Post Camp Press Release
May 22nd, massive rock and mudslides demolished the Beartooth Pass outside of Red Lodge, Montana in more than ten places. This pass was a crucial route for Empire to access its terrain in June. Things were looking grim with only two weeks remaining until camp started. Camp directors Rob LaPier and Mike Gimmeson immediately launched an aggressive relocation attack. Mammoth, California would host the Empire 2005 summer session.
For the local Wyoming crew, the journey began in Jackson venturing west towards the high Sierra. One of the few key stops along the way was the largest public skatepark west of Mississippi. Rattlesnake park in Reno, Nevada, has 40,000 square feet to skate with about every feature you could think of. Empire met the rest of the crew at the airport and headed three hours south to Mammoth, California.
Empire rolled into and opened shop. Base camp logistics were dialed in allowing the team to kick it the rest of the day. Before bed, skis and snowboards were waxed in preparation for an early bird start. Three chairlifts, a gondola, summer park, big mountain lines and riding until the man kicked Empire off at 2:00pm was the program.
The Empire team quickly invaded the mountain. Everyone headed directly into the â€œUnboundâ€? park. It started with a halfpipe cut along a rock face that shadowed the right wall for a better part of the morning. Right below the pipe stood a rhythm of table tops and a mix of boxes and rails. Three kickers were soon farmed into two larger ones, the first a cheese wedge around 25ft. tip to tranny, and the same style below, only loftier with a longer deck. This was the butter hit.
The Mammoth setup was somewhat like the Beartooths. Big mountain lines loomed above the park. Access was easy with a gondola or chairlift to reach the summit. Empire rode every conceivable line including cornice drops, bowls, steep chutes and a crevasse-gap that few hit because of the mandatory stomp factor. On the way to the park, riders hit a step-down bush jib that gapped 15ft of shrubs. At the end of the day campers cruised the lower half of the mountain thinking about how sweet it was. So sweet.
The day after Tioga Pass opened , Empire was there to put down first tracks in a 2,500ft. couloir. On June 26th big mountain guides Paul Cotter and Mike Gimmeson lead campers up the most adventurous line of the trip. Once on top, changing weather and approaching clouds held the crew to a short summit stay. Dropping in, the first few turns kept everyone gripped in the firm steep chute until it softened up a few hundred feet below. The group descended past towering rock pinnacles with a distant lake below. The route continued onto a large snowfield to the bottom. After a short break for some lunch, the trip headed toward the gates of Yosemite National Park. Jaws dropped entering, "the valleyâ€?, with familiar Ansel Adams scenes everywhere. After some hiking and sightseeing the boys hit the road for a late arrival back to Mammoth.
Off the Hillâ€¦
Empire Members were never short to find some way to get rad. Almost everyone brought a skateboard, like it was cool or something. Between Mammoth and Jackson the posse hit up four skate parks, a 12ft halfpipe, and many downhill skates into town for grub at the Pita Pit. Balance and gravity were always in the mix. Back at base camp, the trampoline springs were constantly squeaking with some serious aerial acrobatics. Fifty yards away in the woods, the Zen ninjas tried their skills on the slack-line. Only one was able to balance all the way across the inch wide line and retrieve the reward, a swag stuffed Da Kine backpack. Armed to the teeth with full suspension freeride bikes, the Empire platoon shuttled the downhill trails until. Riders hit everything in sight from dirt jumps, log rides, banked turns, rock drops, and killer urban jib lines that led back to the front door of the condos.
Rock climbing guides spent an afternoon scoping out local crags to find the perfect zone. The next day the crew headed to the Iris slabs up Rock Creek canyon to get on some primo granite. After sending some routes, the group stopped to relax at a favorite stop amongst campers and coaches alike, the natural hot springs. A brave swim across a cold mountain stream led to a large hot pocket providing maximum relaxation.
To cap off the trip, a group barbeque was assembled with a massive swag giveaway. With gear from Da Kine, Sierra Trading Post, Smith, Booster Strap, and Pearl wax, everyone walked away with some new goods. Wrapping up a pretty slick session, the entire party was stoked on the impromptu switch and departed with a case of Californication. Solid memories were made of a session spent exploring new stomping grounds, meeting friends and achieving personal goals in a progressive environment.
Thanks to all the campers for an awesome session and to the parents for sticking out the last minute changes. Visit the website to find out about this winterâ€™s freeride/powder camps in Jackson, summer sessions on the Beartooth Pass, and the return to Mammoth in 2006.
Rob and Mikehttp://www.empirefreeride.com