words: Garrett Russell

photos: Felix Rioux

“It was in this lifetime, one of toil and blood, when blackness was a virtue, and the road was full of mud, I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form, come in she said I’ll give you, shelter from the storm.”  Bob Dylan kills it

The vibe you get when you are invited to a photo shoot at the age of 23 for the first time is like “shelter from the storm.”  I have been on this rollercoaster of skiing for years and I love every part of it.  I will ride it everyday that I can, struggling between real life work and the fantasy ski dream.  Just to think, I started skiing years ago with a non-focused mind, and now I can do something original and keep my integrity.   I believe in the way of the road, to just let things flow.  With too much effort you’re going to bring disaster, with too little effort you won’t make it out the door.  Everything comes in time; I think you just need to be patient.

The night before this adventure, I could not sleep.  I guess I get excited when I know something great or unexpected might happen.  Neil, Katie and I drove off from Mammoth at 5:00 that morning, knowing that we had a long trip ahead of us, first up to Tahoe and then beyond towards Oregon.  Dazed in a blurry morn we arrived around 10 o’clock, an hour late, not too bad for us; “the old mammoth crew.”  These days, it seems like sponsors are only looking for the young newcomers, easily overlooking the talent that is right in front of them.  With this, I felt like I had something to prove.

The motel at Kings Beach was right on the water.  Perfect for chilling after a long day of skiing.  That, and misty-flipping off the balcony.

Upon arrival, the atmosphere was sweet, and running into my old friend Ben kicked the adventure off to a great start. It was the first day skiing for everyone, and as predicted, it took a while to organize.  I was stoked when we rolled in deep to the park.  Instead of feeling pressured, we got comfortable with the park and everyone involved. As well, we actually got a lot done that day, I got to practice my handplants on a wall ride, and to be honest, tail grabs sure are a bitch!  After that session, I watched a train of kids attempt to slay this S-rollercoaster box.  It was short-lived, but somewhere down the LINE, Little John slayed that box with his unique style.  Content and exhausted, Neil and I made sure to jump into the lake. It was harder done than said at Kings Beach.  We had to trek forty feet into that freezing water until it actually got deep enough to where we could submerge ourselves.


Garrett Russell practising his handplants and Ben Schmitt spinning to the flat-down

With a little breakfast BBQ and a lot of laughs we finally made it up to the hill. Arriving at a ski hill at closing time knowing that you get to go riding feels amazing and special.  We all knew what was in store for us that night-- some crazy lift tower jib that had a huge gap and a steep quarter-pipe.  It was a big group, a little too big, but personally I was impressed with everyone’s effort and balls to hit this feature, especially Katie Williamson and Rom Marcucci.  Even though I took my knee to my chin attempting a hand plant and my jaw still hurts a little, I had a blast!  Once again, exhausted and totally content, dinner was my next favorite event.  Thanks again, Gary and LINE, because food is really important. Word.

As mentioned, the motel deck was a perfect place to bring your on-snow tricks.

BBQ lunch with the entire crew on the deck.

Katie Williamson on the wave box.

Little John in the house, bringing some tricks to the snow.

I started the following morning on some rails, and then to my surprise I saw Mr. Rainville and Sean Logan on the chairlift.  You know what you got to do when you see good old Sean Logan, you got to do some pretzels, right?  So I pulled one off just for him.  All of a sudden I felt like I was back at Mammoth with the “Montage Crew.”   With that all said, it was on, and the big jump was all ready for destroying.  Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed I was stoked to see little Miles guinea pig the jump.  I'm too old for that. 

Pete Kukesh and Erik Olson sessioning the ledge.

The rest of the afternoon was like a “US Open Qualifier” but ten times more fun.  I saw so much variety and style it made me stoked to be apart of this sport.  There were around 15 riders, and there was a limit of four riders jumping at sunset. From the night before I think we all learned that 110 percent is needed when it comes to a photo shoot, and I was lucky enough to be apart of it.  Just remember if you ever get to a photo shoot you don’t have to spin to win, smooth style and solid grabs are $$$$$.

The sunset crew in its entirety (L to R): Savannah, Gary, Joe, Garrett, LJ, Miles, and Rom

The boys getting ready for the night shoot on the lift tower.  Cover boy Joe Schuster earns it with some hard shaping work.

Joe on the step down.  Octo's are everywhere these days.

Next we picked up Sean Logan, and the second part of the adventure was underway.  We started off at 11 o’clock PM from the Glenshire in Truckee, five people deep in a tiny little Honda.  With my camera suction-cupped on the hood of the car, I was awaiting the flashing lights at any moment.  Laughing every second that I was awake, the adventure and comedy was endless. Traveling with Neil is always a blast no matter what.

Amazingly the old Mammoth crew got up to Timberline just in time for some awesome comedy on a wind lip step-up.  After the show I was stoked to check out the public park.  My friends from Surface Jordan S. and Blake A. gave me the run-down on the park and soon enough I felt like I was at home.  Or more like playing Cool Boarders 2 back in the day.  Adventures rule!

More LJ for your viewing pleasure.

Tanner Rainville killing the step down.

Garrett Russell, super tweaked.

Obligated to destroy, I couldn’t let Logan go up to this sunset jam without some true Montage inc. support. As well BOB, a skiers dream playground, was closed. Filled with foam pits, ramps, and trampolines, I had nothing else to do but ski.  That night went off with a bang.  All I had was a grand old time.  I can’t wait to get back up there someday! 

After wining $5.00, eating a couple hot dogs, and drinking a dank milk-shake.  The Mammoth crew was west-bound for the search of the setting sun over the Pacific. The final chapter of this adventure is by far the best, but I guess you’ll just have to be QUEUED in to the right place and time to find out what it was really like!