The Ghee Backside

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raisingarizona raisingarizona
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The Ghee Backside

Since Camp asked....

It was the winter of 98/99 when I hitch hiked my way up to Jackson after spending a summer in Steamboat. I first moved into the Igneous ski factory, sleeping on couches above the ski press room next to my friend Mike Tierney's card board box home. My first job was at the Stagecoach Bar and Grill over on the West Bank in Wilson at the bottom of the Pass. I spent nights there that fall working the door but I really just sat there flirting with girls and drinking free Jack and Cokes all night. That was where I met the TGR crew. They were real rowdy back then, I had to break up Todd Jones and Tommy Moe a few times while they wrestled on the floor. I was a big talker back then and I believed I was better than I really was, add in the whiskey and I probably thought I was going to be the next best skier on the mountain! For the record, there is no best skier on the mountain in Jackson, the whole place is filled with amazing rippers and on any given day you are going to dropped by some unknown ripper.

My first trip over to the Ghee was early season where I chased around Jason Prigge and his buddy all day. Prigge was on the original Dynastar Bigs and I was on some Iggy 215's with low pro tips. Prigge was a young hot skier and starred in the latest TGR film Uprising. His buddy was an unsung hero that didn't talk much, skied with the pros but didn't care about the recognition. We just skied fast on the front side cutting up fresh powder.

It wasn't until the following season that I was invited by JK, Bisal Hazen, Andrew McGary and Todd Johnson to check out the back side at the Ghee. JK was a filmer for TGR and he brought a 16mm camera. Bisal was a very established local skier with accomplished mountaineering exploits in the Park as well as skiing big lines off Cody Peak, SS, and alternate lines into Corbets. Todd Johnson starred in the first two TGR films, dropping cliffs on the Ghee backside in the legendary segment from Continuum. JK was the young intern and could throw down amazing back flips off 60 footers. Andrew was an aspiring photographer and had been the token free healer in the early TGR films. They brought myself and Mike Tierney over to see what we could pull off. Mike was another young gun who would later throw down some of the most daunting descents Cody Peak had ever seen such as Talk To Central and Igneous Rocks.

At that point the sport was changing and rapidly, McGary would joke around years later that if I had shown up in Jackson a few years earlier I probably would have been the next Micah Black but I was a bit late and in all honesty I wasn't going to try to catch up. The Utah crew was on Todd's radar and rightfully so, that crew was doing some nutty shit at that time such as throwing tricks off giant cliffs and massive gaps like Chad's Gap in LCC.

Once I realized that Todd wasn't going to feature me in a film I went full on with my buddy Darrell Miller and Storm Show studios. I wanted desperately to create a segment and I learned how to do so from skiing with Micah Black and others such as Rick Armstrong. I had one extremely memorable day with Micah and Rick where they would get off the tram and then call the run, it would be something like Corbets to Experts to Paintbrush to Dicks Ditch to Lower Faces and then it was on, top to bottom and I wouldn't let up so they had to let me come along and play. That was one of my very best ski experiences ever. Micah was such a hard worker and did some serious pioneering in the Jackson side country. I hung out a lot with the TGR crew during the winter of 2001 but had a rough series of events. My first day filming with Todd I blew my first line and smashed my nose. The season was then plagued by a terrifying snow pack that had me on edge every day after it snowed. I was also scared of my landings that year and back splatted most airs trying to not smash my face again. Even though I was working a lot with Andrew and being filmed by Matty "Moo" Harriger I didn't have the sponsor support to be in their film. One day shooting with Moo I got to share lines with Micah Black and legendary Alta skier Dave McReynolds. That was pretty rad. Things were changing and the TGR films weren't about the "bros" hanging out any longer but more about supporting their sponsored athletes and besides, I wasn't going to be the next Collins brothers or Sage. I was a good skier but shit, those kids were doing some ground breaking shit. So I basically lost my shot at "the big time" but to be honest I didn't really care about that, looking back I was only really going for it to hopefully impress my parents that never really believed in me anyways. Now that I'm older I can say that that was a very silly motivator!

I kept returning to the Ghee over the next two years, shooting photos with McGary and filming with Darrell for Storm Show Studios. I've done some huge airs over there, probably my biggest ever and it was always really fun.

I'm so thankful for those times, it really was some of the best days of my life.
raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Re: The Ghee Backside

My first “turn” on my first day visiting the backside.


A Cloudveil add that ran in Powder Mag. Photo by Andrew McGary from a small cornice drop I sessioned over and over again behind the Ghee.


raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Re: The Ghee Backside

Sitting on top of Once is Enough, summer of 2000 I think.



Jackson Hole Skier, a publication by legendary photogs Wade McKoy and Bob Woodall. What a complete fucking honor to be part of their photo spread pages with the likes of these amazing skiers. I got to ski that previous winter a bunch with Dan Treadway and I think that was the realization that I wasn't quite top notch pro worthy. Dan was like a robot just hitting line after line and for myself I could only commit to 2 to 4 lines a day before wanting to retire to the bar to deal with the stress. Dan BTW was one of the coolest persons I've ever skied with and always remained a positive force of motivation. Those Canadians seem to me to have a much less level of American competitveness and are much more supportive of their peers imho. Man he was cool to hang out with.



Another total honor was being featured in the Freeze article titled Mean Streak which was about Jackson dropping it's boundary closures. this was my first national publication featured photo and it was a full page! I was completely floored when I first saw it!

raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Two page spread in the 2006 Patagonia catalogue that focused on Jackson.



Smart Bastard, 2001. McGarry wanted me to hit the bigger cliff to the viewers left but I was confident that that air would rip the snow pack out so I went for this line with better transition. Sure enough someone went for the bigger drop shortly after that day ripping a massive climax avalanche but luckily survived the ride. Micah pioneered this line but I like to think I had a part in making it popular being the second person to hit it and a part of my regular routine as a “warm up” hit. It was originally called fat bastard but the name adapted to smart bastard after I tried to tell Micah how I was impressed with his line choice there for it’s more forgiving transition but came off as being a bit of a smart ass and telling him it was the "smart line" along that cliff band. Micah later told me they were thinking about renaming it Smart Bastard laughingly. True story.

Harvey Harvey
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Re: The Ghee Backside

Gripping storytelling!  What a long strange trip it's been.

Thank you so much for putting in the effort to put this together.

"You just need to go at that shit wide open, hang on, and own it." —Camp
raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Re: The Ghee Backside

Thanks Harv! I got strong early, skiing at Plattekill and MRG before moving out west.

Plattekill was like the MRG of the Cats, doing laps in the trees and on Blockbuster bumps off the old T Bar was the shit!
Brownski Brownski
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Re: The Ghee Backside

Awesome story and amazing pics, RA. Other then that I’m kind of speechless. In a hundred years I couldn’t conjure up the balls to try that.
"You want your skis? Go get 'em!" -W. Miller
raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Thanks boys! These were some good times for a born and raised NY- NJ kid!
raisingarizona raisingarizona
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75 footer to wind packed. This shit f-d me up for life.
Johnnyonthespot Johnnyonthespot
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Re: The Ghee Backside

Wow.
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