People
Dec 10

Wrote some of this when Fransson died. But these last few months have been chaos filled with endings and new beginnings for me, all capped off by an unplanned, life-sucking house reno. Lately I haven’t even been able to contemplate skiing, let alone finding the motivation to search for the next beautiful ski line.  Doesn’t help that Squamish broke a December 9th temp record of 8.9C from 1991, with a staggering 15C.

But that’s where guys like Fransson come in. Fallen comrades who lived such amazing lives, with a seemingly endless thirst for skiing. Inspiration that helps you reset your course, get your priorities right, and reignite your love for the mountains regardless of whether you’re skiing something steep or just going on a walkabout.

fransson

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Oct 07

Interviews with badasses – an attempt to uncover some reality in the media-hyped world of ski heros. People who have pushed the limits of skiing with little fanfare.

Steep Skiing is totally subjective. Every line is unique. There are great lines, but there is no greatest or best.  In this non-competitive atmosphere, we can sit back and admire what others are skiing. We can treat Steep Skiers the same way. Every skier has a unique history and experience. Peter Schon is certainly an outlier among outliers, and his role in the history of ski mountaineering is hard to nail down.

He’s skied in places, off mountains, and down routes that most expert ski mountaineers wouldn’t have the imagination nor the desire to even bother (myself included). Some of his 1st descents are part genius, part madness. He has a willingness to endure the suffering of self-supported missions, and thus ventures FAR off the beaten path. Skiing lines that demand multiple high camps, which lead to incredible exposure to the elements and skiing steeps with a brutally heavy pack.

On an impressive side note, Peter completed his Masters at SFU in Vancouver, is continuing his PHD in snow studies in Vienna, ski guides winters in Norway, wins awards for his black and white photography, engages in various photo projects documenting refugees in Georgia and Armenia, and regularly spends time with his girlfriend in Armenia.

So here’s an interview with one of the unique characters of our sport:

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Sep 30

Relative to most sports, ski mountaineering (the steep kind) is very small. The history is well documented. There are really just a few French grandmasters that invented the sport and have since taken it to successive levels gnar. There are strong communities elsewhere in Europe and North America, but because of Chamonix, the French have always ruled the sport. So when one of these guys dies while skiing, it’s a big deal (even if the ski media doesn’t realize it).

But our sport isn’t about who’s best. There’s no quantifiable glory. No bullshit gold medals. That’s the beauty of it. Why it transcends mere sport.

Remy showing how it’s done.

Remy didn’t have the flash that many of his contemporaries had. He just skied an endless number of descents.

I’m ok at what I do skiing-wise. But when people ask me for advice on skiing the steeps, I shrug my shoulders and tell them to go watch Youtube videos of Remy Lecluse. His steep technique was efficient, effortless and flawless. You got the sense that he was so competent, he could never fall. In the end it was an avalanche while tent-bound.

I’ve only followed his career for the last 5 years. His early days were featured in Pierre Tardivel’s book, Memoiries de pleine pente, with the other masters. He’d been actively skiing the steeps since the mid 80’s, and more recently him and Plake formed a partnership and headed to places like Peru and India. Fransson states in his tribute to Remy, that he had over 500 firsts . . . crazy!

As far as Manaslu is concerned, from the pictures I’ve seen the peak seems to have significant objective hazards. The week prior to the avalanche, after hearing about the 50cm of fresh snow that had fallen on a previous 50cm of powder, I remember thinking out loud about the risks those boys were taking. But you can’t judge these things. The Himalayas is totally unique in the world of mountains, where the general rules we try to follow in Canada don’t apply. From my own experiences I know the mindset changes after a month or so of acclimatization and thousands spent on transportation and porters. High-altitude wears you down, decision-making becomes affected and priorities relax. But the massive serac-fall that created the avalanche, seems to be a freak occurrence separate from the snow conditions.

Another legend gone.

R.I.P. Remy Lecluse, Gregory Costa

May 27

“Interviews with local badasses – an attempt to uncover some reality in the media-hyped world of ski heros. People who have pushed the limits of skiing with little fanfare.”

Note: Last week, for several days, footage of Steve’s first-ever quadruple back flip was on the internet. Around 30,000 people on youtube watched. The footage was then pulled due to copyright infringement. Hopefully soon we will again be able to see the footage sans music.

I’ve known Steve for over five years, and have always been fascinated with the story of the quadruple back flip. The footage actually spent several years in my own basement, in 16mm form, waiting to be dusted and the feat revisited.  Growing up on Whistler, and airing the “Camel humps” many times, I realize Steve’s jump is an amazing piece of Whistler’s history.  These humps were partially blasted to make way for the Harmony chair, and you’d now have to negotiate a cat-track, moguls and snow-plowers on the in-run.

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Aug 11

RIP FREDRIK ERRICSON

By Trevor 2010, Pakistan, People Comments Off

photo: fredrikerricson.com

k2
Shishapangma, Gasherbrum II, Dhauligiri, Kanchenjunga, Laila, K2 . . . skiing at the limit..

Nov 04

Willy Khan Spricenieks is born

By Trevor 2009, People Comments Off

Had a horrible day cleaning my rental suite . . . and then I got the great news.

Father, flyer, mentor, philosopher, international steep-skiing guru, and one of my favorite ski partners, Ptor Spricenieks, had a baby boy today in La Grave France.  Ptor will be the coolest dad of all time . . . yeah doggies.

My favorite photo of Ptor, taken up Yukon way.

ptor.spricenieks_mt.vancouver1.

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