Naturalist Radio – Episode 0: The Prelude

This is a project that after years of thought and song collecting is finally about to come to fruition. It will be a bi-monthly live podcast on Spreaker.com.

We wanted to create a space for our fans to hear the music that they wouldn’t hear at the clubs or parties we play at. We have so much other music we want to showcase and this will be the place. Each Live episode will be saved for re-listening on Spreaker and SoundCloud. These episodes will be downloadable as well.

In our shows you can also expect guest mixes and interviews from locals and our friends afar.

“A collection of musical episodes with tunes selected by FlatSpin & Mister Moffat. Featuring music and mixes from their favourite artists, local friends and the brothers themselves.”

This mix is an introduction to Naturalist Radio.

Hosted by the brothers FlatSpin & Mister Moffat, this series will give the listeners an opportunity to hear different music than you would normally expect from the duo.

This mix is a sampling of what our show is going to be about. No boundaries, no limits, just good music.

Tune in every second Friday from 8-9pm MST
Episode 1 will be live and direct Friday May 12th.

Adventure with Connor

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From my living room, out of one of my north facing windows I have a perfect view of Mt. Hosmer. I often find myself looking out, remembering the good times I had on that mountain with my friend Connor. He grew up on Bryant Road so we spent many days exploring the backroads and the forests below the peak.

We were in High School and Connor had a photography project he was working on; he wanted to shoot a time-lapse of clouds moving through the valley so we jumped into his beat up Nissan Pathfinder and headed for higher ground. We had gone over 20km on a well used backroad then decided to get off the beaten track and try a less used road.

We had been driving uphill since we left his house so hadn’t noticed the brakes on his truck were not working until we were forced to turn around once the road ended in a wall of trees. We almost went off the road right then and there but decided we could make it back to his house if we put the truck in 4-low and went slow.

After a few agonizingly slow kilometres Connor put the truck back into 4-high. Shortly after we arrived at the main backroad. Still in 4-high we came around a corner and began coasting towards a hill. The hill was about 250 metres long and ended in a 160 degree banked corner. There was a 30 foot high bank on our left and a wall of trees to our right. As we rolled into the hill Connor reached for the shifter and tried to pull it into 4-low. I will never forget the sound of the gears grinding, then the bang as the transmission popped accidentally into neutral.

Connor told me to hold on and swerved the truck left into the ditch, trying to flip us before we gained any more speed but we rallied through the ditch and were now riding the bank. We hit a huge rock with the passenger side wheel which forced us up the bank then back onto the road. Right before we hit the corner Connor swerved back into the ditch and we rode the corner like a berm. Halfway around we came to a stop then tipped onto the roof. Connor asked if I was alright as we dangled from our seat belts. We were both fine.

It was getting dark and neither of us had a phone so we left the wreckage and started walking. We walked for hours and knew our parents would be wondering about us. They were all waiting at Connor’s house, trying to decide if they should call Search & Rescue when we showed up filthy and exhausted. Finally with no need to go further, we slumped onto the lawn, and began explaining our adventure gone wrong. At least, we had the timelapse shot.

http://www.thefreepress.ca

Powder Frenzy

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It was the night of a big winter storm. A storm that had potential to be the biggest one of the season and I had plans to meet at the Timber for first chair the next day. I woke to the City clearing the streets before my alarm confirmed it was time to get up. I could hear the bombs as I put on my ski clothes and made coffee. There was a lot of snow in town so I hustled to get ready, rushing through my daily checklist: Skis, boots, poles, transceiver, shovel, probe, helmet, goggles, sandwich, water. Check. It was 7:45 and I was ready.

I dug out my car and headed towards the sound of the explosions. My friend called me as I was putting on my boots in the empty parking lot; he had just arrived at the Timber and was first in line. I put on my helmet and goggles then grabbed my skis with bare hands. Oh no! I don’t have my gloves! Panic mode ensued. I riffled through my car, but with no luck. I looked around to see if anyone had pulled into the parking lot, hoping I could bump a pair, but it wasn’t going to be that easy. I thought about going to the lost and found but I didn’t want to risk getting there and being turned around so I jumped back in my car, cursing myself as I did.

Driving back towards town was painful. I was going in the opposite direction of the endless line-up of cars. I pulled up to my apartment, ran up the stairs in my ski boots, grabbed the first pair of gloves I could find then set out back to the highway, cursing myself once again.

I had let all of my frustrations go by the time I got to the ski hill turn off. I was laughing at my mistake when I felt my car cough and sputter. I was forced to pull over to the side of the road. I looked down and for the first time I became aware of the red fuel light in the corner of my dash. Needless to say I didn’t make it for first chair, I didn’t even make it until after 10 o’clock.

