Earlier this year, I traded in my winter playground of Lake Tahoe for the rugged and surreal mountains of Idaho. After having spent 20 winters tackling the notorious slopes that surround the lake on the California/Nevada border, I didn’t know what to expect when I took my first runs in my new home state. After two weeks of near constant powder at Schweitzer and Sun Valley, I learned two valuable lessons. First, the Tahoe region wasn’t the only place in the west coast to get nearly picture perfect snow days. And the second was a game changer for me. I learned that taking on a new mountain could make you feel like a kid again. After two decades, I knew almost every run by heart in Tahoe. But this new scenario, floating on fresh powder while staring at rugged mountains and frozen trees, not knowing what awaited me around the next turn, was exhilarating.
So when my good friend Andy Best, (yes, the same guy who lives in a camper) told me that he was working on a new campaign for the Mountain Collective, I was intrigued. The idea behind the Mountain Collective pass is to get passionate snow bums a chance to explore new mountains and continuously feel the rush I felt last winter when I conquered new terrain. For just $409, the pass gets each holder 28 days worth of skiing or snowboarding. But while that is a steal financially, the catch is, you have to dig deep down and find your spontaneous and adventurous side. Those 28 days are good for only two days each at 14 different mountains in the western U.S. and Canada. With no blackout dates however, the pass allows for a pretty loose schedule as to when you will tackle those mountains. If the adventure of roadtripping across the western United States in search of fresh powder wasn’t enough to get those winter day dreams going, it doesn’t hurt that the 14 mountains are some of the most respected in North America.
Primarily responsible for the film shown above, Best teamed up with adventure photographer Callum Snape to help capture some of the best moments of the adventure. Based on the photos taken by both Best and Snape, it’s easy to see why this is an adventure that, while a time commitment, can make for one of the most memorable winters for someone who loves bombing down snow covered mountains during the day and enjoying a cocktail by the fire in the lodge at night.
After knowing Best for years, I have noticed he seems to gravitate to cold images and scenery. I asked him about what it is about winter that he finds so appealing.
I grew up in eastern Idaho where winter lasted 8 months out of the year. Jackson was my home mountain and being the president of my school’s ski club, we were able to ride all weekend long for just $20. Growing up with that as your backyard, it was hard not to love the cold weather and fresh powder.
I love the feeling that winter brings. The food, the warm drinks, a fire. All the better after first going outside and earning it. in my photographs and films, the colors, snow packed peaks, and flocked trees all make for a visually stimulating image…Looking back through them today reminds me, it’s almost time to get out and play. Rinse and repeat.
Obviously, the snow and the sports were an incredible part of Best’s and Snape’s adventure, but I asked about what the down time was like, and if there was one moment that stood out.
While we waiting for snow to fall at Squaw Valley in California, I got the urge to buy a childhood motorcycle (Honda trail 70) to rebuild and cherry out. I found one on Craigslist and drove into the hills of Sacramento up to this very old and creepy house, but purchased the bike, which makes a cameo in the piece.
I ordered like 15 boxes of parts and sat outside the uniform building at Squaw Valley, where they were kind enough to let us plug in. I sat for hours and hours over the course of a couple of days, waiting for the snow and rebuilding the bike from the wheels up. The manager of the uniforms department wound up sewing Squaw beanie jackets for our dogs. By the time we left Squaw, the employees were like family to us. It’s those moments and the connections we made, even through all of the epic scenes and adventures we see, that really live in my memory for life.