Bonfire's Master Bibs help you master the rails, hands-down
Next week we'll be setting off our second Annual Bonfire Axe Jam at Big Boulder Park. We're picky about our partners, and Big Boulder was a park partner we couldn't pass up. What they lack in elevation gain they more than make up for in creativity, variety and passion for sliding sideways downhill.
Since we're about to show up and spend some serious time throwing down at their resort (which you'll be seeing full coverage of coming up soon) we wanted you to get familiar with a few faces you might see while you're out there.
We caught up with four of Big Boulder Park's employees, each of whom have their own love for the park and for riding. Read on to get to know them better-
All photos Shawn Kalatucka
Shawn Kalatucka (SK)
Mike Devitt (MD)
Kurt Barthel (KB)
Stephen Chumacas (SC)
SK - Photographer
MD - Terrain Park Manager
KB - Park crew
SC - Equipment operator
Years at Big Boulder
SK - First year as an employee, Fourth year season pass holder.
MD - 10 years
KB - 5 or 6
SC - 7 years at BBP
How did you start?
SK - I started taking photos last season for the fun of it. During the summer I would hike my dog up boulder and take sunrise photos as I am a a very early riser, well I should say my dog is. Pat [Morgan, Director of Freestyle Terrain] being "content hungry" as always started taking notice and a few thousand photos later I was asked to join the team.
MD - I basically graduated high school and then needed a job for the winter.
KB - I wanted to be a part of the crew who builds the parks.
I enjoy golf
What did you do before Big Boulder?
SK - I still work full time at an auto body shop and have been doing so for the last five years. My early morning hours allow me to make it to the Mountain for the 3pm open.
MD - I was a young kid who liked to go to house parties and get out camping.
KB - I just snowboarded and went to school.
What do you do outside of work?
SK - Relax or explore with my wife, take hikes with my dog, head down to philly to meet up and photo a few of my friends skating or just explore and take photos.
MD - I'm a home-body for the most part. Every blue moon or so I'll get out to a concert.
KB - I like to spend my free time with my girlfriend and family and friends.
Why do you work at Big Boulder/What do you like the most about it?
SK - Big Boulder is committed to winter and progression. They care about what the riders want. The thing I like most about it is the reaction riders have when I send them the finished photo. Working at boulder doesn't feel like work, it is too enjoyable to be considered work.
MD - I like knowing that despite our size we are able to put out a better product than huge resorts. David vs Goliath.
KB - I like that I can have a say in what goes in the parks.I can think of something I want in the parks and it goes in.
Not too many people can do that out side of park crew.
SC - The reason I enjoy working here is the people I get to work with on a daily basis and the things we are able to accomplish as a team!
Any advice to someone visiting the resort?
SC - Get out there. Enjoy everything they have to offer. Go to the T-bar(if you're of age) get something to eat with a beer and watch some of the most talented riders around in the Plaza II right outside the window.
MD - T bar food specials, especially wing night.
KB - If you don’t hit the rails stay off the lips and out of the jump landings.
SC - Have a great time!
Sign up now for the second annual Bonfire Axe Jam at Big Boulder Park! We've got $100 CASH to hand out for best tricks, tons of prizes and great times guaranteed. See you there 🔥
Japan has a lot to offer. Photo- Toshi Pander
My journey as a snowboarder has evolved into the journey of my life. I started riding in late high school and it quickly became an obsession. I changed my major in college to a more general one that gave me more time on the hill. I hammered park laps trying to learn every trick. I moved to Salt Lake City to try my hand at filming urban video parts. I spent my summers on the Mt. Hood glacier riding next to the pros. I experienced bottomless blower powder at Brighton, and I fell in love. The Wasatch Mountains treated me well, but those deep days were too few and far between for me. This is when I set my sights to the snowiest place in the world: Hokkaido, Japan.
When you're out riding as much as Evan is, it can be hard to avoid getting a goggle tan. Photo - Daniel Honda
Every night during my last summer spent working at We Are Camp (High Cascade and Windells), I would apply for a job in Japan. I sent in about 30, and only one company said they would put in the extra work to apply for a sponsored visa for me. Niseko Sports came through with an approved visa just a few days before my flight to Japan. I picked up and moved to Japan without knowing anyone or much of anything besides all of the unreal video parts I’ve watched of that legendary japow.
This move was likely the best choice of my life, as I fell into an amazing crew and have been enjoying diving into the deep stuff out here for 3 winters. I saw opportunity all around me in Niseko, so I started putting work in. I spent my free time shooting with local and visiting photographers and cinematographers. This led me to connections at the resort, and I was able to get paid to create videos for them. Last spring I sat down with the marketing team at Hanazono Niseko Resort and proposed to bring myself on to their crew. They took a chance on me, I got my visa approved very last minute as usual, bought a one wa ticket to the land of the rising sun, and unknowingly sent it into undoubtedly the best winter of my life.
