Interview with a true powder hound -- Updated

    A while back, I promised you an interview with a true powder hound, someone who skis the way Gabe skis — in defiance of gravity and as often as possible. I work with a guy like this. He writes for the outdoors section of the newspaper.

    Extreme skiers, climbers, etc., are not an endangered species in Boulder; in fact, meeting people who excel in sports like skiing or telemark or skateboarding or rock climbing is just part of life here. People like Isaac come to Colorado, and to Boulder specifically, because of the thrills it offers.

    Isaac has been writing for the outdoor sports section of the newspaper for almost eight years now. (Can you believe that, Isaac?) He works freelance, going on fun outdoor adventures and then writing about them, or testing outdoor gear and sharing his experiences. When I met him, he had a girlfriend and lived for adventure, his life focused on chasing powder during the winter and hitting the singletrack during the summer (i.e, mountain biking, an obsession it in our outdoor-crazy city).

    Isaac knew a few things about Gabe and Naked Edge from the beginning, because I shared passages of the story with him, either because I thought he’d find them funny or because I wanted to run the lingo by him to make sure it sounded authentic. Rock climbing lingo is part of my family’s speech; skiing lingo… not so much. Oh, sure, everyone in my family skis, but no on snowboards. And no one has ever lived in his or her car driving to the places where snow is falling like true powder hounds do.

    That’s one thing about Isaac’s writing I love — he writes the way those guys talk, whether it’s skiing or mountain biking he’s covering. He was writing about the impact of bicycle seats once and used the term “manberries,” which I stole outright for Unlawful Contact. (Dude, I’m giving credit where credit is due.)

    I asked Isaac if he would mind answering a few questions. The guy is now married with a wee son (who is adorable) and a full-time job. Despite that busy schedule, he agreed.

    Pamela: Isaac, thanks for agreeing to visit my blog. Can you tell us how old you were when you slid down your first snow? Was it love from the beginning?

    Isaac: I was actually 10 when I took my first turns, prior to that I was a Cali kid, skatepunk and BMX shredder. I moved to Vermont and remember thinking as I watched the local Vermonster’s ski that I was TOO OLD. Funny, washed up at ten. :) Then I got a pair of skis at the local ski swap took my first turns as was hooked! I’ve been lucky enough to log a 1000+ plus days since then. Still trying to perfect glorious art of the Telemark turn. Practice, practice!

    Pamela: I never learned the Telemark turn. I did master the Telemark face plant, though. I have that down cold. So what brought you to Colorado and to Boulder, specifically?

    Isaac: Sun and light dry powder, which Seattle where we lived previously had approx NONE. Viva Colorado!

    Pamela: Describe the most powder-houndy period of your life.

    Isaac: Lived in Bozeman, MT, for a year and ski bummed at the righteous Bridger Bowl in 1992 (damn, I’m old). Skied 100+ days and worked the night shift at Dana Design backpack checking seams. Lived on $110 a week. Those were the days...

    Pamela: Don’t complain about getting old to me, please. I’m 11-1/2 now, and that’s awful. How long have you been mountain biking?

    Isaac: Got my first mountain bike in 1988 (that’s actually rocking my world as I type — sheesh!) Thumbshifters and canti brakes. Mongoose IBOC Pro — but pro I was not. LOVING mt biking more with every passing year, just signed up for BC Bike Race for my 40th birthday — 500km over 7 days of rocks, berms, bridges and hopefully a few cold adult beverages. :)

    Pamela: That sounds so fun! What is it about crashing down rocky mountain trails in defiance of death that appeals to so many people here? I mean, when your bike requires shock absorbers and you have to wear a kind of motorcycle helmet — is that what God intended when She created the bicycle?

    Isaac: We all know SHE shredds :) I thinks it’s the totally focus that is addictive. No time/way to contemplate the bills, the laundry, the meaning of life. Just raw caveman/women ripping through the woods. We ain’t engineered to sit under fluorescent lights all day!

    Pamela: I have to agree with you there (as I sit under fluorescent lights). How do you feel about alpine climbing, rock climbing and ice climbing, which are my family’s addictions? (Except for me, of course. I’m still recovering from my near-fatal bout of Rapid Deceleration Syndrome, as you know.)

    Isaac: I like to climb but um, well, SUCK. I get the Elvis shake-y leg syndrome pronto. Glorious sport, but in Boulder, the comp is pretty high (no pun intended).

    Pamela: Can you define some terms for us? Gabe and Marc used some of these in the story: “shredding the gnar”; “sick terrain,” or sick powder”; “epic”; “catch air”; “snow farm,” “face shots.” (As a side note: Do you think it’s coincidence that there’s an overlap between porn slang and outdoor sports slang and the fact that most of those who pursue outdoor sports on a hardcore level are young males? Never mind. You don’t have to answer.)

    Isaac: Yes, it’s true that the bro/brahs of the sports world do sometimes speak in tongues! Maybe related to lack of oxygen at altitude??? LOL. In sum, the sick-er, gnarly-er, etc., the better-er!!!

    Pamela: Did you have any epic days this year? Do you have a skiing memory that stands out for all time?

    Isaac: Skied Jackson in mid-March with my best buddy after 20 inches of powder. It was a dream trip to the “White Room.” It doesn’t get any better, and let’s just say that all the powder/orgasm analogies are right on the $. Unreal.

    Pamela: Thanks, Isaac, for your time. I love having your work in the paper. You’re great to work with. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without a smile on your face. And thanks for being willing to hang with us today and for sharing links to your ski vids.

    Here’s a clip, filmed by Isaac, that shows his buddy Doug Telemark skiing glades at Eldora. The trick about skiing glades is, well, not hitting trees and killing yourself. Doing it Telemark is even tougher. But there’s even more than that. Tree wells, hollows of snow around a tree’s trunk, can trap you and lead to a nasty fall and/or piercing by branches. Or you can catch your tips or tails on a trunk/well/branch and wipe out, perhaps hitting wood. To ski the way Doug and Isaac are skiing here, you have to be good. We get a glimpse of Isaac, who is filming while skiing, as he turns the camera on himself.

    Here’s a clip he filmed of some buddies Telemarking. Note the face plant at the end. That is my only true skill when it comes to Telemarking.

    And here’s a glimpse of mountain biking. This location, Walker Ranch, is about 25 to 30 minutes from my office. It’s just above Boulder. And this gives you a good idea of what Boulder Mountain Parks land looks like, i.e., where Gabe would have worked. One of my ranger buddies lives in at Walker Ranch. Lucky SOB.

    OK, well, I hope you enjoy watching these. I’m spending the weekend with Natalie and Zach, who will finally be unchained very soon. I need to catch up on writing so I won’t be around much. But I do read your posts and enjoy them. I hope you have fun with this!

    Incidentally, if you’re interested in mountain biking or skiing videos from Colorado, YouTube is loaded with them. You can probably Google all the places in Naked Edge and see them there, i.e, Redgarden Wall where Gabe was climbing, Boulder Mountain Parks, the famous Third Flatiron, etc.

    I’m adding this link to another YouTube video because it offers a great little overview of my hometown, together with some mtb (mountain biking) how-to. It made me laugh. You get glimpses of our bike path infrastructure, as well as Boulder Canyon, where, I swear, I grew up with my dad climbing those canyon sides with traffic whizzing by below.

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