DARRAH REID-MCLEAN | PRO BOARDER
Darrah Reid-McLean is now a professional snowboarder. Growing up a young girl in Winnipeg, the dream of being a pro boarder would...
A mythical snowboarding mecca
By Lucio DM & Colter Heard
Between corporate takeovers and existing at the margins of the snowboard industry, it was clear that time and space were running out. As young Canadians, we all dreamed of moving to Mt. Mtn. It was the mythical mecca of snowboarding. We skipped town on our friends and family and flocked to a place that only existed in our minds. After living the dream for a few years, the dream fades and reality starts to set in. This place is not all it seems, it starts to eat at your insides. Liftlines, traffic lines, coffee shop lines, lines lines lines. You’re waiting in more, riding less. You’ve been sharing a closet with your homie for two months with no sign of a couch upgrade. The dishwashing job your friend has kept him up till 2 a.m. and it’s starting to wear. Getting up for pow days is harder than ever. Not to mention the amount of alcohol he slams while getting through those shifts. Everyone in your community is wilting, time is passing and we’re realizing that there might not be a future in this after all. Not like anyone ever told us there would be.
Maybe ‘Mt. Mtn.’ was just an excuse to get out and film with our friends. As we continue to prioritize snowboarding in our lives at the expense of other relationships, aspirations, while our wallets inevitability forced us to disassociate. In the background, the rest of our relationships and responsibilities crumbled. Here is a glimpse into this process; maybe you can read between the lines and find something worthwhile, and if you do, please let us know.
As Senior Media Intern for Mt. Mtn., Martyn’s job required anything from filming second angles, to shooting photos, and taking as much harassment from the crew as they could dish out.
Staying sane as an intern on Mt. Mtn’s cross-country traverses isn’t easy. Despite the hype, the spots are few and far between. We found ourselves sustained primarily by Tim Hortons’ coffee and bagels. When Martyn said driving from BC to Ontario and back was, “pretty mellow,” and, “easier than expected,” I couldn’t help but remember when after only a few hours into our first trip he half-jokingly started yelling, “Get me out of here!” from the back of the truck. Martyn would later remind us that, “Insanity sets in quickly.” Fortunately for Martyn, once we reached Ontario he was able to stay out of the staff accommodations of Matt Bryson parent’s basement.
Anyways, with seven of us in a small basement and Martyn getting to stay at his girlfriend’s every night, there was obvious resentment from the crew as Martyn slept in luxury. But, our young intern used this nightly reset from the crew to full advantage in the streets. After a few seasons of not fully filming, Martyn’s confidence had been questioned. This year was much different. “I think it was due to being in Ontario, I probably got more comfortable,” Martyn expressed. “Because it was a place I knew. I was excited to go back to tricks I knew I could do in the past, but never had the opportunity to.” Triumphantly proclaiming, “So I wasn’t just talking shit, I just did what I thought I could do.”
Colter reluctantly acknowledges that he is for better or worse the Filmer, Editor, and CEO at Mt. Mtn. He has overseen the construction of Mt. Mtn for years, the foundation was built years ago and work doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.
On starting Mt. Mtn., Colter explains, “I didn’t have a name for it, and almost didn’t even find a name that’s why we called it Mt. Mtn.” Breaking down the double abbreviation, “kinda generic, kinda like Whistler Blackcomb. I was just tired of Whistler Blackcomb, as a resort with all the corporate stuff going on and how hard it is to live in this town. I don’t owe them anything, not that they owe me anything, but I’m not free promotion. I’m here to promote my friends.”
Regrettably, even as CEO of Mt. Mtn., Colter is poorly paid and the money comes with strings attached. Amateur Canadian snowboarding is a far cry from what we all imagined it would be and negotiating our position in the industry is difficult.
How are you surviving the filmer burnout?
I feel like I’m smart enough to know I’m fucking up in life, but too dumb to do anything about it.
‘Cause you’re still living in Whistler filming your friends?
Maybe, depends who you ask, some would say I’m fucking up, others would say I’m living the dream. When you’re a kid, a middle-class Canadian kid, you don’t worry about money as much. When you get older you realize no one makes money in snowboarding and it’s really expensive to do this shit. Every one of our friends is broke as fuck, paying too much for rent, not making it anywhere and busting their asses. I don’t know, at some point I’m gonna have to start working, I won’t be filming forever.
What’s gonna make Mt. Mtn. different?
Whether it’s exactly what I want it to be or not, I have to put it out. When you watch so much snowboarding and care so much about it, you want to make something people will be hyped on. I think that has a negative effect on me. My process is slow and I don’t have a lot of time, summer goes by too fast, man. But come winter there will be a video or two out for y’all.
Vastly overqualified and extremely underpaid, TJ spent the season working as Mt. Mtn.’s Head of Food and Beverage. When he wasn’t around, the crew turned to Tim Hortons, or whatever food we could cook up using only curry spice (the only condiment that consistently made it on trips). We can only hope that despite corporate budget cuts, we can have TJ as full-time employee next season.
