AK From the Ground Up

I currently sit in a coffee shop in Haines AK. Yesterday the temperatures soared into the low 60’s. I took advantage of the unusually warm day biding my time oceanside, watching for the abundant wildlife that inhabit these parts.  We had experienced 3 beautiful weather days last week. The week before, one and a half days of sun. On Wednesday April, 20th we had arrived back at the pass, after some down days spent in town, ready to get out on an afternoon spine face we had scoped. After leaving Haines that morning we found a handful of police and rescue crew at the camping lot on the pass. What was going on?

A week previous a small film crew from Whistler had shown up and set up camp right next to me on the pass. One of the crew introduced himself as Max, we exchanged some info on what we had seen in the field that day, talked about future plans, and how long each others stay was, etc. Max was a genuine guy, with a warming character, knowledgeable in the mountains, and a solid skier.  Maxim Arsenault passed away after falling off a small cliff and into a depression on Wednesday April 20th… a real fluke of a situation. Everyone was baffled at the pass, and his film crew devastated.

It was hard to pick up our gear and move out into the field that afternoon. We questioned whether or not we should go out at all.

The day before max’s passing we had run into some problems with helicopter competition. Showing up to a couple faces that had been tagged by a previous film crew from a Heli op. We then proceeded to destroy ourselves mentally and physically approaching The Goat Wall. The night max passed we were able to muster the crew back into action and tag some spines in some glory sunset light. The next morning we climbed and skied an opposing aspect in the same area in the sunrise. KC Deane dropped in  and set off a rather large slide, high on the face, going for a 600 vertical foot ride over cliffs and ending up on top of the debris pile. John Spriggs and I had sprung into action as soon as we saw the propogation. Already enroute to the debris pile, and ready to start our search and rescue. KC was fine… So it goes in AK.

A humbling week to say the least. Some goals accomplished, some still await our return. All in all, AK has really shown it’s power this trip.  It’s been 6 years, 2010, since I’ve been here, that was in a heli though, now I attack these peaks on foot with assistance from my snowmobile. The experience is rich and rewarding.  I’ve gained an appreciation for the up. Each face we approach is puzzling. What’s the safest way up? Quickest? The whole puzzle from bottom to top and back to bottom is so dynamic and requires more mental focus. High value shredding.

These mountains are unlike anything else in this world. Everything we step to is much larger than it looked from below. Moving through these peaks on the ground is so different than in the air. A different appreciation is gained. Massive peaks with little mercy, you must tread lightly here. A delicate dance must be done with mother nature to ensure a safe return home at night.

Our plans include waiting out this next storm cycle and getting back out next weekend when the next window comes. A promising forecast is giving us hope.


The Sled Eagles, L to R, KC Deane, myself, Freedle Coty, Mason Mashon


Our attempt to ski the goat wall failed


John Spriggs and I laid some turns down on these spines


Getting clouded over on top of a spine


We looked at this face the first day out. After skiing some terrain nearby we realized this might be more complex than we want, it still awaits our return


T Hall and I tucked in on karaoke night. Tanner had spent a month in Haines, this was his last night in town so we lit er up pretty big for the guy.


Gotta get up ta get down


Klehini Face, we spent most of our time on this face so far


Big Rigs


Laird Hot Springs, this was our saving grace on the 30+ hour drive north to AK.

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The interior delivers

We have spent the later half of January and the first half of February in the Revelstoke, Golden, and surrounding areas.  A slight injury in early January had left me hungry for some good skiing.  Upon arrival into the area conditions were about as good as it gets and it remained that way for the duration of my time.  The conldrush was good warm for what was to come and during the second and third weeks of February we were able to really open up the throttle and bag some sure to be headliners for the future media releases. Bellow is a photo collage of some of the areas we poked into and got to shred… I think it’s safe to say I’ve earned my wings in pillows and finally discovered the key to riding them. Speed.



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Take the YLESKI Survey and be entered to win a fresh set of goggles!


Want to win a free set of Spy Platoong Goggles? Click the link bellow, fill out the survey, and be automatically entered to win! Pretty dang easy folks.


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4frnt skis Team Film “Shaping Skiing”

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The 2016 4FRNT YLE

This is the latest and greatest, the 2016 YLE. When I designed this ski with 4frnt I had in mind something that would handle higher speeds, bigger airs, yet be playful enough to shred the trees and spin around on local hips and lips. This is probably my favorite art I have had on the ski since it’s inception. See more here



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The Utah Weather Weenie

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.52.10 PMCame across this blog mid last winter. This guys is pretty on point when it comes to Wasatch weather. Give it a check and a bookmark this winter. Seems to be pretty dialed with the local atmosphere of Utah.


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YLESKI 2015 is the culmination of Wiley Miller’s 2015 winter season. Shot almost exclusively in the Columbia Mountains of interior British Columbia. The winter of 2015 was adverse in many areas of North America. Finding good conditions remained challenging. Patience, and persistence was key in finding safe, suitable snowpack. This is the second installment to the YLESKI series, highlighting the best of Wiley Miller and his approach to snow.

“I set out this winter to spend my time exploring new mountains, scouting lines, and finding natural airs in the terrain to work with. This season ski touring, route finding, and line selection were set in priority above building jumps and locating step-downs. It was an alternative I decided to take when the snow started to fly in November of 2014. I set out to do more skiing and less building, setting up-tracks versus cutting blocks for jumps. The sport becomes so dynamic when you’re working with larger terrain. It’s challenging, I love the experience, and constant education that takes place out there in the mountains.”

Produced and Edited by:
Magnafire Media – Darren Rayner & Jan Schuster

Filmed by:
Darren Rayner, Freedle Coty, Austin Ramaley, Sean Logan

The Blue Angel Lounge – Looming Solid Massive Steamer

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