Rolling Around

Cruising the streets of Burlington, Vermont with the local skateboarding youth as they search for spots, skate some of them, pass up on others, give each other a hard time for not landing tricks and so on…you know the deal, what are friends for anyway! Good times with Quade, LJ, Elton, the Glenney bros, my photographer brothers Ian and Peter. I’m happy to share these quality days being creative, energetic and positive with the kids, more to come, Blotto

All images ©deanblottogray/blottophotto2017

Stowe and Go

Stowe Mountain sits in close proximity to the bustling community of Burlington (Vermont) and is widely regarded as a fine establishment for accessing mountainous terrain year round. The lift system operates November through April, serving many acres of trails, tree runs and backcountry access, open to any and all who wish to participate.

Before the lifts began turning this season I happened to be in the Green Mountain State while the winter’s first snow was hammering the mountains, so the motivated crew at Burton Snowboards invited me on their annual preseason hike, which turned out to be an epic adventure filled with powder snow! Fast forward five months upon a return to Vermont, I just missed hopping on the chairlifts by a week so I saw it fitting to close out my East Coast season by getting in another hike up Stowe, this time around I would be guided by mega locals Tomas Ruprecht and Nathanael Asaro. We gathered our supplies and headed up on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a shovel, stoke and snowboards in hand, hoping to make the best of what Mother Nature would offer us.

Greeted by grey skies and variable snow conditions we headed up the hill on foot, eyes peeled in all directions looking for anything we could get our bases on and use our well-worn edges for control. Sure enough ten minutes in there was an off camber side hill run within the trees sitting just past the snow making pipes, so we dropped the packs and moved over to the drop-in spot. It was good times schralping the dirty sun-cupped left overs, some taking the route under the low hanging branches while others tapped centuries old rock croppings.

While hiking back out of this semi-extreme zone Nathanael happened upon a discarded telemark ski, so we carted it out, found an appropriate spot mid-slope and positioned it as a pole-jam. After a bunch of maneuvers at our temporary terrain park, we packed it up and continued upwards, keeping our eyelids wide open for the next mini-shred locale sure to please the snowboarding soul.

A few minutes later we passed three spots worthy of the shovel, so we took cover under the forest canopy to enjoy some nutrients, let the rain pass and discuss our build options. Settling on a rock formation, we dropped the Burton backpacks, whipped out the Skullcandy speaker, assembled the shovels and fortified the spot with take-off and landing. Air Option One enabled the rider to go long over the entire situation, while Air Option Two required the rider to assume an in-air nosedive position to use the downward sloping rock as a landing. Both options worked out multiple times for our band of snow brothers, resulting in a parade of hoots and hollers echoing from the drop-in zone to the run-out area.

This was a solid day start to finish while wrapping up my East Coast season that numbered two days total, both on foot to access these special slopes. BIG UP to the Vermont crews, y’all are amazing and big praise for keeping the snowboarding spirit alive and well in this region! Blotto

Equipment used for the making of this adventure and blog post: Burton Taft 24L backpack, Burton Imperial boots, Anon M3 goggles, Fimbulvetr Rangr snowshoes, Skullcandy Barricade speaker, Evol food supplies. The photo treatment applied to these images is indicative of the atmosphere, mood, temperature and vibe on this day in particular.

All Images by Dean Blotto Gray / ©blottophotto2017

Burton Girls Splitboarding Mission

Head over to Burton Girls (click HERE) to see my splitboarding adventure with Possum Torr last week in Mammoth Lakes, California. This region has seen over six hundred inches of snowfall over the course of the 2017 winter, so we set out to take advantage of beautiful spring conditions over at the Tele Bowls on the Sherwin Range.

The mission was certainly enhanced with the inclusion of Possum’s lively husky dog named Ryder, along with a couple of friends and their husky pups. It was a darn good time witnessing the canines ascend and descend the mountain with ease, they have endless energy and that was passed right along to us.

Have a read, enjoy the images and check out the product we were using for the day trip. Thanks for following! Blotto

All images by Blotto ©deanblottogray/blottophotto2017

Vids Drawings Stories

I’ve taken quite a liking to the new Instagram story function where after video and photo capture you can add your own personal touch with a deluxe pallet of brush tools, colors and effects, then deliver immediately to your followers. In accordance with my photo capturing responsibilities at the 2017 US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail, I was filling in the blanks via ‘stories’ with some BTS moments, posting to my Instagram, followed by a collection of clips over at Flipagram (click HERE to see the round-up).

