The Snow Report
As a kid, Kye Petersen, 22, used to head up into to the mountains around his Whistler, British Columbia, home to get away from things. His father, the acclaimed ski mountaineer Trevor Petersen, died in 1996 when an avalanche swept him down the Glacier Rond’s Exit couloir in Chamonix, France. Kye was six.
That’s how he learned to ski, Petersen says—taking it up into the hills, following older kids around, and just throwing down. These days, he’s perhaps the best skier of his generation—combining big-mountain bravado with terrain-park creativity. His skiing is bold, powerful, and fluid, and has caught the eye of everyone from Eric Pehota, his father’s former ski partner, to Seth Morrison.
In 2005, a 15-year-old Petersen made his first pilgrimage to Chamonix. With Glen Plake as his mentor, Petersen skied the Exit couloir, where his father had perished. His eyes were opened to Chamonix, ski-mountaineering, and some realizations about his father’s death—which was documented in the film The Edge of Never. Since then, he’s earned his place among the pantheon of big-mountain skiers. In 2009, he won the Red Bull Cold Rush, a proving ground for big-mountain athletes, edging out veterans JP Auclair and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa. He was 19. Last January, he won the Freeride World Tour competition in Revelstoke. He pretty much showed up at the last minute, then crushed his competition by hucking two 360s and a double drop in the semi-final round, then topping that off in the finals by throwing another 360 and stomping a massive cliff.
In the Sherpas’ 2011 film, All.I.Can, Petersen had one of the main segments, in which he popped a natural rodeo seven on a steep face in B.C. I was at Mica Heliskiing Lodge while the Sherpas were shooting this segment. When the crew—JP Auclair, Callum Pettit, Rory Bushfield, Dave Mossop and Eric Crossland—returned to the lodge that day, they were reeling with stoke, eyes lit up. Petersen was on another stratosphere.
At the moment, Petersen’s been getting ready for the season, lapping up early snow around his Whistler, B.C., home, and working on his segment in the new Sherpas Cinema film, Into the Mind, to be released in fall 2013. Here he talks about his dream ski trip, what it means to be “chamified,” and a recent mission to Bolivia.
You were in Bolivia this summer—what was that all about?
I was there in September with the Sherpas Cinema crew and Callum Pettit, Johnny Collinson, and Kris Erickson. We skied a couple of peaks, mainly Huayna Potosi, a 6,000-meter peak outside of La Paz. It was cool. Totally different. We hit it later in the season, so we missed snow and had to ski some icy conditions. We definitely rushed into it quick. It was all about getting through it and learning about altitude. We learned from our headaches and we ended up making it.
How would you describe your skiing style?
Playful. When I look at a slope, I just try to have as much fun as I can.
Where is your favorite place to ski?
Whistler or around British Columbia’s Coast Range.