First of all, thank you very much for accepting to talk to us for Splitboard.cat
Can you tell us about your projects?
What am I doing next year?
I don’t know if you guys saw Deeper but that really sums up what’s exciting me in snowboarding. That was not just a one time “I wanna go hike for a movie”. What Deeper showed me is there’s no mountain range that is too far away now, I actually enjoy the whole process of getting away and getting out there, so…what’s up next, keep evolving from Deeper, get started in a movie called Further.
So how did you switch from filming lines with a heli and sleds to hiking whatever you want to ride, or almost?
I had wanted to take my snowboarding in the direction of Deeper for a couple of years, but every year, I’d start the year, I’d talk to the movie company and they would be like: “Yeah, sure, that could be cool…but then, by the end of the year, it’d be like…nothing changed this year. So finally, I was just dug in, and like “I’m not
doing another movie like I’ve done in the past.” I started Deeper with my own money. It’s just something I learned over the years that really, the most excitement I get out of snowboarding is hiking what I ride, riding new stuff, and finally, you know, I didn’t wanna do my own movie, cause it’s a lot of work, but I realized that for me to take my snowboarding where I wanted to go I had to do my own movie. So that was how Deeper started.
It must be a whole different story filming with TGR, your brothers…
TGR has always been a big part of who I film with, but the biggest change is… over the last ten or twelve years, I had gotten into this really comfortable space where I worked with the same companies over and over, the same filmers and to do Deeper I had to work with all new people, all new photographers, filmers, a lot of new riders. Cause it takes a whole different… you know the cameramen in this movie, they are in a lot of ways the heroes in it. But it was exciting, change is always exciting. I definitely had a lot of anxiety, because I had gotten to the point where I could go out and shoot a Standard Films or Absinthe Films movie part in two or three weeks. Really, three to four good days in Alaska and I had a video part. So it was a little nerve racking…and I was getting paid really well to do that stuff, so it was a little nerve racking to step away from a really comfortable lifestyle. But I’d done 45 movies and it was time to do a movie how I wanted to do it. I was willing to take that risk. And the interesting thing is I assumed that I would take this big loss in media exposure, cause instead of going to Alaska and filming 25 to 40 lines, we’d go and shoot 3 to 7 lines; but much to my surprise the snowboard industry it really…for the most part, really supported the change.
You know, I made a conscious effort to let people make their own decision on the environmental aspect of Deeper. I spent ten years, right, shooting movies with helicopters…and Deeper has a carbon footprint. It’s much less than on a traditional film, but there is a carbon footprint. So, we don’t call Deeper an environmental movie, but with all parts of my life, every aspect, the environment plays a roll. How a live my life. I try to reduce my impact and my snowboarding is part of it, as well.
I also felt as the costs of helicopters continues to go up, the impact on the environment continues to rise, I felt like continuing on that track was not a positive message for the sport.
Do you prepare yourself mentally before doing certain exposed lines?
Yeah, the heavy lines, those are thought about for …sometimes months, definitely weeks; and the amount of hours and evaluation that goes into the real life threatening lines, the lines where you can make a mistake…they consume my life at that time; the real world is locked out and it’s all about me and the mountain. I’m just trying to get really immersed and in tune with the mountain, so I’m really feeling, knowing if it’s the moment or not to ride them.
So backing off is part of this?
We back down a lot. When I started shooting Deeper I was like, “I wanna do one thing where we show us backing off a line, cause it’s something we’ve always done. But what I didn’t realize is we backed off line, after line, after line…probably half of the time, we’d go into the mountains on a day where we’d watched it all year, we’d watched the weather, we’d read the snow and go: “Tomorrow is the day”, we’re getting up at 3 in the morning, where gonna go hit this heavy line. It was a very thought of decision but even with that thought out decision and picking the perfect day, still, half of the time, we’d come home without riding our objective.
