my site has been quiet this year due to a new filming endeavor that I created. It's called "The Backyard Project". And this is what its about.
Our society deems whatever we have is never good enough. Marketing is essentially built on this concept. Action sports offer this is in droves. Magazines and videos are filled with far off and exotic destinations. You surf in California? You should head to Hawaii. You’re from Hawaii? You need to head to Indonesia. You skateboard in Vancouver, head to California, then Barcelona, then Australia. Deeper and further, something is better over there. Biking, climbing, kayaking, kiteboarding, skiing, snowboarding.. We’re all fed by the industry that somewhere else is better. We’re fed a dream that is unrealistic to the masses. Helicopters filming helicopters? Multi-month long travelling trips? The industry has glorified the unattainable.
I’ve lived in both Squamish and Whistler for 12 years, and while it could be called the hub of the winter sports industry, even here “you need to head to Alaska. Or maybe Europe”. We have all forgotten what can lie in the backyard.
Every year, nearly the whole snow industry drives up the sea to sky highway en-route to ride the Whistler backcountry. Snowmobiles are the primary mode of transportation and they make short work of travelling the backcountry. Having lived here for a long while, we now go out with a plan of what cliffs to hit and what lines we want to ride again. It’s like the backcountry is an extension of the ski hill. Every mountain has been ridden, every cliff has been shot, and every jump filmed. Or have they?
I step out of my house in Squamish and every day I’m greeted by mountains. Mountains in every direction. About 30 of them can be seen right from my backyard. I’ve never met anyone who’s ridden them all. You can’t snowmobile to the top. Some are just below treeline and don’t seem like “plumb” lines. You have to find your way through the maze of logging roads, learn the local conditions and slog and climb your way to the top. But the payoff is the unknown. It’s being skunked for days then finally unlocking a mountain and scoring. It’s about finding ‘Little Alaska’ or the “Chuting Gallery” which are hiding in plain sight. It’s the dream that everyone can pursue, but very few do as it’s only the backyard and obviously it’s better somewhere else.
This is a project to find what really does lie around the corner. Hopefully inspire others to follow suite. Obviously, my locale has some pretty amazing mountains but this concept could even be done (albeit on a smaller scale), for example, at my parent’s house in Quebec. This can be done anywhere. Walk out the door, pick mountain, hill (whatever) and ride a line you’ve never ridden. You might say it sucks but until you go, you won't know.
recently I got to work with Bryan Smith from reelwater productions on a short film for Arc'teryx called "the joy of air". It's a fantastic few minutes of epic. beyond stoked to have been a part of it.
you can enjoy it here:
better late then never I guess. finally got some of my footage from the 2012 season together. I didn't seem to remember I owned cameras last year. I'd forget them at home, forget to charge batteries, or my favorite - forget to turn it on when it's on your head! sometimes you get too focused on what you're about to do and you forget about the little box on your head. but sometimes it's good to just have your own memories.
woooo. was a little chilly this morning. thanksfully there was no wind so wasn't actually really all that bad. or maybe I grew up in this type of weather a few hours south of here so I know what to wear. However, even waxing with the coldest wax known to man it only took a few runs for the snow to rip into my base. The photo below is the base of the board I had stone ground yesterday. It looked new this morning and now not so new. The little black shadow line where the edge and ptex meet is actually a divet where the ptex has been chewed away by the snow.
no sense in trying to stone grind this guy again. I'm going to run it for practise then hop on my other board for the contest runs. hopefully thats going to work out and not rip apart my other board as well. Pipe is pretty good, just bullet proof icy as you can image from it raining this past weekend to -28 today. qualifiers are tomorrow at around noon for the guys and in the morning for the ladies.
it being so cold today, my phone wasn't wanting to cooperate but I managed to snag a phot of my Finnish friend markus malin cruisin through the pipe. granted it is a serious phone shot..
Made it to the FIS world championships in quebec. Psyched to be competing in yet another world championships (there's been quite a few!). I had some politics to deal with prior and after showing up here, but we're onto the business of competing. Being out in quebec you need to get ready for anything and everything weather wise. last week, i heard the snow as great. on the weekend it poured rain. tomorrow it's going to be -30! yeah it's a little icy, and a wee bit cold.
The cold snow wrecks havoc on your base. What happens with cold snow is the crystals are very, very sharp. In halfpipe we carry quite a bit of speed through the flat bottom and we hold the same edge for quite a while. So those sharp little crystals dig into you base. As you take more and more runs, your base actually starts to get noticebly chewed up by these crystals. Having an event in copper last week (where the snow is cold) then followed up by here basically ruins 1 or 2 boards. Today the board I was riding had finally had enough and the ptex base was not only chewed up, it had gotten so bad that the ptex was actually lower than the steel edge. When this happens your board becomes very twitchy and digs in at unexpected times. I had some troubles on my heelside today and when i saw that on my base I quickly put the 2 together.
After practise, my good friend and old temate Hugo Lemay took me down to a race ski shop that he knew had a good stone grinding machine. The tech had never seen a base so chewed up in his life. I told him to grind it down as much as possible to get the base and edge back to being flat. Having designed the boards I'm on I knew exactly how thick the ptex was and figured there would be enough to get it back into shape.
