The Backcountry Magazine Podcast

From legendary athletes to iconic product designers, activists to guides, our world is filled with new views, wisdom, determination and crustiness.

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Season 11

Will Ritter: The Spark

Backcountry first caught a glimpse of Will’s prototype splitboard bindings in 2008. A brief writeup in the magazine that year was the precursor to inclusion in every Backcountry Gear Guide since. 

While they lacked polish in the early days the bindings showed promise. And that first generation of Spark clamps would lay the foundation for that elusive “better mousetrap.”

Word of Spark’s bindings spread like wildfire in the close-knit backcountry snowboard community, and the company has grown every year since its garage-band inception. Spark is now synonymous with splitboarding, and its ascent has mirrored the progression and increase in popularity of the sport.

Today, Spark R&D employs 120 people and operates 24/7 in the company’s Bozeman, Montana facilities. They manufacture nearly every ingredient in their products, from baseplates to straps and highbacks. 

Will tours us through the evolution of the company, and shares what it feels like to have the idols of his youth riding his setup. He speaks to his connection to the backcountry snowboarding community, and his 15-year pursuit of building a better backcountry snowboard binding.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Minus33.

Corinne Prevot: Dream Weaver

If you’ve been to a mountain town in the past decade you’ve seen the proliferation of Skida hats and neckies. They’re part and parcel now to global ski culture.

But what about the founder of Skida? That’s 31 year old Corinne Prevot. What began for Corinne as a means of self expression in high school has blossomed into a business with 20 employees under the age of 30. Most of them are women.

Based in Burlington, Vermont, Skida hats and neckwear are renowned for their eclectic patterns and athletic designs. Patterns like plaid, pastel, and fields of flowers reflect Corinne’s passion for art and nature. She’s also got a passion for ripping big faces in the backcountry, Nordic skiing and, recently, winning a couple amateur Enduro World Cup races on her mountain bike. I first got to know her when she jumped onto my 24-hour mountain bike racing team after a last minute scratch. In short, she’s got game.

In this episode Corinne reflects on the loss of friends and family, and how she can only hope to match their passion and drive in her own life and work. And, we talk about legacy and how it feels to be breaking trail for the next generation.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Minus33.

Season 10

Lani Bruntz: Intrepid Explorer

We recently sat down with intrepid explorer Lani Bruntz, soon after she arrived home from a bikepacking trip in Mexico. Prior to that adventure, she was skiing and guiding in Chile. If there’s one thing we learned about Bruntz during our interview, it’s that she’s almost always on the move. 

Whether exploring her Crested Butte, Colorado backyard, or remote mountain regions around the globe, Bruntz feels most at home in wild places. She came up as a Nordic ski racer, before discovering a passion for the more vertical world beyond the groomed track.

Today she’s a mountain guide, sponsored athlete, and a professional writer. Her most recent work entitled “Stepping Out” appears in the January issue of Backcountry. The story documents a trip to Alaska where remote terrain and an unforgiving winter environment provided immense challenges at nearly every turn.

Like so many who make a life in the backcountry, Bruntz knows firsthand what the mountains provide, and what they can take away. She’s endured her own personal loss to avalanche. Still, she can’t imagine spending her life doing anything else.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Taos Ski Valley.

Nick Russell: Freeride Explorer

In this episode, we have a conversation with backcountry snowboarder Nick Russell. Like so many of today’s top snowboarders, Nick cut his teeth riding freestyle out East. He grew up in Connecticut before making his way to Vermont’s Stratton Mountain School. The longtime home to the US OPEN, Stratton has produced snowboarding legends like Ross Powers and Danny Davis.

Once he realized he wasn’t destined for freestyle greatness, Russell migrated West. He eventually discovered splitboarding and began venturing deeper and deeper into the backcountry.

With sponsors like Red Bull and WNDR Alpine, Russell is breaking new ground as a backcountry snowboarder. He talks about his passion for expedition snowboarding and exploratory freeriding, including a recent trip to Nepal. He puts his tech hat on and explains the science behind WNDR’s sustainable materials, and the role he plays in product development. 

Russell then reflects on the path that brought him to where he is today, and his lifelong love of snowboarding. 

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Taos Ski Valley.

Jason Hummel: Cascade Crusader

In this episode, photographer and Backcountry contributor Jason Hummel shares his passion for exploring far-flung places in his home range and beyond. 

Jason grew up backcountry skiing on Washington’s glaciers and in the surrounding wild country, including his first multi day winter traverse of Mt. Rainier at just 10 years old. 

Fast forward a few decades, and a lifetime of exploring Washington’s wildest winter places has inspired Jason to become a student and avid researcher of Washington’s glacial history, while documenting his own journeys along the way.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Taos Ski Valley.

