“Oh, sh*t--I think we lost Steve again…”
There’s nothing quite like turning around in the middle of downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, only to find out that your entire crew has disappeared. Worse, if you can imagine, when that crew is comprised solely of young, impressionable snowboarders, all relying on you to guide them along their virgin foray into the sight, sounds, and endless nights of Sin City. Here, centered along a famed Strip at once so inviting and mezmerizing, yet ceaselessly temptuous and depraved, would my troubles begin.
Twenty-four hours ago, Rhythm‘s Gus Cawley and I put down our phones, and would both perform a metaphorical ‘check yourself in the mirror’ concerning our sudden, exciting--admittedly spontaneous and daunting--best (worst?)-laid plans. Snowboarding In Las Vegas--could it actually be done? It would only take a handful of phone calls to line up the hotels and carpools, and just a couple of texts and emails to pin down the riders and photographers; but the real question still hung overhead: Where the hell are we going to snowboard--in Las Vegas?
The answer came with speed of a Google search, in the name of Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort. We veguely remember hearing of this geographic and ecological anomaly before, but with no past reference to go on, knew little of where, what, how, and who to expect. Turns out, the sinners of Nevada have some kind of sun-kissed park resort a mere 40 mins from the Las Vegas Strip, and our mission was then clear. Letting the proverbial dice spiral from our fingertips, it was time to experience what this winter warlock had to offer, risking personal safety, mental illness, and betting the farm in physical/social/professional roulette along the way. “We are, after all, the absolute cream of the national sporting press…”
Arriving at the Rhythm headquarters Friday morning, I found the kids getting their kits right and heads wrapped around the coming days and nights. Gus had assembled a small crew of young riders; Tahoe and Bear locals both ready and hungry to get on the road and get ‘er done. Above, from left to right, are Steve Gullion, Dylan Dessurealt, and on the far right, Preston Harper. Steve’s 22, from Vergennes, Vermont, lives in Lake Tahoe, but currently resides in a Harry Potter zone--literally under a staircase--in Bear (although has no trouble in getting chicks to follow him there, so we’re told). He loved the Vegas trip so much, we almost had to leave him at Buffalo Bill’s on the way out. Dylan aka Dubbers aka Dubstep aka Dez, redefined the term “take a grenade for your boy” this trip. The only person not on the Rhythm AM team, Dubs comes from the old-school live-to-ride mentality--working hard all summer-long, just to ride during the winters. As both homie, driver, and constant offerer to sideline the friend of the “friend” for Steve and Preston during the trip, this kid deserves the “VIP” moniker laid upon him from day one. …And then there’s Preston. Probably the nicest kid to ever strap on a snowboard, Pres is 21, from Huntington Beach, and runs with JusLiv and the Bear Mountain life; also, holding family ties to Las Vegas. After a few drinks and a good first night in Old Vegas (downtown, Fremont Street, etc), the crew hit/fell to the beds/shower floors/god knows, to prepare for the following day’s sun and snow.
This might be the hangover talkin’, but after catching up with the riders a few days after the trip, they would all agree: Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort blew away our loftiest expectations. From the quick, 40-minute drive into the desert (“You could easily kill a man out here and no one would ever know…”), to the sun-baked hills and warm temperatures (think: Bear Mountain, Mountain High, etc), to the incredibly-diverse, outrageously-dressed local crowd (check the photo of Steve and the nip-ring brutha in the gallery above), the entire crew had what Preston described best as “the funnest day of the year”. Greeted with soft snow, mellow features, friendly locs, and a couple of ridiculous snake-runs in the trees (that almost completely de-railed our plans to shoot and film), everyone spent the day smiling, laughing, and getting shit done in the Las Vegas hills. Joined by our new friend and local skate/snow photographer, Nelson Bill (and his raddest unmarked white van in the States), Steve, Dubs, and Preston got to work, quickly picking out rails and jibs while Gus, Blake (LVSSR’s Park Manager), and I scoped and prepped the jump line.
Outside the park, the resort lies on a mellow grade, nestled at the base of a viciously steep incline--one that appears to hold a multitude of backcountry lines that dedicated local hikers and skinners had recently slayed. Keep this one on the list for exploration next season. Make the trip out, and you might even run into one of us on the way up, attempting to ride lines in Vegas that even Charlie Sheen wouldn’t dream of (winning…!)
As my blood began to rush and mind began to race, I glanced down at my watch, hoping to foster some sort of distant stability from its consistent, rotating hands. Taking in a gasp of the dry desert air, I looked up again, praying and somewhat half-expecting that the team would then magically re-appear, finding myself the center of a grandiose, city-life Criss Angel Mindfreak headfuck--but no, my luck had run out. Welp… f*** it, I thought. At least they have a room key. I’m going to Marquee.
But, no one wants to read about the partying, the late-night horrors, the 5 AM girl-fights (“Bitches get stitches!“), the rent money won, lost, won (and lost) again…
Just check out these places if you really want to couple a few sun-kissed park sessions with a few memory-filled and chick-kissed night seshes in Las Vegas.
~ Stay At… Wynn (Mom/Dad $), Hard Rock (Young Money), Artisan (Dance Party), Excalibur (Snowboarder), Motel 6 Off-Strip (Real Snowboarder)
~ Eat At… Nobu (Mom/Dad $), Cabo Wabo Cantina (Sammy Hagar’s Place--bartenders get their Coyote Ugly every hour, everyday), Gas Stations (Snowboarder)
~ Party At… Marquee (Young Money), Fremont Street (Snowboarder), Hotel Room (Younger Money), Jail Cell (Really Real Snowboarder)
~ Gamble At… Bellagio (Bankruptcy), Caesar’s (Lunacy), Venetian (Custody) … “Dusty” (Preston)
Thankfully for us, the old adage saves the explanation long before it starts: What happens in Vegas, always has, does, and will stay right in Vegas. (“…except Herpes, that shit will stay with you…”)
In closing… For those who’ve never felt the joy/sheer terror immediately realized upon opening your eyes on a Sunday morning in Las Vegas, it goes a little something like this: We have to get out of this hotel. Now. No, right now. Because no matter how prepared you think you are or measures checked the night before, one glaring reality always remains--they’re holding my credit card on this shithole… Lucky for us, waking up at 2 PM is an overrated artform, and when the cleaning ladies of the resort haven’t noticed your obscene overstay, it’s probably the best gift one can receive on the Lord’s day deep in the Nevada desert. Spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch; Steve, Preston, Dubs, and Gus--amazingly, miraculously, all present and accounted for, and safely strewn across the room (including Preston). Dignity notwithstanding, we had made it through to the other side, and the time had mercifully come to return home. After a quick stop at The Wynn for lunch, we walked through the Venetian to find the cars. Here, at the 11th hour, the constant stuggle finally got the better of me, and I gave in to my gambling needs. Pulling one epic Houdini to the nearest ATM and pulling out four bills, I sat down at the roulette table, and began to play. Larry Bird (33), Michael Jordan (23), and for some reason, 15--hit, hit, hit--and big. 600 dollars up in the ledger, exhausted, bleary-eyed, and holding dear to the last shreds of hopeless innocence five young men can contain, we all looked at each other; without a sound between us, everyone knew: We have to get out of this city. Right Now.
~ Special Thanks To ~