Catching Up with Brody Leven
Talking ascents, descents, and off-seasons with Surface skis’ Brody Leven
Brody Leven doesn’t really like skiing powder. He would’ve summited Denali in shorts, if he had thought to bring them with him. And one time he rode his bike from Montana to Ohio, because his mom wanted him to come home for Thanksgiving. The 25-year-old Ohio native has garnered attention for his steady stream of self-produced edits, photos, and writing, as well as his 25,000-plus Instagram followers. In between mountain runs, Brody filled us in on how he got from a 100-foot hill in the Midwest to the heart of the East Coast park scene, from the Utah backcountry to the Andes, and from his current home in Salt Lake City to the summit of Denali.
POWDER: Give us some background. How and when did you get into skiing?
I’m from Chesterland, Ohio, which is a mecca of skiing, of course. I grew up skiing at Alpine Valley ski area, which is 100 vertical feet. So, I got into park skiing as much as I could for a 100-foot hill without a park, which meant that I skied backwards. Then, I went to a ski academy for high school in Vermont, and that’s where I got really heavy into competitive park skiing.
What was that like, transitioning into the East Coast park scene?
Right now [park skiing] is having…not a rebirth, but a huge growth, with all these dubs and trips that everyone’s doing, but I think that I was part of the last growth. The one when all the 4bi9 kids were starting to slay and we were all doing East Coast competitions. You didn’t have to be in Park City to be a pro skier, or Mammoth or whatever, so it was cool to be part of that.
You’re not too into the park anymore. Why the switch?
After my sophomore year of college, I chased winter to South America by myself, to Argentina, for two months. I saw the freakin’ Andes and was like, ‘Wow, those are big mountains.’ I was exploring around with my big heavy touring setup and baggy pants and park skiing boots and no helmet, and I was like, ‘I want to be able to explore this stuff.’ So I came back and I started geeking out on snow safety and backcountry safety and mountain travel in general. This was coinciding with my growth and interest in rock climbing. I was in Utah and there wasn’t snow yet in August and I was like, ‘This place sucks, there’s no skiing,’ and everyone was like, ‘Yeah, it’s August.’ Anyways, I started rock climbing. Then rock climbing pretty quickly turned into more alpine climbing and mountaineering. As that collided with my interest in backcountry skiing, all of the sudden a couple years later I found myself really into ski mountaineering, and that’s just spiraled out of control now.
What are you most looking forward to skiing this winter?
Well, powder’s not really my thing. I didn’t grow up skiing powder. I had never skied powder until my sophomore year of college. I don’t dislike powder, but I don’t go skiing to ski powder. If it’s there, I’ll ski it, but if there’s a 10-foot-wide couloir with horrendous snow and a bunch of obstacles and maybe a cliff to rappel in the middle of it, I’m more psyched on that.
So how do you see that shaping your career as a skier? Do you have plans to film this upcoming season?
I have never filmed with one of the major film companies ever and as of now there are no plans to start. I’m all about self-produced content. I put out edits, photos, and stories. I think that our industry is really receptive to that, because a lot of times I’m the only one out there, so I’m the best person to tell the story. My winter in my mind, from the first snowfall until spring, it’s like training for the spring and summer. I’m very much a spring and summer skier, and in that regard I spend the winter, the good months—February and March—I spend them touring every single day. I ski a ton of powder because I’m touring every day, but I just see it as training for like when I go on some weird expedition to ski ice in some foreign country.
Describe your dream trip: who are you with, where are you skiing, what’s the weather like?
This Denali trip that I did in June, that was kind of a dream come true. I was with my heroes in many regards. In snow sports: Jeremy Jones. For climbing, mountaineering and fitness, I was with Conrad Anker. And then as far as writing goes—which is something I really focus on—my favorite author is Jon Krakauer, and he was also on the team with me. It was so rad. We got to ski powder, corn, and blue ice on Denali. Skiing down those things with the people I was with was a dream come true for me.
Last question. Would you rather spend the rest of your life making ascents or descents?
I’m kind of all about the up.
Name: Brody Leven
Hometown: Chesterland, Ohio (currently based in Salt Lake City, Utah)
Home Mountain: Alpine Valley, Ohio
Age Started Skiing: 5
Sponsors: Surface Skis, O’Neill, Dynafit, Zeal Optics, Terramar, GoPro, Alta, Goal Zero, Suunto
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