Different trends for sliding on snow have dominated over the years. In the 1960s and ‘70s, downhill skiing really became popular, then by the mid-80s skinny skies were already passé and snowboarding was in rapid ascendancy. Skiing fought back with easier-to-use carving skis replacing the longer, straighter skis of old. Soon both skiers and boarders embraced freestyle in the terrain parks which were popping up everywhere.
With the new century came a throwback to an old idea, escaping the crowds that filled resorts and groomed runs and heading into the powder off the side. Once called skiing “off-piste”, the practice was rebranded “freeriding” with boards and fat skis making the ride easier.
The most dedicated freeriders don’t even use lifts anymore with another old idea, ski touring, hiking up to “earn your turns” growing ever-more popular, and at the top of the talent pile, the world’s best freeriders head off to remote mountain locations around the world each year to try to search out the soul of freeriding, the purity of the mountain, usually with the help of a corporate sponsor, filling YouTube with more incredible footage of them doing so.
“Some say in order to finally know your true worth as a freerider, to become the real deal, you’ve got to ride the spines. It requires decades of experience to master the skill of managing your snowboard or skis on big lines, reading the snow and carefully calculating the risk versus reward to ride among heroes,” a statement from The North Face explains.
Sam Anthamatten has spent his life travelling the world AND gaining the depth of knowledge needed to stay safe and at the top of his game while Victor de la Rue has made a career out of breathtaking big mountain adventures, jumping in at the deep end to experience the snow like no other. Together, their long-standing friendship has resulted in some of the most incredible expeditions, creating life-changing experiences for the both of them.
Freerider is no different. Born from a dare to dream big, the pair set out to claim the first lines on unbeatable spines in a remote corner of the world in Alaska. Their goal required a specific set of climate conditions, with guaranteed heavy snowfall and humidity to form the nearly vertical spines and bluebird days to ride. After months of scoping and recon, the destination was set and the lines earmarked.
“In that time, to exist only for the power and the descent in the purest form of exploration, we watch as the pair slip into their truest selves searching for line after line, christening each one with a new name and crowning themselves king,” The North Face statement concludes.
main image © Christoph Thoresen & Jerome Tanon
We have a regular Podcast called The White Out where we review the latest gear, talk about the latest snow forecast and updates on where is best to ski now, as well interviews with absolute ski legends AND we spotlight a resort every week and so much more. You can check out our regular podcast here Apple | Spotify | Podcasts or search The White Out on your chosen podcast directory.