Steelhead and Spines- The Provo Bros

Steelhead and Spines- The Provo Bros from The Provo Bros on Vimeo.

Our addiction to mountains and rivers has always had us looking north to Alaska, where big fish and mountains existed on a level we had only experienced in our dreams. As the winter of 2012 continued to disappoint in the lower 48, it was obvious that Alaska was being buried in snow. It seemed like the time was right, that maybe after 10 years of "practice" in Utah, we were ready for our journey north. We hit the road in March, putting everything we had into our first and for all we knew, our last adventure to Alaska, with two things on our mind, steelhead and spines.
We joined forces with three of our friends from Utah, for a ski-plane assisted camping expedition in the heart of south eastern Alaska's backcountry. Over 50 miles by wing from the nearest road, our pilot dropped the 5 of us off on a big lonely glacier encircled by jagged mountains, and in the spirit of adventure, wished us good luck. We would need it. From that point on, the feeling of being completely alone in a wild and unknown land for the first time in our lives penetrated every cell in our bodies. Only one person in our group had ever been to Alaska, Chris Coulter. On day 8 when he suddenly left to work in Haines as a heli guide, the feeling of isolation crept deeper into our minds, and it had never felt so good.
We chose to do this trip without any guides, plans, itineraries, or rules simply because we wanted to have our own experience. We wanted it to be raw, unknown, and we wanted it to be an adventure. Of course the style we chose made things much more difficult for us than they could have been, but the feeling of accomplishment was immense. We found glorious spines to ride, and stumbled upon one of the best runs of wild Steelhead in the world. Returning home safely from our first journey to Alaska signified a successful mission, along with the wonderful new memories from the greatest riding and fishing experiences of our lives.

Snurfing safari 2012

This season kicked off with a good storm in october that left us with a good amount of snow. In classic utah form it sat there for almost a month before another storm arrived. When the snow came back, it came in full force. A good 50 inches fell in little cottonwood making for a perfect pow surfing base.
Andrew Miller photo^

First turns for 2012-2013 season- October 24th

Just like that, old man winter opened the door and flipped the switch. A solid storm came in on October 23rd and skipped over the southern end of the Wasatch, but absolutely pounded up north at Powder Mountain . We headed up early the next morning to find ourselves submerged in mid winter, over the head conditions. A complete opposite to the days prior on the river!
From dirt and rock to this in a matter of 1 day. Ian provo photo^
Ian getting a face full of october blower! what a day...
get ready for the season with good deals from!

Steelhead & Spines trip report on Orvis News

Originally posted on the blog. HUGE thanks goes out to The Orvis Company for making the best rods on earth! Here is a write up my brother Ian did that gives you a good idea about our trip to AK and back.

My brother Neil and I had talked about going to Alaska for many years, but the idea to combine fishing and skiing in one trip was kind of new to us. For two diehard ski and fish bums, it seemed like the trip of a lifetime, and the perfect way to see Alaska for the first time. You can only talk about doing something for so long before the urge to bring it to reality becomes too much. We reached that point, and for the first time in our lives we could make this trip happen. By doing everything on our own, it was obvious we were in for a big learning experience and perhaps more failure than success. Without guides, or planned itineraries, the rawness of the adventure was left completely intact. For us, it was important to experience these new mountains and rivers from the ground up, and it didn't matter if someone had done it before or done something greater, because this was going to be our adventure.

