By Sam Pelletier
The road trip is one of skiing's great traditions. It's almost a right of passage to load up the car to the point of overflowing and head out with no money and no plan, hopeful that some benevolent friend-of-a-friend will pull through with a couch to sleep on and maybe even show you the goods at a mountain you've only read about. You eat ramen noodles and Clif bars and you drink a few too many beers. You might have to sleep in your car. You may even develop an offensive aroma, but damn it, did you have a good time.
For much of March and April, Seth Warner teamed up with Salomon to embark on a truly epic road trip challenge—to ski 30 different resorts across the west in 30 days. Warner, director of Salomon's Jib Academy, would set off from San Francisco with a trailer full of Salomon prototypes with the simple, yet ambitious goal of skiing a new resort every day for a month all the while showing off a radically unique product. Trekking over 4,000 miles Warner visited resorts big and small, slept in parking lots, met skiers of all stripes, and got himself one serious endurance workout. Here's what Seth had to say about his journey.
Powder: How did this project end up coming together?
SW: I run a bike shop in San Francisco and only got to ski about 4 days by the end of February. I thought I needed to do some more skiing and in conjunction with Salomon and their new product we realized we could actually make something happen. I run the Salomon Jib Academy for Salomon so I was already on their radar for that, and they presented me with this opportunity to do a unique project and the idea of skiing 30 resorts in 30 days was born. They came up with the opportunity to do a product launch and we brainstormed together what the best way to go about it would be.
P: What's different about the Salomon prototypes you traveled with?
SW: From the ground up it's a totally unique product. It's a totally bamboo topsheet with a full bamboo core. The most unique part of it is where the narrowest part of the ski is. It's not actually under the foot but rather just behind the heel piece. By putting it behind the heelpiece you can ski the ski as hard as you want or you can ski them as easy as you want. With these you can ski with your hands in your pockets or you can get really aggressive on them.
They've got sort of a pintail look with a really wide tip. They're 186's, and everyone's first impression is "I haven't skied anything this long in a long time." Then they get on them and see how quickly they come around because they have a little bit of early rise in the tip. The contact point on the snow comes back a lot when you're on groomers so it skis shorter, and in crud or pow you get the benefit of having a tip that will keep you up and back so you don't get the sensation of going over the handlebars.
It was cool that it created an environment for me to meet so many people. It's amazing when something stands out and is so different how much people are willing to talk rather than give you the cold shoulder.
P: You went to some smaller resorts that are pretty off the radar—any surprises there?
SW: I went to Sunlight Mountain in Glenwood Springs, CO and they were so friendly and welcoming and that was a really great experience. The marketing director at Monarch was so welcoming and inviting too and the whole staff there was off the charts friendly. The terrain there was actually pretty impressive too where the cat-access goes. Those were two highlights.
P: You had pretty good late season conditions, right?
SW: Yeah, I had a little bit of fresh now here and there throughout the trip. It started out pretty icy up in Utah but by the time I got to Colorado snow was flying and I was down south right when those storms started to hit. Silverton's closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I made sure I got there on Thursday before everybody tracked it out so that was huge. The snow did come late so it brought great conditions in the beginning of April which everyone was blessed with. The best day was third to last day over at steamboat— 21 inches of the driest powder out there.
P: Any mishaps along the way?
SW: The biggest mishap occurred on the final day. I was skiing with Pip Hunt and we were just skiing groomers because it was crappy snow, and second run she zigged and I zagged and we took each other out. She had a minor separation of her AC joint in her shoulder so we spent the afternoon in the hospital getting that checked out. That was probably the biggest mishap of the trip. As far as traveling and accommodation and being in the trailer, its not as easy to park a trailer overnight as it used to be. A lot of parking lots don't allow it so that was a little bit of challenge figuring out where to go but Wal-Mart is always a welcoming parking lot. You can always park at a Wal-Mart anywhere in the world so that was pretty convenient for me.
P: Did you have any breaks from skiing, or did you ski 30 days in a row?
SW: I did have a break in there because I skied all the Aspen's in one day. That gave me a little buffer there, which was key because I took a day off earlier in the trip when I was in Crested Butte. We didn't get the blog site up until 5 days into the trip so I had to spend that day in Crested Butte going back and updating it. I also took a day off as a travel day from Steamboat to Utah because that was a 7 hour drive. I skied 28 of 30 days and I actually snuck in an extra day on the way through Tahoe at Sugar Bowl where I have a season pass.
P: You must have been pretty tired by the end of the trip.
SW: I got home and was exhausted. It was definitely a long month but it was super fun. It did take a toll on me physically so I was pretty tired. I'm pretty strong right now, though—one of the benefits of running a bike shop. I ride bikes all year round and log between 250 and 350 miles on my road bike a week, plus a lot of mountain biking. I had a really good foundation as far as strength went, but mentally I was pretty beat.
P: How many miles did you end up logging?
SW: I left from San Francisco, so the total distance was 4,440 miles from the day I left to the day I got back. The longest stretch was from Utah to Colorado—it was like 9 hours to get to Powderhorn.
P: Do you have any more skiing left in you this season, or are you calling it quits?
SW: Oh, I got some more left in me. I'll get a couple days up in Tahoe in April and then I'm spending a week at Mammoth for the Jib Academy Finals and doing some more testing and stuff.