Austin Ross grew up in the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia. He was born in the small mountain town of Pemberton, North of Whistler. When he's not skiing you will still find him in the mountains, paragliding, climbing, playing music or just getting out on an adventure.
I caught up with Austin in January, during an Arc’teryx trip to IceFall Lodge in Golden BC to chat about his offseason life.
Me: Where are you right now?
Austin: I'm at Icefall Lodge; we're approx. 80kms North of Golden, BC in the Rocky Mountains.
Me: I’ve seen some pictures of your trip, how sweet is that place? Why are you there?
Austin: This place is unreal! Larry Dolecki is the owner/operator/founder and one all around badass mountain man with a history in guiding in Canada and the Alps. He started the lodge about 8 years ago and has been hosting folks with a passion for ski touring ever since. There's an awesome variety in skiing here; we've played in pillows in the tree line, shredded long alpine runs and covered some spectacular glaciated terrain with massive seracs and crevasses. We're here for a week on a product shoot for Arc'teryx. Good times man!
Me: You have lived in the mountains for you entire life. Do you enjoy the City?
Austin: Good question. I feel really fortunate to have had Vancouver a few hours down the road growing up, but I never got the itch to move there like a lot of my friends did. It's one of the most beautiful cities in the world in my opinion and I always feel at home when I catch sight of the ocean and mountains when flying in to YVR. I do enjoy heading down to check out concerts every now and then, but honestly after more than a day or two I start to wig out and need to get back up the Sea To Sky to my home in the hills.
Me: Has growing up in the mountains giving you the drive to continue to explore other parts of the world or are you happier exploring at home?
Austin: I'd say both! I love to travel to new places to ski and explore because I really enjoy learning about other cultures and peoples history in the mountains, but I also know that there's more than a lifetime of skiing and adventuring to do right in my backyard. I guess it's dependent on current conditions. For example, I've been traveling a lot this season because we aren't having the best snow year on the Coast but there are years where I don't feel I have to search far for my fix.
Me: How many days would you say you get out skiing?
Austin: Hmmm, I don't know... I don't really count. I mean, "how many days do you brush your teeth?" Haha. Let's just say a lot.
Me: What is a normal day for you in the off-season?
Austin: Well, I ski right until late July on the Blackcomb Glacier coaching at Momentum Ski Camp and in the last few years I've been making the pilgrimage to South America in August to continue the ski quest. So in that regard my "off season" is pretty short, but I usually fill my time with paragliding, climbing, skateboarding, mountain biking, trail running... a ton of fun stuff outside. I also do some roofing for a local contractor and I work as a stunt person/model in the film industry...
Me: In the 24 Mountain Life video you aren’t skiing at all. If skiing was not an option what would you instead?
Austin: I'd probably be spending a lot more time in the air. I'm comfortable up in the sky and I love how paragliding is a real solo sport. Sure, I have radio contact with other pilots, but from the moment my feet leave the ground I'm making my own decisions, going where I want to go and I'm not restricted by gravity. It's the full 3D experience and I love how it gives me the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Yup, if I weren’t skiing I'd be traveling the world in search of new places to fly.
Me: You seem to be stoked all the time. What advice do have for people to raise their continued daily stoke?
Austin: Find inspiration in your surroundings and don't be afraid to try new things! There's a whole world out there just waiting to be explored and it's up to us as individuals to take the first step.
Me: I see a lot of social media of you paragliding and now in this short video for our Mountain Life collection. What got you into it and how rad is it?
Austin: I was playing soccer at the community centre in Pemby (Pemberton) when I was a kid and we were having a blast running around when all of the sudden I saw a man come out of the sky and land in the corner of the field. After witnessing that, chasing a ball with 20 other kids didn't seem as exciting anymore. Turns out that person was Jim Orava, a friend of my parents and a legendary paraglider who's flown all over the world. Years later I gave him a call when I got home from tree planting and had a little money saved, I told him I was interested in learning to fly. He said to meet him at that same field in 15 mins and after some ground handling and kiting, I piled into a van with Scott Flavelle and a few other local legends and next thing I knew I was running off the side of the mountain. I was hooked from that moment on and after a trip to fly in Valle de Bravo with Jim and Arc'tertx athletes Jason Kruk and Paul McSorely I knew I'd found another lifelong passion to explore. Cacawwwww!
Me: What is next for you, this season and beyond? Any dream lines or location you must get to?
Austin: Well, my ski season has been one of the busiest yet and it doesn't look like it's going to slow down. Next week I head back over to Chamonix for a few days and then it's off to San Martino, Italy for the Euro Arc'teryx Athlete Camp and King of the Dolomite Photo Competition. After that I'm heading to Japan to climb and ski a volcano with the Volkl crew (Stian Hagen, Christina Lustenberger), then Spain, Iceland and another trip south to Chile this summer.
Me: Anything inspirational you want to add?
Austin: Find what makes you happy and pursue it with endless conviction. We have a short time on this earth and it's about the quality of life and the experiences we share. #learntocrow
Me: Are you a Hi-five, pound or handshake guy?
Austin: A good solid shake with eye contact I suppose... Hi-fives out in the field when the stoke is high.