The blissful ride down! Photo - Toshi Pander
I arrived to Niseko on November 15th and it was a little warm. It had been raining a lot. I woke up the next morning to at least a foot at my doorstep in Hirafu, and it just didn’t stop. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. November was so snowy that everything was filled in for December. And December was my dream come true. I woke up with 1-2 feet of snow on my car nearly every day, and to twice as much on the mountain. I often spent 45 minutes digging to get my car in or out of my driveway. The snowboarding was incredible. The resort was empty, and I was hot-lapping perfect bottomless trees and pillow lines, completely submerging when landing into the dry Japanese powder. I believe everyone needs to experience this feeling in their lifetime!
The best part of my new job working at Hanazono is guiding professional media crews around the resort. I have had the freedom to hop on the lifts before the public to shoot and ride. This means I lap the famous “Strawberry Fields” that film crews such as Absinthe have featured in their films exclusively. We then can move up the mountain to hike the peak of Mt. Niseko-Annupuri first. The peak often holds twice as much snow as the bottom if you can believe it. “That was the deepest run of my life!” has been spouted from so many people I’ve rode with this winter. I start to think the same thing, but then remember how good yesterday was. And the day before. It’s been constant bliss for me!
And then hike out. Photo - Toshi Pander
Aside from feeling like a VIP riding in the resort, I’ve had some unbelievable days in the backcountry. I was able to buy a car this year, and it has opened up so many doors for me. Essentially all of the super-deep Hokkaido video parts you see are roadside spots. This whole island is essentially covered in snow, so the options are endless.
One of my favorites this year was a trip to a new area (undisclosed, sorry) about an hour and a half from Niseko. We drove along the stormy Sea of Japan, watching messy waves smash into the snow-covered coast. We passed through nearly abandoned coastal towns and into a new mountain range. The road was cleared well, but still deep from all the fresh snow falling on it without any traffic passing through. We cruised through several tunnels leading deeper into the mountains, never seeing another car or sign of life the whole way. Looking up at a nice face we decided to park my Honda Stepwagon and hike in. I had my new powder shape from Rome I was testing and shooting with, and a pair of Verts snowshoes. The hike was so deep. Sinking to your waist with snowshoes on doesn’t let you go anywhere too fast. We made it to the top ridge only to look at the massive cornice and get blasted by the newly forming blizzard. The cameras came out, but we quickly learned that it was futile in what felt like the epicenter of winter. Getting forced to purely enjoy this run without shooting wasn’t what we came for, but that’s part of what made it so good. The other part was the snow. It was too deep! This is not something that snowboarders want to say out loud, but the sheer amount of snow inhibited us from getting enough speed on that beautiful slope. Dumbfounded at the bottom, we continued over the next ridge to find a set of virgin avalanche barriers. The blizzard settled down for a bit, so I trudged through the bottomless snow with a full pack to the top of barriers. I dropped into my first line, accidently whiteroomed just before takeoff, grabbed, and fully submerged on my landing. So fun! However the snow was once again too deep to keep enough speed to jump of the next set of barriers in my line. The crew hiked the barriers a few more times for fun, but we knew it was not possible to get a clean line. Daylight was fading fast, so we called it and walked along the empty road back to the car. We continued through the pass until we arrived at the coastal city of Otaru. There we spotted Waraku, sushi train restaurant. The quality of fish and value of this place is incredible. Go there. The crew shared drinks and a plethora of fresh fish, reminiscing about truly experiencing too much snow in the Hokkaido backcountry.
Snowboarding to Sushi; is this Dream World? Photo - Charlie Wood
The snow has continued to be wonderfully consistent. As of 27th of February, Niskeo has received about 14 meters (551 inches) of snow at the base of the mountain this winter. I’m guessing that the peak is boasting around 20 meters, or 787 inches. If March delivers like it can, it is possible that I will have rode through a winter of 1,000 inches of some of the best quality snow in the world. My powder dreams have been realized this winter, and I feel extremely lucky. Thank you to everyone who has made this journey possible!
Now we'll let Evan get back to the place he's most comfortable- the White Room. Photo - Daniel Honda
THIS IS the first episode from #boyzntoyz 2018! Bonfire rides Werni Stock and Mario Wanger joined up with Tom Klocker and Tom Tramnitz to dive into the deepest powder of the season so far in Zillertal.
You're going to have a bad case of powder fever after watching this, and for good reason. The season in Europe so far this year has been nothing short of unreal, with dump after dump landing on the perfectly placed slopes and beckoning (not so subtly) to riders to come sample their goods.
Now on Transworld Snowboarding's Top 5 Online Snowboard videos of 2017, "Off and On" from Warp Wave has hit heavy and only had fuel added to it's fire as time's passed from it's initial release in December.
Highlighting the tough, risky and exhilarating reality of being a wildfire fighter and professional snowboarder, Off and On features Johnny Brady, Kyle Miller, and Kael Martin through their year of putting it all on the line, season after season, to live the lives they love.
Another fire assortment of heated snowboarding from Bonfire Team rider Beau Bishop in the tune of Ride Snowboards. Ride Snowboards took his footage from last season and compiled a full part that will build up your winter stoke for the holidays.
