Retirement at 32?

I am indeed retiring at the age of 32. I will no longer ski as an "athlete" under the logo of any company. I am having a hard time calling it retirement, per say, because I am building on that skill set to pursue more time guiding projects, behind the lenses, and on typing away on computer screens as a content creator for Telemark Skier Magazine, as well as Vertical Integration, and freelancing. However, as I sat through a meeting with my insurance guy who has been trying to keep my life insured for years despite numerous rejections and "ski" clauses he asked me the question. "So what do I put this down as now? Retired?" My slow and awkwardly long silence before replying must have given away my apprehension. He looked up from his computer and smiled as he waited for my verbal confirmation. "Yeah... I guess so." Up until that point I really hadn't said it out loud to anyone other then my wife. 

Completely Missed Fall

I must say that I have been so busy that fall has passed me by. The evidence is apparent on this website as well. I have neglected to post in some time. In my defense, I have been hard at work on the Vertical Integration movie, From the Background of Telemark. It is complete, and up for sale on that website As well, I have been writing and submitting photographs to Telemark Skier Magazine for upcoming issues. All the while having a newborn son, and remodeling the new family home. I must say my website absence is excusable, but none-the-less, fall has slipped by me like something on my to-do list. This old video that V.I. did for Telemark Skier makes me reminisce.

The Comeback Kid...eerrr, Pup.

As usual, my golden retriever, Murphy, is more popular then me. All the neighborhood kids love her and call her out by name as she is out walking around with the bearded guy that they are not quite sure of, Me. Everyone wants to know how well she is doing after her blown out knee injury. Well here is some video of how well she is doing. She has a long way to get ready for the ski season coming this fall, but so far she is right on track. I am so glad to have my little buddy amidst a comeback.

Creating Ride-in, Ride-Out Real Estate

My home in Farmington, Utah is pretty close 5-minute drive to the foothill trailheads, but for some reason that I can't explain I am drawn to the ride-in and ride-out real estate possibility. There is a relatively famous trailhead for mountain biking just to the north of my home on 200 North in Kaysville, Utah. I can connect to it via the trailhead at Bair Creek Canyon nearest my home in Fruit Heights, Utah just to it's south. With all these little towns and trail connections it is not always easy to make it all hook up. However, with a little change in perspective to think of my urban neighborhood in the context of mountain biking I put together a route to create my own way of making my home into ride-in, ride-out mountain biking real estate.  

Spring Brings Reflection and Transition

Another wild and crazy winter has come to a close. I am tired. I am weary. I am ready for spring. Somehow I ended up on the road again this winter just as much as ever, if not more. I was trying to spend more time in Utah, but another tough winter in the Wasatch forced me out on move again. Regardless, I am exhausted. My year-round body/mind management puts me into the phase in which I simply take a few months to heal and reflect. That means a lot of casual mountain biking, mellow hiking with my wife and dog, healing, and this spring more then ever includes some real reflecting. I did well to avoid injury this winter, and I have begun to scale back my risky behavior for a variety of reasons. Obviously my risk tolerance will still exceed most folks definition of taking it easy, but for me this spring's reflections are an exercise in will power, discipline, and wisdom. I have a lot of additions coming to my life that I have been getting ready for with careful preparation and transition.  

Towering Expectations

The radar towers that sit atop Francis Peak near my home in Farmington, Utah have haunted me for years. I have eyeballed the chutes for years. I started scouting the terrain in my backyard canyon, Bair Creek Canyon, a few years ago. I had done a lot of homework, but still had unanswered questions. The road up Farmington Canyon had finally opened up to vehicle traffic, and I had done some on-snow scouting a few days prior in a separate zone on the area. The time was ripe, and I was ready...

Scouting Terrain Pays Up

I had been scouting this particular section of the Wasatch Range on my own for the last three summers. You see, I live in Farmington, Utah. Right across the street from me is Farmington Canyon. I have been hiking this terrain with an eye to skiing it for the last three summers. However, the last few years the road has been closed to uphill vehicle traffic all year-round due to landslide issues. Thus, I have not been able to cash in on my summer explorations. The gate finally opened this spring. It was time to get up there and collect. Day one in the zone, and I had to trek it solo. Thus, I chose to explore some sheltered tree skiing for those days when the avalanche conditions on the big lines are just a bit too much. Solo missions are a little scary, but very good for the soul. I was excited to get up high to look around, and take it all in...

Chasing adventure in Alaska...

