Lost Village- Salomon Freeski TV

This trip to France last year with Salomon Freeski TV was a real treat. We spent 10 days living in a chalet in the mountains above Val d'Pres, near Briancon. Emile Roman, the owner rebuilt the chalet himself with wood from the surrounding forest. Th chalet has been in his family since the 1700's. The chalet is off the grid with no phone or internet and powered by solar. With some incredible terrain for ski touring right out the door and no resorts, it is a unique location. 

The story centred around Emile and a local group of conservationists inspired by Emilie Carles, who have fought to keep the valley free of a highway and tunnel into Italy, along with the development that would have come with it. That Roman and his wife Annick allowed us to stay in their chalet was extremely generous of them as it is not usually open to anyone who isn't family. 

I was joined by Bjarne Salen, Scott Markewitz, Mark Abma, Leo Ahrens, Tony Lamiche and Timothee Theaux. It was a great trip where we all got to enjoy some time off the grid ourselves.

Look out for some editorial from the trip written my myself and accompanied by Scott Markewitz's photos.

Iceland- Salomon Freeski TV

In March, 2014, I had the chance to return to Iceland for my third trip. I was a filmer on a Salomon Freeski TV shoot joined by Jeff Thomas, Mattias Fredricksson, Leslie Anthony, Mark Abma, Chris Rubens and the late Andreas Fransson. It was great to go back to a place that I find truly magical. The Icelandic reverence for the mystic is fascinating and connects them to their landscape and heritage. 

We spend our time skiing with Jokull Bergman at his families heliski operation based in the farm house he grew up in near Dalvik on the Troll Penninsula. It was not a trip with an abundance of skiing due to one of the most intense and exhilarating storms any of us has sat through. The wind blew for 3 days straight at close to and over 100km/hr, burying roads, blowing a shipping container into a house in town and making the 30m journey from the barn to the dinning room an expedition. To read a great account penned by Les Anthony, read his Mountain Life Annual blog here. But in the moments between the elements flexing their muscles, we skied some unique mountains, even down to the dark North Atlantic Ocean, and this is one of the most aesthetically unique episodes I have shot. I hope you feel the same.

We finished the trip with a few days in Reykjavik--one of my favourite cities--sightseeing and partying for Jeff's birthday. If you ever have a chance to spend some time there, do it. Make it a trip, or extend a layover en route to somewhere else. Vibrant, friendly, chic and brimming with arts and culture, you won't be disappointed.

Huge thank you to Jokull and his Arctic Heliskiing crew for their warm hospitality, incredible food and access to some stunning mountains.

P.S. The voice over in this piece was read by Ollafur Dari. For those that have seen "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" Olafur is the drunken helicopter pilot. I love that he was excited to read for us.

A Hundred Year Storm- Powder Mag Latitude

Last March I travelled to Eastern Europe with Jordan Manley, Forrest Coots and Chad Sayers in the hope of skiing some of the snow that fell across vast swathes of the continent. The storm eventually became a state of emergency and what we encountered was part of the aftermath- a little less violent, but equally as insightful. I joined the crew as a writer and the story was published in Powder Magazine.

Jalpak Tash- A Kyrgyzstan Epic ONLINE

Jalpak Tash- A Kyrgyzstan Epic from b4apres media on Vimeo.


Last week Jalpak Tash was released online for your viewing pleasure. By the weekend it had made the Vimeo Staff Picks list which I am extremely stoked about. A big thank you goes to The North Face for making the trip and film happen.   I must also thank Ryan Koupal and his crew at 40 Tribes Backcountry for arranging everything, not least the yurt that he lived in for the week. And finally Nicolas Teichrob for all his hard work and creativity shooting in Kyrgyzstan. 

The North Face Kyrgyzstan Yurt Trip

In February I made it to Kyrgyzstan to ski and film in the Tien Shan Mountains based out of a yurt, or traditional nomadic tent. Teaming up with photographer Nicolas Teichrob and The North Face athletes athletes Mike Hopkins, Leah Evans and Izzy Lynch, we spent 2 weeks in a part of the world that we largely knew nothing about. Flying into Bishkek we were greeted with -25 C temperatures and a thriving metrolpolis. Making our way to Karakol a more agarian aspect of the country presented itself. Skiing the local ski hill was a novel attraction before we spent a night with a local Kyrgyz family. Once in the yurt, we had everything we needed for a great week of skiing. Kas and Anarbek, two local Kyrgyz, cooked and kept the fire burning while we ventured out with Ryan Koupal of 40 Tribes Backcountry and our guide Ptor Spricenieks. Koupal launched the operation as a means of helping to develop winter based tourism in a country still recovering from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Working around dangerous avalanche conditions, altitude and myelf recovering from being struck down with pneumonia, we enjoyed numerous first descents and some incredibly warm hospitality from the local people.

