18th Sep 2016
Southern Utah isn't usually the first place that springs to mind when you think of skiing, but that's exactly where Planks Local team rider Sawyer Thomas headed last season after a slew of snapchats from his friend Joey Thomason, urging him to join him on 'the trip of a lifetime'. This 'now or never' attitude seemed a bit dramatic at first, but after seeing some remarkable images of Bryce Canyon he felt compelled to leave the comfort of resort skiing and venture towards the unknown.
With no knowledge of the conditions, terrain, or even camping, Sawyer drove the 8 hours to the sandstone spires of Bryce Canyon and strategically placed his tent near the only place in town that served coffee. As he hunkered down behind some busses, unsure of what he would find when the sun rose, he watched the temperatures plummet to a bone chilling -15 degrees. He woke with the local conditions the best they had been in years and describes it as one of those "what are we in for" type moments as he and his friends set off in search of serious adventure.
Photo: Riis Wilbrecht
The crew headed to Red Canyon, 15 miles west of Bryce and being extremely optimistic they spotted some decent snow on the canyon walls that looked like the laid back turns through aesthetic red rock cathedrals they had envisioned. Turn one was a little firm and with turn two Sawyer dropped straight to rocks and dirt, he was a week late and that's when it began to sink in that skiing in the desert wasn’t exactly the fairytale he had envisioned. After that everywhere they went the fields were peppered with hidden rocks and unknown snow conditions, but with some assessment and a ton of prodding around the area, they finally began to find some areas that had held the snow and still captured the essence of the desert adventure.
Sawyer laying down some turns through the red rock cathedrals
Photo: Riis Wilbrecht
As time passed the cold dry snow quickly turned to sticky wet slush that kept everyone on their guard. It was an intense experience not knowing if your next turn was going to be rock, snow, or ice but after a few core shots and a hand-full of f-bombs they were finally able to make some decent turns through the canyons. Their final day in Bryce was when it all culminated into an hour of the most surreal skiing that Sawyer had ever experienced. But at the end of the day it was nothing but high fives!