The Good Life: Dan Gavere Is Away from His Desk

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Outside magazine, May 1996

The Good Life: Dan Gavere Is Away from His Desk

The mobile art of making a living in the Big Inestimable
By Paul Kvinta

“I really need a cellular phone,” frets Dan Gavere, kayaker-snowboarder extraordinaire, from a pay phone in Aspen, Colorado. “No, I need an agent.”

Gavere’s red, white, and blue 1973 Dodge Titan motor home is double-parked nearby, stuffed with 50 snowboards and a Macintosh Powerbook and pointed toward Solitude, Utah, the next stop on a barnstorming tour of ski towns to promote his favorite brand of snowboard gear. Gavere, a 26-year-old who wears his jeans baggy and his baseball cap low, rattles off tomorrow’s schedule:
Wake at 6:30. Wax snowboards. Make demonstration runs for retailers. E-mail contacts about a possible kayaking trip to Chile. Call the manufacturer about a new kayak that he helped design. Schmooze. Make demo runs. Eat breakfast.

Indeed, in the often low-rent world of adventure sports, Dan Gavere has a good thing going. Near the top of the pack in both freestyle snowboarding and kayaking, Gavere moves seamlessly from winter to spring and sport to sport. And to the envy of officebound warriors everywhere, he makes a decent living at it. Gavere himself admits it’s something of a dream life.

Best known as a paddler, the Salt Lake City native dominated last year’s international whitewater rodeo circuit–this year’s season just got under way on California’s Kern River–and has become renowned for his descents of some of the world’s wildest whitewater. Oddly enough, he says he trains for all that tossing and turning on a snowboard. “In both sports, it’s about knowing
what gravity does to your body,” he says, explaining that he’s even translated snowboarding moves into kayaking moves. On top of it all, Gavere usually has several business deals, such as selling photos and producing videos and films, in the works.

What holds this one-man show together? “The mobile home,” quips Gavere. “That and the recyclability of snow. First, you snowboard on it, then you paddle it.”

Gavere got his start in both paddling and snowboarding as a teenager. After high school he moved to Montana and started a snowboard shop, an investment that paid off big–but not because he sold a lot of boards. Gavere began guiding photographers and models around the backcountry, and the photographers soon discovered that he could spin off cliffs as well as anybody. Gavere
sold the shop and now makes $500 a day in front of the camera. Still, he says, his passion is paddling. The change from winter to spring makes him giddy.

“We’re coming up on transition time,” Gavere says. “Time to get rid of all these snowboards and load up the flotilla of kayaks.”

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