Mid-summer is always a bittersweet time for someone who lives for their winters. When you’re stuck between the lingering taste of last season and the beckoning of the next adventure to come, it is a grey area that leaves you lusting for snow both past and present. Luckily these doldrums have pushed me to explore new opportunities in between seasons of snow centric adventures. Off seasons of sun and warm climates have pushed me to explore new directions. But it’s a good thing August is here as the Southern Hemisphere lights up with snow and the migration begins.
Summer has pushed me to expand my activity quiver beyond my natural snow bound adventures, as I dive into kite surfing, mountain biking, fly-fishing, road riding and surfing, all of which I pursue with the same passion as I do skiing. Just like any kind of guiding or adventure, the weather dictates what’s in store for that day. During May-August it seemed like the kite-surf equipment was the go-to and offered the best source of release when then conditions did not permit for much else. Kiting has opened new doors of excitement, challenge and fun and is a great release when the mountains don’t offer me a door to escape. The freedom I experience skiing has become an easy transition into the world of wind and water and I am grateful to have a year round solution for these seasonal transitions out of the snow.
In between seasons is also a time for me to reboot and re-charge. A life on the road traveling and exploring inevitably takes many unforeseen twists and exhausting detours. When you finally get a little downtime, the transition allows for much needed reflection. The intensity of a guiding job keeps me focused, passionate and alive, but when I board that plane to head home, the decompression begins immediately. My mind starts to tick: “What did I learn from the season, what did I do right, how can I improve upon any mistakes, how did my gear hold up, how can I grow my business and continue to deliver amazing experiences? Was I good or was I lucky? What’s the next step?”
Theyear’s thoughts and ambitions mainly revolve my time in Alaska. Alaska is the pinnacle of steep skiing. I train, study and build towards my Alaska experience every year, and each year demands more of me than the previous. It becomes all encompassing and tests each and every one of my skills. I’ve been lucky to call heli-skiing a profession for more than a decade now and yet, I still come home every year just as excited as I was the first time I flew in a heli down in New Zealand chasing deer and sheep around South Island paddocks.
Last year I had the privilege to be the lead guide for The Freeride World Tour stop in Haines. This experience was challenging on a multitude of levels ranging from weather factors to moving 120+ people around in the mountains, cineflex aerial cameras, live global broadcast and not to mention the world’s best ski and snowboard athletes looking to tee off on the biggest terrain on the planet.
The event was a great success and we had flawless conditions for the men and women to exhibit their skills as well as showcase the natural beauty of Alaska and beautiful town of Haines. The rest of the season we enjoyed great skiing and clients indulged themselves in deep powder all the way till the end of April.
Currently, my mind is focused on the New Zealand ski season that has crept up quickly. The Southern winter and the South island act as a second home since I first moved there when I was 22. I am constantly in awe of this country. I love the scenery, the mountains, the lakes, the skiing and the people. There’s no place on earth that I know of that has such an abundance of natural beauty and innate hospitality.
I’m looking forward to getting down to Wanaka and seeing longtime friends and clients. I’ve got three weeks of production work and a hit list of lines that reads like a mafia movie. In the meantime the question still lingers …….Where to next?
Stay tuned for more pictures coming from the Southern winter or check out @triplepointexpeditions for daily updates. - Tucker Patton