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Ian McIntosh: Making the Best of All Adventures

At the beginning of his ski career, Ian McIntosh’s winter had a usual pattern: film in his backyard of British Columbia, and then migrate up north to Alaska. But as McIntosh established himself as a prominent big mountain skier, he found himself itching to explore. Staying put in Canada became increasingly rare for him as he set out for distant mountain ranges. This year, however, was different. He got back to his roots. For the first part of the winter, he was back in the Coast Range of BC with a new perspective. Joining him was Nick McNutt, who was eager to collaborate with the longtime TGR veteran. The two went exploring between their homes of Pemberton and Squamish with hopes to tap into new zones.

RELATED: Christina Lustenberger — Old Friends and New Experiences

But as always, McIntosh migrated elsewhere for the spring. When he heard murmurs that TGR was filming a segment in Lofoten, Norway he immediately put his name in the hat to be considered. Together with longtime friends Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Christina Lustenberger, he explored towering mountains that rose straight up from frigid ocean waters. All in all, it made for a trip they’ll never forget.

British Columbia is your backyard. What gets you excited to be filming out there?

Ian McIntosh: I actually hadn’t filmed around my home in years. I had this feeling that I’d explored my backyard quite a bit and wanted to expand my horizons.

Last winter was a unique opportunity with having Nick McNutt on the TGR crew now and he’s from this area as well. We had the chance to go out and explore the area [which area], and it gave me the chance to see everything with a set of fresh eyes with him. When went back to these old zones that we used to go to for years. Watching McNutt spin off features here and there was a treat, as well as being close to home for once. I travel a lot and love where I live, so I like to be able to stick close to home for a good chunk of the season.

McIntosh putting down some fresh tracks up in BC. Ben Dann photo.

How were the conditions?

IM: We were filming around January/February so a lot of the stuff I really had my eyes on wasn’t getting ripe yet. So the trip was more exploring with McNutt and showing him to a few zones he hadn’t seen before. We also tried to punch into some newer terrain that was in between Pemberton and Squamish. It was good, but it was a little early to go after a few things on my wishlist. Even though it wasn’t super productive for me it was super enjoyable. Plus, there’s always next year. It’s pretty amazing that I’m going into my 14th year of professional skiing and there’s still so much out there in the Pemberton area. It’s pretty cool that it’s that vast.

What’s it like working with Nick McNutt?

IM: He’s such a talented skier. He can pretty much ski anything and make it look amazing. For him, the trip was really successful. For me, I get a lot of satisfaction from helping a guy like McNutt achieve his potential. He’s one of the most talented skiers in the world right now, and his name and brand are up and coming. So the trip was a mix of supporting him and personally getting warmed up for the rest of winter.

You don’t get a view like this skiing every day—unless you’re in Norway. Ming T Poon photo.

You also joined the Norway crew. How was that experience?

IM: It was my first time skiing in Norway. When the idea came up to go there I was on board right away. I saw it as an opportunity to go ski in a place that I’ve heard so much about. It looked like one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I’d kick myself if looked back on my career and didn’t take advantage of these kinds of opportunities. Sage and Christina seemed keen so I knew we were going to have a good crew. We just wanted to explore, since most of us had never been there before.

Do you have a favorite moment from that trip?

IM: My favorite thing about that whole trip was every time we topped out you would be rewarded with the most beautiful scenery you’d ever seen. You’ve got these amazing peaks that go right down to the ocean, which has crystal clear water. It’s turquoise blue and looks like something straight from the Mediterranean. It’s a surreal landscape you can’t really see anywhere else in the world. At times we got to ski straight to a boat which brought us to the next zone, I had definitely never done that before. There were great lines, great people, and overall it was just a great trip.

McIntosh reaping the rewards of his long hike. Ming T Poon Photo.

How was the dynamic with Sage and Christina?

IM: It was awesome. I grew up ski racing with Christina and we knew each other quite well when we were young. She continued to pursue the race scene and did quite well with that. After she retired from ski racing, she went and pursued the guide route and got her ACMG certification. She’s one of the strongest female skiers I’ve ever known. So she started to get noticed in the freeride world. Fast forward to the present day, and we’ve gone completely different routes to get to where we are but here we are together in a place like Norway, freeriding for TGR. Not only is she super strong, but she’s really smart.

Sage and I have a ton of history in the mountains together. We’ve explored some pretty amazing mountains over the years, so we have a rapport and really trust each other. Sage wants to ski rad stuff, but also see the world. So we all recognized that this was an incredible opportunity.

A little BTS from the Norway segment. Ming T Poon photo.

It seemed like the crew really heightened the experience, would you agree?

IM: Something a lot of people don’t realize is a big part of what we do involves everyone—even behind the scenes. That means all the people operating cameras, and TGR has an amazing crew. When I got the full list of everyone who was coming on the production side I was so excited because I love working with all these people. Regardless of snow conditions, I know that we will make the best of it. For this trip, it was crucial because we didn’t get the best of snow conditions. We got really really warm temperatures and it rained a bunch at the top, so it wasn’t ideal. We had to persevere and that where team morale is so crucial. The second you have one member of the team who’s over it, it just brings everyone down.

That wasn’t the case at all. Regardless of the conditions, we made the best of it. This made the trip super memorable and super fun.

Well, that’s worth talking about. The reality is that you can’t control what happens on these trips. It sounds like you guys made the best of it.

IM: This is our sport to a T. Our sport is a weather dependent sport, so mother nature is ultimately going to dictate what we get to experience when we go into these places. It’s the mindset that dictates how much you’ll enjoy it. More often you’re not going to get the conditions that you want. But when the conditions are good it makes you appreciate how amazing it is. So, it’s important to still make the best of something if things don’t line up.

The whole point of a ski movie is to get people hyped about winter. So we wanted this segment to be fun because we had a good time and an awesome adventure. 

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