Joe Lax filming "Shaped by Wild" in Coast Mountains.


Joe Lax


It’s 7:04 a.m. and Joe Lax is atop Dragonslayer, a steep, terminally exposed line in British Columbia’s Coast Mountains. The surrounding peaks are glowing. In a moment, they will shine red, briefly holding the last purple hues of dawn before gold pushes through. Joe will be on slope, navigating the crux of his line above hundreds of feet of raw, exposed rock. He’ll carry speed through his last critical moves, then open things up as the alpenglow peaks. As his sluff echoes through the cirque, he’ll stop on an island of safety, regrouping and processing adrenaline on the glacier. He’ll call on the radio, pass along beta and focus on his partner’s drop.

Dragonslayer is one of many premier lines Joe pioneered near his home in Pemberton, BC. Like many of Joe’s spots, it’s on the magnitude of Mavericks. Joe specializes in burly, technical terrain, at home in the most consequential corners of the Sea to Sky Highway. His open-throttle confidence shows mastery born of dedicated practice, of deep understanding of the mountains and their idiosyncrasies. Joe operates at a similar level in his professional life, working with one of the BC Wildfire Service’s elite incident management teams as an operations section chief. Yet he’s unassuming, embodying more the demeanor of a sardonic punk rather than the bravado you’d expect from the best rider in the range, or a firefighter making calls when towns are threatened. For Joe, stature is corollary. Even now, at the height of his game and with significant media budget behind him, Joe stays unflinchingly grounded, satisfied by the DIY ethos that brought him to his current level…

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