THE FREE SOLO STORY
The Perfect Board For The Perfect Line
FREE SOLO – the name comes from the freeclimbing scene, it means climbing a route without technical aids, completely on your own. Highly experienced and professional climbers climb a route in this way while experiencing a high intensity of life.
The first line to draw in a virgin powder slope, alone with yourself and the world – this is the real dream of every snowboarder. Maximum joy for hours riding through deep snow and untouched terrain. Our SG FREE SOLO series is dedicated to this snowboarders’ dream of epic riding on the mountain. Each year we choose a big mountain, where our riders have experienced this great feeling (and tell us bright-eyed stories about) and add it to the FREE SOLO board series. Check out the GPS coordinates on each FREE SOLO edition indicating the selected line.
FREE SOLO ALASKA 2010/11
Board: SG FREE SOLO 2010/11 ALASKA, Lengths 157cm – 167cm
Alaska. This piece of earth belongs to the most beautiful and best that you can dream of as a snowboarder. But go there only if you are respectful and experienced enough, because the mountains of Alaska are extremely difficult. The helicopter is taking you over a ridge, which has just the width of a horse’s back, he hovers a few inches above the ground and lets you jump out. Here you stand and look down, on every side it goes down as steep as you’ve never seen a powder snow descent. You feel your throat getting dry and you won’t think any more, just here we go…
Ueli Kestenholz and I were shooting for some snowboard film in Alaska in 1999. We would ride the so-called “Stairs”, which is a mountain range in the Chugach Mountains. It was not about “excitement” like in a competition, but it was about something different. It was something “existential” as life itself: You must know that the snow in Alaska is different than snow in Europe, its consistency and structure is different from that we know from European mountains. You would have to take this in consideration and watch out in these extremely steep descents, take this easy flow of snow in the slopes, which you would detach at every turn, accept the slow slides beside you like mini avalanches. When I had my first contact with that flow, its power almost tore my board from my feet. I crashed and was hurled down 100 feet at one stroke. Well, yes! Of course, we had chosen a line in the most difficult descents in the Chugach Mountains: a 60° steep slope. It was a mountain massif which seemed impassable. We had studied it meticulously several times from our helicopter, shooting pictures with a Polaroid camera. We studied the maps, we studied the photos still in the helicopter, drawing the line into our brain, where we would go down. It had to be burnt into my memory – where I had to make each turn, where to avoid the flowing snow. – Then we left the helicopter, Ueli and I, and went down on an eternally long ride: We took our turns, we changed the channels, we rode it down, exactly as planned. In every moment of this “ride for the eternity” I was fully aware of everything – one mistake and you’re gone, and the snowboard world will turn without you. – It went well.
Check out the Line: N 61.437206° W -147.752364° NN 3.983 m
FREE SOLO TRE CIME 2009/10
Board: SG FREE SOLO 2009/10 TRE CIME, Lengths 157cm – 167cm
The Dolomites and in particular the famous “Tre Cime” have been Sigi Grabner’s home mountains since the times when the Burton Alpine Team used to have their training camps here. Sigi has even lived in Sesto/Sexten, near to the “Tre Cime” montains for several years, due to his love for these mountains. But there is one more member of the SG PRO TEAM who is a home boy in the Dolomites: Roland Fischnaller aka “Fisch”, who is a true mountain man. Fisch was born in the Dolomites and loves the mountains with all his heart. Fisch is in fact a certified mountain guide and a member of the Mountain Rescue Squad in Funes. The love for the Dolomites connects them, Sigi and Fisch, both in summer and in winter for climbing, paragliding, back country snowboarding and powder shredding. So we decided to dedicate the 2009/10 FREE SOLO series to the “Tre Cime” Dolomites and to true companionship on the mountain.
Check out the Line: N 46.618611° E 12.305556° NN 2.999 m
FREE SOLO GROSSGLOCKNER 2008/09
Board: SG FREE SOLO 2008/09 GROSSGLOCKNER, Lengths 157cm – 167cm
“The adventure is at your doorstep,” this saying drove Sigi Grabner and three of his friends and mountain guide Leo Baumgartner, to go for a grand traverse across the near Alps. We wanted to reach 10k in vertical ascent, like climbing the Mount Everest in our livingroom. So we planned a 10.000 vertical meters grand traverse across the Hohe Tauern mountain range from West to East, climbing up one range and riding it down right away to the next ascent, climbing up again and riding it down. We chose a high route near Sigi’s birth place: from the highest peaks of Austria in Tyrol, in one big traverse down to the lakes of Carinthia. “We wanted to do the 10k without technical aids, no helicopters, no cable cars, no lifts, no cars, just the mountains and us. Using our own physical strength for reaching the 10k, only with our boards, skins and poles, and enjoying epic downhill rides…
After seven days of ascents, descents, nights in winter refuges and one big failure (we failed in reaching the summit of Austria’s highest peak “Grossglockner” by just 200m left, because our guide Leo decided to stop the ascent “danger of avalanches – too dangerous”) we arrive at the shores of one of the beautiful lakes south of the Alps for a swim, a big dinner and a rest – we are happy and grateful.”
Sigi writes in his tour diary about the difficult moment on the tour:
“It is hard, we cannot take the summit, although the weather seems gorgeous. Leo decided to turn back. So close to the finish! It’s not easy for us to accept Leo’s decision. The ascent from our mountain refuge without problems, full moon and a starry night above the mountains, all this put us in high spirits. And now, just turn back? 200m below the peak? But Leo remains firm: “you never bargain with Nature”. He is an experienced mountain man who knows the Himalaya as well as the Alps, he is our guide, we trust in him. The avalanche danger is imminent, new snow two days ago, wind and snow drifts today. “When it happens, it is always unspectacular,”he says,”a small 50 meters’ slide is enough to bury you under tons of wet snow…. ” After a short but hot discussion we have to accept and we turn down, the summit being within reach…
Yet, this decision is a much bigger victory in my life than reaching the Gossglockner’s summit might have been.”
The Grossglockner mountain peak is the theme for the 2008/1009 FREE SOLO board line and it stands for taking the right decisions on the mountain.
Check out the Line: N 47.074511 E 12.693839 NN 3.798 m