For 18 days, we lived on a glacier, 50 miles by plane from the nearest anything, with a couple of our buddies from Utah who were also looking for their first Alaskan experiences. We got plenty of those. From the moment our pilot, Drake, set his plane down till the day he arrived to bring us home, the feeling of being totally isolated and alone for the first time in my life never left my thoughts for a moment. We slowly worked our way into the greatest mountains any of us had ever seen, battling the weather and snow, avalanches, and our own minds. Coming off the glacier, our crew smelling like a massive pile, we knew we had done some things wrong, but we did a lot of things right, and that was certainly something to be proud of. After the mentally and physically exhausting glacier expedition, it was a great relief to finally set our sights on the water. But knowing absolutely nothing about steelhead fishing or where we would go, the anxiety and uncertainty quickly returned. It was very clear to us that if there was going to be any "Steelhead & Spines" concept, well than one of us had better land a fish on this trip, and it should probably be a good one. We decided to fish a river not far from our base camp in Haines, in Southeast Alaska. But like most good adventures up here, this one had to start out with a bush plane. Once again, we found ourselves flying with Drake through the nastiest mountains our eyes have ever seen; it was hard to believe we were going fishing. When we landed in the small fishing village of Yakutat, there were still a two-meter snowpack at sea level. Some of the locals told us not to be afraid of the brown bears who were waking up, but rather to watch out for the moose in the river that will run your ass down. For three days, we drifted our raft down through the thick cover, camping wherever we could find a dry spot to pitch our tent. We picked the brains of some hardcore steelheaders, and with that knowledge we were able to develop our own technique.

On the first day, we had a bite, and on the second day Neil stuck our first steelhead after thousands of casts. It was, at that point, the biggest fish of his life. It was coming together for us, and we were learning about the style. On the third day, gear soaked from 36 hours of nonstop rain, our morale was low, but we continued to put a fly in every hole. Once again, Neil was on the rod when it got bent for the second time of the trip. After only five casts through a beautifully undercut and sticky sweeper, the fish we were dreaming about was on. After this fish was released, we had never felt more accomplished. Coming to Alaska, we had only two goals, ride the line and catch the fish of our lives. It didn't matter if only one of us achieved each goal, because we were working as a team and none of the goals would have been reached without the help of each other. The Steelhead & Spines mission was complete, and we began the long drive home knowing that we had the most Alaskan experience we could have ever hoped for. After finally being exposed to this great land, it will be impossible for us to ignore the desire to return.

Winter's around the bend, head over and swoop up the smokin deals from the link below

STEELHEAD & SPINES- 2012 trip to Alaska

From the first time i strapped into a snowboard 16 years ago till this day, Alaska has been the ultimate dreamland in my mind. living in Connecticut in the late 90's watching old shred films with huge mountains and deep snow, i knew i wanted to live my life out west. After this last decade of amazing winters in Utah, my brother Ian and i agreed it was time for us to explore further north then we had ever been before. This spring we are taking our camper, skis, snowboards, and fly rods on a road trip up through the interior of BC up to Haines Alaska. The ultimate destination as a skier, snowboarder and fly fisherman.

After some pillow mashing in BC on our journey north, we plan to meet with Chris Coulter, Zack Clanton, Tony Pavlantos, and the Caldwell Bros to set off on what will be the craziest snowboard mission in my life! We'll be taking a prop plane high into the alpine where we'll set up camp, and pick off spine lines for 3 weeks. Really looking forward to my first AK experience, who knows, maybe i can even get in a heli! More to come on the expedition side of things...

When the skiing and snowboarding come to an end, the next passion in life will take over- Fly fishing. The coastline of AK and BC is not only dream spot for snowboarding, but equally so for fly fishing. In hopes of hooking our first wild steelhead on the fly, Ian and i will make our way south of alaska into some of the best rivers on the planet. Watermaster boats, big fish rods, new flies, and new techniques are sure to make for some exciting new experiences on the water.

We are excited to be working with, Orvis, Outdoor Research, Voile and Smith Optics on this project. Stay tuned!

Outdoor Research- Sidecountry Sessions Episode 5 Rodgers Pass to Jackson

Link to VIDEO on Teton Gravity

The ups and downs of traveling with the Tiny House. From Rodgers pass to Jackson Hole, blown tires and blower pow!

Outdoor Research- Sidecountry Sessions Episode 4 Whitewater BC

Link to VIDEO on Teton Gravity

Words by Molly Baker

When you find a place that’s good, stay there. The ski dream tells you that traveling from snowy destination to winter wonderland is the guaranteed way to find powder. Yes, you may see the world of ski areas and communities. Just make sure you’re there long enough to enjoy a few storm cycles. Once you’re out of the pattern it becomes more and more effortless to miss this storm or that one. For the tiny house and crew, driving away from Whitewater before a 70-centimeter cycle was our pattern mistake.

