Have you seen this Patagonia catalog featuring Jones rider Forrest Shearer on the cover? What an insane spine line! The image is from the Italian Dolomites last February. Forrest was on a trip filming for Absinthe Films’ Dopamine when photographer Dan Milner snapped the incredible shot.
We thought it was pretty rad that a splitboard accessed line scored the cover so we hit up Forrest for some thoughts about the trip and shredding the line.
Tell us about the trip:
I’d set out on a quest to put a trip together to the gnarly mountain range known as the Dolomites in northeastern Italy. A place rich with history from Italian mountaineer heroes from decades past and filled with sculpted peaks, pinnacles, and towers of rock. It’s the perfect place for a shred adventure. Our crew consisted of Dan Milner, Ben Gavelda, Blair Habenicht, Eric Brandt and Luca Pandolfi. My plans were to visit spots once made famous by Tom Burt who visited there in the 90’s with Standard Films. We flew into Geneva, grabbed Mr. Milner in Chamonix, shredded a day in Courmayeur, then set-off in a gypsy convoy towards the Dolomites. Rumors of good snow made the six hour journey go by quick. Now to the shot…This image was taken near the Tre Cime di Lavaredo massif. The Tre Cime zone offered insane landscapes and views. With splitboards ready for anything we set out in search of rideable lines.
How did you find this line?
We chose this area for the accessibility. The face where the photo was taken didn’t take too long to get in position. The line was set in this Dr. Seuss labyrinth of rocks that were plastered with fresh snow. I was able to traverse across a ridge to get above my line and feel the snow on the way. I felt confident in the stability of the snowpack but the Dolomites are really rocky which worried me. The limestone formations are steep and narrow with little room for error if you hit a rock and tumble.
What was going through your head when you rode the line?
Riding this spine line was insane. Just being surrounded by some of the most jagged mind boggling peaks set the tone. It was a humbling experience. Looking around before I dropped into my line I imagined spending a whole season in this area, riding new lines everyday and eating delicious Italian food to fuel each journey.
With photographer and cine setup on barbie angles across the ridge, I was ready to drop. Starting off with a couple of setup turns on top of my line I confidently rode fall line putting my mind to work. You have to be 100% percent when riding technical lines like this one and even before strapping in I was focused. Mid-way through the line I had the small tree as a reference point. I knew to stay close to the tree on my riders right and away from the exposure to the left. If I stayed right, my exit would be a small cliff air into the chute if something went wrong. Right after Dan took this photo I did encounter a small section of rock. I was able to get purchase on my heel side edge and regain my composer. Taking a breathe of fresh air, I finished my line airing over the rocks and pointing it out to the bottom.
Anything else make the day unique?
We hadn’t been to this zone before so we came on a hunch that this terrain and these aspects were holding the goods. I had high hopes for good riding conditions but if not, I was content taking in the views and experiencing a spot where famous climbers like Walter Bonatti and Riccardo Cassin, guys that made the mountains their life, once stood.
Are you excited about the cover shot or what?
I was ecstatic about the cover shot! Really happy they used Dan’s photo and stoked and honored to be a part of the Patagonia tribe. You can also check out more shots from the trip in the Dolomites story in the Dec 2013 issue of Transworld Snowboarding and in Absinthe Films’ Dopamine.
Congrats to Dan Milner on the shot! Click here to hear more about the shot from Dan.