How did you find yourself working as Head of Food and Beverage for Mt. Mtn.?
I have always had an interest in food, I grew up in a family where we cooked all our own meals. I was always keen to learn recipes from a young age. So when you asked me, there was no question—obviously the boys need to eat something that’s not Tim Hortons.
That’s not all you do.
Nobody said it would be easy to be a carpenter and the Head of Food and Beverage, when you’re with a large group of people that all eat different things, some have different diets, some people are vegetarians, some don’t want to eat this, some don’t want to spend lots of money, but at the end of the day—everyone needs to eat something.
Human resources has been on Tom’s ass, the guy has a habit of going MIA and has got lots of emails to respond to. Tom “worked” as Artistic Director at Mt. Mtn., I use quotations because as of today he has still failed to draw us a logo. Reluctantly, Tom explains that the chill structure of Mt. Mtn. makes it easy to take advantage of slacking off.
You filmed your first video part when you were 13 or something, right?
Maybe? I think I just started trying to film pretty much when I started snowboarding. It was the thing you did—it was really bad, but it was fun to do.
You’re not burnt out on this whole process yet?
I am burnt out. It’s not fun to film a video part. Like it’s fun, but I mean it’s changed now that I’m older. I have more fun with it. When I first started, the fun part was being finished filming, being done and getting all the thumbs up and high fives, having people be stoked on you for the effort you put in. For me, when I was younger, it was all about ego and having a sweet thing at the end and me being cool. Now that I’m older, I kinda let go of that stuff a little bit and I’m able to have more fun with it. Not take filming so seriously, which is ironic because I’m doing it more seriously than I ever have.
You said something earlier, about the way we snowboard being a dream. We are not snowboarding professionally, but we have been treating it that way, sacrificing to make it happen.
This is snowboarding as an industry doing its job. When you’re a kid you’re supposed to see videos and relate to the professionals and think that’s something you can do and in turn, buy the products.
Are we selling kids on the same narratives that got 13-year-old Tom in the streets, filming?
Yeah, for sure, it’s supposed to reproduce itself. If not the industry wouldn’t work, and it is really fun but it’s funny to see how that kinda works. You’re just another gear in the machine, the fun machine.
After graduating University, Lucio quickly fell into the Head of Marketing position at Mt. Mtn. He was living in his Suburban, driving around with all his worldly possessions, including his diploma. But finishing school was bittersweet. “That was crazy because I feel like I’ve been in school my whole life,” he stated. “I went to Uni straight out of high school. I was really lucky to be able to take a lot of time off during school to snowboard.” Lucio was the biggest motivation in making Mt. Mtn. operational, quickly becoming the office big wig. “I was in-between jobs and had a bunch of free time. I was fired up to film. And I know sometimes a lot of the homies are a bunch of piles. So I took it upon myself to create some structure and get some money together.” Motivation took over, “I put together a proposal and started talking to people to make something happen.” With Lucio’s help, Mt. Mtn. had been pitched to investors and the staff was assembled. But after putting in the most work pre-season, Lucio had a few misfortunes during filming.
On the first day filming, seven guys all got clips, then Lucio found the most picturesque yet high consequence quad kink in our next location. A two-day battle and a swellbow later, Lucio walked away defeated. “I haven’t ragdolled downstairs like that since I was a little kid.”
The next setback was his flight to Ontario. “I went with the most budget airline possible.” Lucio showed up in Toronto with all of his luggage MIA, taking him a week of negotiating with Flair Air to track it down. However, this was the latter of his problems. His past troubles with knee bursitis had chosen to come back. So, from swellbow to a ballooned knee, Lucio spent almost his entire time in Ontario in Matt’s parents’ basement. “My knee was so swollen I couldn’t even bend my leg. I was just hoping it would get better.” By the time he was back on board, the snow was dwindling and the crew was wanting to go home. Highs and lows hit the best of us, even on Mt.Mtn..
Nick has gained skills being at the forefront of forest fires that are threatening the terrain we enjoy spending our winters on. His summer job has qualified him to be Head of Mountain Safety at Mt.Mtn.. From border patrol to avalanche control, he keeps everyone safe. Keeping himself out of harm’s way? Well, that’s much more difficult.
Head of Mountain Safety, you’re constantly around dangerous situations. Can you tell us about a few of them?
Yeah, one time up on Seymour I fell off a cliff. I thought I spotted a really sick cliff and I boot pack billy goated this sketchy traverse. There was like a six-foot drop I had to get down to get onto to take off from. Okay, this is sketchy, but I think I could just creep off and set my feet down into the snowpack. So I started my descent, board in hand, my boots hit feet first, but all of a sudden I just started sliding. Clawing at the ground to stop myself, next thing you know I’m going down like I’m on a water slide. Sliding off a 35 foot cliff, I chucked my board mid-air so it wouldn’t land on me, which wouldn’t have even mattered ‘cause I was flying over a bunch of rocks. But luckily it was all good and we laughed it off.
