Brian Cross

Face Shots

Brian Cross’s high school yearbook photo wouldn’t have landed him a role in Sixteen Candles. For starters, he was seriously losing his hair. Then there’s the facial mane: Even before his telemarking pals dubbed him “The Bald Bomber” (for skiing naked-and crashing-in a home movie), the kid had a beard like an Amish billygoat. Now, three decades after graduating British Columbia’s North Kamloops High, nothing has changed-besides a few flecks of gray. Cross’s partner of 20 years, Penny Clarke, hasn’t seen his cheeks. Ever.

But the Bomber, 47, is more than just a hairy face. As co-owner of B.C.’s heli-accessed Valhalla Lodge, he has logged more virgin turns than he has hair follicles (which, FYI, is around 100,000). He’s notched 70 backcountry days a year for two-plus decades, netting 1,500 tours and four million vert-in the Selkirks alone. “I get out pretty often,” he says modestly. And he’s got the Kokanee keg-size thighs to show for it.

Not only that, Cross has deve-loped A-plus compass, map, and altimeter skills from years as a mineral prospector. And his off-season trade, too ironically, involves shaving: He owns a 110-acre sheep farm in Winlaw, B.C., that sells feta, yogurt-and socks. But, he notes, “Sheep don’t produce wool in winter, which gives me time to ski, not shear.” All that skiing landed Cross his first big-screen moment, whiskers streaming in slo-mo, in Bill Heath’s Sinners, a rootsy ski flick by, for, and about B.C. locals. But he shrugs off his fame-especially when it comes to his beard. “It started because the girls thought it was cute,” he says. “I’ve been told I grow a good ‘un.”

LAST BRUSH WITH A RAZOR: 1983. “I didn’t like it-it made me feel all itchy.”
HIDDEN BEARD BENEFIT: “It creates an Avalung-like air pocket if I ever get buried-so I can get a few extra breaths.”
DOWN THE MIDDLE: “Once, my beard completely split in two in a windstorm, and froze that way.”
ROGAINE? “Nope, never tried it. I have enough hair elsewhere.”

September 2005