Atomic and Spyder athlete, Tim Durtschi is a stalwart of TGR films. | Photo: Eric Parker
Years of prominence in the freeskiing world has solidified Tim Durtschi’s status as a legend. A staple of our annual snow films for over a decade, Tim continues to push himself to heights unknown. Skiing is his vehicle to travel the world, and Tim embarked on an expedition to Patagonia and all its rugged, natural beauty to score some South American lines. Watch his episode of Legends In The Making.
Patagonia. Just the name catalyzes one’s imagination. Have you skied there previously?
I've spent a little bit of time in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly in New Zealand and Chile. I didn’t know there was skiing much further south in Chile, but there we were, exploring a new zone in southern Chile. It shows that there is a lot of unexplored skiing out there in the world, and it's pretty cool to be a part of a crew doing that.
On location with the crew at Eleven (Experiences). | Photo: Eric Parker
What’s Patagonia’s terrain like?
When TGR initially invited me, I really didn't know what to expect. After two-and-a-half days of travel, we arrived and were met with jungle-like terrain. It's really rugged country. Very rural, that part of the world is underdeveloped. The jungle creeps up the mountains and then above the tree line are all snow-capped, jagged granite peaks. The rock creates these super unique layers and ramps and different features. Not only is the terrain super unique, but the weather is as well. The storms move in quickly, dump snow, and then clear, allowing us to get up there and ski. We took a charter flight from Santiago and flew over such dramatic landscapes as we approached our final destination. It was good to take that charter flight because we got to see a lot of the terrain that we'd be flying the helicopter in and skiing in, and it just really hit home that, wow, we are exploring a remote part of the world with TGR, which is super special. Exploring new terrain, new lines in the southern Andes with the first heli operation in the area, it was a pretty unreal experience.
From JHMR to Patagonia, once Durtschi clicks into his skis, it's all good. | Photo: Eric Parker
How different is skiing in Chile / southern hemisphere vs. northern hemisphere?
The southern Andes is a unique climate, once it starts snowing there it just turns on. It’s such a contrast to be skiing above tree line and then returning to the lodge afterwards, which is in a jungle-like dense forest. The landscapes are so dramatic; the snow line is very definitive. It felt like full-on summer in the forest, and then we’re up in the heli and it’s winter. The skiing isn’t hugely different, but the biggest difference I noticed is the culture. The food, the people, the tranquilo vibe. Loved all that. Once I clicked into my skis, it didn't feel any different. One unique experience we had on a down day was going whitewater rafting, since October in the southern hemisphere is like April in the northern hemisphere. That was a new experience for the crew and me, getting to run these amazing rivers while waiting for better skiing conditions.
Skiing is your vehicle for exploring the world. On your long list of ski travel, where does this trip to Patagonia rank?
Patagonia was one of the more remote spots that I’ve traveled to for skiing. There are no resorts around. There’s so much undiscovered terrain there. The guides we worked with at Eleven's heli lodge put in so much work to scope these zones, and without them sharing the knowledge with us, there wouldn’t have been a trip. I’m super thankful for this cool opportunity, and I really appreciated the different and more exploratory aspect to it. It’s a trip I won’t soon forget and it inspires me to keep pushing and seeing what’s out there.
All-time S'mores crew, Atomic athletes Tim, Janelle Yip and Nick McNutt. | Photo: Eric Parker
Tell us about the crew you were with.
I traveled to Patagonia with Nick McNutt and Janelle Yip [of The Blondes]. TGR asked Nick and I about a month before the trip if we wanted to go and we simply couldn’t refuse. Janelle was super stoked to receive the invite and it helped that she was the only person who could make it happen on such short notice besides us [Nick and myself]. I hadn’t spent much time with Janelle at all, and super happy she came along. She’s a very creative skier who is keen to huck and try new things. It was amazing for all three of us to experience something new and unique together. We were all equally stoked to be there, and coincidentally, we all ski for Atomic. That wasn’t planned, it just worked out that way.
You’ve skied with Nick McNutt a lot. How did that relationship dynamic impact your skiing and this expedition experience overall?
I’ve known Nick for a long time, we met filming for Almost Ablaze. We’re similar in a lot of ways. The coolest thing about flying around Patagonia together was that everything was pretty much brand new. I really enjoyed the camaraderie. Patagonia flipped everything on its head, with deep couloirs and new terrain in a unique part of the world. All-in, we both were super stoked on experiencing everything new together. Funny enough, we both were asked to go on this trip before we’d even seen Magic Hour. Like, okay, guess we’ll start filming for the next film! There are such sparse opportunities to film in the southern Andes that neither of us could turn down the trip.
Tim taking advantage of a down-day in Patagonia. | Photo: Eric Parker
You’ve been a legend in the making for a long time. What’s it like to be looked up to?
It’s very cool. I enjoy passing along my knowledge I’ve gathered over the years. This past winter, I had the opportunity to ski with Marcus Goguen and Weitien Ho. They have this vision in their skiing that’s so creative. It reminds me of the same spark that I had when I was first starting out and inspires me even more to see and be around that youthful energy. TGR’s done a great job of keeping the generational aspect alive, which is really important. Not only for reasons of safety and knowledge in the mountains, but passing along information and wisdom to the younger generation is really powerful. TGR’s a family; young bucks and old-timers all get along. It’s a symbiotic relationship where every athlete brings a unique thing to the table that everybody accepts and appreciates. It’s really refreshing to have this big mix of talent, creativity, and wisdom. There’s so much value in the different generations and it’s fun to see that skiing is a timeless passion for all of us.
"Skiing is so fun." | Photo: Eric Parker
Who are your legends you’ve drawn inspiration from?
I mainly looked up to the first generation of TGR athletes, Jeremy Nobis, Kent Kreitler, Gordy Pfeiffer, JP Auclair. Pep Fujas too. Sage Cattabriga–Alosa for sure. I met Sage when I was Kai’s age. Skiing is so fun, I just wanna do it forever!
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming freeskiers?
Keep letting the creativity flow! I feel like they see what the pros are doing, and then they put their own spin on it. That mentality – skiing as self-expression – will help progress the sport as they figure out what’s possible. Sometimes I’m in awe because it’s almost like the younger kids are redefining cliff jumping and resetting the baseline tricks you need to have in your bag. Keep it up young bucks!