Archive for February, 2013

Ruari Macfarlane and I spent our final day in Squaw Valley shredding with Sammy Luebke who took third place in the North Face Masters and is currently ranked 4th on the World Freeride Tour.  Sammy’s local roots shined as he navigated from hit to hit while also finding the shortest lift lines.  The freshly manicured halfpipe filled our morning with shakas, methods and floaty indie grabs, a must after having ridden the ice riddled contest venue for a couple days.

We didn’t get too carried though away as we were facing the 15 hour drive to Montana which was looking like it was going to be a mission to say the least.  We departed by about 1:00 in the afternoon and hit Reno to fill the car with gas, the tires with air, and our bellies with In ‘n Out Burger.  We soon crested the remaining hills and found ourselves traversing the great Nevada desert plains in sunset.

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Prepping for departure in the green machine.  Photo:  Ruari Macfarlane

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Ruari Macfarlane behind the wheel 

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Doing what I do best, adventuring.  Photo:  Ruari Macfarlane

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Straight lining through sand

I hadn’t pulled an all night cross country driving mission since I was about 17, so I was firing on all cylinders throughout the evening.  As neither of us had a cell phone, we hopped from various McDonald’s along the way for wifi and coffee ensuring that everything would be on for the next few days!  The night wore on like a time warp, but fortunately navigated the desert without any major mechanical issues or other road related dramas.  When we showed up at Tim’s place in Big Sky at 7:00 AM we headed straight for the couch and floor for a well earned power nap.

We awoke to Tim’s smiling face, hashed a plan for the day, and rummaged through the gear stuffed boot of the car to find our avalanche and shredding equipment.  Once this chore was dealt to, we were soon at Big Sky‘s base checking out Lone Peak (11,166 ft) cloaked in a fresh foot of snow over the previous two days.  Fortunately Tim had hooked up tickets to both Big Sky and Moonlight Basin allowing us to access all the mountain’s 5532 acres of skiable terrain, which happens to be the most amount out of any resort in the United States.

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Stoked!

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Lone Peak from the Big Sky angle.  Photo:  Ruari Macfarlane

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Time Cowie is a serious shredder.  He goes through a minimum of four boards a season navigating this place!

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Ruari Macfarlane stoked to be riding the Big Sky Tram

 

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The crew waiting for the tram.  Photo:Ruari Macfarlane

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Ruari Macfarlane dropping into the first run from Big Sky down to Moonlight Basin

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Freshies for miles

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Tim explaining some of the lines on the backcountry face in the background 

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Hiking up the Headwaters, Moonlight Basin‘s premier big mountain terrain

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Big terrain out here.  Photo:  Ruari Macfarlane

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Ruari sneaks a line through a wee chute in Moonlight Basin‘s Headwaters

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Tim Cowie knows where all the stashes are.  Photo: Ruari Macfarlane

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Another view back to Lone Peak from the ridge joining Big Sky and Moonlight Basin

We had a blast ripping around these resorts.  The terrain is big and there are loads of lines that you would struggle to pick off in a week of good snow.  With close access to both Bozeman and Jackson Hole, this is a must stop for any shredder touring the area.  A lot of people may just ride Big Sky when visiting the area, but Ruari and I agreed that Moonlight‘s Headwaters offered some of the best extreme big mountain terrain on the mountain.  It is no wonder that the March stop of the WFQT is on this venue.

Thanks to Tim Cowie for hosting us around these rad resorts and thanks to Big Sky and Eric at Moonlight Basin for making it happen.  Hopefully we’ll be back for next year’s WFQT event which includes snowboarding!

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The longest Monday ever from Auckland to San Francisco

About a week ago I departed New Zealand to compete in the North Face Masters big mountain snowboarding event at Squaw Valley, California.  The journey back to the US was kind of like stepping into a familiar pair of shoes that had been hiding under a pile of dirty laundry.  I was greeted at the airport by an old friend, Matt who was a critical companion on a previous journey from California to Panama.  We spent a few days kicking around the city, eating Mexican food, catching up with other old friends, and scoping some of SF’s scenic surroundings.

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Golden Gate rockstars

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Looking west in the Pacific for a change

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Cali’s got mail!

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Roadtrip

I arrived in Squaw late in the night and was greeted by another old friend, Kevin who since picked up residence in Tahoe.  We ripped around Squaw the following day warming up the legs in order to acclimate to the fairly solid conditions present in Tahoe.  Fortunately all my time in NZ had already prepared me to ride on horrible ice moguls on steep terrain.

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Scoping lines in the venue on my splitboard

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The venue from the bottom

Judging by the heavy hitters littered on the riders list I knew this event was going to be a lot more competitive than previous events in NZ.  I scoped a few different options, but knew I wanted to check out the 2 star event at Alpine Meadows to see what level the riding was like here.  We wrapped up the day with the first riders meeting coupled with the first official bro down of the event.  The vibe was surprisingly light and felt like a reunion of old friends, which was refreshing in comparison to my last competitive memories from the states.  Some of my mates who are the current camera operators, editors and digital media ninjas for MSI (the event managers) were there, and they asked me for an international perspective on the opening video for the event.  I was pretty stoked to get a shot with some of the other top competitors in the event.

My strategy going into the event was to ride a safe line and make the top 10 which would help to boost my ranking in the WFQT.  After seeing the other top riders come down after me I knew I could have pushed it harder, but was really stoked to ride a clean line and end up tied for 6th place, just .33 points away from 5th.  My good friend from NZ, Ruari Macfarlane slayed his run, choosing a more technical line with a fairly substantial double stager to finish it off.  He knocked WFT rider Sammy Luebke off the podium and stayed in the top slot for the rest of the day.  I couldn’t have picked a more dedicated rider to win the event, especially following his 35 hour solo road trip from Canmore, BC to get there.  The recap video has a few of the top runs and airs throughout the day.  My first air (method) is just after my short speaking segment.

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My first air in the comp

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Ruari Macfarlane on the podium with some heavy hitters on his sides.  

After the competition Ruari and I decided to hit the road together and make our way to Montana to shred with Tim Cowie (in black on the left side of the podium) who tied for 5th place with Ryalnd Bell, just .33 points in front of me.  Fortunately Tim, being one of the top riders in Big Sky and Moonlight was able to put us in touch with the right people and get us riding some of the best lift accessed terrain in Montana.

 

I’ve just traveled from New Zealand to California for this week’s upcoming North Face Masters event.  It will be  my first time competing in a big mountain competition back in the USA and I’m excited to be amongst some really high end riders.  I will post the results soon!