Powder snow. Is there anything better in winter worth chasing? The essence of gravity gently dragging you down a mountain is an astonishing feeling that fuels your soul with happiness.
The last decade of my life, I’ve been addicted to ‘going after freshies’ for the 5 months of the year when the snow god ‘Ullr’ rules the roost and makes magical white flakes fall from the sky.
I’ve holed up in Saas-Fee for a few winters now tuning skis to earn a crust and it feels like this place always delivers blower pow better than most. Sure there are days in early winter where the arctic winds howl and blow away yesterdays magical metre of fresh, but when it gets good here, it gets f*****g good.
This seemingly small retiring resort tucked away deep in the Swiss Valais may be resting on its old laurels and is somewhat stuck in a time warp, but the terrain has endless powder stashes. Where most people dare not venture, intimated by the surrounding 4000metre peaks and endless glacial holes. It’s here, where we feel most alive. Just look at my good Saas-Fee friend Frederik Kalbermattens video parts from the last decade and you will see exactly what I mean.
Year upon year it attracts the worlds top snowboarders who come here and film their segments for sponsors and do radical stunts in to super soft fluffy landings. Good enough for them, good enough for me.
This winter has been a challenge weather-wise but ultimately the biggest challenge came from losing one of my best friends on the face of this earth. You never think it will hit home, you hear of fatalities in avalanches, helicopter crashes and unfortunate accidents but you never think it will be one of your crew…never in a million years! Then one day you get the call confirming the worst.
It totally sucks, it sucks so much harder than anything I had felt before, total disbelief and numb to everyone’s reassuring words all whilst bearing the heaviest heart imaginable for weeks on end. I wouldn’t wish this heartache upon anyone, anywhere, ever. Life can be cruel mistress.
For me there was one way to escape though and I’m glad I could pull this card out from my sleeve when it mattered most. The card I threw on the table…..
‘Go blaze a fresh trail in the fresh snow that would make him proud. Lay a fat spray for your fallen brother. High 5 your friends and be stoked on what you just did’. That’s the card I tried so hard to play.
For those he has left behind, the memories are plentiful but never enough. Aaron and his beautiful girlfriend Amy Marwick really turned the screw with the possibilities of what can get skied in the Scottish springtime. Something that never psyched me when you compare it to the bluebird alpine conditions.
The film “LATE” captured by Puzzle Media and British Freeride is a testament to the entire crews strength, character, motivation and drive. Deservedly so, the film scooped an award at Fort Williams Adventure film festival for ‘Best new comer’. The film i think has really put Scottish adventure skiing on the map. Hats off to all involved.
My short film “White smoke and smiles” is dedicated to my Scottish bro ‘Aaron Mclean’ because it was he who inspired me to pick up the camera and capture these memories to look back at when we turned grey and old. “It’s all about inspiring the next generation” he’d say. So that’s what myself, my brother Stevie, Flavio Lardelli, Max Schneider and Julia Stoneriver set out do this winter, with lens pointers Jack and Jamie Mull-gnar on hand to capture some chutes and sprays.
For the most of us who do winter sports, we are extremely privileged to enjoy the simple pleasure of sliding down the hill as a passenger on a greased up plank of wood. So share the good times with those who matter most and stay safe…but most importantly live your life to the full and have no regrets.
Words: Richy Taylor (Tailormade Film)