Steve Weiss

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Steve W. Weiss of MountainEnthusiast.com. What I dig most about this extraordinary guy (and badass I might add) is his shared obsession with human-powered adventure travel. There’s something about getting from A to B with your own two feet and whatever you can fit in your backpack that adds an irreplaceable feeling and story to the adventure. Why drive, or take a chair-lift in his case, when you can use your own power?

Steve is a splitboarder. He wakes up for dawn patrol (meaning sunrise) to head out to the mountains of Salt Lake City (and soon enough Norway and Japan) in search of untouched powder. Our Sit Down touches on the story of how he found and embraced this passion, and how he’s building his personal brand online as a writer, athlete, and traveler. 

Without further ado, I present to you THE Steve W. Weiss: Splitboarder, Badass, and Overall Cool Guy who goes after what he wants in be it in life or on the top of some mountain way up high.

— Lauren Rains

Steve W. Weiss splitboard Lauren: So, let’s get started by talking a little bit about how you got into splitboarding. When was the first time you snowboarded, and how/when did you phase into split?

Steve: Well, it all started with skiing, when I was somewhere around 6, 7, 8 years old at Boston Mills/Brandywine. It’s a time I like to forget (just playing). It wasn’t until I was 15 that I strapped a board to my feet because all of my friends were doing it and I’m easily influenced. I boarded for years in Ohio, slaying 250 feet of pure rolling hill. After college I moved out to Salt Lake City, Utah to chase powder and big mountains.

Fortunately, I got here in 2010/11 during that HUGE winter where we got like 850 inches of snow and everyday was a powder day. Then the year after, as everyone knows, we had the worst year ever. After that year I knew what I really wanted and it wasn’t hitting rails, jibs, or man-made kickers, but I wanted that fresh pow. I’m not really sure what motivated me to get into it; I think I watched Jeremy Jones in Deeper and was just like “Hells yeah that is sick powder, and I want to be there RIGHT NOW.” So this year I went all in, got my split, skins, Spark R&D bindings, filled my Teton Sports pack with beacon, shovel, and probe, learned everything I could (and I continue that education on a daily basis) and started hiking for turns. Since the first time doing it, I was hooked and haven’t looked back.

Lauren: So you pretty much uprooted your life for this sport. Was it an easy choice and transition?

Steve: Hm, well it made sense to do it. I had visited SLC because my aunt and uncle have lived out here for the last decade and visiting during the winter always left me wanting more. The problem was what I had in Ohio: family, friends, established business relationships and a girlfriend. I left all of that in pursuit of this. I’m not going to lie, that first month really sucked and I regretted moving always blaming myself for my woes, “You chose this.” Then the first storm came in, and I was hiking with my uncle up at Alta before they opened in October…freakin’ October! I still missed everyone, but somehow the powder just made me feel better about my decision.

interview with Steve W. Weiss

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren: Good on you for following your gut. As it goes, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.

Steve: Truth.

Lauren: So, fast forward a year and you’ve done your work. You’re a pretty legit splitboarder at this point according to all the Instagram photos I see! What do you love about this particular form of adventure the most and what keeps you addicted to it?

Steve: I love the unpredictability of it all, that’s what adventure is all about, right? The other obvious thing is the untouched powder. The idea that you are out there on your own (with your buddy, safety first) and there isn’t anything that helped you get there except your own body, some gear, a strong mental game, and just the motivation to get up there is also something I love. I love pushing myself into the “unknown” whether that be new territory or where I think (or may not believe) I can actually go. Fear can be a cool thing.

Lauren: A big part of it is also the human-powered element of these uncharted territories. Most of the world has been discovered more or less, but here it’s as if you’re an explorer of a land untouched. What does the human-powered element mean to you? And how to you let fear push you to keep going?

splitboarding Steve Weiss Steve: The human-powered element, not going to lie, makes me feel like a badass. When you top out on a long skin, you look down, decide where to drop, you get a really big feeling of accomplishment that is hard to mimic doing something else. Knowing that you could take a chairlift up but you decided not to is pretty cool.

Fear for me does two things: keeps me in check, but also helps me realize that I am progressing. If I am not afraid to drop/climb something I know that I’m not pushing myself and progression is a big deal to me (as I’m sure it is to a lot of athletes). I just want to be the best I can be.

Lauren: Give us a rundown of what a typical day exploring the mountain by splitboard is like and what goes through your mind as you start until you finish.

Steve: Depends on the day. Sometimes it’s a dawn patrol day because I do work during the week, sometimes it’s a full 5 hour tour day during the weekend, but there are a few things that are constant.

sit down with steve w. weiss 1) Checking for cool lines the night before in guidebooks or scoping lines on Utah Avalanche Center’s WasatchBackcountrySkiing.com Google Map site.

2) Checking the Avy Report

3) Generally a 1.5 to 2 hour hike up per drop

4) While hiking continually doing small checks of snow conditions to make sure we aren’t getting into anything hairy

5) Powder goodness and faceshots commence

Lauren: Speaking of your best, what is your ultimate goal in terms of where you want to take splitboarding in your personal career?

Steve: I don’t really have a long term goal. I tend to think in terms of what I am capable of right now and go after it. Currently, I’ve got this obsession with chutes and I don’t really know why. I just think they’re rad.