Alaska. It is a large expanse of wilderness and terrain. Mountains so large that each valley and inlet has a weather system all it's own. I have been going to Alaska in the spring for a long time now for a variety of projects. I have come to learn that options, time, and luck are the keys to the game there. I have spent weeks of down time on helicopter pads, and days huddling wood stoves in Alaska. Mother Nature makes the rules, and I have simply come to roll with her call. This year Andrew Schauer of Bozeman, Montana elected to join me. We were meeting up with Alaskans, Jon Gurry and Dave Magoffin. Jon, Dave, and I have worked together on a bunch of projects over the years. Basically, at this point, we just fly into Anchorage and see what happens.  

the classic...

It was a classic day amongst a blur of adventure. The weather forecast left little to be expected. Grey was the outlook of the day, and a possibility of snow. I drove to Snowbasin under high grey clouds that appeared to be able to go either way. I was not optimistic. I hooked up with an old friend and touring partner, Wes Knopfel. I was on the gondola when he called me. I had a lap or two under my belt for the morning. The mountains had received about 4 inches of what we call, "Basin Butter". It is a thick dense snow that blankets the surface with a butter like consistency. The key to skiing the butter is to find slopes that have smooth bed surfaces from before the storm. Luckily for us, Snowbasin is plentiful with big clean smooth slopes. The visibility was still low, but my hopes were lifting with the clouds. At about 10:30am the grey began to break. Wes and I were ready. We laughed as we rode up Strawberry gondola about the sunshine poking through with increasing momentum. The gift of bluebird skies was a welcomed surprise. 

familiar faces, in familiar places...

I have been on the road for a long time this winter. I have been crisscrossing the ski world for the last two months. I am thankful for all the wild and crazy experiences. However, the flip side of the card is being at home with my wife, my dog, hometown friends, and my local mountains. The first order of business after a kiss from the wife was her charge to get the dog out in the snow to run off some pent up energy. Then it was to change the sheets in the guest room for an old friend of mine that was coming into town to ride some mountains.

Big Mountain Competition, Grand Targhee...

Big mountain competitions are where I got my start in this crazy life I lead. I went to a competition at Crested Butte back in the day and did well enough to start picking up sponsor support. Ever since that first year I have been in love with the competition scene. So much of my ski world came together as a result of the friends and experiences I made at competitions. As such, I am an ardent supporter of them to this day. I have evolved into the cagey old veteran in this professional freeheel game. I am no longer willing to throw down in any conditions like competition skiers must do. All that aside I am honored to be a judge at the competitions now. It is a thankless and surprisingly difficult job, but I am stoked to give back to the game that gave so much to me. 

Festival fun...

What season is it? Festival season. That is right. I got back from Japan and immediately hit the festival tour. I started at Telepalooza in Seven Springs, PA and then worked my way back over to MidWest Telefest with the guys from Downwind Sports in the U.P. of Michigan. Festivals are always a really good time with plenty of like-minded folks that want to get down.

I flew into Pittsburgh, PA.

^These folks throw down the Telepalooza Festival at Seven Springs each year. A great group of folks that get together to learn, rip, and celebrate the telemark turn. The folks of the Appalachian Telemark Association have a deep and profound love for the sport, and it shows in their festival.

^The view of a small piece of Seven Springs from my hotel room slope side. Very nice place.

^Good beer too. Utah beer sucks. It was good to get a real good one.

^A friend of Telemark Skier Mag, Mike Cordaro, and his lovely girlfriend Elyse(excuse name spellings). These folks were super cool to me, and showed me a great time. I am stoked to have met them along with all of the folks that were involved with Telepalooza. 

^Especially these young studs. These guys were a blast to ski with. My favorite thing to do is get a chance to rip with a bunch of stoked young kids on telemark skis. I was very surprised to see how well they had taken to telemark skiing at such young ages. These kids make me proud and hopeful for the future of this great sport. I was so stoked to be able to be a part of a great weekend with all the people of Telepalooza and Seven Springs.

^Then I was wheels up again. To the U.P. of Michigan.

^I hooked up with photoman, Joey Wallis, and we rallied up to Mt. Bohemia. This photo shows the rowdy little wooded gem from the shores of Lac La Belle. We crashed for the night at Lac La Belle Lodge right on the beach and minutes from Mt. Bohemia.

^Joey and I met up with our local friend, Steve Rowe. Steve does the clearing here in the summer and hops around the place all winter. Steve is hopping from cliff to pad in this photo as Joey captures the action of the legendary local.

