Best ADL Moments of Winter 2020

Published by Kyle Watson on

We had five crazy trips this winter with five different groups of fun, adventurous ADL members. On each trip there were people we met or things that happened which created hilarious stories and memories to last a lifetime. We can’t fit them all on here as honestly, there were too many but, we can pick a few of the best images and share more details about the stories behind them.

L to R: The Three Heroes Daron Rahlves, AJ Kitt, Kyle Rassmusen
One of the highlights of the Wengen Trip was having former World Cup racer and Olympian AJ Kitt, join us as a host and traveling companion. AJ raced at Wengen quite a few times and did very well but, never won it. However, the two other guys on each side of him did. This years race was the 90th Edition and to celebrate they invited all the past winners to come for the weekend. Three Americans have won this race. The first was our hero Bill Johnson who tragically passed away a few years ago from complications of a TBI injury. The others were Kyle Rassmussen and Daron Rahlves. Pretty spectacular to be standing at Canadian corner watching this years race unfold and getting live commentary/discussions from all three. We sent this photo to each of them after we got home and Daron Rahlves replied with, “My heroes!” I think that’s telling and speaks for all of us who followed US ski racing and rooted for these guys.
For the full story on our Wengen Trip Click Here.
Wengen is big. The scale and beauty of the mountains of the Jungfrau region are hard to put into words. We were lucky to have 3 days of great weather during the race weekend. Thurs and Saturday we got to watch the famous air show put on by the Suisse Air Force and Swiss Air. The show is reason enough to be there for the races – it’s incredible. Look closely here at this photo and you will see an Airbus 320 flying under the shadow of the North Face of the Eiger with 5 fighter jets tailing it. That’s a big plane. The mountain is immense.
For the full story and more photos from the airshow see our Wengen Trip Here.
L to R: Sam Avaiusini, Dana Mckenzie, Nancy Riley-Jones, Natalie Pryde, Deb McKenzie, Lori Avaiusini, Merilyn Moss, Mike Prittie
The Wengen participants were a fun loving group of ADL-ers who like most of us race fans, probably all dreamed of being downhill racers at one point in their lives. That spirit of tucking long, fast runs never dies. We went to the top of Murren and visited the Shilthorn (see it behind us here at the top) It’s where they filmed the James Bond movie – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service from 1969. We had a blast up there and then skied down one of the steepest runs in Europe. It was a great group and the memories and friendships built are a really special bonus on top of the experiences shared.
For the full story on our Wengen Trip Click Here.
From L to R Pictured: Deb McKenzie, Walter & Derek Popp
That’s Walter the farmer that hosts an illegal, unsanctioned by the town, après party at his barn halfway down the Streif. It’s very easy to ski right past his place without even noticing there was something magical going on in the back yard. In fact, we had skied right by it in past years. This year there was a crudely painted sign in broken English stating simply Après Ski with a heart. There were also painted arrows in the snow leading you around the back of the barn. Curiosity got the better of us and we decided to venture back. Turning the corner we were greeted by parked skis, chickens, a dog, some cats and a bunch of skiers partying to the loud rhythm of German death metal. Walter was d-u-m-b drunk and greeted us with big, wild eyes and pointed us to crates filled with big beers. Donation only he said. His wife collected fives and tens and twenties. There was a small wood shed that doubled as a warming hutte. We poked our heads in and the other half of our group was in there partying it up with some other visitors – “You found us, they said!” Walter had a microphone and was telling us to make ourselves at home, to share his house, to make fire, to party and then he would shout a death metal growl into the mic. It was equal parts disturbing and hilarious. Nobody will ever forget Walters Bar.
See more photos and stories in the Kitz Story Post
The happy couple: Laura Raynes Walker and Kjetl Jansrud
Laura Raynes Walker was a last second addition to our trip. A spot opened up and she went for it. She also dove right into the spirit of things at Kitzbuhel. After the awards ceremony for the Men’s Super G race she was walking back to town to meet the rest of us for dinner. It just so happened that our restaurant was at the hotel where the Norwegian Team was headquartered. As she walked into the lobby Kjetl Jansrud the winner of the race was also coming in holding his new trophy. Laura has gumption and confidence. She congratulated him and asked if a picture would be possible. Kjetl is a nice guy. He said yes and if you didn’t know better you would think they were a couple. I mean why not? Super cool moment for Laura at her first Hahnenkamm race and thanks to Kjetl for being super classy and generous with his time.
See more photos and stories in the Kitz Story Post
Derek Popp, Suisse Army Lipstick Guy, Kyle Watson
The Schladming Night Slalom Race is always a carnival and the people in the audience are just as entertaining as the racers. This year was quite funny as we brought tea-candle raclette stoves and supplies to join a group of Suisse fans who show up every year. They always sit at the same spot and cook up raclette with bread and Pancetta and share it with us and others who stop by. We surprised them this year by bringing our own supplies and cooking with them. Lipstick guy was part of their group. We don’t know why he was wearing it other than to be festive but as he was big and dressed in army surplus clothing it was quite the look. To say he made us laugh is understatement.
See more photos and stories in the Kitz Story Post
From L to R: Paul McGregor, Mark Shanaberger, Eric Miller, Dana McKenzie, Kyle Watson, Stein Helgesen, Brad Mombert
Somebody must have just buried a nail in one shot because the reaction is classic – HAMMERSCHLAGEN!! One of the highlights of the Austria trip is our annual visit to the Dohlen Nest (Crows Nest) Hutte at Axamer Lizum. Natalie, the manager, reserves the whole place for us at lunch and they provide great food, drinks and Gemutlich overload.
See more photos and stories in the Kitz Story Post
Austen Law aka “Sauceten” getting what he came for in Japow
