CALLING ADVENTURE SPORT TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES who would like to be showcased in front of the tech leader adventure audience at The 'Summit', and be in our GoPro film we are making.
The Mobile and IOT Leaders Heli Ski Summit is snowballing!!
It’s hard to put into words the sights, sounds, thoughts, thrills, and feelings, that have overcome me on my recent ski touring adventure to Antarctica- the world’s last uninhabited true wilderness, but here it goes.
When I was 19, I embarked on my first ski trip to a continent outside of my home country of Australia. I ventured north to ski at Whistler in British Columbia, Canada for a few weeks during my university summer holidays. The trip was a huge adventure in every way, opening my eyes to big resort skiing, sharing the mountain with other soul skiers, experiencing Canadian culture, and discovering my one true love- powder skiing.
I was out running yesterday, thinking about Race Yourself, the defunct AR Google Glass app company I briefly joined in 2013 where you run against your own avatar to improve performance. I was wondering when that sort of AR might be a reality, then this led my thoughts onto the area of VR.It seems more promising judging by the amount of recent funding raised, and the explosion of startups building the ecosystem including the biggies like Jaunt, and Occulus.
Many of my Linked In connections have heard about The Global Mobile Leaders Summit I'm hosting in Whistler BC Canada in Jan 10-13, 2016 with the Mobile Growth Fellowship (http://www.totalheliski.com/global-mobile-leaders-heliski-summit/) because I've emailed many of you. It's been such an exciting few weeks watching initial momentum build as incredible people have registered for the invite, commented on social media, shared proactively on their walls, and pinged me back with virtual fist pumps from their words.
In my last blog, I wrote about the various legends I’ve met around Squaw Valley. I wrote about all sorts of interesting, and rad skiers and boarders I’ve met.
Well there was someone I failed to mention, because I didn’t know he existed, and as it turns out- he’s not a skier or a boarder. To think I had to travel to Alaska to meet one more Squaw ‘Legend’.
It’s every day life in Squaw Valley - ‘Hollywood for Skiers and Boarders’
Squallywood - The term first came from the cult guide book to Squaw Valley’s most exposed lines, written by pro skier Rob Gaffney in 2003. Quite possibly one of the greatest literary efforts ever produced in the ski world! It was accompanied by the raddest ski movie ever created- GNAR the movie, and incorporated Shane McConkey’s epic game of G.N.A.R. where points could be gained by undertaking daring activities on and off the slope.
All work and no play makes Jack (or Jill) a dull boy (/girl) (as the saying goes).
In the course of my day-to-day technology career as a business development professional, I meet a lot of great people all the time. It never ceases to amaze me how many of them seem to have noticed my heli ski lifestyle business from my Linked In profile. (I sometimes wonder how we survived in business before LinkedIn existed).
The next morning, as I stirred awake for another day in paradise, my first sensation was pain in every muscle in my body. My face and eyes were still puffy, just how I’d imagine a castaway from a ship wreck might be.
In my mind, whilst lying in bed, I recapped on the previous two days both in and out of the water in La Ventana. This place attracts kite boarders some of who come for months, some come from far, far away. It’s definitely a bit like a cult, a smug little in-club I thought!
As I embarked on my second day of water kite boarding with Alan and Xantos from 4elementskiteboarding, this time the wind was right in the stunning La Ventana bay. I was told by Alan (my instructor) that La Ventana was named the best kite boarding location in the world. At the top of the top 10 for consistent wind and conditions of the location (the beach orientation is perfect for downwind kiting). As I looked out to the bay, I couldn’t help but think, they might be right. It was gorgeous. Now, let Battle Day 2 begin!!
A fellow kiter in the bar in La Ventana taught me the saying ‘KBWOW’. It means ‘Kite-Board-Wind-Obstacles-Water’. And that means, these are ALL of the variables that you must continuously, consistently and eloquently manage as part of your kite boarding experience. They should have added ‘AF’- arms-feet. I.e. What I’ve become aware of in kite boarding is that, unlike skiing in which you manage activity mainly from the waist down, kiting is a four limb activity, to help you manage KBWOW. It’s really intense and I can only imagine satisfying once you can master this. No wonder so many Type-A tech executives do this sport I thought.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I know I’ve written about this before in my HaylesTrails blog.
