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Chamonix is a place of pioneers. An epicentre in climbing, skiing, base jumping and more – it is a region that has always set the bar in extreme snow sports. It is the perfect mountainous terrain for speed riders JT Holmes and Espen Fadnes to push the limits. As local French photographer, Rene Robert, puts it, there are plenty “white pages” of mountainsides to write on. Communication is key when defying gravity and taking flight where the mountain ends. Both Holmes and Fadnes are able to distinguish the crucial difference between skiing and speed riding: it’s not okay to fall. When something goes wrong in speed riding, both Holmes and Fadnes recognize that “you’re either lucky, or you’re in big trouble.”
Parachutes, Skis, Helicopter
Valdez - Alaska
Impressive landscapes of immaculate terrain make up the mountains of Valdez, Alaska. Athletes Amie Engerbretson, McKenna Peterson and Lexi duPont are willing to admit the high level of intimidation these jagged peaks can generate. Standing at the top, as Engerbretson puts it, “can be a mixed bag of emotions.” Hailing from ski towns like Tahoe and Sun Valley, these three perceive skiing this territory not only as an ambitious feat, but also as one of legacy and curiosity. With parents who are local skiing celebrities, fishermen and adventure filmmakers, these girls have been motivated to ski Alaska’s mountains their entire lives. Traveling via helicopter and RV across the Valdez region, they are here to find out what the hype around AK is all about. Turning down massive spines and leaving their marks on untouched, snow-packed faces, the ladies discover that skiing in Alaska is not just where dreams come true, “it’s where dreams are lived.”
Skis, RV, Helicopter
Seamboat - Colorado "Cowboy Downhill'
The “Cowboy Downhill” is an opportunity for rodeo all-stars to prove themselves on the ski slopes. For 41 years, Steamboat, Colorado has hosted this annual mountain mayhem. This year, Warren Miller veteran Chris Anthony is just another cowboy keeping it country.
Skis, Hat, Chaps
Chris Benchetler, Pep Fujas, Eric Pollard
Switzerland - Italy - Japan "Postcards"
Cold mornings, fresh turns, pillow drops and delicious après are all details that help piece together a perfect day of skiing. From the Dolomites in Italy to the depths of Japan’s powder-covered peaks, world-traveling skiers Eric Pollard, Pep Fujas and Chris Benchetler discover that skiing and the special particulars like whiteout conditions and laughter with friends can translate in any language.
Deer Valley, Utah
The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team has a roster of some of the best skiers in the world. Combining speed, agility, acrobatics and style, athletes like Jonny Moseley paved the way for those currently navigating the mogul courses at Park City and Deer Valley – athletes like Hannah Kearney, Troy Murphy, Sho Kashima, K.C. Oakley and many more. What makes this new regime so strong is “a healthy disrespect for the current state of mogul skiing,” says Moseley, reflecting the essence of the freestyle attitude. Follow the team as we see a stylistic return to how the sport originated in the 1970s.
Photo Credit ©USSA
After weeks of delays and travel mishaps to Kathmandu, snowboarders Rob Kingwill and Seth Wescott find themselves in Nepal, one of the world’s most visually striking and culturally rich countries. Kingwill, always an optimist, says “it’s not really an adventure until something goes wrong.” After exploring the countryside, the two snowboarders arrive at 17,000 feet in the Himalayas, carving and floating amongst some of the most stunning geological features on the planet, the Annapurna Mountain Range. Back at Annapurna Basecamp, Wescott and Kingwill share their love for snowboarding with Sherpas and local staff. The guys find that in a location like Nepal, it’s easy to reflect on why it is they do what they do.
Snowboards, Helicopter, Rickshaw, Elepant
Alaska - Chugach
Earning your turns takes on a different meaning when you base out of a picturesque touring camp in the heart of the Chugach and ski flawless summits day after day. Professional skiers Kaylin Richardson, Marcus Caston, and Øystein Aasheim sleep beneath the Northern Lights, waking each morning to sustained, 50-degree pitches outside their tents at PNH Touring Camp. In the Chugach, you can’t force your agenda. Safety comes first when hiking and skiing vertical topography. As Richardson puts it, “you bow at the foot of these mountains,” and know that it is ultimately up to the landscape whether you ski each day or not. Up here, it’s the kind of solitude and quietness that can fulfil and sustain you as you trek up mountainsides in pursuit of deep and playful lines.
Skis, Skins, Avalanche beacon, Shovel, Probe
Few people have ever even heard of Monopalooza, and most folks can spend an entire season on the slopes without spotting a monoskier. For 17 years, a group of single-plank diehards have congregated annually and chartered local ski resorts. This year, White Pine, Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee are the lucky hosts of this motley crew. Rachael Burks is a pro when it comes to big-mountain skiing, but she’s a rookie on the monoski. For her, this week is “an opportunity for all the lone wolves to get together and run as a pack.” Burks shows off her witty attitude and sense of humour to this new community of rippers, tagging along for the ride – including bearing witness to the first attempt at Corbet’s Couloir on mono ski.
What most Utah-based snow explorers have in common is a deep appreciation for what Utah’s mountains have to share with any adventurous spirit. The Wasatch Mountain Range towers above Salt Lake City, Utah, and among it are peaks as high as 12,000 feet. The backcountry landscape is known for being heavy in pure ski action and light in populated and skied-out terrain. Midwest and East Coast transplants Caroline Gleich, Matt Philippi and the Provo brothers, Ian and Neil, hike narrow ridges and ascend peaks on foot, all with the goal of later ripping down them. Utah natives Jeremy Jensen and Steven Nyman never left their home state and continue to thrust the snow sports they love in new directions. Industry entrepreneur Jeremy Jensen is “breathing new life into the mountains,” by fusing together his passion for skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding to generate a hybrid known as “pow surfing.” Olympian Steven Nyman and his brothers typically stay within the resort boundaries, so long as pushing the boundaries of speed remains the family ritual.
Skis, Snowboards, Powsurfer, Avalanche beacon, Shovel, Probe, Skins
Alaska - Valdez "Rods and Rotors"
Alaskan summers boast a plethora of still-skiable terrain, an abundance of rivers full of fish and enough daylight to avoid ever having to set any priorities. Rory Bushfield and Mark Abma set out in a helicopter across the Chugach in search of both fly-fishing and shredding opportunities. Soon enough the guys learn that skiing glaciers, clearing bergschrund gaps and casting lines on the river are all in a day’s work up in the Last Frontier.
Skis, Helecopter, Fly Fishing Rods