Season 9: The Lifers

Bruce Edgerly: BCA and Beyond

Co-founder of Backcountry Access Bruce Edgerly—Edge, as he’s known to the backcountry community—has been around the block. He cut his teeth writing for Powder and Couloir magazines in the 1980s, traveling the globe to cover the burgeoning extreme skiing movement. Edge takes us on a ride through the evolution of BCA, from trekkers to beacons to airbags, and reflects on the growth in backcountry skiing that he never saw coming.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Salomon.

Than Acuff: Talk of the Town

Than Acuff is the executive director of the Crested Butte Avalanche Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an avalanche forecast for the community every day of the winter season for Colorado’s West Elk Range. Than talks about the challenges of operating a small life-saving nonprofit, balancing ambition with mental health and why there’s no better feeling than tipping in to nipple-deep powder.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Salomon.

Setting Sail with Angel Collinson

Angel Collinson turned the freeskiing world upside down when, at 31 years old and the height of her career, she retired from professional skiing, swapping big mountains for the ocean. Angel speaks about the similarities and differences between big mountains and big water, what it takes to master one’s craft (and whether it’s worth it) and when—or if—she’ll ski again.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Salomon.

Season 8

Wingwalkers: The Story of California’s Redline Traverse

There’s a range in America’s most populous state that’s hemmed in by desert and people. Each year, millions come to California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to collectively attempt to climb Mt. Whitney or ogle Yosemite’s Half Dome or ski at Mammoth or hike the John Muir Trail. In the spring of 2016, Adam Howard, Craig Dostie and John and Tyson Hausdoerffer came here for a different reason: to ski some of the famed Redline Traverse, first pioneered in the early ’80s. Summits here tower 10,000 feet above the Owens Valley to the east, and it’s arguably on this granite and snow where both American ski mountaineering and long-distance ski touring were born. The mountain objectives and gear have changed a lot in the century since the first snow surveyors plotted these hills. But a few things have stayed the same: It’s still breathtakingly high; it can get insanely deep; and, from October to May, there’s no one here. Wingwalkers is part of that story published in Backcountry Magazine, Spring 2017; written by Adam Howard, read by Matt Richardson.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Minus33.

Gear Crazy

Given the epic demand for touring gear and the unprecedented way Backcountry Magazine had to test it last year, we pulled together some of our veteran testers to talk about their experience, because it’s from their insight that our editors made selections for this year’s Gear Guide. We get into those details a bit. We talk about a range of topics—from quivers of one to why tele gear hasn’t changed in a decade and the best skins on the market today. And, of course, we share some of our favorites. Joining host Adam Howard are Marla and Jeremy “Shaggy” Bailey, from Steamboat Springs, Colorado; from Bozeman, Montana, our Technical Editor Lance Riek; and, from Vermont, Darrin McLeod and our very own Tyler Cohen.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Minus33.

Powder Days

Backcountry Magazine Contributing Editor Heather Hansman is a recovering ski bum. In her new book, Powder Days: Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow, Heather threads her own personal narrative—you know, the way she came to once call herself a ski bum—into the American story of ski bumming itself. It sounds so simple on the cover, as if any of us who’ve skied 100-plus days a year could relate. But in the context of today, we’re starting to question not only the future of ski bumming but its past. And Heather goes deep with skiing icons who’ve built a life around sacrificing for snow.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is brought to you by Minus33.

Season 7: Wonders of the Wasatch

The Two Cohens: Pro Skier Sam and his Photographing Father Lee

Like most ski bums, legendary photographer Lee Cohen was only planning on skiing at Alta, Utah, for one season. Forty years later, he’s still there, shooting skiers in the Wasatch. Since his first image was published in the late ’80s in Powder, he continues to be one of the top shooters in the game. One of his favorite subjects is his son, Sam, himself a professional freeskier. It hasn’t always been easy for either of them: Sam admits he had to ski hard to get beyond the old man’s shadow. While their vocation is different, the canvas on which they ply that craft is the same. And they’re tight. If you didn’t know any better, they sound more like brothers than father and son.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by 10 Barrel Brewing Co. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

The Seer: Avalanche Forecaster and Sage Drew Hardesty

A 22-year veteran avalanche forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center, Drew Hardesty doesn’t simply give the avalanche forecast for the greater Wasatch. He tells the snowpack’s story. He’s part scientist, part philosopher. Part skier, part poet. What other forecaster might relate a scene from Cormac McCarthy’s book The Crossing to a blown avalanche forecast? How many snow scientists were Naval Intelligence officers during Desert Storm or have received a federal Valor Award for aiding 17 lightning strike victims on the Grand Teton? Drew’s life experiences allow him to see the snow through different eyes.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by 10 Barrel Brewing Co. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

Season 6: Wild and Weary

One of the great things about going into the backcountry is, for the forest and the rock, the snowpack and the weather that impacts it, there really is no pandemic. For those who work in and for these places, the mission remains the same even in this wildest of years.

