This story originally published in the November 2015 issue of POWDER (44.3). PHOTO: Travis Andersen
Sometimes tribes are forged over years of ski days and rideshares, and sometimes it happens while sneaking a keg into a freshmen dorm in your buddy’s trekking pack. Which is how it went for Axel Peterson, Rob Raymond, and Randy Evans, skiers at Bridger Bowl who met while attending Montana State University in the fall of 2008. But it didn’t take long for the trio to realize their Montana schooling wouldn’t be in the classroom—and the Bridger Brigade was born.
“I never went back after the first storm day,” says Raymond, a Long Island native who moved to Bozeman after reading about Doug Coombs and Tom Jungst’s descents along the Bridger Range in the ’70s and ’80s.
Peterson wasn’t far behind, opting to hone his skills as a ski filmmaker. The crew has added several names since then, including environmental filmmaker Henry Worobec and Freeride World Tour skier Ryan Walters.
While the posse has subsisted on seasonal work, they have gained a following in the ski world for their web edits adhering to the motto, “fknsndr.”
The group feeds off the Bridger formula, passing up the Hollywood lift line for a good hike and stealthy first tracks. “It’s rare to find any ego around here,” says Peterson. “People aren’t bragging at the bar; people are drinking at the bar.”
Though chances are if the getting’s good, you’ll find them ticking off boast-worthy shots off Bridger’s legendary Ridge terrain—shots that can only happen with the Brigade’s collective knowledge of the area’s convoluted lines. “We hunt for our tracks,” explains Peterson. “This mountain has so many nooks and crannies.”
Peterson, Raymond, and Evans rent a 20-acre log cabin in Bridger Canyon, which cuts their Bridger Bowl commute in half, and Peterson has decked out his 1997 F350 with a camper and sled trailer (“It comfortably fits three, but we’ve had a party of 19, two dogs, and a couple kegs.”) to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
And that’s what they do. One November, Evans and Peterson got a call that Little Cottonwood Canyon had gotten 50-plus inches. They promptly loaded up the rig and drove seven hours through the night, making it to Alta in time for first chair. “Yeah, that was a pretty good party rally,” grins Peterson. Because when life revolves around the next storm, what other choice do you have?”