Getting Creative in the Backcountry

Dylan Siggers, 23, is redefining the way skiers interact with backcountry terrain

Video above is an excerpt from Dylan Siggers’ segment in the Burrrlapz The Movie.

When Dylan Siggers was a kid skiing at Fernie in British Columbia, he often sat atop the tower that housed the avalauncher to watch his dad and the ski patrol shoot explosive charges to trigger avalanches and safely open the ski area. Such early exposure to the destructive power of avalanches gave the young skier a respect for the mountains, and catalyzed a passion for skiing in the backcountry.

But rather than strive for bigger, higher, gnarlier, Siggers' smooth, jibby, and buttery skiing is reminiscent of the path forged by Eric Pollard and Nimbus Independent. Today, the 23-year-old has set out to redefine the way skiers interact with backcountry terrain. His skiing is a tribute to simplicity and style.

Fernie has no terrain park, so while his father climbed the ranks from ski patroller to mountain manager, Siggers and his friends would take to the mountain to find natural terrain to jump off and jib on. His best friend from third grade, Josh Mcskimming, and his younger brother, Brody, quickly become favorite accomplices, and the crew began to film each other starting when they were 11 years old.

Dylan Siggers is up next in the wave of creativity in the backcountry. PHOTO: Nick Nault
Dylan Siggers is up next in the wave of creativity in the backcountry. PHOTO: Nick Nault

Gradually, Siggers' home videos evolved into produced videos, released under the guise of their production company, The Burrrlapz. They produced two finalist entries in Level 1 Productions SuperUnknown video contest, one for Siggers in 2015 and one Brody in 2016. In the fall of 2016 The Burrrlapz released their first full-length ski movie, with guest appearances from friends like Whistler skier Essex Prescott and Lucas Stal Madison of The Bunch.

As powder skiing reaches insane levels of technicality and magnitude, skiers like Siggers, The Burrrlapz, and LSM inspire a new generation to be more creative in the backcountry. Siggers' skiing is fun to watch because it's simple; his tricks and lines look so clean you might think you can do it yourself. It's this relatable nature that has attracted a new generation of skiers to the wonders of powder skiing, much in same way that Pollard, Pep Fujas, Chris Benchetler, and Andy Mahre did with Nimbus in the early 2000s.

SKLAR: You've said before that your dad is a ski bum, turned ski patroller, turned mountain manager. Can you tell me his story? How did he influence you as a skier?
SIGGERS: When I was a kid my dad was a ski patroller, and when I was young he became the head patroller. We had avalanche dogs as a kid, and all of those kinds of things. Being his kid, I got to go up and hang out while they were doing avalanche control work. As I got older I'd get to go out and watch them ski cut runs sometimes, which was pretty gnarly actually. So, as a really little kid I got introduced to avalanche safety and knowledge of how gnarly and dangerous they are.

Now he's the mountain manager. It's pretty sweet for getting on the resort early, or really anything at the resort, it's a text or call away. Things like "Yo, it's snowing, can we get on the hill at 7 a.m. with patrol?"

Given that background I assume you've been on skis just about your whole life. Tell me about that.
Before I could even walk, I was put in a backpack and taken skiing. As soon as I could stand I had skis on my feet, just walking around the yard.

Who are some skiers you've looked up to over the years?
When I was 14 or 15 I was a big fan of Nimbus. I still am, you can kind of tell [by my skiing].

Everything Eric Pollard did I really liked. Tanner Hall I liked a lot, too. I would go on Newschoolers.com, watch all the Tom Wallisch videos, and play Jibbin [the online park skiing game], stuff like that. We were all into big mountain skiing, but watched a lot of park skiing. I remember seeing Sean Petitt in movies, when he was a young kid skiing in the MSP movies, and thinking it was the sickest thing that ever happened.

Siggers cites Eric Pollard, LSM, and Sean Pettit among his influences. PHOTO: Nick Nault
Siggers cites Eric Pollard, LSM, and Sean Pettit among his influences. PHOTO: Nick Nault

What is the Burrrlapz?
The Burrrlapz name came from silly videos Brody [Mcskimming] set to pop songs with their handicam. The first video was "Bear Laps," just laps on the Bear chair, then it became the burrrrrlaps, just a stupid spelling of Bear Laps. Then eventually, Brody made Burrrlapz hoodies, and now we're making a movie.

So you have these park influences, but are sick backcountry skiers and also look to groups like Nimbus. You've also mentioned inspiration from snowboard films, like Wasted Youth. How did that aesthetic and outlook evolve?
We got into skiing backcountry because Fernie doesn't have a park. We grew up at a really good ski resort and a really rad ski town that just happens to not have a park. We just learned to ski the mountain because that's what we had. Sometimes it's a bummer, it would be nice to be able to do a Cork 7 with a grab [laughs], but you kinda figure that out along the way.

Speaking of people that are doing things differently, you spent some time with LSM this winter in BC, tell me about that.
We love Lucas; he's the best. We've always been a huge fan of The Bunch. We don't even ski street or urban at all, but [The Bunch] is like our favorite stuff to watch. Skiing with Lucas is the most fun, especially in the backcountry. We're into the same kind of things he is: the weird presses, wheelies, shove-its, and stuff like that.

I would rather ski more creatively and do more weird things like spinning out of landings than ski like more traditional backcountry skiers. Some of it turns out not cool at all, and some of it turns out really sick. If you don't take the chance to make something cool, than you'll never know.

What kind of features or terrain do you like to ski?
I like things that are big, smooth, and different looking. I like pretty things. The classic pillow line with your knees all tucked up—I'm not a huge fan. Backcountry skiing is on this crazy level…I like the way that guys like Lucas ski. It's almost like it's more attainable. Skiing with him is sick because I can actually feed off of him, I can do something that's kind of [buttery] and weird, something other people might not get, and he's stoked on it.