SKIING’s interview with Eric Pehota, a skiing purist who is widely considered the most accomplished adventure skier in North America.
Name: Eric Pehota
Age when you started skiing: Four
Hometown/where you learned to ski: Azu Ski Village, Northern British Columbia
When did it hit you that you could be a pro/competitive skier? “It still hasn’t — I still work in the summertime. I never really planned it. And I still don’t rely on it as a full-time living. It’s a bonus.”
Current ski mountain: Whistler/Blackcomb
Claim to fame/results/first descents: First descent of East Face of Tantalus, Coastal Range B.C.; The North Face of Dalton Dome (named after Eric’s son); Mt. Meteor, in Chugach Range; Pontoon Peak in Chugach (one of the biggest vertical descents in the Chugach); 50 prominent first descents
Have any pets? Two kids.
What’s your favorite food? Fresh Sockeye Salmon
What’s your beverage of choice? Beer. Kokanee.
What’s your favorite band? AC/DC
What kind of car do you drive? A Dodge Diesel pickup
Last book you read: “Surf Magazines — I’m too busy to read.”
Do you have a ski hero? If so, who and why? “Ron Strobl. I looked up to him when I was a kid — pulling double flips and double backs. He was way ahead of his time.”
Movies you’ve been in: This year’s Warren Miller flick, Ride,and Parental Advisory
Pastimes off the hill: Mountain biking; flyfishing for steelheads; running rivers (kayak, raft, or jet ski); my sawmill
Plans for the future: “To keep doing what I’m doing. To continue to climb and ski and maintain my health and fitness long enough that I can introduce my kids to what I love.”
What are your thoughts on the state of the ski industry? “Right now I think it’s full-bore ahead. The new-school is population control; kids going into the terrain parks means more powder for the freeriders and the soul-carvers.”
Which do you consider yourself to be first, a mountaineer or a skier? A skier.
Snowmobiles: nuisance or necessity? “Neither. It’s a personal thing. I own one. I use them to access valleys that have been logged that would take a day to get to by foot.”
Which makes the uphill climb more worth it, the powder or the views? “The views and the serenity. Every time I go into Blackcomb Glacier, it’s as beautiful as the first time I was there. The good snow is just a bonus.”
What’s the most harrowing near-miss you’ve ever had? “It seems to happen more on climbing trips than skiing. Crossing from glacier to rock, I crossed a snow bridge and it collapsed and I tumbled 40 feet to a ledge, with a huge abyss below. My number wasn’t up. Another was feeling an avalanche crumble under my feet and watching a friend die five feet below me.”
Do you think fat skis are a game-improvement tool or a crutch? “They’re a huge improvement tool. They’re giving everyone new life in the ski world. Fat skis have brought skiing to where it is today.”
Skiboarders? Shoot ’em or hug ’em? “Love ’em. More population control — they’ll never ski where I ski. More power to ’em.
Any words of wisdom for our readers? “Being a father with two boys, I’d say use good mountain sense and you’ll be able to do it until your 65. ‘Keep your stick on the ice…’ that’s Canadian.”