As told to Tom Monterosso
I was with Blake Paul, Aaron Blatt, Pat Moore, Mark Carter, and Tanner Pendleton, filming for LANDLINE.. We set out to kick the season off with a trip to a lodge deep in the backcountry. I think it was the 6th of January, and it was snowing; we had been in a serious storm cycle. We saw the storm starting to break, so we thought we would make a go at it. It's a 30-mile sled ride just to get to the lodge. You're out there. Once you arrive, there's gas and food, but it's a commitment.
So we set out on snowmobiles into this crazy snowstorm. It's lightly snowing at the trailhead, but as we start sledding, it's piling up. Typically, it's a groomed trail that takes you there, and the snow is fully over the hoods of our sleds. By the time we get to the lodge, the snow is so deep that you can't make out the road. We settle into the lodge and put our bags down, then head back out into the cold to see if we can start breaking trail for the next day. A high pressure is forecast, so we know we're going to have clear weather in the morning. But it's so deep that we can't get anywhere or see anything, so we're like, "Shit, too much of a good thing." You know?
The next day we rise before dawn and make a plan to do some recon and see what we can get to. Obviously with all this new snow, avalanches are our big concern, so we set out early, assessing as we go, then start punching up. Finally, after an entire day on the sleds, we get to this bowl. And there's nothing to ride. We each get maybe one good turn after a full day's work on the sleds. That's not to mention it's the coldest day of the season. I'm talking like -20º all day.
You know, you put so much energy into these opportunities, and sometimes Mother Nature is bigger than you are. It was a humbling lesson that day. Completely exhausted and totally shut down, we get back to the lodge at the end of the day, trying to figure out what to do. So we persevere and head up the next day. This time we end up in a really cool zone, and the crew is getting shots right out the gate.
That trip was brutally cold and trying. It was early in the season, so everyone was just getting back into the swing of things. Looking back, it's one of my favorite memories because of the crew's attitude. Sometimes there's too much of a good thing. It was sunny but frigid. There was a lot of snow, but it was too deep. In the end, we ended up having great sessions and came away with amazing images and shots, but we suffered too. It's funny; I think back to that—just the vibe of an early season trip and the excitement of getting eyes on new terrain, getting out in the middle of it. For me, that was a great start. Everything after seemed easy. I think it toughened me and the boys up for the season to come.