Searching for Ski Lines from the Air
A Beginner’s Guide to Backcountry Ski Gear
Ski-Mountaineering the Peaks of B.C.
Backcountry Skiing Under the Full Moon
This Ski Edit Balances Safety and Stoke
When Skiers Love a Place Too Much
Why You Should Ski in British Columbia
Couples Who Ski Together Stay Together
‘The Electric Adventurer’
What to Think About When Buying Skis
Essentials for Safe Backcountry Skiing
A Backcountry Lodge Unlike Anywhere Else
This One Goes Out to Backcountry Moms
How Guides Ski in the Backcountry
‘All In’ Trailer
Watch the Trailer for ‘Zig Zag’
Making the Most of Scotland’s Skiing
Caroline Gleich Skis Utah’s Backcountry
Night Skiing in Chamonix
Ski-Mountaineering the Peaks of B.C.
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
In 2017, big-mountain professional skier Tobin Seagal set off a large avalanche in the mountains of Pemberton, British Columbia. Return to the Fray chronicles his return to ski the line that has haunted him ever since.
TOBIN SEAGEL: Holy shit.
A year ago, we went to ski a line and set off one of the biggest avalanches that I ever seen.
So getting back on that line and getting to ski that thing, that's what this story is about.
The next year coming back to it was a big question mark for me, made all the worse by being injured and missing and close to the year with a knee injury. You know, I could barely ski groomers. I could get out and ski a little bit of pow if it felt good, but I'd generally kind of like hold back. And you know, I didn't really ski a lot of things that I really wanted to. It's a bit of a bummer, to say the least.
I got a call from these guys that were shooting a little video, and I kind of had to explain to them. I was like, well, I barely skied this winter, and groomers hurt. I'll just pick up whatever you haven't if I'm feeling OK, but I might only ski one line. That's it.
I think in a lot of ways, coming out of that first line and feeling pretty good out at the bottom, I wasn't really going to let the opportunity pass me by to get a few more lines in that day.
You know, I had kind of realized that I had around a whatever 10 or 12 foot drop in or something. And if you didn't make that, you're going to just Tomahawk for a couple hundred feet, hope for spines and rocks and, I think that my sore knee would probably the least of my worries at that point.
I guess I never really had any intention of not going back to that big line that slipped, but the guys that I was out filming with that morning, they had seen the video footage of that slide and then asked me a lot about other big lines on the coast.
We gave it some time, waited for the right day. There was a good storm cycle that was just on its tail end, and it was supposed to be sunny. If I was going to ski it this year, it was going to be then or never.
There must have been a north wind that came up in the middle of the night that wasn't there when I went to bed, and the feature got reverse loaded. We would have to be on our toes to make good decisions as we went. And coming back to that line after seeing the size of the slide that we had triggered the year before on it, I wasn't really sure what to expect.
Just keep an eye on that. Let me know if it's kind of flexing its way up.
When I actually stepped onto that slope and once I had committed to that first turn, the joy and the stoke of being back there again, it felt awesome.
A season of injury like that, to kind of come out the other side, and got to revisit and feel strong, both in my skiing, but also revisiting the line, that mentally could have been a real challenge for me. Both of those things behind me, I can't wait to get back now out exploring, looking for the Dr. Seuss lines that we dream about and that we talk about all the time. Still feel like we're just scratching the surface.