The Makers’ Lament: Part 2

In April, we reached out to gear and apparel manufacturers to get their take on what the coronavirus pandemic might mean to the outdoor industry. It ended up being our most listened to episode and, in response to the many calls for a follow-up, that’s just what we did. Joining host Adam “Howie” Howard are Thor Verdonk, Alpine Technical Product Director for Lange, Rossignol and Dynastar; Jason Levinthal, founder of Line and J-Skis; and Dan Abrams, cofounder of Flylow. How accurate were their prognostications from the spring? Tune in to find out.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by Majesty Skis America. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

Guide Nancy Bockino: Mother of Trees

Like all mountain pros, Nancy Bockino has had a lot of gigs to make it all work. Unlike a lot of mountain pros, Nancy seems to do what she loves year-round. Based in Jackson, Wyoming, Nancy spends the winter ski guiding and teaching avalanche classes for Exum Mountain Guides in the Tetons. Come spring she’s off to the Eastern Sierra to ply her craft guiding alpine climbing and ski touring south of Mammoth for International Alpine Guides. Then, in the summer, she’s back in Jackson working as field ecologist in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Wherever she goes, Nancy speaks to the trees.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by Majesty Skis America. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

A Walk on the Wildlands Side

No matter the job, Todd Walton’s work stumping for outdoor brands has never taken him far from backcountry terrain. As the executive director of Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA), Todd’s latest efforts focus on advocating for the very places and experiences he’s known throughout his career. Once a small, grassroots nonprofit focusing on the mountains around Sun Valley, Idaho, WWA today leads advocacy efforts in nearly every western state. In this episode, Todd dishes on WWA’s latest efforts, the Biden administration, “skiing kind” and the radical changes in winter recreation.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by Majesty Skis America. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

Season 5

The Future of Ski Media

November 20 was a sad day for the ski community. It was the day POWDER magazine officially halted operations after 49 years of production. It was a staggering turn for the magazine many feel influenced the sport like no other. Among those reflecting on the loss are former editor-in-chief Steve Casimiro, former associate editor Mike Rogge and former interns Ingrid Backstrom and Adam Howard. The four look into the crystal ball to see what the future looks like without POWDER.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by the Vermont Department of Tourism. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

Bjarne Salén: Lensman of Legends

Powder, stoke, spines—they’re ski movie staples, but they don’t fully show what goes into a successful day in the mountains. Swedish filmmaker Bjarne Salén is changing that. As he captures Cody Townsend’s The Fifty, a project to ski all the lines in the heralded book 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America, Salén speaks up from behind the camera, giving insight into the role filmmakers play in skiing big lines and, in doing so, breaking down the imaginary fourth wall.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by the Vermont Department of Tourism. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

Uphill and Beyond

What will backcountry ski travel look like this winter? How will the skiing economy deal with the uncertainty Covid-19 presents? Will trailheads be packed? (Yup!) Backcountry’s Adam Howard joins backcountry pioneer Andrew McLean, film star Mike Hattrup and freelance writer and editor Megan Michelson to discuss what Covid-19 means to the backcountry community and resorts grappling with a booming uphill scene.

This episode of the Backcountry Podcast is sponsored by the Vermont Department of Tourism. It’s also possible thanks to support from our listeners—if you like what you hear and would like to hear more, please make a contribution.

Season 4: Plan BLIVE

The Maker’s Lament

With supply chains throughout the world interrupted by the Covid-19 crisis, no industry has been left unaffected. And though we’re nearing skiing and riding’s offseason, even next season’s gear—whether that’s boots made in Italy, apparel made in China or skis made domestically—may be on the line. To get a perspective from across the globe and at home, with brands large and small, Adam Howard and Lucy Higgins speak with Thor Verdonk, global brand director of Lange, Dan Abrams, cofounder of Flylow Gear, and Jason Levinthal, the founder of Line Skis who now runs J Skis and 4FRNT.


Out There and Back

How have adventurers and adventures been impacted by the current Covid-19 pandemic? And what was it like for those out in the mountains when the crisis emerged? What about those who earn their livelihoods in the backcountry? In this episode, we go out there and back, connecting with Leavenworth, Wash.-based splitboarder Ryan Irvin, who has widely shared the story of his personal battle with coronavirus; photographer and writer Mary McIntyre, who was on a skiing and sailing expedition to Greenland when her ship was turned around by travel restrictions while halfway across the North Sea; and Chamonix-based guides Miles and Liz Smart, who’ve been on lockdown in France through the heart of their guiding season since the middle of March.


