To the Freeheeler European Opening Festival and Back

Early in the fall I received an assignment to write an article for the Freeheeler Magazine out of Europe, and a subsequent invitation to come do a presentation on the concept of the article at the Freeheeler European Opening Festival at Hintertux Glacier ski area in Austria in late November. 

^I grabbed a big flight across the pond to Munich and spent a
little time in the city.

^I didn't have a lot of time to see any of the classic sights of Munich, but I had a good time walking around looking for food and beer near the hotel I was staying at near Munich's central train station where I had planned to jump on a train down to Austria the next day.  

^The train ride was really pleasant and supplied a lot of cool views along the way. I opted for the train because I figured if I was going for the Euro experience bopping a few trains with a full stack of ski gear in tow seemed appropriate. 

^After the full gamut of planes, trains, and busses I finally arrived at the place I was booked to stay at the Pension Rosengarten in Lanersbach, Austria in the valley in the shadows of giant peaks and the glacier.  

^The festival is really mostly about the fellowship and comradery of the telemark community. Making new friends, and reconnecting with old friends from all over the world is the whole point for me.  

^I finally got to meet a telemark legend that I had been following on the internet, Arno Klein. Arno has done it all and everything in between. I saw him from across the demo tents and ran over to introduce myself in person and talked him into a selfie.  

^These views though.

^Classic Euro church pic.

^Of course, it is not really a telemark festival without the aprés scene, and the scene at this festival was full on. 


^Then of course getting back to the hotel room and FaceTiming with my family after I get home from the bar late at night. The time change was just so that this was the best time for me to call home and try to hold it together enough to talk to my kids. Of course, my wife thought is was just funny that my lightweight status was trying to hold my own with my seasoned Euro friends drinking me under the table. 

^One of the nights though I was pleasantly surprised to see my brand new nephew for the first time over FaceTime with my big brother from the hospital. Baby Nash was a breaking my heart as he slept in my mother's arms. My rambler's life in the winter means there are indeed real life sacrifices that I end up having to make, and this moment definitely felt like one of them. However just a few days later I was able to get my hands on that little cutie.  

^T-bar loving on the glacier.

^Following around Euro shredders.

^Bacon wrapped sausage and fries lunch.

^Telemark turns and Alps.

^More aprés.

^I was pumped to meet a telemark skier that I really admire. Seb Mayer is a beast of a telemark skier and as it turns out, a really nice guy too. Imagine that. Anyone who chooses telemark seems to come equipped with a humble nature as well it seems. Seb is among the strongest telemark skiers I have ever seen, and he is also a stout mountain man all around as well. I have always admired his style.

^Me and Maik Ost telling tale tales and shooting the breeze at an after party. I shared a lunch table with Maik and his buddies one day and we became fast friends. He spent some time in San Diego, a place I also have some good friends and have spent a little time so we quickly had some in-kind experiences talking about getting crushed on surfboards. Plus, as a result, his English was dialed as well, which was nice for a language laggard like myself always showing up all over the world with nothing more than a smile and hand signals. Thankfully for me almost everywhere I go these days there are usually good English speakers around to hold my hand and walk me through everything. 

^Down-loading a pair of gondolas back to the green grass of the distant valley below the glacier this time of year was always kind of a trip. These mountains are huge, and the glacier sits super high up from the valley town where I was staying. Each morning I would take a bus and two gondolas to the skiing. 

^My gracious host and owner of the Freeheeler Magazine, Richard Schuerf(L) and a few of my friends getting together for one last picture before I made my way back on the journey back across the ocean. So many people at this festival went out of their way to make me a part of the family of stoked telemark skiers from across Europe. I am so grateful to the telemark community for everything it has meant to me and all the gifts of travel and camaraderie that I have been blessed to receive along the way. Fifteen years in this craft as a pro, ambassador, content creator and now a guide has given me so many wonderful experiences. I have been fortunate to travel this whole world with skis, and even more know then ever it is the people that I have shared these experiences with and met along the journey that means so much to me. Some of my best friends in my life have come from this art and I can't say enough how grateful I am for each trip, each turn, and each and every person who has been a part of it throughout. 

^Waxed, taxed, and ready to go home.

^More logistics.

^A light show landing into Chicago...

^... and finally my two little boys. I brought home some chocolate goodies and plenty of big hugs. It is hard to be away from them, and it is so good to come home to them as well. I always come back with a giant sense of appreciation for my family. It seems that for me the opportunity to miss them makes me grab onto my time with them with even more vigor and appreciation. I am indeed a rambling soul, and the time always comes when I need to go out on the next adventure. I hope some day it makes sense to them, but for now I will just make sure to squeeze them every chance I get when I am home, and make the most of the opportunity. 

^I managed some final seasonal work on my property in rural Wisconsin to get it ready for winter and work through the last of my chainsaw gas to store it away for the winter. This project to prep some raw land to one day build the home on the stretch of land I have always dreamed of is yet another example of the miraculous opportunities that I have seemingly stumbled into. I am not afraid of the work and the incrementalism to chip away at the things I want to do in life. Thankfully, I have an amazing wife that gets it. I literally live by a saying I like to claim, "no hurry, no worry" and that kind of attitude is definitely not something everyone can get behind. My wife understands me though and has a way of seeing my vision, pace, and appreciates the lengths I will go to do my life my way. Many folks think I am absolutely a crazy person, but it seems that I am her kind of crazy because she goes along with it every step of the way. I always put in the work. I always follow through, and with patience of an angel she has been able to see it through with me at every turn. 

^I also got a chance to catch a bit of night skiing with my cousins and my Dad at Wilmot Mountain too. Many folks aways joke with me about if I will still ski Wilmot after all the places I have skied around the world and the answer is always yes. I love this place. It is where I learned of my first love of this life I have acquired, and it is where my tribe gathers there. I don't care that it is small. I don't care that it is short. I just love it for what it is, and mostly for who these people who call it home are. These are my people. No matter how far I go I am always a Wisconsin boy.

^I let them stay up late watching a movie with me. My youngest, Walt, simply adores his older brother, Amos, and they get along really well. Amos is taking to the role of big brother like I always had hopes that he would. They are two little peas in a pod together through it all. 

^These two may have been born in Utah, but they are Wisconsin boys too. My wife is a Wisconsin girl. We always knew when we had kids we would bring them home to our small hometown and our families that are here. It really does take a village to raise kids and we want the village that raised us to be a big part in raising them. The grandparents on both sides are beaming to have them back and it makes me happy to see them all happy too. I miss the mountains often while I am there, and I miss them when I have to leave. However, I have to do this whole thing my way. I just can't do it all any other way. I often wish that I could be a content soul held up in one place with consistency, but I have simply come to realize that I can not do my life any other way than how I have built this with my wife and our kids. It seems like it would be easier if I could, but I know now that I am just not cut from that cloth. My wife, brother, and family seem to get it by now. My boys are too young to understand and simply don't know any different. I hope one day they get it, but I am just not sure I can do this all any other way. Maybe I am crazy, but I am okay with crazy and it seems they all are too.