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Discovering the Summit Together: Griffin Post Explains The Vital Role of Community in Skiing


, by Charlie Boscoe

Photography courtesy of: Smartwool

No person is an island, especially not in the mountains. Powder days, no matter how epic they might be, are only truly memorable when you share them with the right people, and a spectacular view looks best when you've got someone to share it with. Skiing might not look like a team sport, but the sense of relying on others to keep you safe and the pleasure of toasting your day with your partners makes it more of a joint effort than it might initially appear. If you've got nobody with you to laugh at when you mess up and nobody to cheer with when you stomp onto the bar with your boots still on, skiing loses much of its appeal. Skiing is a much deeper experience than turning left and right - it's a way to share meaningful experiences with the people - and community - around you.

Pro skier and Smartwool ambassador Griffin Post knows this fact better than most - he started in ski racing but was soon drawn to the adventure of big mountain skiing, in part due to the feeling of being part of a community, not just chasing ever faster times. As Post puts it, "It's funny - years later, it's difficult to remember the conditions on a particular day or details of a specific location, but I can recall the people on the trip with little effort. From piling far too many people into a dumpy hotel room to a single day spent in the mountains with a person that you may only ski with once, there's something special about the mountain community that enables relationships to be forged so much more quickly than in any other setting."

Griffin Post. Photography courtesy of: Smartwool

The process of learning to ski, perfecting the skill and then turning it into a career is what has kept Post interested for so long now - “I suppose that’s what’s unique about following a passion, there’s a certain joy that comes from the act itself and you don’t need any other validation, motivation or outside reason to pursue something you love, there’s just happiness in the process. I almost always leave the mountains happier than when I arrived, so it’s pretty hard to not gravitate toward any activity that gives you that.”

Post’s passion for skiing is infectious, and it manifested itself at a remarkably young age. He recounts an amusing story of when he realized that he might have found something special in his life “I had a teacher ask, “Who has a passion?" and I was surprised that my hand was one of only a few that went up. I guess I was pretty lucky like that. With a passion you sort of have this North Star.” 

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Since that day, Post has followed that “North Star” and now lives in Jackson Hole - a place that is legendary not only for its colossal terrain and exceptional snow but also for its unique, slightly leftfield community. Jackson Hole looks like the Wild West, and it feels like it, too. In 1971, Bill Briggs made the barely believable first descent of the Grand Teton, and then the Jackson Hole "Air Force" (complete with its famous slogan "Swift. Silent. Deep.") came along and further added to the mystique that the town still has. Nobody goes to Jackson Hole to be seen there or to ski easy groomers - it's a place you head to because you're a serious skier and want to be surrounded by others.

It's funny - years later, it's difficult to remember the conditions on a particular day or details of a specific location, but I can recall the people on the trip with little effort.

Post has made Jackson his home, and the town's community has permeated into his work. He's carved out a niche as both a skier and a trip designer for ski media companies, and his focus in that area is trying to create segments that bring communities together. As he puts it, he wants to put together trips that "appeal not only to the core community but also the casual viewer that might not ski 100 days a year."

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It's a noble goal, and its success speaks for itself - in addition to Smartwool, he's got a host of top-tier sponsors and a mantelpiece full of awards from media outlets across the ski world. He chooses his sponsors based on "a sense of authenticity that you can pick up on right away when you start working with a brand... that feeling of people that are truly into what they're doing (and) also creating a community beyond the office and brand."

As more accurate weather forecasts, lighter and better gear, and ever-improving online beta make big mountain skiing more popular, retaining that sense of community that made it unique in the first place becomes ever more critical. Finding a way to maintain skiing's soul whilst also welcoming in those not steeped in its history is an ongoing challenge, as is accepting that some change is inevitable. Creating ski movies that connect to the whole spectrum of skiers is a challenge but integral to the sport's continuing growth and evolution. Audiences nowadays have so many viewing choices that the connection with skiing's community is one of the few remaining ways to keep them tied to the sport's essence, and Griffin Post is one of the leaders of this movement.

Photography courtesy of: Smartwool

Ski racing is - particularly at its highest levels - an ultra-competitive sport, but the Freeride World Tour (where Post also enjoyed a successful career) is far more community-focused, and it was on that tour that his career began to be shaped. The tour takes riders to some of the most extreme ski faces on the planet, but the unrestricted nature of freeriding, coupled with the risk that all competitors know is lurking on every run, makes it one of the least overtly competitive sports out there. The whole essence of freeride skiing - and the tour that represents its pinnacle - is connecting with your surroundings, your friends and yourself to create something unique. As Post describes it, it's about "a challenge beyond just climbing up a mountain and skiing down it".

Even as the world changes around them, the mountains will always present us with challenges that can only be overcome with passion, determination and teamwork. Learning to move through them is a lifelong journey, and, as with any journey, it's all about who you share it with. Just ask Griffin Post.

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