Climate and Covid

These days, we’re seemingly looking at everything through the Covid-19 filter. Episode 2 of Backcountry’s Plan B Facebook Live Podcast looks at climate change with Bill McKibben, author, climate activist and founder of 350.org; Sam Killgore, communications manager at Protect Our Winters; and Dr. John Hausdoerffer, director of the Master in Environmental Management Program at Western Colorado University. Along with hosts Adam Howard and Lucy Higgins, they’ll consider what the global pandemic and the resulting economic crisis will teach us about carbon emission reduction.


The Go/No Go Paradigm

After a few weeks of adjusting to the new normal of social distancing and self isolation, host Adam Howard is joined by editor in chief Lucy Higgins to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the backcountry community. Higgins and Howard chat with Nick Sargent, president of SIA (SnowSports Industries America), about the organization’s #curbyourturns social campaign; they’re also joined by Backcountry contributor Heather Hansman, who talks about her recent feature on mental health in the skiing community and how what she’s learned applies to NOT skiing during the COVID-19 crisis; and Dr. Brian Irwin, physician and medical advisor to the Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, discusses terrain closures in New Hampshire’s Tuckerman Ravine.


Season 3

Season 3 of the Backcountry Magazine Podcast is possible thanks to the support of  Mystery Ranch.

Annelise Loevlie: Icelantic Dreams

OK, we’re bragging here, but the CEO of Icelantic interned at Backcountry Magazine in 2004. That was just after she earned degrees in Spanish and International Business from UVM and just before she started at a brand-new ski company with her high school friends in Colorado. Through Icelantic’s meteoric rise to near fall, Loevlie found her voice and learned how to make the tough calls.


Dana Gleason: Pack Man

Dana Gleason retired a millionaire after selling his company, the legendary pack manufacturer Dana Designs, in the late ’90s. But he was adrift and having too much fun skiing powder to feel purpose. His daughter changed that with a simple request: build me a minimalist hip pack. Soon after Mystery Ranch was born, and it’s been going strong for 20 years. And, Dana’s still crazy!


Oliver Steffen: The Genuine Mind of G3

From making avalanche probes in his Vancouver kitchen, Genuine Guide Gear founder Oliver Steffen has been at the forefront of a slew of trends in backcountry skiing. Known for clean, inspired design, G3 has been a leader in telemark bindings, probes, shovels, skins and, now, tech bindings. We talk to Steffen about the culture of innovation that keeps G3 hopping.


Season 2

Season 2 of the Backcountry Magazine Podcast is possible thanks to the support of  Fischer.

Spearhead Reimagined

The iconic traverse between Blackcomb and Whistler, B.C. is a paradox. It’s super crowded near its entry and exit points, yet you still have to winter camp if you want to complete the multiday route. But with huts going in, will it be more popular than ever? Or more controlled. Filmmaker of the new movie Spearhead Seth Gillis shares his opinions.


The Electrification of Greg Hill

Greg Hill. [Photo] Anthony Bonello

Like many of us, Canadian ski mountaineer Greg Hill is concerned about how his travels to the trailhead and around the world were contributing to climate change. So in 2017 he decided to realign his priorities and sold his F350 and his snow machine and got an electric car. The result was a short film and a changed man.


Mike Hattrup, Ahead of the Turn

Mike Hattrup.

Over his three-decade career in skiing, Mike Hattrup has worn many hats: Freestyle athlete, film star, product innovator, mountain guide. He’s also a husband and father. How has Hattrup kept it together for more than 30 years? A new knee helped. But mostly it’s been hard work and living on the cheap.


Season 1

Season 1 of the Backcountry Magazine Podcast is possible thanks to the support of  Stio Outdoor Apparel. Use the code BACKCOUNTRY at Stio.com for 25% off your next purchase.

The Gleich Effect

Caroline Gleich. [Photo] Anna Callaghan

Equal parts athlete, influencer and activist, Caroline Gleich has changed the way we look at pro skiers. And, over her career, she’s changed the way she looks at herself. Unapologetically “open book,” Gleich dishes on putting up with social media trolls, wedding-day stress, the Trump administration and recovering from injury.


The Fifty

Cody Townsend. [Photo] Anthony Bonello

When you think of Cody Townsend, you think TGR and Matchsticks star, Freeride World Tour podiumer and the dude who went straight down “The Crack” and into an otherworldly viral reality that landed him on broadcast morning shows. But then he read a book: 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America. Now he’s dumped the heli and bought some skins (OK, he got them for free) and has skied 20 lines of what promises to be a gooey, YouTubey feast.


The Freaks

Wiley Maple. [Photo] Wiley Maple

When Olympic Downhiller Wiley Maple wrapped up the 2018 World Cup season, he and some in his Aspen gang called “The Freaks” went to Chamonix, France to scare themselves on some legendlines—badassery of the sort we fully approve. What kind of mind manages these wildly different forms of skiing? And, after his best friend and World Cup ski tech died suddenly this spring, would Maple sign up for more?

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