This is what can happens when there is fresh snow to be skied. Your brain lets go of everything else, friendships momentarily disappear, you become flustered and forgetful. Your only focus is skiing.

http://www.thefreepress.ca/

Main Street

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Downtown Fernie

Having grown up in Fernie, I have a special connection with the town and the people. Through my writing I feel even more connected. Starting now, you will be able to follow me on new adventures every week and read old stories of mine that are of significance in my life.

As I sit, writing in my apartment on 2nd Ave it is hard not to be distracted by the hustle and bustle on the street below. From my window I see so many familiar faces, a large percentage of them with their dogs. When I venture out onto the sidewalk I plan for at least ten minutes of small talk between my apartment and the grocery store, which is just one block away. It is hard not to bump into someone I know. I love that about this place and I have a hard time picturing myself anywhere else. Like the thought of spending a season at a resort where I don’t know the Ski Patrol, it just doesn’t make sense.

I feel I am currently and will be for some time one of those few classic characters you see daily on Main Street. Pete Reizevoort, my old english teacher Al Phillips and the photographer Brian Pollock are just a few of the faces I see everyday, hanging out on the benches, going from coffee shop to coffee shop. Main street living is good living.

It’s important though, to get out of the valley from time to time. It helps me appreciate what we have here – an eight minute drive to the ski hill surrounded by incredible peaks, the Elk River flows right through town, we have an abundance of trails and I cannot forget to mention the delicious drinking water. I am also grateful for the feeling of excitement whenever I come home. Yes, you might not make a lot of money, you and your friends may chase the same women, mail takes forever to get here and most of the time you can’t find a ripe avocado at the grocery store, but those are the sacrifices we make to live in a mountain town. For myself, and most, it is all about the lifestyle. Life is not about money or ripe vegetables; both of those will work themselves out. Life is about enjoying what you are doing, everyday.

This is my intro piece to a weekly article I will be writing for the Free Press in Fernie, BC.
http://www.thefreepress.ca

Technicalities of Disaster

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Philip McLachlan Photo

My recent experience has left me with new outlooks and appreciations. It has also left me with haunting thoughts and realizations. I want to go over a few of the mistakes I made that day to help myself and others in the future. I also want to express what I am now most grateful for, only a few days after the incident.

As an avid backcountry user, there are signs that I am aware of and heed too. The day of the avalanche I noted five red flags. Five! After three red flags we should have firmly decided to ski simpler terrain. After the fourth red flag we should have gone back in bounds.

There had been recent snow and wind throughout the entire week and earlier that day I noticed recent avalanche activity. It was a small pile of debris on a different aspect than what we wanted to ski so it caught my attention but I ruled it out as a non-deciding factor. Those signs were at the back of my mind, I did not spend too much time thinking about them. Red flag #4 was a whumphing cornice on our ridge walk over to the peak. We should have turned around right there. The last, and to me the most important red flag was the voice inside my head telling me to ski the lower, safer slope but I ignored that voice. This voice is so important, but it can be very hard to know the difference between psyching yourself out or hearing your true voice of reason. To differentiate the two comes down to instinct. You may hear many voices of concern before you ski a line but if you pay attention and trust your instinct you will know when to listen and act on it.

Being in tune with myself and with nature has helped me be successful in the backcountry for over ten years. I’ve been pushing boundaries as long as I can remember, with almost no close calls. Until this winter. I made a few decisions that brought me closer to an avalanche than ever before. I thought about this before I dropped into T3 which ended up cracking 40-50cm deep, 150m wide and ran for over 1km.

I had been building up confidence all season, I was comfortable with the dangers. Those close calls were not enough to scare me away. I will admit my ego got in the way that day. I allowed it to overpower my voice of reason, a mistake I am ashamed of but can learn and grow from.

Many things will come to light over the next few weeks. Now it is fresh and my mind is still processing. Since Sunday I have come to appreciate a few things, things I love already. But love itself now has a new meaning.

I am grateful for friendships and family. The amount of love and support I have received over the past few days has made me realize how many people I have affected, and how many lives I can still change.

I am grateful for the peaks around Fernie. They recently showed themselves. The clouds retreated and the peaks had sunlight and fresh snow on them. I wanted to ski them, which felt good, reassuring me that I will return to the mountains.   

I am grateful to have people to think about. Instead of closing my eyes and being surrounded by snow I feel surrounded by love and by light.

I am grateful for this winter. It was one of the best winters I’ve ever had, and this experience does not change that.

I am grateful for being able to dance and play music for my friends. I can’t imagine not being able to do this.

