When it comes to the Last Frontier, the thrill of discovery remains at large. One region where the term “the middle of absolute nowhere” is still applicable is the Tordrillo Mountains, located northwest of Anchorage, Alaska. Seth Morrison, Pep Fujas, Andy Mahre, Sean Pettit and Tommy Moe turn their stoke on high when they are introduced to what feels like a never-ending playground. A 1956 Beaver airplane acts as the perfect shuttle for the crew. Rocky knolls provide ridge-after-ridge and lip-after-lip of playful lines, and these guys are humbled by the amount of “banger stuff” that lies before them.
Featured Athlete(s):Andy Mahre, Pep Fujas, Sean Pettit, Seth Morrison, Tommy Moe
Equipment:Skis, helicopter, plane
Nestled in the Jungfrau Region, in the town of Mürren, is where you’ll find Swiss native Sascha Schmid ripping turns with fellow telemark skier Rolf Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, Sigi Rumpfhuber and Chris Davenport have one particular feat in mind: to climb the west face of the Eiger and ski it. The Eiger is a 13,020-foot mountain in the Bernese Alps. On the Eiger, Davenport knows that risk management is a must: “You develop a relationship with a mountain over time ... it’s always changing and it’s never static.” From skinning to boot packing and climbing, these men will make the strenuous ascent to find that moment of perfection and ultimate freedom. In the Swiss Alps, Chris Davenport will tell you that the spirits of the mountaineers who scale these mountains align with those of the ravens that soar above them: Both aim to take flight, test boundaries and free their spirits at the mercy of these jutting peaks.
Featured Athlete(s):Chris Davenport, Rolf Röthlisberger, Sascha Schmid, Sigi Rumpfhuber
Equipment:Skis, telemark skis, trams, trains, crampons, iceaxes, skins
The Big Sky Country is known for being wide-open with areas vast, seemingly never ending and ideal for tearing through in a flatbed pickup truck. Tyler Ceccanti, Josh Bibby, Elyse Saugstad, Keely Kelleher, Crystal Wright and Scot Schmidt reflect on their love for this space and the “immense energy” allotted to the people who reside in Montana. As the fourth-largest state and hardly populated, Montana could be the most overlooked ski destination in North America. Easily accessible, backcountry touring offers friendly tree glades that aren’t too dense to navigate. Gusts of wind charge through the Flathead Valley and pick up snow, frosting the trees that occupy the surrounding peaks—sculpting impromptu backcountry features, ideal for dropping, jibbing and taking laps through the knee-deep cold smoke snow of Montana.
Featured Athlete(s):Crystal Wright, Elyse Saugstad, Josh Bibby, Keely Kelleher, Scot Schmidt, Tyler Ceccanti
Equipment:Pickup truck, skis, chair lifts
Quaint, colorful homes cover the hillsides of this fishing village where locals, who have stood the test of time through harsh winters, claim this winter was the mildest they have seen in 40 years. Ted Ligety, Doug Stoup, Michelle Parker and Mark Abma witness for themselves what effects climate change has had on Greenland but they still manage to earn solid turns amongst the glaciers. Experienced guide Pete Patterson preps the crew, and they anchor the boat in the heart of the goods. Complete with a dog sled ride, the gang reminds us why we need to respect the environment in order to sustain winters for us to rip the way we do.
Featured Athlete(s):Doug Stoup, Mark Abma, Michelle Parker, Ted Ligety
Equipment:Boat, skis, dog sled
What should a pro skier and, for that matter, any skier expect when visiting Kazakhstan for the first time? For JT Holmes and Espen Fadnes this was as much of a cultural experience as it was an adventurous opportunity to ski an entirely foreign landscape. Deep inside the Tian Shan range, the boys start their adventure at the Chimbulak ski area where trail maps denote rocky ridges and non-groomed sprawling pitches. Holmes and Fadnes complete a fast mountain descent by speed riding these unique mountains. Meanwhile, Chris Anthony shows the boys his little piece of paradise in Kazakhstan, where Warren Miller films are as good as gold.
