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Mobilizing for Mt. Baker

Photography by Oskar Enander It started with a late night phone call from Ben. His intonation was slightly juiced. “I think this is going to be a good one,” he explained, “I’ve been tracking the blob and it's a fast-moving monster headed for Baker. What are the chances of getting the crew here by Sunday?” Long pause. It was Thursday night. I thought, well, let’s see. The DPS Koalas: Stephan is injured (knee), Drew is also injured (hip), Piers, on last Facebook check was somewhere in Barcelona enjoying some R&R with his girlfriend, Olof was in Andorra gearing up to compete in a freeride comp, albeit with an ailing back, and Zack was presumably roving around interior BC towing a Tiny House. Not to mention photographer Oskar Enander was shooting who-knows-where in Europe. The Koalas weren’t scheduled to convene for another month for an AK trip. “Sure thing,” I said, “Two days. Shouldn’t be a problem.” photo 1 What happened next was part White House situation room, part Commandant Lassard fish bowl juggling. Proctor! Zack was the first to respond: luckily he was hovering in his home state, Washington, rather than Canada. He said he only had a few days to ski before needing to drive up to AK for the spring season, but count him in. Olof was reached after several Skype and email attempts and explained that he was invested in the Andorran freeride competition and despite an ailing back could probably get on a plane from Zurich to Seattle the day after the comp. Piers. Well, Piers was non-responsive; presumably and justifiably so, shunning all contact with the outside world (via phone, text, email, Facebook, smoke signals) you name it, holed-up somewhere Spanish and cozy. And that’s how it happened. Ben was craving some mellow time and deep pow after months of grueling work wrapping-up a busy film tour for Valhalla. photo 3 They lads started to move. Slowly. The prospect of a forecast that called for up to six feet in the next 48 hours in the Mt. Baker area took precedent over girlfriends, rest, and the inconvenience of last-second travel. photo 2_n Zack was on the mountain by Sunday morning. The storm came in hard and they rode inthe trees from bell to whistle. Piers and Oskar made it to Seattle late Sunday night, followed by a slow drive to Bellingham, arriving before dawn on Monday. With less than two hours of sleep and fifteen hours of steerage time behind them, they were in their boots early morning, and rode deep all day. photo 7 By the time Olof arrived on Tuesday (energized by a first place showing in Andorra the day before), Ben and Oskar’s cameras went caput on account of extreme moisture content in the air—something neither of them had experienced in nearly 35 years of combined shooting. The air was beyond wet, while the snow remained dry. The artists were highly concerned. photo 6 In the end, a day later, the old rice in the bag trick absorbed enough moisture to get their gear functional again. The Koalas pushed on. Olof with his sore back, Piers nursing a strained ligament, and Zach needing to hit the road to AK, they timed it just right to ski the weeklong storm, which totaled over 100 inches. photo 5 Stay tuned for Whitewash, shot exclusively on the RED camera, capturing the Baker magic from that stormy late February week. Whitewash releases on Nov. 18, 2014 on dpsskis.com/cinematic. Whitewash presented by DPS Cinematic in association with Outdoor Research and Gore-Tex transports you to Mt. Baker and the PNW at its finest, as the DPS Koalas materialized for the deepest storm cycle of last season, skiing five consecutive days in a white, woodland paradise.