And you broke your tailbone earlier this season. How did that happen?
I took a donkey dick up the ass. That was some excruciating pain. I remember looking up to Lucio filming on the landing and I just like let out this wild scream. Then got in the medic van and was shipped off to the clinic. I was ice bathing in the Kimberley Motel for about a week and continued to do so once I got home.
You jumped ship from riding Dinos boards to Ride, what motivated that decision?
I still keep a great relationship with everyone at Dinos. I got an opportunity and said yes. The Ride team is insane.
You still managed to go on the Dino trip to Holy Bowly, those guys give you a tough time?
They said what was needed to be said [laughs]… I thought it was a Salmon Arms’ trip.
Speaking of Salmon Arms, you went pro this year with Bryan, did you know it was coming?
Actually, Colton Conway kinda spilled the beans, but I didn’t read into it too much. But when it became a reality, my mind was blown. Especially to share it with my first snowboarding friend, Bryan Bowler. Super grateful that Nic Heringa at Salmon Arms hooked us up.
Furanks is Head of Research and Development for Mt. Mtn. An obvious choice with his knowledge and experience scouting locations. He and his truck have been the backbone of filming the past couple of years. He clocked well over 100 hours of driving during a month-long trip. From BC to Ontario, he pushed 24 hours straight, then beat that record and went 27 hours on the way back. We may have trusted him a little too much.
Driving across the country can be risky. Any sketchy situations driving?
Oh yeah, let me tell ya! [Laughs] That one time, sliding out sideways trying to pass a transport truck on the Coquihalla? Pretty sure that was black ice. And in Trail, BC. I tried climbing a really steep hill that wasn’t plowed and hadn’t been maintained all year, we got three-quarters of the way up until we lost all traction. We started sliding back down the hill, I don’t even know how fast we were going, but I got the rig to stop right before ploughing into some other cars.
Your truck “Reggie” had some serious damage by the end of the season, is it fixed yet or is still in the shop?
Fixed! Finally. Reggie’s back, and intact.
So you made the switch from Stepchild to K2, how’d that come about?
I got word Stepchild was not making snowboards for the 2019 season. They basically told me I should look for another sponsor. I guess I started thinking about my favourite boarder’s, like Kuzyk and Jody, and so I decided to hit them up and see if they could help me out. Sure enough, the team manager hit me up, and that’s how it went down.
What made you commit to filming another part? Considering your FootyFiend and Psych parts are either not coming out on time or at all.
Yeah, that kinda sucked. I mean I still have the footage, and with that I got the sponsors I have now. But obviously I’m down to keep filming, I fucking love this shit! [Laughs] I’m just hoping my footage comes out this year.
This guy right here has been a floater at Mt.Mtn for a few seasons and has yet to pick up a full-time position. But he’s become a pro at pumping the vibes on any area of the mountain.
You and Jody Wachniak came on the first trip with us to the Interior, how was it boarding with Jody again?
Same old, cracking jokes the whole time but also taking it seriously. Yeah, that trip was pretty sick. We met up with you guys in Salmon Arm and hit some new spots. Then we headed out to Kimberley, but I had to bounce early to go to Mexico. I couldn’t say no to going on vacay and getting wasted with the family.
Then again, you left us for Russia with the DC team, how was that trip?
It was my first time going overseas, so everything was so foreign to me. Never travelled 20 hours by myself and don’t know how to speak any Russian but it all worked out.
Once safely back in Canada, while riding Seymour’s infamous Whiskey hit with the DC crew, Mt.Mtn’s valley hit hard right when D-Mo was at his peak.
A heat wave had turned all of the BC snow into hot pow—spring season had begun. Derek hiked, helped build, and began to session Whiskey hit with the DC team. After landing a few methods into the muck, an indy attempt went nose heavy. Gooey snow is not friendly to tomahawks. Having scorpioned in the landing, he lay there trying to collect his shit. After a while, Derek recalls, “Iikka [Backstrom] hit the jump zips passed me on the landing and was like ‘Yo, what’s going on?” and I was like, “Dude, I can’t fucking move right now, I’m sorry.” Derek ended up feeling good enough to try and walk out. The boys helped him get back inbounds. Then, following a sled ride down from the top of the resort and a car ride to Squamish, he was still in excruciating pain. Realizing that it was not just a tweaked back.
The next day, after X-rays, they told Derek he was under a centimetre away from being paralyzed. With a broken back, he spent days in the ER while his friends and family came to show their love and support. Derek says he’s, “Been healing ever since. Unfortunately, that shit never grows back, cartilage just kind of grows around it. So I have 1/3 of my T12 left, it just kind of exploded, but now I’m just dealing with some muscle pain, it’s getting much better.”