^Mt. Bohemia is a gem to be viewed. It really is like nothing else you can find east of the Mississippi.

^After a big day a Mt. Bohemia we drove down south to the Porkies in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This bridge in Houghton, Michigan is about halfway in between the two resorts, and home to Michigan Tech University. It is a really cool old mining town with reminisces of all the old mining and logging money that used to flow through here in a big way.

^Telefest is a good tradition for Joey and I by now. We have made it a mission of ours for quite a few years. It is always just such a good time.

^I was super stoked to be able to meet up with my old buddy, Tor Stetson-Lee. Tor and I used to rip the extreme comps together. We worked on a good amount of film and photo projects together too. It is weird to say, but him and I kind of go back a while now. He was among my first friends on the competition scene all those years ago. He is living in Madison, Wisconsin right now. I was super pumped when he contacted me to tell me he'd be going up to the U.P. for Telefest.

^Some festival action from the wonderful folks from Duluth, Minnesota. These folks are a part of group from Duluth that always makes it over for Telefest. They know how to have a good time, and are always a lot of fun to party and ski with.

^Joey in a field of teles.

^Joey and Tor trekking to the radio towers at Porkies for some tree skiing in the soft lake effect snow.

^Kick off your boots and dance.

^Telefest always throws down a really good party on Saturday night. They hire a killer bluegrass band and get after it. Dragon Wagon played the tunes this year, and they brought the house down. This group loves to dance. Telemark skiers are usually a strong enough bunch to ski all day and then dance the rest of the night away. Great times, with great folks, as always.

^After all the festival action I was toast. I flew back to my Utah home, and was relieved to fly over the Wasatch Mountains. I love festivals, but I was tired. I had been on the road for nearly a month straight. I was missing my wife and our dog. 

^Touchdown in Salt Lake City was a deep sigh of relief. Being on the road is a blessing. The wisdom and experiences of the traveling are so dear to me. The new friends and plentiful adventures always enrich my journey through this wild ride of another pro skier's winter. I am grateful for every last bit of it. As the saga continues, I am just happy to be home alive and healthy with a chance to settle back down for just a moment. At least until it all gets rowdy again. Just hanging on.

I think I am turning Japanese, I really think so...

My lot in life has afforded me the opportunities to do amazing things. Things that most folks will never get the chance to experience. I am truly blessed for all these moments. Traveling across the planet to ski the deepest powder of my life in Japan ranks right up there. We had a lot of projects to tackle in Japan for Telemark Skier Magazine, so I won't go into all too much detail about the trip. We will be putting out a whole issue dedicated to the area, as well as part of our digital movies next fall. I have fallen in love with the north island of Japan, Hokkaido. So much so that I am considering ways to spend time there every January for the rest of my life.

^Dave Magoffin(Left) and Ben Geiger(Right) strolling the bustling bright streets of Tokyo.

Ben and photoman, Jon Gurry(Right), digging into the local fare. The food was so pure, fresh, and all around delicious. We were amazed at the quality every where we ate.

^Our Niseko home, the YHA Niseko Fujiyama Karimpani. Max and his family run a beautiful, clean, and warm hostel on the north side of Niseko. It is out in the country and offers fantastic food and an ideal place to wind down after a big day.

^Niseko United is a conglomeration of a bunch of ski resorts on the slopes of Mt. Annupuri.

^Dave is making some turns for Jon and his handy camera.


^The peak is sacred,... 

^and the turns are deep.

^Super deep.

^Sick sunset exit.

^Traditional evening entertainment.

^Weird things.

^Max is the owner of the hostel, and he gets out to ski when he can. When he does get to make some turns, he turns them telemark style!

^I was able to interview the head of the Niseko Avalanche Institute. He is an amazing man.

^Night skiing in Niseko is a party. A dance party.

^Dance, dance, dance...

^...all night long.

^Highway touring...

^...on deeply snow covered roads.

^Over the river and through the woods...

^ tits deep turns we go.

^Glades, and glades, and more glades.

^Touring on the volcano under bluebird skies.

^The house of the rising sun does a pretty good set too.

^Mt. Yotei. Nailed it!

^I wish I could share more of the stories with you all here, but your just gonna have to buy a subscription to Telemark Skier Magazine. You can believe me when I say that the trip was all time. You will have to tune in to the magazine next fall to find out why. As I boarded my sunrise flight to leave I gave thanks for the crew I had with me, the great fortune that graced our trip, and the little bit of magic that came together to make this a trip of a lifetime.