Stop, chill out, reevaluate and proceed

Posted on: October 22nd, 2013
This was an article I wrote last year.  It shows the struggles and rewards of snowboarding and will set the tone for my up and coming season that I wish to share with you through this blog.  Enjoy and i will  keep you posted on the latest adventuers. Written March 2013 This season has been all about battling through things not working out. I'm trying my hardest to shoot nice images of the Shames backcountry to showcase my approach to simple mountain living and progressive snowboarding. I'm planning, planning and re-planning - organizing food, camp gear and more camera gear. Constantly changing and rearranging goals and trip ideas to try and be at the best place to snowboard that the weather and snow conditions will allow. blog-chill-image1 blog-chill-image6 I’ll quickly recap the struggles challenges and disappointments that I call the beginning of my snowboard season before I describe the best snowboard trip I have ever had. blog-chill-image2 blog-chill-image3 blog-chill-image4 blog-chill-image5 My season started late this season in the middle of January. Four days of resort riding later, I limped away from Shames with a tweaked back. I have strong intentions every year to ride to the best of my ability and to have that play out is a rare occasion - however it happens often enough to keep me coming back. My ego gets a beat-down every time I hurt my back. Split-boarding is my saving grace. To lighten the mood, I joke about my situation by calling myself a cross-country skier and landscape photographer. Jokes with strong references to the truth help me get through rough times. I spend all my money, sacrifice my body and neglect normal life responsibilities to do what I love. Not that I’m any different then any other passionate snowboarder out there, but it's hard to hold it together when all your life’s dreams are right in front of your nose and you can't reach out and grab it.

"Not that I’m any different then any other passionate snowboarder out there, but it's hard to hold it together when all your life’s dreams are right in front of your nose and you can't reach out and grab it."

blog-chill-image9 blog-chill-image8 A nasty thought crept into my head in regards to my fellow riding companions and good friends Meghann O'Brien and Charles Piquet. Jealousy. They are in a position to have a willing and eager photographer, spot finder, jump builder and moral boosting dude follow them around with a camera and a shovel. When my body allows and it becomes my turn to ride, I try to be the photographer and the snowboarder at the same time and it's almost impossible to do both. Trying to give lessons on how to use an SLR camera over the radio while I’m on top of something big trying to concentrate rarely works out. Bad weather brought the moral down with Charles and I - and Meghann was away travelling. The timing was just bad. We were in the tent ready and stoked when the weather was bad and when it was good to go we were not together. One morose drive home left us both doubting our whole life plans. Ice cream was needed and brought over by a friend to cheer us up. We kept trying. blog-chill-image10 We went to a backcountry hut to try a different approach. It snowed 40cms of blower. We were geared up to ride pow in the trees for 4 days but I lost one of my skins the second day in and had to play cabin bitch for the rest of the trip. This is my season. Bad vibes got the best of me and I sent Meghann a message on Facebook saying that I was going to just give up on shooting photos in the mountains and get sled dogs and just ride for myself. Charles and I regrouped, recharged and made plans to howl our tent to our local stomping grounds. We made plans to to toile and burden ourselves with heavy camp gear on a bad ski day. This bad ski day turned out to be a bluebird pow day, so we ditched the heavy load and started to build a jump. We worked hard for 3 hours. As soon as I started to pat the lip, a hidden-from-view creeping valley fog rolled up the valley and made very flat light in like 5 mins. We sessioned anyways, because jump-boarding is fun. I had a good session and then tweaked my back ridding back down to the resort. This is my season. I took a day off and had my friend Ben come into town. The next day we towed gear along a ridge and watched everyone else ski a "to die for" day of sunny blue skies and stable snow. We fucked up and spent two days howling gear during perfect weather conditions. This is our season. blog-chill-image12 blog-chill-image13 With the dream of riding good terrain dangling in front of my face and not being able to ride hard, I grab my camera and start shooting my friends. We are camped at the end of a frozen lake adorned with a steep amphitheatre-shaped bowl full of cliffs lines and jump spot. It's sunny and stable and we are planned to be there for 7 days. The reward of all my planning, hard work and money spent is ready to be enjoyed yet I can't ride. A few more jokes about how I’m just a cross-country skier come up but they lose there funniness and they accidentally become mean jabs at my situation as my fellow riders look on as I struggle to bend over and get my snowboard boots on my feet. I try to put the push on the guys to shoot photos of both of them and myself doing pow slashes. I can't ride aggressively so I put my attention to taking good shots. I’m trying hard to make photo opportunities but after a bunch of tries, the guys just want to ride. I become annoying and I sink so low as to start guilt-tripping them into shooting photos. Not cool. blog-chill-image14 I was up early one morning putting the push on them to go and shoot this wall that’s lit up early in the morning. I get sick of hearing my own voice and become frustrated and think to myself "fuck my body I’m going to just go up and ride the shit out of that "alder run" - as it's called. It's an aesthetic looking technical line with some alder bashing and small mandatory drops through the line. I’m thinking aggressively to myself, "I’m going to get a shot no matter what". I hike out of my way to set up the camera and frame it how I want and then bubble back to my route up. As I turn and start to tour up to my line, the sun goes behind a peak and casts a shadow over my line ruining my chance at getting a shot. I wasn't surprised because this is my season.

"The mentality these days of getting shots is all about taking from themountains and getting something rather then giving or experiencing."

blog-chill-image17 Mission impossible. I give up. I turn my back to the line and start touring up to ride something mellow and boring. I had to stop. Bad thoughts crept into my head. Defeat, frustration, jealousy. But I was in the mountains. Consistently in my life when I’m in the mountains bad thoughts and feeling are transformed somehow into good. I’m not sure why or how, but the mountains give me the energy to overcome all things mentally as well as physically challenging. Something Meghann had said last year during one of her many rants about the snowboarding industry is that the mentality these days of getting shots is all about taking from the mountains and getting something rather then giving or experiencing. She said it much more elegantly then that but the morale of it stuck with me. I started thinking to myself, that the only thing I can control is how hard I dedicate myself to the act of trying. I can't control people, weather or snow conditions. I laughed at myself for getting upset when I was trying to control the alignment of the sun and mountains and the direction of the light cast upon my line. I decided to chill the fuck out and reevaluate. I’m just going to go ride that mellow line and see if we can create a nice memory on camera. I was at the top and over the radio I heard Ben say, "dude, I think the light is hitting that line again". I chuckled and said to myself, “ya right” but i crept over to the edge anyways and had a look. BAM! Session on. It was all lit up again. The Payoff... blog-chill-image16 It wasn't until I let go of the obsession to get the shot and started to focus on the experience and the enjoyment of the moment did things start to work out. I think the mountains around the Terrace area only respond in a good way when you’re in a peaceful attitude of awareness and positive aspiration while riding your snowboard around these magical peaks. The north is a place to share experiences with friends and get in tune with nature. If you’re lucky and independent enough make it to Terrace, you will quickly learn that you get out what you put in here. If you come to take, you'll get shit. If you come to ride and have fun and enjoy life you'll get your mind blown. blog-chill-image15

"It wasn't until I let go of the obsession to get the shot and started to focus on the experience and the enjoyment of the moment did things start to work out."