Author: Xan Marshland, FOW
“The event was one of the most epic, challenging, and fun weekends of my life!! I’ve had a really tough time focusing at work the past couple of days as my mind wanders to the epic-ness of the Wasatch backcountry and the WNDR Roost.” - Tony Frey
The concept started out as pretty simple: Join the growing community of early adopters getting on WNDR Alpine skis in our first year in existence, and we’ll welcome you into the fold with an exclusive gathering with Matt, Pep, and the rest of our friends in our beloved Wasatch range.
What it turned into was something much bigger...
Altogether, we were thrilled to see how well our little community worked together, the skills and experience that each attendee brought, and the pure passion for skiing that was shared by everyone we spent time with.
Despite what it may look like, this was a serious meeting. In our Roost prep meeting, we went over all of our safety protocol and contingency plans. The hourly check-ins back to basecamp, calldown lists, and evac options that were planned here allowed the rest of the event to run smoothly. WNDR Alpine HQ, Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
The first day began with a safety briefing at Alpha Coffee and all attendees breaking down into groups. Attendees were informed of the day’s conditions and potential route options, and picked their group based on how big of a day they wanted to bite off. Many of us had a great time switching between different groups day to day, so we could ski with as many new people as possible. Alpine speed dating, perhaps?
AIARE Director of Professional Programs & Instructor Team Member Sean Zimmerman-Wall was the man with the beta at the Roost. With colleagues and FOW on the ground submitting observations prior to the event, we had a wealth of info to draw upon when planning out each day's routes. Alpha Coffee, Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
With crews assembled and new friendships beginning, it was time to go ski.
A quick drive into Big Cottonwood Canyon was all it took for the adventure to begin. Though the parking lot was crowded, we found peace and serenity as soon as we ventured into our own zone for the day.
Party time! Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
Serenity wasn't far away if you knew where to find it. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
Pep's crew sought out playful lines sprinkled with a little airtime. FOW: Kyle Toohey // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
The ground crew welcomed us back to the parking lot with bread, soup, and beer from Salt Lake's own Fisher Brewing Co. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
Naturally, Little Cottonwood had to be on the agenda for Day 2. Once again, we met at Alpha Coffee and split up once more to sample what the Wasatch had to offer in more intimate groups.
Safety first though. FOW: Pep Fujas and Xan Marshland // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
We found some excellent stashes of North-facing pow after our first ascent. FOW: Emile Hickson // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
South-facing terrain had been transformed into proper Spring skiing by the afternoon. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
After a big day of exploring Little Cottonwood, every group returned to the parking lot to exchange stories and compare notes on snowpack.
"You know that feeling when you find your people? Yeah, Jack Stauss is my people." - Joey Weamer, FOW. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
That night, we wrapped things up in style with a party at WNDR Alpine HQ in Salt Lake City, complete with some well-earned Impossible meatballs and lasagna. After dinner, Checkerspot CEO Charles Dimmler gave us a little background into the origins of the purpose-built biomaterials that give the Intention 110 its unique performance characteristics.
Pretty cozy for a ski manufacturing facility, right? WNDR Alpine HQ, Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
The best part of our science platform is its ability to impact products far beyond backcountry skiing. We're just getting started, and we feel honored and empowered to have this crew be such an important part of the story. FOW: Charles Dimmler // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
Next, we filled up our glasses and moved next door to our design and production facility. Mechanical engineer, mad scientist, and ski building mastermind Daniel Malmrose demonstrated how we lay up the Intention 110, even giving us a sneak preview of some new technology in development.
There's nothing quite like witnessing how the skis you were riding only a few hours ago get built. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
On our third and final day, we headed back to the Wasatch for a traverse between the canyons, albeit in very different conditions. Temperatures had dropped dramatically overnight, and Ullr gifted us a bit of morning snow, paired with high winds along the ridgetops. Wind affect was very apparent in some spots, so we ventured out a bit cautiously. Though the wind and snow made for a moody backdrop to our final day, it came as a welcome change for most of us, who had been drenched in sweat skinning in the bluebird conditions of the days prior.
Spirits were high up the bootpack. FOW: Tyler Miller // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
And even higher as we party lapped the trees. FOW: Tyler MIller and Emile Hickson // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
A final celebration. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
Finally, it was time for our final beers, hugs, high fives, and goodbyes.
By end of these three days, we came away in awe of the friendships that were born and the trust we had in one another. Feeling like everyone is already friends without knowing each other for very long is extremely special. It’s a connection that can only happen organically.
Sharing the love. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
Grace VanSurksum, Materials and Production Engineer, WNDR Alpine/Checkerspot. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
“Seeing the joy and community formed during the WNDR Roost is the perfect example of how an intention can spread, gaining momentum. Matt has ensured me that this momentum starts perfectly, with the ski, and is allowing the movement to grow organically, one step at a time, all while keeping an eye on the marvelous mountain tops.”
- Grace VanSurksum, Materials and Production Engineer, WNDR Alpine/Checkerspot
Matt Bowers, FOW. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
“The disparate group of skiers ranged in ability and background, but everyone was united by the common thread of a love of moving through mountains and an infectious excitement about getting out into those mountains together. The skiing certainly didn't disappoint (I mean, we were skiing great snow on great terrain on Intention 110s) but the highlight of the trip for me was experiencing just how committed and innovative the WNDR/Checkerspot family is in regards to shifting the paradigm of the outdoor industry's approach to developing performance products in a way that puts sustainability first. Not only that, but also witnessing first hand how you guys are building community around this paradigm shift left me excited, inspired, and honored to be a small part of the movement WNDR is spearheading. Thanks again and I look forward to more pow, friends, Alta bombs, and algal based triglyceride polymers at Roost 2021!”
- Matt Bowers, FOW
WHAT. A. CREW. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)
To all of our Roost attendees: Thank you. You inspire us with your feedback, attitude, and enthusiasm for our sport.
To our sponsors: Pro Bar, Gnarly, Mountain Flow, Party Shirt International, Impossible and A. Fisher Brewing Co.
To everyone else: we hope to see you next year! Stay tuned this Fall for an announcement of our next Roost.