Last season, Nils Mindnich and Sebbe De Buck eyed up and dropped into Chad’s Gap, the seminal Utah jump that takes days to build and major minerals to hit. Sessions on the jump are the stuff of legends and those who hit the jump are added to a short list of lofty individuals who rose to a hell of an occasion.
Nils and Sebbe added their own notches in the veritable belt of Chad’s last spring and tomorrow, October 24th, we all will get a glimpse at what went down in Mind the Gap, the fifth episode of Backcountry’s series Venture Beyond. Mind the Gap follows Nils throughout the session on Chad’s. Earlier today, the SLC local took to his Instagram to answer some questions about the behind-the-scenes of building and hitting the massive, revered jump. We were enthralled with what Nils said and hit him up to fill us in a bit more about his experience last spring.
Chad’s Gap is, of course, a notorious jump. How did it calcify in your mind when you were younger?
So, the first clip I remember seeing of Chad’s Gap was Tanner [Hall]’s accident. I was 12 at the time and just thought it was a crazy video. I had no notion of hitting it it wasn’t until I was 18 and about to start filming for my first backcountry part that I saw Travis Rice’s part from POP. The build up in that section and how well he rode has stood the test of time and it was at that moment I knew I wanted to hit it.
When did you start building an interest in hitting it?
I felt gung-ho on hitting it when I first started filming, but once I learned more about the logistics and planning that went into it, my motivation went down. As the years went by, my interest fell since I wasn’t hitting as many big jumps and felt like the time to hit it had passed. Then going into the 2023 season, I felt this different sense of “A time will come, and it may only be in a couple years, that I’m not in tune enough to hit Chads Gap anymore.” I saw it as an experience instead of another jump to get clips on. In my life right now I have this unique skillset and it’s fleeting, so if I can experience Chad’s Gap right now then I probably should experience it.
What came together to make this season the right one?
Honestly, a lot of things were stacked against us. I had actually already written Chad’s off last season. The massive snow year filled the jump in so that the in-run was steeper and the landing was flatter. An avalanche took out trees all around the jump and deposited debris in the gully below. Broken branches were literally sticking up like spears at the bottom of the landing. The weather never let up in April and it was at the end of the month that a high pressure window came through, but with it came with rapid warming and concerns for wet slides. Sage, Sebbe and I were riding together, doing various spring things and we decided to check out Pyramids. On our hike up the gully, we saw there was a crew already on Pyramids and realized our only option for a jump was Chad’s. Without Sage’s robust optimism and support, plus full support on the build, we probably would have backed down from it.
Leading up to hitting it, how did you prepare yourself?
Well…I wasn’t planning on hitting Chad’s until we walked up there and started the build. So, with the nice spring weather I was starting to go pretty hard and thought my weekend was going to be spent resting. The previous weekend I went climbing in Joe’s Valley with Bri [Nils’ wife]. The Monday-Thursday leading up to the build I was hitting spring spots with Sage and Sebbe, then going to the climbing gym or going for runs after riding. I saw it as my transition week into the off-season and was stoked to get wrecked. Joke was on me when we decided to start building on Thursday and hit it Sunday. It was the most fatigued I’ve ever been hitting a jump and that took a real mental toll.
After the session, what happened? Were you elated, exhausted, both? Did you celebrate? Sleep?
I think I was relieved. I felt like I was living in a dream. The combination of fatigue mixed with adrenaline and all the raw emotions was surreal. I didn’t have the dream session I’d hoped for and it was hard to walk away without meeting my expectations. But that’s the way life goes sometimes–put everything into it and sometimes get nothing out of it. That’s just part of being human, though, and a cool part of getting the most out of our human experience. At the end of the day, I was really happy Sebbe got his trick and everyone was healthy and we all got to have our own Chad’s Gap experience.
And finally, the Backcountry episode about the session drops tomorrow, is the session also in Sebbe’s movie or where can we see it all, additionally?
Yep! Be sure to check out Mind the Gap on Backcountry’s YouTube. None of Sebbe’s clips are in our video, since his movie Get Buck doesn’t drop until November 23rd. Make sure you check his movie out. He and his long time buddy Willem Jones put together an insane movie last year, following the travels of Sebbe and his insane riding. Willem’s a true artist and Sebbe’s a G. What they put together is special and snowboarding is lucky to have them. I’ll also have a full part coming out on The Bomb Hole in December, so keep an eye out for that!
I also just wanted to give a shout out to the entire crew that helped build this jump. We had a small crew and everyone showed up hard to support Sebbe and I fulfill a dream. So, thank you to Sage Kotsenburg, Sebbe De Buck, Jeremy Thornburg, Willem Jones, Sunn Kim, Celeb Hawkins, Ian McMillan, Paul Braunstein, Spencer Shubert, and Nisa Marlinares.