Photos and words by Kellen Mohr
We loaded up the truck, hopped on the 395 and rolled into Lone Pine by late afternoon. After a crucial stop at the skate park next to a McDonald’s, we headed up to the Alabama Hills in time to catch the golden light as the sun set behind Mt. Whitney and the Eastern Sierras.
On a previous trip we had found a killer campsite tucked under a large overhang and were gunning for it this time around, but we found another car already there. So we scrambled up some pinnacles to scout for a new site, reveling in the cooler temps and soft light as the sun slipped away.
From our vantage we saw the taillights of the car at the overhang turn on. It reversed and wound away down a dirt road. We sprinted back to the truck, hopping from rock to rock, dodging angry desert plants, and mobbed to our perfect campsite. Hooting and hollering, we set up camp, then split off to get cold beer from a gas station in Lone Pine while Chris and Michael stayed behind to gather fuel and get a fire going. We returned with provisions, swapped stories around the fire, then pulled a night exploration of the canyon behind our site, scrambling over huge boulders, navigating the rocky maze with our headlamps and guided by cairns.
The next morning we woke at 7 and headed up Whitney Portal road to skate its steep curves. After bombing the few sections that weren’t riddled with gaping cracks and cheesegrater pavement, we headed back into town to meet up with three friends who were living out of cars and travelling all over the West in search of killer climbing. After taking a quick dip in a roadside creek they took us out to a route in the Alabama Hills called Shark Fin. We climbed as clouds painted themselves onto the evening sky.
Next we headed up to Bishop, where our friends showed us a secret spot alongside a rushing creek overflowing its banks with snowmelt rolling down from the huge dark mountains towering above us. We pulled off the road, circled the wagons, feasted, and hit the sack beneath the shimmering Milky Way.
Chris and I woke before sunrise and explored our surroundings as the morning sun turned the peaks bright creamsicle orange. We headed back into Bishop to fuel up at Black Sheep, the go-to meeting spot for the many itinerant climbers living out of their cars, then headed out to a nearby river to cool off during the day’s hottest hours.
When the temps dropped to a sane level, we headed over to the Buttermilks, a world-renowned bouldering area home to some of the biggest bouldering problems in the world. We lugged our crash pads up to the surprisingly empty problems and gave them our best shot.
That evening I saw one of the most breathtaking sunsets ever. A continuous lenticular cloud hovered over the sierras, its edges illuminated in fantastic shades of orange and pink as the light in the valley turned a deep, apocalyptic orange.
Earlier that day Michael had found a $15 kids bike at the Bishop Gear Exchange, and decided then bomb down to the paved highway where he vanished into the darkness in a flurry of flailing pedal strokes. We followed his erratic track through the gravel, positive that we’d find him in a heap. Two miles down the road we caught up with him grinning madly, unscathed but covered in dust.
As the darkness grew deeper, we headed north to spend the night at one of the many hot springs that boil out of the Long Valley Caldera. We found an empty spring where we whiled away the night with many a brew. Hypnotized by the Milky Way glowing above our heads, we lost track of time, eventually retreating to the truck and turning it in at 4AM. Rising in the morning, we all went our separate ways returning from what felt two full weeks of constant exploration, though we had been gone a mere 4 days.
2 weeks, 2,200 Miles, 41 hours behind the wheel, five states, one province, three mountain ranges, gallons of beer, tons of new friends, and countless memories. Needless to say, the Coldsmoke Winter Film Tour was a blast. Thanks to everyone who came out, got inspired by the latest winter films, shared the stoke, and picked up some Coldsmoke gear! Its all added up to the Coldsmoke Awards show, January 10th in Bozeman MT, at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture. There’s still time to vote for the people’s choice award and be entered to win a cat skiing trip for two at Powder Mountain, in Whistler, and $1000.
The boys from KSM collective were given 7 days to shoot and edit a 5-7 minute ski/snowboard film all within 100 km of our second home, Whistler B.C. They called it Wintertide.
Thus did LIFE introduce to the magazine’s readers its own unique (if somewhat shrill) take on a toy that would evolve into the emblem of a singular subculture and, eventually, a lifestyle. Skateboarding, LIFE opened in 1965, is “the most exhilarating and dangerous joyriding device this side of the hot rod. A two-foot piece of wood or plastic mounted on wheels, it yields to the skillful user the excitements of of skiing or surfing. To the unskilled it gives the effect of having stepped on a banana peel while dashing down the back stairs. It is also a menace to limb and even to life.”