So going into the mountains we’d know, no matter what, how early we woke up, how far up the climbs we are, the whole time, there’s a good chance this line is not gonna happen. It’s about turning all these Nos into Yeses, so we’d go in thinking …there’s a really really good chance today that we’re gonna back off. We just
keep climbing and going “this is feeling good, it’s feeling good” always looking for a reason to turn around. So I call them the guilty until proven innocent. And when everything goes right and those twenty things have lined up perfectly, then we’re strapped in…and amping! cause we feel really good about it at that point. The difference with Deeper is there’s a lot of anxiety before the lines, but if I get to the point where I’m strapped in and my board’s on, there’s no anxiety: “This is so right; this is so perfect and I know this line so well, and I know what’s behind the blind roll and it’s all amping and total stoke. Where with the heli, when you’re doing eight lines a day, there’s so much anxiety of what’s over the blind roll. That’s been removed, now it’s just eight hours of slow intensity going, “is that cornice gonna come down on me, or is it heating up.” It’s much more of a slow build. But if we do make it to the top and generally get to that point where we ‘re strapped in, it’s a go and we’re totally confident.
Is there a limit in freeriding?
Yeah I think there’s a limit of how steep you can go or how much air you can take, how fast you can go. For sure…yeah, there’s definitely a limit, and there’d always be small evolutions, but I feel like the evolution I was doing in a helicopter got to be so small, but the evolution of what we can do hiking our stuff really changed a lot over a two-year period. For me, I progressed so much as an overall snowboarder in the 2 years of shooting Deeper, maybe more than in my 25 years of snowboarding ever, where with the helicopter, you’d be lucky if you had an awesome year, maybe the final one or two runs of the year you touch a little bit higher percentage point; but to do that, to get that buzz of “Wow, I just did something I’d never done before!” I had to be so far out on the limb, that right now I call my self, I’m like a cheap drunk with hiking. A simple line, can leave me feeling more amped than this line that I got dropped off on top, I had to ride over this huge cliff, with tons of sluff and just hanging off of my life to get this big buzz. And snowboarding’s about, whatever gets you off the most, that’s what’s been my compass in snowboarding. When I get home at the end of the day, I wanna be bouncing of the walls, and I’ve gone to such a special place that I was untouchable in the real world: I got a speeding ticket, or someone’s broken into the window of my car…you know, any of the issues in the real world didn’t matter because I hit such a high snowboarding that the rest of the world was irrelevant. By going out and hiking I’m really achieving that high more frequently and easier.
How is splitboarding influencing snowboarding?
Well, hopefully it gets people into the mountains and I always say: if we get people into the mountains, get them to love the mountains and then hopefully they’ll want to protect the mountains. But a kid who sits in his living room, plays video games all day, he’s not gonna put any energy towards protecting the mountains.
So still we need to get people into the mountains, it’ll be a positive thing for the world, not only to protect the world, but also…the mountains give such clarity to the world, and bring so much happiness. If people would be starting their day with one or two hour hike with a rundown at sunrise, we’d be living in a much happier place. As simple as that sounds!
Tell us about Protect our Winters…how did it started?
Protect Our Winters is something…I had seen the mountains changing in my lifetime, I didn’t need a scientist to tell me that the mountains are changing. I just felt that collectively, it was our job as skiers and snowboarders, someone…we’re the ones who need to protect our playground. We’re the ones who are out there every day, we’re the ones who see the change. I just felt that we owe it to future generations to try and move the needle as much as we can, so when we hand it off to the next kids, we can say: “ You know what?” They’re the ones who are inheriting the planet from us. We’re not gonna solve it, my generation but we can hopefully advance it, educate the next generation and keep moving the ball forward. It’s such a hard, complex issue but I can’t sit on my hands.
How have people responded to this?
We get a lot of support, which is great, but also unfortunately, at least in the US, we’re really in a lot of ways taking a step back environmentally. Half of our elected officials don’t even think climate change is real so those things are very frustrating, but what it shows us is we’re not doing a bad job. We’re learning how to be more effective; we’re gathering a better group of people we’re getting better at our job and we could do a better job. We’re up against this massive powerful oil industry and we need to built a better tool adjust and learn to be more more effective at fighting that, and that’s what we’re doing.
So I gotta run soon.