Baldface Bliss: Three days of Kootenay Dreams at Freq Week 2014

Module: gallery_album
Item: Baldface 2014
Displays the photo gallery for a selected Gallery Album.
After a long commute across southern BC, the frequency: The Snowboarder’s Journal staff arrived in Nelson, B.C. to a group of familiar faces and countless high fives for Freq Week 2014. While we waited our turn among our thirty-something group to get shuttled up in the helicopter to the lodge, guests wrapping up their trip to Baldface Lodge were unloading—still rocking boots, pants and goggles, having finished riding only minutes before. When Sage Kotsenburg, Jack Mitrani, and Danny Davis hop out of your chopper with huge grins on their faces—still buzzing from their last run at Baldface Lodge—you know you’re in for a good time.

frequency: TSJ celebrated the 9th annual Freq Week March 27-30, making the pilgrimage to Baldface Lodge. It was my first trip to the lodge, and we brought along lucky subscriber Brent Ryman who won three days of unforgettable snowboarding simply for subscribing.

Located in the West Kootenays, Baldface Lodge has over 32,000 acres of rideable terrain and 160-plus kilometers of cat roads. That means no agro dudes in the lift lines, snaked lines, or powder frenzies… Nothing too serious at least. At Baldface Lodge your biggest worries are warding off goggle-fog in the cat and whether or not you can sneak in “one last run” before the end of the day.

For many of the seasoned industry folk, day one was spent relaxing, reading, InstaG-ing, while other first-timers like myself, could barely contain our excitement. Overstimulated at best, we scoped out the area—the chalets, the lodge, the bar. We spent the first day riding from breakfast until late afternoon, and afterwards Cat Three was greeted with après shred beers for the long commute back from the North side. A quick trip to the gear room to ditch transceivers and backpacks, and we enjoyed hot butternut squash soup, gourmet cheese plates, a photography slideshow from the day, and crisp, cold delicious beer. Life was good. Real good. By dinner time it had already snowed an additional four inches.

Over the next couple days, each turn on every run just got better and better. On our final day riding Director of Marketing Matt Wibby told me to be sure to spot my next few turns through the trees… just in case. Seeing as it was far from his first rodeo, I paid close attention to the location of the big trees, and made sure attempt to jump over all the small ones – it worked well, in theory. Although we did rack up a group tally of four tree wells, three close-call trees impacts, and one massively over-rotated backflip attempt from tail guide Josh #1, no one was seriously injured thanks to the abundant deep, soft snow. At times it was hard to even remember the first leg of each run, the minutes spent in the white room seemed to all blend into one continual moment of adrenaline and excited laughter.

Our trusty guides knew exactly where to find the fresh; their entire season was spent in those mountains, many of them years, and the dynamic of the group was only made better by their added enthusiasm and knowledge. Despite high avalanche danger, they found plenty of mid-angle powder and fun lines, pushing into terrain as steep as the conditions allowed; our lead guide, affectionately known as Josh #2, claimed his “allergies” to tracks meant we must always venture farther left or right to get the goods. His directions were usually simple: “We’ll regroup down there somewhere in the trees,” or “It’s good. Straight f—king down!”

At the end of the day, it didn’t matter whether you were a real estate investor from New York, an Olympic gold medalist, or a 24 year old bum from Washington—we were all there for the same reason. To snowboard, to ride powder, and enjoy time with friends in the mountains; the life lived and loved by freeride legend Craig Kelly, and the legacy he left behind. Today, as I write this, snowboarders around the world are celebrating the life of Craig Kelly. He would have been 48 years old yesterday. Many, many years later, his passion for adventure and the mountains remain at the foundation of snowboarding—the lifestyle, the friends and family it creates.

Before dropping into our last run of the trip on Sunday, we stood atop of the ridge overlooking the lodge and watched the prayer flags tied to Craig’s Cross dance wildly in the wind. Everyone fell quiet as the cold wind stung at our faces; we poured Craig a birthday shot and shared a few turns in his honor back down to the lodge.

To our friend and Baldface owner/co-founder Jeff Pensiero, the staff, our guides, and everyone else who contributed to 2014 Freq Week: thank you. The dog days of summer will be filled with daydreams of Kootenay powder, prime rib, dance parties, sauna-to-snow somersaults and the many memories created in three days of Baldface bliss.


The Snowboarder's Journal mailing list

We respect your time, and only send you the occasional update.