The only real long term plans, and they are very tentative, are riding internationally. So much talk about Japan, Norway, and that place that starts with a “P” down south…Patagonia? I would love to tour somewhere that no one has ridden before, but that will come with time. I think I have some time before that happens.

Lauren: Where specifically in Japan and Norway would you like to hit?

Steve: From what I’ve read, they’re all good but I’ve seen things on Niseko, Hakuba, and Hokkaido in Japan. The terrain just looks so incredible, and on a side note, I love Japanese history/culture. So I wouldn’t be going just for the powder.

As for Norway, that is something I’m still researching. I’ve talked with a few people here and there that are from there, but I never write anything down.

splitboarding Steve. W. Weiss Lauren: So, let’s segue a bit to about how you’ve used your blog and social media, and how that’s added to your sport and experience. First up, tell us a bit about what you’re doing with your website, Mountain Enthusiast.

Steve: MountainEnthusiast.com started as a place for my parents to know what I was getting into. It served its purpose and more, now contributing to the outdoor community of stoke. It now serves as a place to learn about new products that I support, places I’ve been for beta, and yeah like I said before, continue the outdoor stoke.

Lauren: And what about social media? You’re pretty active in the online community, through your personal Twitter, co-founder of #climbchat, always showcasing awesome photos on your Instagram page. How was social media been a part of all this and helped launch things?

Steve: I love social media, I am a huge advocate of it because I have learned so much from my Twitter followers. It’s so easy to just ask a question about an area and get a fast answer. As for Instagram, damn, what a motivator that little app is. So many pow slashing people out there.

Splitboarding Steve. W. Weiss To help create my brand, I’ve used it to develop relationships with people that are just as stoked on the outdoors as I am. It’s more of an accidental brand that I’ve created though; I just like talking to people about touring and climbing.

Then, yes I co-started #climbchat, a chat that happens every Tuesday at 7 pm (MST) that brings climbers together to talk about what we love…climbing. We’ve gotten quite a few compliments of how it’s helped build a stronger climbing community (i.e. brought climbers together, educated newbies, etc.)

It’s hard to put into words of how much social media has affected me because there has been so much. Just know that it’s been sweet.

Lauren: You also landed a pretty amazing opportunity with Columbia as part of the #omniTen. What would you say led to that, and what did you learn from getting to work with such an established company on a long-term and substantial project like that?

Steve: Opportunity of a lifetime that I will never forget. I think Columbia chose me because I went on a 6 month road trip with fellow co-founder of The Most Epic Trip Gina Begin, rock climbing across this country and Canada covering 16,000 miles in a Mazda 3. I’m glad they did because I got to go on a heli-ski trip up to the Chugach Mountain Range in Cordova, Alaska and a hike/mountain bike/waterfall falling trip to Havasu Falls, Arizona!

I learned too much from being with Columbia. (All good though.) I learned that there are still big companies out there that treat their customers with the utmost respect when other big corps in other industries are laying people off, screwing customers over, yada yada, everyone knows that terrible song & dance. I think Columbia just gets it. They understand what it takes to really shine, and what really blows me away about them is their new(er) omni-technology. All of it is a major game changer. Not to mention all of the people that I’ve met because of it, specifically the nine other #OmniTen that are badass in their own rights.

Lauren: So tell me Steve, let’s get personal and Oprah over here hah, what is your deepest darkest secret?

Steve: Spiders. I hate ‘em.

Lauren: Monoboard vs. snowblades?

snowblade in onesie Steve: Monoboards will forever be cool, especially in a one-piece.

Hah they aren’t the sexiest rides in the world. Snow blades are pretty, mmm, silly too hah

You can’t see a guy on snowblades and be like, “that dude is a MAN”. LOL.

 

 

Lauren: Let’s put one more in about “life” — What’s your personal “Golden Rule” for living?

Steve: Girls just want to have fun.

Lauren: So, last but not least, what is next for you?

Steve: Figuring out how to ride more to learn more so I can go bigger. Traveling is always in my future, and searching for bigger lines that help me progress as a rider/climber will forever be a goal that won’t go away, just change. Incorporating my rock climbing skills into snowboard mountaineering is what I want more of as well.

The Backcountry Tour of 2.24 from Steve W. Weiss on Vimeo.

Photograph Attributes:
Feature image, Steve on his board, and Steve skinning courtesy of Will Rochfort
Snowblader 
All additional photographs courtesy of Steve. W. Weiss

Steve W. Weiss interview

Steve is a Cleveland-born, Utah-living backcountry snowboarding powder hound. Nothing puts a smile on his face like a clean line of pow! Check out his adventures at MountainEnthusiast.com and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

 

What Steve’s up to on Twitter… 

[twitter id=”stevewweiss” number=”4″ avatar=”true” ]

About The Author

Lauren Rains is the editor at large of Outdoor Minded Mag. She is struck by wanderlust, and spends most waking hours of her life either exploring the outdoors around the globe or working on various passion projects be it film to microadventures to cooking chili. You can read about her adventures in life, biz and travel on her blog TheMadToLive.com, and catch up with her on Twitter at @LaurRAINS.