Poaching the Red Bull Ultra Natural
I woke up at 7am, checked Instragram, nothing. 7:30, nothing. 8 am, Snowboarder Mag posted a pic of a heli and said it was going down. I got up and said it’s on. Everyone started moving and we all loaded up. Seven people with three sleds on a mission. We started off at the grocery store and gas station to get supplies dialed, then headed to the trailhead. Everything was going smooth, we got the ropes and started the drag up the hill. It was easy until the trail ended. Once it got steep, everyone converted over to their hippiesticks / splitboards and started hiking while Mark and Chuck sent it through the woods with their sleds. Peter left his sled behind. It took the about an hour to finally break through.
Meanwhile, there were other poachers trying to make it up to the contest as well. Some guy came flying by with two girls on his sled. They got stuck and we asked them what they were doing. The girls said they met this dude the night before at the bar and he told them he would triple them up to the contest. He had dropped them off and was trying to break trail with Mark and Chuck. Turns out he wasn’t the best at driving a sled. He flipped it and it rolled down through the woods. Peter helped him turn it back over and noticed oil everywhere, guess he forgot to put the oil cap on. He kind of freaked out and told us we would never make it to the contest and took off, down to the girls he picked up the night before at the bar.
About two minutes later, Mark calls on the radio and says he’s at the base of the course and we need to hurry up because they were starting to drop people. It took us another 15 or 20 minutes to get to a spot where they could pick us up. Once we were there, we were able to ride most of the way to the base of the course. We were kind of hesitant to go rally up to the riders tent and base with all the chaos and helis everywhere. We decided to watch from across the valley, which ended up being better because you couldn’t see the whole course from the bottom.
We saw about 15-20 runs total. Mark had binoculars and was giving us the play-by-play on tricks, it was pretty entertaining. Everyone saw Nicolas’s huge air and it looked like a 60-foot drop from across the valley. We were all on a pretty big high. All the talk, all the planning, not really knowing if it would ever happen. It all came together and was working out. We had beer, food and front row seats to the most pure, exclusive contest in snowboarding. Once the contest ended everyone was gathered at the bottom so we decided to go throw some high fives.
It was pretty awesome, everyone was smiling. It was like a tradeshow in the middle of nowhere with helis and pow. As everyone was high fiving we looked up at the course and they were tearing things down. Everyone was starting to leave and a few people were shredding through the course. We all looked at each other and thought, lets go ride the course. I mean who ever got pissed as someone for ridding a tracked out run? One of the lead guys at Baldface said “You guys didn’t hear it from me, but you’re good to go.” So we started to get our things together to go ride the hill. Once we were all about to take off up the hill another dude came up to us and asked us what we were doing. We told him and he basically shut us down. Not wanting to burn any bridges we chilled and held off on the plan. Still, looking at the hill, there was no way I wasn’t gonna ride it. We knew almost everyone there and I was sure they’d be stoked if we poached it.
We waited about 20 minutes talking to everyone. I even talked to Travis and he said whatever, but we might run into some resistance at the top. Within 20 minutes everyone had cleared out and we were the only ones there, everyone had gone back to the lodge for the awards. Now we had 2 sleds and seven dudes. These guys were nice enough to drive us all the way out there so Jeff and I, who had just been on a two day heli trip to Eagle Pass, sacrificed our runs to drive everyone up to the top and bring the sleds back down. We made it about two thirds of the way up when we ran into a cat blocking the trail. So we decided to drop off there.
I couldn’t believe it. All we wanted was to watch the contest and now everyone was dropping in on the run. Everyone dropped at the same time while Jeff and I took picks. I didn’t really see the run because I was driving back down the hill, but it was all smiles when we got down. We watched them butter and ollie halfway down the hill ending up on the house feature at the bottom, bonking and flipping all over it. Everyone went up and hiked the bottom features a couple times and then it started to get dark so we all decided to leave. We ended up with an awesome ride through the woods back to the river in Nelson.
It was pretty much dark by the time we got to the trailhead. We went back to the house, got changed and went out to get tacos. Everyone was super cooked. I was still in disbelief that we actually just did what we did. We saw the girls from the trail earlier in the day at the taco place, Jeff was squeaking at them. They said they never made it up and just drank in the woods all day with their gaper sled friend. I forget the name of the taco place in Nelson, but it was good.
After that we all went back to the house and chilled for a while. We were all about to go to bed, when Luke and his girlfriend Emily, who weren’t able to come on the adventure, said they were going to karaoke in town. No one really wanted to go, but after such an awesome day we had to go out. It was awesome, we belted out some ballads, ran into some good friends and shut ‘er down at 2am. Over a year in the making and never really thinking it would happen or taking it seriously, it happened. We got front row seats to the Ultra Natural with a bonus poaching session to top it all off.