Editor's Note: This story appeared in the October (42.2) issue of POWDER.
When you hear the name Chuck Mumford, you might think of 1970s porn or the bassist in an overplayed but sort of catchy folk-pop band. But despite the curly mane and gold chain that points toward the former, Chuck Mumford is a skier, and a damn fine one at that.
The 28-year-old Vermont native traded ice patches for powder slashes a decade ago, living out of his van to ski Snowbird and enter freeskiing competitions. Mumford became an entrepreneur when he created Pit Vipers—quiver-killing sunglasses for touring, shredding, and après partying. The shades echo the Oakley Razor Blade glory days, are best complemented with double-daffy spreads, and have struck a chord with skiers tapping into a better time. Mumford is the face of the brand, embodying the good-times ski vibe with a babe on one arm and a brew in the other.
POWDER: So you were pretty much known as the "van guy" from G.N.A.R. The Movie. Have things changed since you started a company?
CHUCK: Well, I still have my van. I need to fix it so I can get it back on the road. I really put her through hell for a few years. I'll be back in the van, but I'm not living there full time. I actually live in my Pit Viper HQ now—the small warehouse where I do all my glasses and stuff. I have a little homebuilt shower and homebuilt kitchen, so I actually live indoors now.
Nice, what's that like?
I'm not ever here—same as living in a van—just moving place to place. It works out pretty well because it's affordable and I can run my business out of it, so I can spend all my money on skiing instead.
How did you get started with performance eyewear, anyway?
The performance eyewear part wasn't really my goal. I didn't go in saying, "I want to make glasses." It kind of just organically built on itself. The first pair of Pit Vipers came to me when the spirits aligned at a random Army shop. I enjoyed them so much, but then I lost them. They were my favorite thing, so I decided I didn't want my other sunglasses anymore, I just wanted Pit Vipers. They weren't called Pit Vipers then, but I came up with the name and they started taking off, and I just kept running with it.
So where did you find more and how did you make them?
I can't give you my whole recipe. The paint I did myself. I realized a little pizzazz would help sell to the general public, the "civilians," if you will. I decided chicks needed them, so I made them hot pink. From there, I realized there were infinite ways to make these look cool.
I hear you have a notorious briefcase.
I found this briefcase that was bright blue and could fit a ton of sunglasses. I didn't realize what I had started. I get so many compliments on it, I should start selling briefcases. People just want to know what's in it, so I open it up and there's sunglasses inside and they're like, "No way!"
So do you ski in Pit Vipers?
I only ski in them about 99 percent of the time.
You have Pit Viper Instagrams with rappers and the Pit Viper Babes (#pitviperbabes), but who would you love to see in Pit Vipers?
I think we haven't gotten into certain areas. We haven't gotten any big-time politicians, for example, or rock stars and Playboy bunnies. We have to reach out and grab them.
So Barbra Streisand hasn't called yet?
Oh man, that would be awesome.