by Tim Jones
When I was first contacted by my friend and skier Rob Aseltine about his idea, I thought it was a bit crazy. The idea was to take a small Cessna airplane to different ski destinations as a way to chase storms. His original idea was to do this for an entire season and make a longer-form film from the project. The idea was great, but I knew it would come with a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge ended up being logistics surrounding the plane itself. It was harder than originally imagined to “chase storms” due to the plane’s limitations in such conditions. So, after some thought and careful planning, Rob decided on a ten day trip to Nelson, B.C. and Schweitzer, Idaho. The team would be Rob, Giray Dadali, myself, and Dan and Blake (the pilots).
On February 1st, 2015 we headed up to the Ogden airport and Giray and I got to lay our eyes on the plane for the first time. It was much smaller, and older, than we imagined. Our first challenge was how we were going to pack four full sized men and a ton of ski and camera gear into the plane while still being under the weight limit. With an hour or so of dominoes-inspired packing, we got everything in. We knew right away it wasn’t going to be a comfortable ride — we’d all have to store things on our lap and by our feet.
Eventually we got off the ground and made our way north. The plane was packed to the brim and to make the ride even better, the heater wasn’t working. We were all completely frozen. Despite these things, the views were amazing and we were all beyond excited to be heading out on a ski trip with close friends.
Nelson, B.C. ended up exceeding all of my expectations. A simple, blue collar town in an amazing mountain valley with views in all directions. We were stoked to make our way up to Whitewater Ski Resort and get on the snow. None of us had ever skied there before, so we linked up with local photographer Steve Roberts to show us around. Steve has been a resident of Nelson for a few years and knows the mountain like the back of his hand. What we discovered right away is that Whitewater’s side-country was endless and easy to access. For the next few days we chased light around the mountain and tried to find the best snow we could. We all had a great time and I hope to go back soon.
The next leg of the trip brought us back to the U.S., over the border to Schweitzer, Idaho. Here we linked up with local photographer Doug Marshall to be our guide. Doug has been a long-time resident of Sandpoint, Idaho and knew the mountain well. The snow wasn’t amazing while we were there but we were treated with mostly good weather and light. Because of the mediocre snow, we chose to spend a bit more time playing around within the resort boundary. Giray and Rob sought out jumps, cliffs, and fun lines to ski together through the resort. On our last day, we built a sizeable jump in the sidecountry. Throughout the afternoon, Doug and I hunkered down with our cameras while Rob and Giray lapped the hit. After a bad crash by Rob that shook up the group, we decided to call the day early. It was Super Bowl Sunday, so we headed back to our condo and watched the Broncos win the game.
The next day we headed to the Sandpoint airport and once again jammed everything into the plane. We had Blake (our pilot for this leg of the trip) make a few passes over the resort before we headed South. It was a pretty cool vantage point to be so low in a plane — we could actually see all of the areas where we had been skiing in the resort’s sidecountry. Overall, this was a really fun project to work on. Special thanks to Seth Gillis for coming on to the project as lead editor.
Stay tuned for more ski content this coming season!