The idea behind the Stormriders webisode series, which is being produced by Sam Pope and Chris Kitchen of KGB Productions, is simple. Each year, we’ll explore the reasons we ski from the perspective of one skier over the course of a single winter.
Year 1: I’m the avalanche poodle.
The series is being presented by Outdoor Research. It’s a good fit: as evidenced by their support of programs like the Jackson Hole High School Mountaineering Club, the Teton Pass Ambassador, and the Bridger Teton Avalanche Forecast Center, Outdoor Research is committed to the adventure lifestyle, particularly here in Jackson. And I’m not just saying that because they’re presenting the series.
A couple of years ago Hans Johnstone and I skied the Grand Teton with Martin Volken and Outdoor Research’s owner, Dan Nordstrom. At age 50, Dan flew Martin and himself in his own plane (yup, he’s got a plane) from their sea-level home in Seattle to Jackson, grabbed a few hours’ sleep, got up, climbed and skied the 13,770-foot peak, then flew home.
By the time Hans and I dropped Dan and Martin off at the airport, I was beginning to nod off with fatigue. When I got home, I went to sleep.
Dan flew back to Seattle, dropped Martin off, drove home, then went out to dinner for a business meeting.
Can you imagine having a business meeting after skiing the Grand?
Dan has been pushing OR to develop the best clothing possible for the adventure athlete. As the company develops its ethos, it has come up with a phrase that describes its focus: they build products for the “relentless adventurer.”
With this first season of Stormriders, we’re trying to explore that word. "Relentless" has many nuances. There’s the wellspring of passion necessary to feed an incessant drive, which is something most of us love about the spirit that animates our tribe.
But in my case, at least, there’s also an obsessive component to it. I need to go into the mountains.
Ski mountaineering is dangerous. I have a wife and daughter. Almost any big adventure in Grand Teton National Park takes me a full day (I’m slow). That’s a day I don’t spend with my daughter, and it’s a day when my wife doesn’t get a break from childcare until late afternoon at the earliest. And that’s selfish, on a number of levels.
Selfishness aside, I'm clear about one thing: I’m addicted to the mountains.
What do you do when you have an addiction, recognize that addiction, but lack the necessary desire to break that addiction?
That’s the underlying story we’ll attempt to explore in this first series.
I’d be remiss if I failed to point out that I’m not alone in my relentlessness. For better or for worse, Jackson is filled with mountain athletes just as addicted, if not immeasurably more so, than me. (It’s also filled with climbers and skiers who are far better athletes than me; we’ll focus the series on one of them next year). Without these friends, my adventures would not be complete. So, in no particular order, thank you Jarad and Brandon Spackman, Hans Johnstone, Aaron Nydam, Mark Newcomb, Nate Brown, Evan Howe, Aaron Gams, Trevor Bain, Brian Harder, Brian Ladd, Mark Berry, and all the other partners who have accompanied me in the hills over the years, for sharing in my beautiful addiction.
And to my incredible wife Giovannina and the love of our lives Soleil, thank you for being my family.