After the sweet stone grind, the real work started. When we have a new board or a fresh base, generally we will 'feed' the base with wax. I follow a feeding program that I've worked out over the years, but it takes a good deal of coats to get a board ridable. 3 hours of work waxing and tuning the edges. usually I'll be in the tuning area for a while but 3 hours is a very long while to be working on primarily 1 board.
some tools of the waxing trade. When the racers show up the tuning room becomes much more crowded and serious it seems.
Tuning is a key component of doing well in contests these days. last week I made a mistake and used a new file guide while tuning my edges for the conetst day and it was different than my old guide and my board rode like poo. This week I'm back to my old file guide. Little things at this level can ruin your contest. Hopfully I learned from my mistakes last week, and my work tonight will have my boards running like they should be.
geez, having a kid kinda sets you back on some stuff. like my website..
it's the middle of january already and it feels like it started snowing yesterday. This season is setting up to be interesting. So far I've passed a level 1 guide's course, competed in a world cup, shot for a noboard/powsurfing article, toured a bunch and started on a project with arcteryx (more to come on that)
Guide's course was sweet. lots of avalanche rescues, crevasse rescues, a day in a cat, a day in a bird, and lots of digging in the snow!
The world cup was at Copper mtn last week. I didn't have the time or resources early season to head to colorado (and there was no december contest there this year) so showing up for the world cup I hadn't ridden pipe at all. Had a few days prior to the comp and things were looking pretty good. until the contets day where I screwed up my tuning! yeah. rarely do I mess up my tuning on contest day but last week I definitely screwed the pooch on my edges in particular. I'd bought a new file guide for my edges that is supposed to be the same as my old one, but I think it makes a slightly sharper edge which I'm not fond of. So when I started dropping in for practise my board was all over the place. Just not tracking right and super hooky. It sucks. Couldn't make it past the second hit. At first I thought it was the cold snow, but as I dropped ina few more times i started to realize it was my board. fairly quickly I figured out where the problem was with my edges and borrowed a diamond stone to try and fix it. couple runs later still not fixed. I then swapped boards and my other board had the same problem, but not quite as bad. uhhhh! fixed that one just in time for practise to be over. very frustrating. My plans for the contest were not materializing in the least seeing as I had trouble getting past my second hit and hadn't done anything more in practise than a frontside 720. Thankfully I learned quite a while ago to trust my riding and somehow linked together 2 different runs and made it to the bottom of the pipe. I'm not saying those runs were awesome (I finished dead middle of the field), but having gone from not landing anything to landing something is good for the mental state. but I wasn't making finals so I bolted to get back home to be with my family.
i took the little guy for his first turns over xmas
and his first touring day yesterday..
noboard and powsurf drops! great few days without bindings
some front yard booter action at my parent's over xmas
and lots of touring to get to spots like this!
currently in quebec to compete at the world championships then it's back home and on the touring program. lots of mountains to ride!
they say 'eh' in New Zealand. just in case you didn't know. just differently then how people say it in Canada.
Ohh NZ. I love heading down there. After BC I thinks my favorite place on earth. Snow, waves, crazy landscapes and fun riding. Usually I spend a few months down there each year but this year I was a little pressed for time so I only got to go down for 2 weeks. But it was worth it.
As I sat in the Aukaland airport i did my typical weather and conditions scouting. Some years I've gone straight into chasing waves for a few days prior to heading down to Wanaka, others I chase pow. Not having brought my surfboards this year i was hoping for pow. Olympus -45cm and not open. Craigieburn 37cm and opening today. temple basin 35cm. YES!
As soon as i got my rental car in Christchurch I headed up into the Canterbury mountains to ride Craigieburn. Craigieburn is one of NZ's notorious club fields. Awesome terrain, no people, no grooming and nutcrackers. The nutcrackers is a rope tow on steriods. And to be able to hold to it, you need to wear a harness and a nifty little metal contraction (the nutcracker) which is tied to the harness. Grab the rope, hook the nutcracker on and hold on to the tip of the cracker. Sounds easy right? well the rope seems to go a million miles an hour and the first pulley is not very far away. So you need to grab on, set up the nutcracker and get your hands out of the way before that pulley. Cause it your hands are on the rope, say good by to your fingers!. They're very interesting and truely kiwi. and kids are allowed on them. it's amazing.
Having made my way through the single lane dirt access road with couple thousand foot drop offs, grabbed my ticket i was back into pow! Having never been there i had no idea where i was going, but i noticed on my way up some people were able to ride down to the road so that looked like a good plan. Getting to the top and heading over the ridge, however i was confronted with a rather foggy entrance into the unknown maze of chutes.
I love riding the unknown and having it hidden in fog, just made the first few laps that much more interesting! However eventually it started to clear a little and was able to hike and explore some more.
and after coming out of the upper chutes I was generally greeted with this view...