Our first day in Japan looked like this. We got up early, loaded up the vans and went to Lotte Arai. It was blue bird and the day after a big storm. We know from experience you have to get to Arai early. Its got too much sun exposure and it heats up fast. However, they open the lifts at 8:30 so if you’re there before that you can score 2-3 good hours of inbound powder like you see in the photo of Sir Austen. This was probably his first run of the trip. We didn’t waste any time getting photos of everyone on this one. Sauceten has a dream of being sponsored by a big brand like K2 and making the cover of Powder with turns like this… it’s a good dream.
For more shots and stories from Japow Click Here.
Mikio Inoue greeting us as we load the first chair to perfect conditions
Mikio Inoue is the owner of the oldest ski resort in Japan, Seki Onsen. Founded in 1907 it’s actually one of the oldest in the world. He and his family run the small resort with help from their daughter and their son. The mountain has only two lifts but it’s the epitome of a unique gem resort with incredible terrain and fantastic powder. We have become friends over the years and this season our club banner hung from one of the lift towers. You can see him here wearing our Japow hat and his coffee mug has our club fast woman koozie on it – Brought a tear to our eyes 🙂 This was day 2 – 9:00 AM and it was epic!!
For more shots and stories from Japow Click Here.
Our German friend getting first tracks with plenty left over for all of us.
It was the worst winter in 50 years… Now you know why it’s so good. Seki is fantastic if you know when to go and if you have your own vans. We have both as well as text messages from the owner with live reports.
For more shots and stories from Japow Click Here.
The lift maintenance building at Seki has been converted into a quaint little après bar. When the liftie is done turning chairs he pours drinks and plays music. It’s one of the coolest ski bars in the world. There is a new signature drink we taught him to make… It’s basically a Sake Bomb where you drop a shot of Sake into a beer and drink it. However, we told him to call it a Seki Bomb! It’s an ADL classic.
For more shots and stories from Japow Click Here.
The Snow Monkeys
Yes sometimes we go to see the famous Snow Monkeys. It’s a catch-22 though because if you see pictures of these from a trip summary than you know there was a day with bad weather, because if you’re going to see these guys it’s definitely not a pow day – atleast on an ADL led trip. Monkeys can be seen on our last day, Saturday, before heading to the Temple at Nagano and back to Tokyo. They are interesting but not worth sacrificing an epic pow day for IMHO.
For more shots and stories from Japow Click Here.
L to R: Luke Keenan, Kyle Watson, Sandy Wilson, The Ukranian and Sandy’s good friend From University
We always end the Japan trips in Tokyo with one last night of good times and fantastic food. This year we found this micro seafood restaurant in Piss Alley, Shinkuku. The food was fantastic from grilled calamari, to sautéed abalone and prawns everything was incredible and cheap. We ate like pigs and Sandy’s buddy made sure our Sake glasses were never empty. It was hilarious.
For more shots and stories from Japow Click Here.
L to R: Glenn Plake, Alex Yount, Joel McQuade, Kyle Watson
Chamonix and Glenn Plake go together like French bread and Cheese. We were waiting for our reserved tram to Aguile du Midi to ski the Valle Blanche and Mr. Plake was waiting nearby amongst the throng of guides and excited back country skiers. Last fall we started the season by showing his famous movie, The Blizzard Of Aaaaah’s at our big ADL movie night at the North Bend Theater in WA. Greg Stump who made the movie was there too as our special guest MC. It was an epic night. So what better way to end the season than getting to meet the mayor of Chamonix, ride the tram with him and then watch him ski down in front of us off the top? It was the start of an incredible day on the Valle Blanche and certainly reaffirmed our status as the coolest ski club in the world.
For more photos and stories from Chamonix Click Here
The Chamonix Group at Elev. 12,600 ft
We just walked down from Aguile Du Midi (Elevation 12,600) roped together in groups of 5, our harnesses connected with one climbing rope and our guide at the back anchoring us with crampons on. It’s an easy walk but it gets the heart beating. You look down slope 9000 feet to the town of Chamonix below. It would be a long slide if you fell, so yeah it’s exciting. Here we are at the end of the 10 minute hike down, putting our skis on and getting ready to ski the 12 miles down and out the Valle Blanche. It’s big and wide open with Mt Blanc looming another 2000 feet over you. Highlight of the week for sure.
For more photos and stories from Chamonix Click Here
Joel McQuade with room to play & making lines down the Valle Blanche
There are a few different routes down from the Aquile Du Midi and which one your guides choose really depends on the skiing ability of the whole group – you’re only as good as your weakest skier. The ADL groups are typically quite strong, so we got to go down a more interesting route than normal. The snow up top in the first 2000ft was really nice, but it was a sunny hot day and it warmed up fast. We got an early reservation on the tram and had far better conditions than most who came after us. It also helps to have good guides. We got that too.
For more photos and stories from Chamonix Click Here
If you give Alex Yount a nice launch pad and an audience you will be sure of one thing – he will send it.
Further down the Valle Blanche we found some north facing shade and a nice place to get some air. Alex Yount loves to send it so I got down below with my bigger lens to catch the action. I was actually very far away but the full res version of this is quite clear. Unfortunately, internet browsers only show images at 72dpi so this isn’t the best version, but it’s nice enough. Was fun watching him from below and the audience above was stoked too.
For more photos and stories from Chamonix Click Here
Statue of de Saussure, Chamonix
The Statue of de Saussure, located in the main square of Chamonix, honors Horace Bénédict de Saussure, the first to climb Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. Pointing toward this mountain, it reflects all of the passion of those first climbers. The town is filled with other statues and incredible views and architecture surround you and overwhelm your senses. It’s impossible to get enough of it. Until next next year…..
For more photos and stories from Chamonix Click Here