So cut through that sugar cookie coma, push play on the video above and let yourself get you pumped to ride all over again.
If you've done your homework, you know that Out Of Service serves up some serious backcountry and captivating powder riding, with a healthy dose of big jump sending and heavy line riding.
Strap in and push play on Episode 1 of Out of Service, with Bonfire local Bruce Johnston and a crew of serious riders.
Few places catch hold of nearly every snowboarder’s imagination, but Beau Bishop recently traveled to one of those destinations that are legendary among riders. With promises of endless powder fields and epic views on top of remote mountains, Baldface Lodge is that place. Equipped with his trusty POV camera, Beau tours us through his time in the backcountry with this newest edition of POB.
Beau Bishop recently went up to Bald Face to join Pat Moore and a selection of other top riders for a several-day session of Avalanche safety drills, exclusive snowboarding through the Baldface backcountry, and educational talks that delved into the necessity of being prepared for snow travel.
Fill yourself in on the latest POB from Beau Bishpop at Baldface Lodge and get your own dose of endless powder to hold you over until you get yourself somewhere like this.
If you’re considering venturing into the backcountry, make sure you’re informed. Everyone who goes out should not only be equipped with the basic necessary items like a shovel, beacon and probe, but also the necessary basic knowledge that you gain from taking an avalanche safety course. Find one near you by following one of these links -
When I moved back to east coast Vermont, I found more in settling for less.
Always smiling, always ready to go- Ralph Kucharek, folks
I know that statement contradicts itself, but please hear me out. For some context, up until last year I’d spent the past five seasons riding out west. I found myself posting up in locations like Glacier, Washington; Bend, Oregon; and Lake Tahoe to get the full experience of riding mountains and couch surfing. Whether it was bottomless powder or under the warmest sun my landlocked skin had ever felt, the conditions I experienced were the best of my life. However, despite all of that- last season I chose to live in Vermont full-time as a college student. Living where I grew up and honed my skills as a rider made me realize snowboarding in Vermont was the most-bare bones form of snowboarding I had experienced in years.
Who says you don't ride powder in VT? Ralph sends up a spray behind him as he exits the trees
When I say I have found more in settling for less what I mean is that I started appreciating the little things. It’s contrasting conditions that we endure all season long that make the “good” days that much better. The cycle starts with hiking the first snowfall of the season, usually 6-12 inches over wet grass in October, because you can’t wait, and getting core shots the entire way down still counts as a good day. The first day at the mountain waiting in an hour lift line go up Killington’s rickety double-chair and ride down a white-ribbon of death with a thousand other people is a good day. Finding a trail of freshly blown, soft whalebacks that create a tranny finder’s paradise and ripping it to shit with your friends is a good day. Finally in January temperatures warm and the base melts back to nothing, but you’re out there riding in the rain in a garbage bag to stay dry, because it’s a good day. Hiking to the top of Mount Mansfield in waist deep powder to ride above the trees or trying to stay afloat in the same amount of snow on a hill that has 500 feet of vertical is a good day. Watching the snow melt away in the spring as the sun hits it and you finally get to wear a hoody comfortably and feel free is a good day.
The Static Jacket is a great partner to take with you when tackling east coast snow conditions
All situations in-between, whether they are good or bad, just build perspective. East coasters have been historically known to be the most dedicated and creative riders, because you are taught to work with what you have in front of you. We have no choice.
Living on the right coast is about having heart, settling for less, and making the most out of any situation. Add this mindset to your own life, add some friends into the equation and you’ll find wherever you may be that snowboarding will always be fun, which is why we all started in the first place, right? Mountains are not just challenges, conditions can be too; so go challenge yourself next time things are less than ideal.
Dropping cliffs, whether they're covered in ice or snow- that's how a true east coaster rides
Some days are better than others, but for Werni every day is just as good as the last.
We sent Phillip out to follow Werni Stock around with his Bonfire Outerwear for 24hrs while he got the best of the pre-season pow that Europe had to offer so far this season. Kitted up in the Aspect Jacket and Zone Pant, there was nothing that could slow him down.
Grab your morning coffee (or evening beverage of choice, depending on where and when you read this) and push play on this tantalizing summary of a perfect day of pre-season powder riding with Werni Stock.
This time last year no one would have believed the local Bonfire Crew if they said they'd already logged their first official day riding a chairlift for the season. But, the weather gods have been gracious and the temperatures have been falling, because the great people at Loveland Ski Resort opened their slopes to the hundreds of hungry snow-hunters this past Friday the 20th in Colorado.
The local Bonfire crew was ready and rearing to go- equipped with a hundred+ free cups of coffee to hand out to the first patrons of the mountain and a stoke so high there was no bringing them down.
After passing out copious cups of coffee, the local crew hit the hill and took the first refreshing runs down Loveland's slopes.
Check out the edit they put together of their time there, it'll have you packing your bags to hit the road to Colorado- or keeping a lazer-focus on the storm alert for the mountain closest to you. It's only a matter of time now before the season starts everywhere.