Despite it's challenges we came away with some great imagery that we will distill down to a short film to released in the fall. A big thanks goes to The North Face for making the trip a reality and to Ryan Koupal and his team at 40 Tribes Backcountry.

Look out for the film and an assortment of feature articles on stands near you.

Check out Nicolas' blog for more images here.

Skiing in Bulgaria and Kosovo

Linking up a wicked winter of travel, after Austria and Kyrgyzstan I headed directly to Bucharest, Romania. Joining Jordan Manley, Forrest Coots and Chad Sayers we converged hoping to catch some of the monumental storm that had forced large parts of Eastern to declare a state of emergency. What we arrived to were rising temperatures and not the bottomless powder we had hoped for. What ensued was a not an ideal situation for skiing but a refreshing travel experience that I haven't had for a long time.

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From Dough to Woe- The Story of Naan

In India, despite the chaos, there is a rhythm. Jarvan, the naan baker at a popular street side restaurant in New Delhi, has that rhythm. Many comment on how the colors of India are vibrant, but so are the sounds. So are the rhythms.

After arriving in Delhi, I had a day to spare before my flight to Srinagar. For the most part, I ran around haggling at markets for all the small things that were excess weight on an international flight- shampoo, soap, batteries, etc. By early afternoon I was spent and went for some food at my favorite restaurant in Pahar Ganj. Sitting there eating, the sounds and the scenes were just awesome, with Jarvan Clapping away baking naan in the open air kitchen on the street. With nothing to do for the afternoon, I came back with my camera and hung out, trying to capture some of the sounds of the smaller metronomes of this city.


Kashmir Secrets Revealed- POV

I have a wee dilemma on my hands here. There is this incredible place to ski that I discovered with friends and normally I would never make its whereabouts public on the World Wide Web. But, you see, this particular place is rather removed and the local people are crying out for visitors to kick start tourism again in this black listed part of the world. If you hadn’t guessed, it is Kashmir. But inside I’ll give you the finer details.

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Tailor Made Me a Gentleman

While in Kashmir, a friend took us to meet his tailor in Srinagar. Gulzar (pictured center) is a very proper remnant of the British colonial era, swearing occassionally when called for, and making suits for all matter of diplomats, foreign aid workers and travellers. Like most encounters with local people, the sales pitch came out immediately, and I was determined not to be sold to. But then Gulzar dropped this bomb...

"God made you a man, let a tailor make you a gentleman"

I was sold.

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One Month of Hope Down the Toilet

After not coming down with some sort of chronic gastro condition in the first week traveling in India, I conceived this pipe dream that maybe I could get away with not being sick. Given my recent bowel history in South America I know that was fool hardy. Hell, I still had to walk the ecoli/gardia/Delhi Belly gauntlet for a whole 3 weeks more, but the dream had taken seed and every day there after I grew in confidence. But I didn't dare articulate the thought out loud. That would have been the end of me.

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India Introduction

I am going to freestyle here becasue it is late (again) and I need to get to bed to get a(nother) flight early in the morning. What I did want to post before I disappaear off the grid for a while, was post 2 pictures that are stuck on Stevie's camera. The first is from Tokyo and is of this Shibya girl—picture blonded hair, designer clothes and fancy boots, rounded out with sparkly glasses, all attitude—riding a Harley Davidson. The second would be either an entire family of 4 riding a coughing and spluttering moped/scooter, or a haggard man pedaling a tricycle rickshaw with boxes stacked on the back. You get the picture.
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Elephant in the Room- Dealing with Trash in Japan

click to enlargeThere has been an elephant in our apartment for the last week or so here in Kutchan. Our elephant was closer to an actual elephant however. Ours was big, smelt and we had no idea what to do with it. It was our trash.

In Japan, waste is categorized into organic, combustible and non-combustible, and then an array of recycling sub categories. It is a seriously mind boggling exercise to sort trash here. Pleading forigner ignorance wasn't going to be an option for us becasue we had a trash flowchart in English. While it generally made sense, there was still a lot that didn't.

Determined to do our part and attempt to assimilate and respect the Japanese way of doing things, Stevie and I rolled up or sleves and went through all our trash that had been put into the "deal with later" bin more commonly know as the back deck.

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Commitment to Something

Stevie snapped this picture on the bus to the Hirafu ski hill yesterday. It is a Japanese boy doing his algebra homework in the condensation of the bus window. In down town Tokyo, I might not think twice, but on a bus bound for a ski resort, I really don't know what to make of this. Whatever I think about it is really beside the point, but for the record, I think it's great.