I am grateful for avoiding the slope that ripped to ground and everything that happened for me to be left above the snow.

I am grateful for the strength to fight for my life and the guardian angels that I know were there.

I am grateful that my partner was able to make it down safely and for us to be able to ski away that day.

Two days ago a friend that I have never skied with before said that he could not wait for next year. He wanted me to show him around the backcountry. I was astonished. I was worried people were going to be afraid to ski with me. This has been my greatest fear. Are people going to trust me the same? He made me realize though that If anything, this experience has humbled me. I will be more cautious and pay more attention. I now have a sense and understanding that not many people have. With that, I am more apt to protect myself or anyone in my group from a circumstance like this.

I have been given a gift and perspective that will allow me to live my dream with wisdom. Possibly, there are no mistakes, only judgment calls that have consequences. But if I take responsibility I will grow through this and be stronger. At this time it is hard for me to imagine skiing a loaded spine, but I know I will be back. More experienced and calculated than ever.

Love & Life

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For the past few days I have been looking through new eyes. The air smells fresher and tea tastes better. When I close my eyes though I relive horror that most big mountain skiers can only imagine.

I see the slope release. I see moments of violence and power around me. I see moments of struggle and then acceptance. I can see the mistakes I made and I can remember the people I thought about.

It was the day of the full moon March 12, 2017. Pete and I just got off the beaten track that was a staircase of a boot pack leading out of bounds from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. From the top of T2 we could see our objective but ahead of us was a complex ridge walk to the next peak. The snow on the ridge was deep and there were cornice’s on either side. Once we finally summited T3 we had a good look down the face. From the top looking left there were some small chutes and pillows that extended into a bowl that ran down into the slide path. Looking fall line was the main chute about 300 metres long. It had a spine feature on the right that ended as the chute became tighter about half way down.

I really want to ski the spine! You should probably ski the safer line…

We dug a pit which didn’t produce any serious results. We had discussed skiing the lower shoulder to our right but the pit gave us confidence. We decided if anything was going to go it would be a small storm slab. We chose to ski from the top, down the main spine. I ski cut, penetrating fifteen centimetres onto a soft base. I looked back at Pete and smiled. It felt solid. I told him I would meet him at the bottom of the chute, opposite the beginning of the slide path. From there we would regroup and have a 1500 metre run down to the end of the runout.

This is going to be sick.

I dropped into the middle of the chute, skiing towards the spine on my right. I got on top of the spine and I realized it was more of a hanging snowfield and there was a lot more snow then in the chute.

I am in a bad…

Before I could even finish my thought process the entire slope ripped out. Deep. There was so much snow moving. I could see it going over the edge below me. I was already overcome but I knew the chute flushed out the bottom so I fought as hard as I could to get off the spine. I was forced to throw my weight forward and go headfirst into the chute to avoid what turned out to be a 150 metre slope that ripped to ground during the slide. I was fully submerged as I went through the chute. Light followed the darkness as I flushed out the bottom and I felt myself being pushed down under the snow by an unimaginable force. The darkness surrounded me again.

This is happening.

I accepted the fact that I was going to be buried. I braced for it as the motion seemed to end. The snow was crushing me. Life slowed down. Then all of a sudden I was moving again. Fast. Tossing and rolling, I could see light. I choked and coughed, gasping for air. I felt like I went over a cliff then it slowed down again. I had lost all my gear at this point and I was able to move snow from my face and stick my hand up hoping it would not be covered. Again, the violence continued. I felt the power of the mountain and the energy within the snow.

Between the thoughts of fear and doubt I thought about love and I thought about life.

You are not dying today.

I fought. Flailing my arms, trying to swim. It would not end. After a while, I could fight no more. I was exhausted. I couldn’t move my arms. I felt forced to give up. I was still moving with snow all around me. Slower now. I finally felt calm as I entered a very euphoric state. Then nothing.

I came too sitting upright at the bottom of the slide path. Uncovered. I could not believe how long that had lasted, how far I had traveled. Shortly there after Pete found me. We embraced each other in complete awe. It was so quiet, so peaceful. We sat there for a moment together, observing the clouds moving through the trees. It was beauty like I had never seen before.

The Spirit Of Freeskiing

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Freeskiing is a word used to describe the form of skiing where the rider uses natural features and the raw landscape to enhance and diversify their run. I was introduced to the word back in 2006 when my home mountain Fernie Alpine Resort hosted its first junior freeski event. An event that changed and shaped my life into what it is now. Back then the word to me was focused on the competitive side of the sport. Now, ten years later and having attended close to fifty freeride events the word means a lot more then being a competitive big mountain skier. After all these years where competitions have dominated my winters, I came to appreciate the true meaning of freeskiing this past week in Revelstoke, who was hosting the first big mountain competition of the season.