My plan was to stick around the clubbies and ride Olympus and Temple Basin the next few days, but the weather had other plans. by the end of the afternoon it had gotten quite warm, misty rain to the peaks, and snow was starting to slide everywhere. well, it was awesome while it lasted and I bolted for Wanaka.
The whole rest of my trip was spent riding Snowpark and Cardrona. I'd gone down with pipe riding in mind so I was mostly focused on that. Snowpark's pipe was really good i thought. little slow (pitch is a bit flat there) but the walls were really nice. Cardrona's I didn't really like. Rode there for a few days and pretty much hated it. The weather was insane for pretty much the whole time. Springtime slushies everyday. The riding at snowpark was really fun. friends from all over the world were there, conditions were good, the pipe was good, jumps were good. Good few weeks down there. So thankful for my friends Will Jackways and Abbey Lockheart having me at their house for the trip. Great hospitality and amazing views out front from their pad...
Thanks NZ! Hopefully see you next year.
yes!! time to go to NZ for a few weeks of riding.
With spring rolling around and more sunlight, I kind of got curious as to how much multi-sporting I could get done in a day. check the video and find out..
mission day would lead into mission week. Down at the K2 offices for 2 days, off to snowboarder magazine's Superpark at Mt Batchelor for 2 days, back the the k2 office for a few hours then home to Squamish and toured into the tantalus range and did what is normally a 2 day trip in 1. Posts on these are coming soon.
It's 6am on Saturday and I'm slowly wakingup and getting ready to do the spearhead traverse for my first time (and I'm going solo), when i see a msg from a friend saying something about 'Angel line'. hmm, sounds interesting. A quick call to Ture and he says they're leaving right now and I should come. 'OK, I'll be 20 minutes behind you'
Quickly packing my lunch and grabbing my gear I head out the door and drive up to the trailhead. Upon meeting the rest of the crew, I'm informed that not many people ski this line, so we need to keep it mysterious a little. Hence my messing with the photo below to remove the peak.
To not give away too many details, 5 hours of climbing later we're on top and greeted by an awesome spine and 3000+ feet of epic powder. The video is down below.
Anyways, after a great run I suggested we do a chute nearby that I knew of but everyone claimed 'responsibilities' and had to leave. So I left to rest up for Sunday's mission.
Sunday greeted us with another beautiful day as my friend Kyle and I drove up to the Duffy Lake. Our plan was to climb and ride Mount Matier, Slalok and finish off with Heart Strings. A few groups would end up doing the first 2 mountains as well, but to tag a third line into that makes for a pretty long day.
Kyle had plans to ski fly off the top of slalok so opted for his ski setup and carrying his wing. He knew this would slow him down some, and it quickly became apparent to me that I needed to run ahead and get Matier on my own. Leaving Kyle behind at keith's hut, I wandered my way up the anniversary glacier. Along the way I ran into another Kyle who had come up by himself hoping to run into a crew of people to ride with. "You can come to matier and slalok with us if you'd like.."
He was keen to come check it out so up the glacier we went. After having lunch and waiting for Kyle #2 to catch up on top of the anniversary glacier I led the way up Matier. My climbing may have been in quick mode, becasue i ended up leaving this kyle as well and climbing up to the summit by myself. By this time my friend Kyle had reached the joffre-matier col and was watching from down below.
I quickly strapped in and started riding down and met up with kyle #2 who was just getting to the more technical (read harder and ice axe required) section of the climb and he was quick happy to call that his climb and drop in from there. A quick high five and I dropped in towards slalok and he went towards the anniversary glacier. I took the most northerly line I could as i figured any aspect with west in it would have had some melt freeze from the previous afternoon's really warm sunshine.
linking back up with the original kyle we quickly made our way over to Slalok's east ridge. A little bit of steep skinning got us up on the summit. We quickly pondered the wind and the ability to ski fly in the gusts. not really wanting to risk it, Kyle decided to ski the line. he's a snowboarder and only started skiing this season so he could ski fly. So dropping into slalok was easily the biggest line of his skiing life.
Everytime I've been to joffre lakes Slalok has called out to be ridden. Nothing really techincal but it's a super fun line with mostly consistent pitch from top to bottom. It's a huge face and has a few good size convex rolls and ends in a few chutes so it's very intimidating. Normally our big lines are in chutes or spines so you have somewhere to run if the snow decides to slide. On slalok, there's nowhere to run really.
We decided for kyle to drop first since he would take the longest, he would stop mid way at a safe spot and I would pretty much ride the whole line in one shot. Man can you open up the turns and let the board run! Super fun high speed turns for most of the way down. Just loved it.
Upon finishing Slalok, we quickly had another snack, thanked the mountain for letting us ride it (we felt like ants) and made the switch to touring mode to get up our last line of the day, Heart Strings. Heart Strings is another classic line that involves some fun scampering and boot packing about to make your way to the entrance. The first time you go, you really wonder if you're on the right track or not. However Kyle and I had been there a few times before so we felt like we were home free after Slalok.
We made our made to the top and dropped in for another long run pretty much right down to the highway.
Super happy, 3 classic lines in an 11 hrs round trip. oh wait, we still need to hitchhike back to the car on a pretty empty highway...