Lets Ride Adventures, Episode 21

So the 2016/17 winter was another record-breaking winter in Tahoe, which made for some sick opportunities for my web series, Lets Ride Adventures. We received an insane amount of atmospheric rivers, which means Tahoe got hit with unreal amounts of liquid from the sky! We rode for just about a full seven months – all the way from December until my last ride on July 3rd. It was truly amazing!  

When a season delivers that much snow, it’s crazy what features form and what features disappear. I was able to get out and film with my main media capture ninja, James Cole. He is a very talented videographer and an amazing still photographer. James and I have known each other for about 20 years. We have worked in the wakeboard industry together, and over the past eight years, we’ve been snowmobiling together, producing media for all my sponsors, and working on my video series.

If you don’t know, I produce a video series called the Lets Ride Adventures Video Series. It’s a webisode series that shows different places I ride – sometimes with other riders in the community – and I also do product checkouts about the gear that I use and parts I run on my sleds.  

Episode 21 captures some amazing moments we had last March around the Tahoe areas that we ride. We caught a few bluebird days with some awesome snow, so I was able to hit some jumps, drops, and find some great features!

Sometimes it’s very difficult to have all the conditions line up for filming. You need a stable snowpack, good lighting, and the right crew. There are days when we plan on filming certain airs because the snow is deep and makes for good landings, but if the crew is not on point then we can’t get to the spots where the jumps and drops are, so it can be very tough sometimes. This is especially the case for big years like 2016/17 when there were a ton of storms, so we rode a lot of days in the storms. That all makes for killer powder riding, but not the best for filming. However, we did snag one day of filming in a huge storm for Episode 20, so you might want to check that out, too! Hahaha

Anyway, last March lined up perfectly. James brought out his RED camera for the epic shots and killer slow-mo. My riding buddy, Ryan Oddo, came out and ripped it up with me as well, and he also brought his drone for some of the aerial shots. Another one of my buds, Noah Evans, who lives in Alpine, Wyoming, came out with us. He was around for some of the epic days, and he also has a drone so we nabbed some amazing shots that we used, too! One of the rad things about filming on these epic days is that everyone gets to shred epic pow, meaning the photographers, support, and everyone in the crew gets to shred!

Better Safe Than Sorry

During these film days, depending on what we are hitting, we set up a lot of safety measures. On one of the big jumps in Episode 21, we had one person ready for anything in case there is a wreck or injury. On big descents, we plan for the worst and hope for the best. It’s important to have people on avalanche rescue safety. In other words, we always have someone set up who is ready to go into action if an avalanche happens on the rider getting filmed.

Even before anyone even starts riding, we make sure to check avalanche reports for where are going. Once in the field, we check the snowpack to confirm the report and look for signs of instabilities before doing anything on avalanche terrain. We check weather and make a plan for the day before even getting on the snow. To further our preparation, we also make a shot list so we can be more productive instead of just looking around for things to shoot.

Everyone I ride with has had formal avalanche education of some sort, and we make sure to practice our skills every season. This way, when the big days are here we are ready to go. It takes a lot, but it’s also super fun, and you get to create such amazing moments with people that become very close to you. If you’re put in some intense situations way out in the backcountry where things can go wrong, it can quickly become really bad. So we evaluate the risk, and sometimes have to walk away from certain shots and stunts because it’s more important to come home to our friends and family and be able to ride tomorrow.

Now, there is so much that goes into these edits, and I wanted to share how much effort is put into something that ends up being less than 5 minutes on Youtube. For one rider to have a few minutes of action, it takes years of riding practice, years of photographer training, a team of four to six people, multiple avalanche education courses, multiple first aid courses, and a deep understanding of weather, terrain, and avalanche conditions. After all of that, there are hours of editing, story building, and creative ideas that drive what to put on the screen. And last (but definitely not the least): the costs! Truck fuel, sled fuel, paying for equipment, filmers, and…man, you can probably see where I’m going with all this!  

The Real Payoff

Even with all of this work, in the end, I love doing this. I love creating edits about snowmobiling. I love being in the mountains in places very few have ever been – especially in the heart of winter. It’s like I can take anyone into the mountains with me by filming what we are doing out there and putting it on the screen. So when my parents ask me what I did today, I can say, “Check out Episode 21…because that’s what I did today – and it was epic.”

But for real, check out my Youtube channel for Lets Ride Adventures, and share your thoughts! We’re stoked to get some new footage on there soon. I hope your winter is amazing so far!  Party on!