It was the night before the first day of the competition and as I entered Guest Services at Revelstoke Mountain Resort I could feel the energy in the room. With over one hundred athletes gathered to sign in for the event, the vibe was hard to ignore; I sensed that everyone was eager, excited and nervous for the days to come. I walked to the registration table and gave them my name.

“I’m Caleb Brown, here to sign in.”

“Brown?” Asked the event staff member as he ran his finger down the long list of names then back to the top where the B’s were. “You’re not on the list man.” Strange I thought, but I wasn’t worried,  “I’m sure it’s a computer glitch. You’ll sort it out.”

“Yeah, you’re going to have to talk to Ben.” I waited as the event director Ben tried to figure out what was wrong, I was confident that I was in the system but as time went on something did not feel right.

“What’s wrong?” Asked a girl at my side. Jess is a Kiwi living in Fernie for the season and we had only met the day before. She is competing in Canada this year and was looking to jump into a car with another competitor. In these high stress situations of travelling and competing even close friends can get tired of each other. It was a bit of a gamble letting someone I had never met into my space for the week but I do find it important to travel with other competitors so you can share the weight on the competition. You can also express your line choices and bounce ideas off of each other. When Jess pushed me over in the parking lot as I was doing up my boots I knew we were going to get along.

“I am not on their list, but I received a confirmation email. Head up to the meeting, I will see you there.” Jess was registered and given a pass so she could load the gondola that would bring her to the Revelation Lodge where there was a welcome dinner and a mandatory athlete meeting. As I waited, I decided to look for the email that I glanced over after I registered for the event over a month ago. When I found it I couldn’t believe the mistake I made. It was a confirmation that the IFSA had accepted my request to be in the event…and that I was on the wait list until further notice. I was reading this when Ben pulled up the wait list and broke the news to me. I was 19th on the list and there were four others in front of me. Chances are I would not be competing. I was “gutted” as my Kiwi companion would say, but I hadn’t given up hope yet.

Jeff Holden is the head judge of this event and has been judging me since that first competition in 2006. All these years he has been a friend and mentor to me. If anyone could pull some strings for me it would be Jeff.

Without being registered I didn’t have ticket to ride the gondola but it was dark at this point and I had an idea. I snuck around the line and slid into an open gondola just as the door was closing, surprising the others on board. As we sat in the darkness of the night ride gondola I tried imagine what I would have to tell everyone back home, and what would my sponsors think? I couldn’t believe I had come all this way and I may not even be competing! When I only have enough money to do a few events and trips like this my thought process at this point was, “No comp? Waist of a trip.”

I listened to the other athletes speak amongst each other. They were talking about the venues and cold temperatures. My inner voice was busy yelling at myself so I sat in what appeared to be silence. When we reached the mid station I bolted out the door and headed down to the glowing lights that illuminated from the Revelation Lodge. I welcomed the warmth of the building and the smell of the food. Revelstoke is the only event I’ve been to where they have dinner for the athletes, and being a travelling ski bum, a free meal almost beats a couch to sleep on. I walked past the buffet, looked around the room and finally spotted Jeff. I ran over and explained the mess I had created. He said he would see what he could do. It was not his call to make so I hung around, and yes, I ate some food even though it was technically for the athletes, which I was not, but I’m still a ski bum after all.

During the classic Jeff Holden athlete meeting with Jeff beatboxing and rallying the crowd Ben announced that the start list would be ready shortly. At this point I knew I would not be competing. I sat there thinking about the three bald eagles we saw the day before wondering why I was supposed to be there. I knew there was a reason, but this one was just not apparent to me yet. The eagles were a sure sign of good things to come so I stayed positive and patient. After the meeting they confirmed that there were too many athletes to let me in so I suggested I could be the fore-runner and they accepted my offer. The fore-runner is the first one to ski the venue allowing the judges to put their pens to paper before the first competitor. Jeff reminded me the main job of the fore-runner and we stood around and laughed at the ridiculous mistake I had made. It felt good to laugh even though I was choked. I awoke that night wondering if the grief I felt was the feelings of a bad dream, but no the feelings were real. I needed to find a way to make the most of this trip.

The next day Jess and I woke to an incredible sunrise, the pink and orange sky was glowing above the Gold Range of the Monashees and I stood and observed the famous Mt. Begbie from our balcony at the Sutton Place Hotel. It was a new day, already beautiful, and I was eager to see what else it would bring…

Read the full article here:

http://powdercanada.com/2017/01/the-spirit-of-freeskiing/

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