In the ski world, you often hear stories of East Coasters fleeing west to find the Promised Land. They leave behind their humble, icy pasts for extreme, powder-filled futures, and never look back. But what you don’t typically hear are the stories about people who do look back—people who went west only to find that their Promised Land, it turns out, is still in the east.Brian Mohr, a photographer and backcountry skier now living in Moretown, Vermont is one of those people.
Mohr, originally from Sherborn, Massachusetts, moved west to chase powder and big mountains in 1992. He graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, met the love of his life (Emily), worked for the Sierra Club, and then was a consultant with the City of Boulder on bike- and transit-planning projects. But, after eight years of backcountry skiing in a state known for unsafe snowpack, it was time to move on.
"It doesn’t matter who you are. Colorado’s snowpack is often sketchy,” he says. “Dangerous layers of depth-hoar crystals can build up in the snowpack early in the season, followed by wind slabs building atop dangerous layers of surface-hoar throughout the winter,” Mohr says. In short, that adds up to make conditions unsafe.
“And then there’s all the driving out west to access skiing. It started to get old,” he says.
So he and Emily packed up, moved back East, and never looked back.
“There are a lot of things in life you don’t need to think about much—you just go with your instincts,” Mohr says. “I finally realized Vermont and the Northeast were calling again for all sorts of reasons.”
Now, the Mohrs make a living from their photography business, Ember Photography, but it’s the backcountry skiing right behind their house that makes the move worth it.
Their skiing isn’t limited to their backyard by any means either. Instead of walking on eggshells in Colorado’s backcountry, the Mohrs ski tour all over Vermont with very minimal concerns about avalanches. In fact, for the last few seasons, the couple has been skiing almost daily with their nearly three-year-old daughter who rides in a backpack. And their youngest daughter, who was born in July, will undoubtedly be skiing the backcountry this winter, too.
The Mohrs wouldn’t trade this for anything. Sure, it may be easier to find powder and bigger mountains out West, but the Northeast offers peace of mind, and plenty of untracked snow, if you know where to find it.