We may have not skied the best day in five years at Whitewater, but we did meet all the folks who would once we left. One of those folks was local patroller, Orry Grant, otherwise known as OG. A blonde hair, blue-eyed, hiking-machine, and unassuming bad-ass, Mr. Grant is without a doubt skiing powder at this very moment, regardless of what moment you are reading this. As a patroller and member of the avalanche control crew for Kootenay Pass, the Nelson native breathes ski-lifer.

Orry Grant embodies Kootenay mountain culture being born in Nelson, living in Revelstoke for years, and knowing the nooks and crannies of the best ski zones in the Koots. Coincidentally, one of our first impressions of the OG was in Kootenay Mountain Culture, a beautifully designed magazine that pays homage to the people, places, and centimeters that make BC a skier’s heaven. The Kootenays are a blessed place. For people like Orry Grant, that place is home.

Choosing Orry was really just another gift for the tiny house crew. We missed the major, epic storm, but we got to feel like we were helping make things happen for the Whitewater local. With a recent G3 sponsorship and a spot on the ambassador program for OR, Orry’s life just became that much more entrenched in the world of skiing. And for that, the skiing community should feel grateful.

A smile goes a long way. Orry’s kind demeanor and smiles (plus his assistance as a patroller) will undoubtedly keep many people out there skiing. It will definitely bring us back to Whitewater. That and the hopes of hitting the storm we missed.

Outdoor Research- Sidecountry Sessions Episode 3- Nelson BC

With no snow in the lower 48, Zack, Molly and I had no choice but to tug the tiny house north of the border to one of my favorite places on earth, Nelson British Columbia. The minute we arrived i knew we were in for a good trip.
The snowbanks were stacked high and there were fresh cm's on the road up to Whitewater Resort.
Check out the video!

Link to VIDEO on Teton Gravity

-Words by Molly Baker-
Whitewater is a mythical place for an American skier. Not too distant, but yet so far out of reach. As we drove north, I heard the boys talking of finding a Canadian girl to marry. There’s that option and then there’s ex-pat status. How does an American stay in Canada, land of epic powder for the winter? Or even a lifetime?

As we drove further north, our question went from how we could stay in BC to how we were getting into the country. With a house on wheels and amounts of ski gear that could outfit the entire town of Nelson, our odds seemed low. The border patrol was sure to find something wrong with our situation. But without even a mention of Ullr and his presence in the lower 48, we went north to the border anyways. It would be worth trying and getting turned around.
At least we’d have tried.

We negotiated the border an hour before the crossing in rural eastern Washington closed, hoping the officer wouldn’t want to bother with questioning at the end of his shift. Of course, they pulled us out of our trusty old truck, Rusty Deluxe, and asked us to step inside while they inspected the tiny house and our bags of gear. The two solemn, but friendly (dare I say friendly? Canadians, it’s a stereotype to be proud of…) gentlemen threw our names in a Google search, watched the Sidecountry Sessions videos, laughed and treasured the spectacle of the tiny house, and sent us through to the land of “Neldor”.

Nelson, British Columbia serves up a fruitful combination of new age yoga/hippy culture, fresh prideful food, and Canadian quaintness. The Outer Clove, Baba’s, Oso Negro Coffee, and the two natural grocers in town could feed our crew for a lifetime without dispute. A vanilla chai from the town’s hobbit hole eatery, a.k.a. The Preserved Seed, could satiate our palette after every shred day. Life is easy in a ski town like Nelson. No desire goes unsatisfied.

More importantly than the food, is what quenched our skiing appetite. According to one local gent, “Whitewater gets more fresh centimeters than any resort in BC, eh?” Although this particular winter has been drier than last year’s strong La Nina, centimeters of fresh were common. The skies didn’t clear for our first week in the Whitewater parking lot. Every morning we peered out hoping to see Ymir Peak from the tiny house, but a low ceiling of clouds obscured any such view. We stuck to the trees and enjoyed the BC powder.

