affected by any sort. With no slab to be seen we start making our way onto smaller slopes. By the end of the day we are getting onto bigger slopes and the confidence is going up.
The next day is supposed to be sunny, so with some expectations of a great day, Greg Hill, Connor Hurley and I get up early and head out to the pass. We have lots of ideas floating around but nothing is confirmed with the conditions ever-changing. We head up and up and up, things are looking perfect. While Greg skis laps around us banging off vertical at an astonishing pace, we make our way up Ursus Minor. We scramble up a rocky ridge to the top of the mountain with shouts of joy and excitement, we know this run is going to be amazing. Greg slowly leads the way into a chute on the NW side of the mountain and we have the run of a lifetime. Perfect stable snow in the sun on a huge face, it just doesn’t get any better.
This drops us down into no mans land and it is a cold, arduous journey to the top of 8812. Digging deep I make it to the top, to an amazing view of the surroundings mountains and our way home. A quick ski down and another quick skin and we are standing at Bruins pass. The moon is out, the peaks are pink and we have another epic powder run out. This has probably been my biggest day of touring yet. We managed to climb 8500’ feet and ski about the same in perfect powder.
The next day feeling slightly fatigued but with sun still in the forecast I head out with Joey, Jeff and Chris. Confidence and expectations are high from the day before. The plans are vast and bold, but as we drive up to the pass, something has changed. Is that snow pluming from the ridges? It takes a long time to set in because of the realization of its effect on the snow. We gear up and head out, beautiful skinning through the trees and sun but as soon as we hit alpine the winds hit us. The low density snow we have been skiing for the last couple of days is blowing all over the place. It is instantly clear that our expectations will be set a lot lower today. We gingerly make our way up a ridge before pulling the pin and heading for the trees. Two amazing runs later we are skiing out in the dark with shit eating grins on our faces. We didn’t make our initial goal but we were alive and skiing powder.
Tell next time, keep fit and have fun!