Featured Athlete(s):Chris Davenport, Espen Fadnes, JT Holmes
Equipment:Skis, helicopter, speed riding canopy
The Golden Ticket To Ride
How does one get their mitts on the ticket to ride? In skier Colby West’s experience, it requires scaling a mountain and seeking guidance from The Great Sensei of the Mountain. Beware however, and remain privy to the ninjas who seek to destroy whomever holds this ticket. Luckily, Colby’s got moves and arrives in the Mammoth terrain park just in time to throw down.
Featured Athlete(s):Colby West
Equipment:Skis, corvette, motorcycles, ninja weaponry
When Olympic snowboarder Seth Wescott calls up his comrade and snowboard veteran Rob Kingwill for a heli-ski trip to Valdez, Alaska, naturally, Kingwill says, “hell yes, I’ll be there.” The two hook up and prepare to descend what they refer to as the “epicenter of big lines”. After 20 years of introducing skiers and riders to mountains and terrain, the Valdez Heli-Ski guides know how to get these guys right where they need to be. The boys encounter a giant half-pipe of a gully and charge through avalanche debris side-by-side. Halfway into the trip, however, Seth has to take off to prep for the Olympics and the men’s infamous sense of humor emerges when the two try to maintain a long-distance brotherly friendship.
Featured Athlete(s):Rob Kingwill, Seth Wescott
Former U.S. Ski Team member Kaylin Richardson meets up with French skier Aurélien Ducroz to explore the majestic Fjord region of Norway—where water meets the mountains and you often have to cross one to access the other. As Kaylin points out, much of the theme of this undertaking is “to go Viking,” which means committing to the unknown and embracing the Nordic lifestyle—a necessity for exploration. Ducroz and Richardson set out on a fishing boat to stake claim on the untouched powder that surrounds the town of Ålesund. After skinning to the summit, Richardson and Ducroz begin their descent, launching themselves off of ice fields and weaving down the ridges that border the seaport of this coastal Norwegian town. An illusion of skiing into the sea is spawned, and the Vikings feel ever present.
Featured Athlete(s):Aurélien Ducroz, Kaylin Richardson
Equipment:Fishing boat, AT skis and equipment
While making turns with his son, Stian, Chris Davenport sheds light on the significance of being a good steward to the earth: “Those of us that get out and ski and snowboard get it—we love our environment, we love our snowy winters, and we understand the importance of environmental responsibility.” With this thought in mind, the boys from Aspen’s terrain park take it off the mountain to Somerset Coal Mine, located in Gunnison County, where there is a massive capturing plant to convert methane waste to electric energy for the resort. From there, we head back into the park with two generations of skiers and riders including Peter Olenick and Aidan Sheahan. Gretchen Bleiler proves that “girls can look like girls and still rip.” Further inspiration comes from U.S. veteran of the war in Afghanistan and amputee, Trey Humprey, finding his way back onto the mountain and embracing every turn via sit-ski.
Featured Athlete(s):Aidan Sheahan, Chase DeMeulenaere, Chris Davenport, Colter Hinchliffe, Gretchen Bleiler, Peter Olenick, Stian Devenport, Trey Humphrey
Equipment:Skis, snowboards, sit ski
Hula-hoops and skis somehow graft well together when big mountain veteran Jess McMillan, rookie Sierra Quitiquit and three-time Olympian Julia Mancuso explore the Icelandic terrain. With the assistance of Arctic Heli Skiing guides, this trio of girls recognize a “skier’s paradise” when they discover tracks that few others have skied on Iceland’s Troll Peninsula. While skiing these inviting routes, “going fast is just a state of mind,” and the ladies reflect on how thankful they are to be living their dreams. For Quitiquit, there is no better way to give thanks to the Snow Gods than by blasting down the mountain clad in only a hot-pink swimsuit. Sierra says it best, “we only walk this earth once. It’s your choice, how do we want to ride this earth? We only have a short time and now is your time to seize the opportunity – this is your ticket.”
Featured Athlete(s):Jess McMillan, Julia Mancuso, Sierra Quitiquit
Equipment:Hula-hoops, skis, boat, helicopter