Great times hustling still images with the insane amount of action happening and the giant shot list myself and the talented squad of photographers, filmers and managers at Burton were handling each and every day. Can’t thank the Events Crew, PR, Content, the Riders, Fans, the Spectators and everyone else for putting on and supporting another EPIC US Open event, it was fantastic! If you haven’t attended, you should think about making plans for the 2018 version, it won’t disappoint. Click HERE to see the collection of imagery, video and results from last week’s show. Blotto

All images, video and art work ©deanblottogray/blottophotto2017

One Jump Bunch of Pics

While filming for Burton’s ’13’ movie we visited the wonderful folks at Heavenly Resort to spend a few days in the High Roller Terrain Park. The feature we settled on for the majority of the filming was a beautifully assembled Step-Down Tabletop with adequate pop, trajectory and landing angles, all situated with Lake Tahoe in the background. With all of these factors in place it was a win-win scenario as the Burton squad crushed the opportunity with a bevy of freestyle maneuvers, providing excellent film clips and still photos. GOOD TIMES! Blotto

All images by Blotto ©deanblottogray/blottophotto

Best of US Open Vail

A few of my favs from the past couple of years at the US Open of Snowboarding Championships in Vail, Colorado. Slopestyle, halfpipe, amazing snowboarders showing good style and technique. GO! Blotto

All images by Blotto ©deanblottogray/blottophotto

Snowbowl Wednesday

Carlos Daniel and I got back out on the splitboards for another tour on the San Francisco Peaks, selecting a route on the opposite side of the mountain from our prior day’s mission. Our goal was to find some soft snow and rip a few pow turns to satisfy the soul while working around potential avalanche hazards due to the recent snowfall and a couple of wind events thereafter.

After submitting our route and plan to friends not on the mission we headed up the Arizona Snowbowl chairlift system, disembarking at 10,200 feet (3108 meters), switching over into touring mode and beginning the 1,500 (457 meters) vertical foot ascent to our destination. Around the 11,000 foot (3352 meters) mark we encountered some B24 airplane wreckage, landing gear sticking straight out of the snow, something you don’t see everyday! We thanked those who served then continued up through the trees before breaking out onto a ridge, greeted by significant wind speed. We knew going into the mission winds would be picking up throughout the day so we skinned up as far as it was comfortable and safe and started a snow assessment at the 11,700 foot mark (3566 meters).

‘Digging a Pit‘ is the common term in seeing what the snow layers are up to on any given slope you plan to descend, ours being a 32-degree pitch, rider’s left of a known slide path. Aside from assessing the snow and the layers through a series of tests, common sense plays a big part in not being greedy, like dropping in on a convex roll next to a known slide path just because “the snow looks so good!” This is never the approach any of us take while in the backcountry, it’s not worth it, please remember that.

After completing our test, we knew avy danger was low on our selected route, so we felt good in descending for some quality turns, which we did successfully and safely. The remainder of the run concluded with variable conditions through the trees back into the resort and a solid high-five for another successful tour in the Arizona backcountry.

The next move was switching out the backcountry gear for the twintip board and ripping chairlift laps for the remainder of the day through the various terrain parks and natural features around the mountain. Overall another fine day on the The San Francisco Peaks for outdoor enthusiasts like you and I, it’s hard to beat a split tour in the morning and groomers in the afternoon! Blotto

Please visit Kachinapeaks.org for up to date snowpack conditions, weather forecast, education and training opportunities. Don’t go into the backcountry unprepared, get your friends together and take your avalanche courses, aight!

All images by Blotto ©deanblottogray/blottophotto2017

Snowbowl Tuesday

Great day on the Arizona Snowbowl slopes with Yosh, Ryan, Carlos, Alfie and the other rad locals I met along the way. After some fresh groomer laps on the Grand Canyon Express chair we headed up Agassiz Chairlift as the Upper Bowl hike had just opened (patrol was running through avalanche safety procedures prior), so we scored some left-over powder that was sitting there asking to be slashed.

After enjoying the beautiful views of the incoming weather at 11,800 feet (3596 meters) we handled a few runs over on the Humphrey’s Chair, taking advantage of the newly constructed Daydreamer Progression Park, the third and newest terrain park our main man Yosh and his park staff are creating and maintaining.

Not to let the day slip away without additional powder riding, Carlos Daniel invited me up for a splitboard mission in the area of Agassiz peak, so we grabbed the safety equipment, the Burton Family Tree splitboards, let our friends know where we were headed and caught last chair up. Much to our chagrin, the weather had moved in something fierce, making visibility not that rad. Not to be discouraged we charged up to our predetermined location anyway in hopes for a break in the cold dark wind, reassembled the outfits into snowboard mode and waited it out. After an hour kicking it in a protected area, we decided to shred the gnar in the conditions Mother Nature was offering us and we fully enjoyed the ten turns of soft snow, making the mission one-hundred percent worth it.

Overall an epic day of riding the San Francisco Peaks that included everything from corduroy to park features to pow slashing…all things Snowbowl. If you’re in Arizona, get up to the Bowl, you deserve it. Blotto

All images by Blotto ©deanblottogray/blottophotto