Our original schemes of staying in Canada for as long as possible panned out in an inevitable issue with Rusty D. After parking the tiny house in the first row at the ski area, we drove Rusty into Nelson, only to have the 1991 brown Ford catch on fire. Two extinguishers later, plus an appearance by the local fire department and police squad, and Rusty was totaled. We learned we weren’t just “stuck” to the trees.
We also happened to be stranded in Canada, just fifty feet from the lift at Whitewater.

This kind of occurrence had happened once already in Silverton—a tiny house near epic skiing, with no vehicle to tow it away. Luckily, this time we’d fallen down the rabbit hole to Whitewater, a wonderland of sidecountry lines and charming characters—people who smile from ear to ear, yelp, and scream to their friends to come check out the little cabin on wheels.

The tiny house has made it home.

Looking up to Ymir peak from the parking lot as it takes in the last light of the day. Our tracks exiting the cuba chute on the left. Hope to make it back to wh20 to hit that face!

Pray for Powder and pick up a pair of OR mitts on the link below!

Outdoor Research- Sidecountry Sessions Episode 2

Link to VIDEO on Teton Gravity

Epic trip to the San Juans! Thanks for having us Silverton!

Words by Molly Baker
Silverton, Colorado is exactly the kind of place you want to spend the Yuletide season. Especially if you are a group of five ski bums living within 112 square feet—no shower and ski gear avalanching from every nook of space. The locals are blushingly generous, the streets caked white with snow, and the surrounding mountains a gift unlike anything that comes wrapped in waxy paper covered with Santas.

“People tour for miles and miles to get views like this,” said new friend and Silverton local Steve Mead.
“Here in Silverton we get to walk to the grocery store with these sights.”

Surrounded by peaks like The Grand Turk, at 13,160 feet, and Sultan Mountain, at 13, 368 feet, mountains towering thousands of feet above the town are the standard canvas. It’s precisely the kind of wall art we needed for the tiny house.
Looking out of any of the teensy windows, snow-covered goliaths fill every inch of glass.

Two weeks ago the Outdoor Research crew graced the San Juan Mountain town of Silverton and parked the tiny house at a secluded 9,138 feet after an intense drive over southern Colorado’s Molas Pass (intensified by a melted accelerator cable in a truck pulling a 5,000 pound trailer/house on wheels). The winding, icy mountain road ended abruptly in Silverton. Our planned five-day trip turned into over 14. At this point, we still don’t know our departure date. But, it has become apparent, there are worse places to get beached.

Built in the late 1800s, Silverton never experienced a devastating fire like many mining towns in the West during that time. Many of the original buildings in the town are still standing (along with the secret underground tunnels from Main Street to the original Red Light District). There are two streets in the “business” district: Main and Blair Street. These days there isn’t much taking place. But, during the town’s glory days, Blair Street was the home to over 40 saloons and brothels. Today only a few shops are open. Blair is where the tiny house has lived for the past two weeks, just down from the town’s hostel and the Avalanche CafĂ©.

With a year-round population of 500, the mornings are quiet albeit the occasional snow machine or dog sled drive by. Waiting for the sun to turn up the valley furnace, we’ve woken up to many negative temperature days. But the tiny house has been toasty.

A few days up at Silverton Mountain and even more out in the San Juan backcountry, we’ve found rocks, the deepest facets we’ve ever skied, and challenging avalanche conditions with no patience for skier complacency. Every line feels like your running from the bank with bags of money only to evade the cops by chance. Maybe it’s just because we hail from places like Washington and Utah, but the snowpack makes you feel like you are getting away with something everyday.

Eventually we are going to need to escape Silverton, although being on a first name basis with the owners of the cafes, the guides at the mountain, and the ripping mountain folk that thrive in this place, is going to make that a difficult move. All we need is a biblical storm to hit Jackson, Tahoe, SLC, Whistler—somewhere. At this point it’s the Jet Stream, or the mechanic’s decision, if the tiny house ever leaves the San Juans.

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