Well, today, I had my first day of waterborne kite boarding lessons in the sleepy Mexican fishing village of La Ventana on the Baja peninsula. This town gets overtaken by kite boarders and windsurfers every winter, because of its consistent winds and perfect orientation for down-winding on a kite board. It’s a paradise from every which way you look, and pleasantly un-commercial. There are very few hotels and restaurants, just a couple of bars and no tourist shops. There’s but one kite board shop, a few more kite board schools, and everything revolves around just a few places, meaning in any given week, you’re likely to run into the same kiters again and again. If you’re from the West Coast of USA or Canada, and a keen kiter, you’re likely to bump into folks from home as I did. You learn quickly the meaning of ‘Baja Time’, which is that everything pretty much shuts down by 9 or latest 10pm each night. Such is the pull of the promise of next days’ wind, and the addiction and commitment of the worshipers to the religion of kiting! All very ‘genial’, as the French would say.
Today, Christmas Day, 2014 is the first day of my first ever kite boarding holiday. I’ve done lessons in San Francisco before, but this is my first dedicated holiday to this new sport, which has, for years now intrigued me. And to be honest, I did it with intrepidation at the potential frustration I am going to experience trying to learn a new, sport now, and at the same time concerned for the FOMO (Fear of missing out) I’d possibly experience by not heli skiing at this time of year.
Every ski town has them, I have been one, and in fact many of my readers probably have. The ski bum or I prefer to use the term ‘Soul Skier’. It’s the guys or girls who live to ski, who do everything in their power to be able to ski most days of the season, and do so (in some cases) year after year. They maybe pro, maybe not. They may have given up a real career or relocated just to pursue their passion. Either way, they are pretty much the biggest rippers and chargers on the mountain, adding to the mountain scenery in spectacular ways with their finesse, athleticism, and energy.
Whilst skiing around my recently adopted local mountain Squaw Valley, California this season with a group of local Soul Skiers, I was thinking that there’s no other sport that quite attracts the level of commitment that skiing (I speak equally about boarding) does.
The term ‘Dawn Patrol’ originally referred to surfer’s getting up extremely early - sometimes before sunrise (i.e, "dawn") to go surfing, a time when the waves are their purest, unaffected by wind, and when according to surfers, it feels most spiritual to surf. Surfing and skiing of course share many parallels (and enthusiasts). But for me, it was the the application of the concept to an early morning in the mountains that made for an extra special experience one February morning last winter. Reminiscent of a heli ski day, as close as I’m ever likely to experience in a resort.
Squaw Valley, in Northern Californian hosted the 1968 Olympics and is also famously known for being home to some of the best pro skiers on the planet- (Shane McKonkey, Kent Kreitler and other ‘soul’ skiers’ but more on that in another post).
Squaw followed suit of some other famous North American resorts and launched a Dawn Patrol programme. A select small group of skiers and boarders can ride the lifts 1 or 2 hours early, allowing them to ski the mountain in it’s most pristine state- either freshly groomed groomers, or powder laden off piste slopes first.
We’ve all been watching with wonder and amazement the performances and emotional achievements of the worlds best winter athletes at The Sochi Olympics. Whilst also hearing the back story of this being the $51 billion Olympics, where not everything was ready on time, and the tap water is also a gold, silver and bronze colour! Sochi, and the resort of Krasnaya Polyana where many of the events are staged, was a small, rustic Russian village and ski hill up until the start of the games. I saw this first hand when I went there to heliski four years ago.
In January 2010, I had the rare opportunity to visit Russia in the middle of winter. Sochi had just been awarded the Olympics, and I had been in contact with a French company who had pioneered heli skiing in that region of Russia. Sochi, I would learn was the gateway to some amazing heli skiing in the Krasna Polyana area, but also Abkhazia in Georgia, just a few hours drive away.