Today, when grown men and women make a living (in some cases, a very nice living) inking endorsement deals and competing at skateboard tourneys around the globe; when skateboard video games sell millions of copies; when skateboarders like Tony Hawk and Marisa Dal Santo (and their winter doppelgangers, snowboarders like Shaun White and Gretchen Bleiler) are stars who not so much straddle sport and pop culture as transcend both; when industries (clothing, gear, skateboard park construction) have grown as the appeal of the sport has exploded — today, it’s difficult to imagine a time not that long ago when skateboarding was so new, so absolutely marginal, that a major national magazine could safely assume that at least some of its millions of readers had absolutely no clue what skateboarding entailed … or what a skateboard was.
Here, LIFE.com looks back at the early, thrillingly anarchic days of a quintessentially American sport and pastime that, over the years, has been embraced by millions around the world while still, somehow, retaining its rebel cred.
Skateboarding, as the old saying has it, is not a crime. But as these pictures show, riding a deck can feel criminally fun.
I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure and for passion… The raw brutal cold coastlands for the right waveriders to challenge – this is where my heart beats hardest…
At Coldsmoke we cherish creative individuals who push the boundaries of human capability in the world’s most challenging elemental conditions.
Meet Irish surf photographer Mickey Smith in this brief yet resounding visual poem Dark Side of the Lens. As Smith reflects on a life lived in dangerous intimacy with the North Atlantic coastline, his words pull us like the light of the majestic imagery he photographs, back through the camera’s lens into the being of the artist himself. In only six minutes we come to understand how an entire life is physical and philosophically formed by the elements in which it is lived.
Smith’s life and work is an example of the coldsmoke edict, “become one with your environment” as he curates treacherous beauty into images that are shared with those of us less daring, but no less inspired.
Unless you speak German, you won’t understand what these guys are saying, but judging by their goal of ice-climbing 8 frozen waterfalls in one day, it’s probably lunatic babble anyway. Nevertheless, these stunning visuals are not to be missed. Watch Guido Unterwurzacher and Christian Hechenberger attempt to climb the icefalls of Pinnis Valley – in one day.
While resisting the 9-5 grind for over a decade and travelling all over the world, living vicariously through other people’s travel images isn’t something I’ve felt compelled to do. But now that I’ve joined the ranks of the gainfully employed, it’s become a mild addiction, as painful as it is pleasurable.
To appease and prod my pain, I’ve started following Foster Huntington’s blog Van-Life and instagram. It’s mildly comforting to know that I’m one of more than 720,000 followers, most of whom like me, are parked in front of a computer screen rather than in a personalized hybrid van/truck/home at one of the remote and wondrous locations he’s snapped during the years he’s spent travelling since quitting his NYC design job.
Fast forward to 1:30 in, and watch snowboarding’s pioneers eat shit. Maybe their jeans were too tight?
Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii is a surf spot that serves up some of the largest and deadliest waves in the world. If you can hold your own above its razor sharp reef, the surfing community will respect you forever.
Using a GoPro camera and a DJI Phantom quadcopter, aerial photographer Eric Sterman has captured the world’s top surfers taming these massive waves.
The result is a truly breathtaking video from a perspective which used to be impossible for filmmakers to achieve without hiring a helicopter. I’ve watched a few surfing films before (Billabong Odyssey and The Endless Summer are my personal favorites) but this is by far the best footage I’ve ever seen from Pipeline.
Heliski.com interviews Randall Breitenbach and Imani Lanier, founders of the newly minted Coldsmoke Apparel, and the Coldsmoke Collective which includes Powder Mountain Cat and Heliskiing, and the Coldsmoke Awards Winter Film tour.
RB: “If my guides are going to be wearing this, this has to be the best stuff on the mountain. So I want the best new materials, I want the best zippers, I want the best seals, I want the pockets where the guides want them, so we spend over a season putting together equipment that’s pretty outstanding and goes toe-to-toe with anybody honestly.”
We’ve been itching to field test our eVent waterproof gear here in SoCal, but we’re experiencing- with a mixture of pleasure and dread- the driest and warmest winter on record. Since the water won’t come to us, we took our gear to the water, albeit last year’s stagnant, cloudy green leftovers hiding in a shaded ravine up in the Santa Monica mountains. Will, our brave (i.e. foolhardy) merchandiser, dawned the Aniu Raincoat for a full submersion test of its waterproof capabilities.
The results- other than Will developing a new kind of itch from the funky water- were stellar! The eVent fabric repelled water so quickly that it was difficult to photograph the Aniu while wet. All photos below were taken within one minute.
The Aniu Raincoat is available here for your next weather susceptible journey.