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Rafts, Skis, and Sharp Shooters: An Interview with Drew Stoecklein

We chatted with pro skier and photographer Drew Stoecklein about his raft-assisted ski trip in Idaho last spring, consuming alcohol out of rubber booties, and what he'd do with a dead bear.

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Professional big-mountain skier Drew Stoecklein spent last spring river rafting to ski destinations in Idaho’s Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness, for a feature story in our February issue called “The Descent.” Along with big-mountain skiers Jeremy Benson, Lynn Kennen, and Griffin Post, Stoecklein attempted (and failed) to shoot a trophy grizzly bear, drank his maximum intake of tequila and whiskey shots, and explored new terrain in Idaho. We caught up with Drew to find out a little more about their boat’s ammunition load, drinking from neoprene shoes, and class four rapids.

How much alcohol did you consume from your neoprene booties on the raft? I would say that I had more Twiskeys from a bootie than I have fingers and toes. The Twisky (a whiskey-tequila mix) is a drink created by Julian Carr and Billy Poole; now taken in celebration of Billy Poole’s life. 

Whose bootie were you drinking from? Depends on whose bootie was closest at the time.

How difficult was the rafting? We paddled class four rapids with class three consequences. The main issue we had for the first 30 miles was the lack of water in the river. We spent a lot of time in the freezing water dragging the raft over rocks.

Any epic ski conditions? The skiing could have been a lot better, but we were inspired by the range’s potential and the accessibility of remote terrain from a raft. Griffin, Rico, and I are actually attempting to put together another skiing and rafting trip this spring.

Rafting spring run-off with snow on the ground sounds cold. Describe. Cold enough to make soft neoprene boots feel as hard as rock when putting them on in the morning.

From the story we know you wanted to kill a bear. What would you do with a dead bear? I would have made it into a bear rug for in front of my fire place.

Did your shooting range skills improve on the trip? It’s difficult to compete when there are sharp shooters on the trip, like Lynn Kennen and Jeremy Benson. 

What about Griffin’s aim? How can you not improve a little on your shot with a boat full of ammunition? 

Before the trip how much rafting experience did you actually have? I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert, but I have enough to get safely from point a to point b.

Anything you would do differently next time? I would leave later in the spring and hope for a good corn cycle.

Any close calls on the raft? One of the coldest days on the river we had a freezing head wind with snow. It was so cold that we had to have one person row the raft while the others ran along the river to stay warm.