Your 10 Questions With Backcountry Athlete Pep Fujas
Patagonia recently sponsored a contest asking readers to submit questions they’ve always wanted to ask pro skier Pep Fujas. Here are the top 10 questions with Pep’s answers.Above Photo: Backcountry & Patagonia Athlete Pep Fujas
Shot By: Jay Beyer
What is your favorite line of your career?
– Loren Lindy Leven
That’s like asking someone, “What was the best poop of your life?” There are so many greats, in so many different locations and circumstances, that choosing one wouldn’t be fair to the others. One that comes to mind, though, because it’s still somewhat fresh in my head, took place in Haines, AK in 2012 on a face called Wolverine. I was filming for the Poorboyz Productions movie titled WE. We had skied a line on the face and were contemplating skiing another. We were kind of fishing at this point in the trip for the last bit of good snow on the right aspects, and this zone seemed like one of the last. We had been filming for a week or so, and I was pretty warmed up. I spotted a pretty technical line where there was only one entrance and one way to ski it. There was a small crescent entrance that opened into a couple broken spines. Both of the spines were featured with rocks, so I would have to make some delicate turns on the skiers’-right spine, hop off some rocks on the spine, and then jump over the impending sluff to get over to what opened up into a wide-open flank. I basically had to manage a lot of variables over some pretty heavy consequences, but once I cleared that section I was home free and could lay out some massive high-speed turns and finish the line with a 40-50ft cliff. What also made it particularly awesome was that no one else had a clue that it was possible until I skied it.
Have you ever had a moment where you’re filled with such overwhelming joy that you can barely speak? If so, where were you and what were you doing?
– Kaidan Reinhardt
I’ve had that feeling a few times. Mostly while night skiing deep blower pow in Japan. But the most recent was after skiing a spine line in the Tordrillo Mountains last April while on a camp trip with Sweetgrass Productions. The spine in question took about four hours to get to from camp and only had sun on it for a short amount of time in the evening. It was a challenge to get to the entrance of the line, navigating expansive glacier fields and traversing a ridge over huge exposure. The line was successfully skied in 20-30 seconds. We reconvened at the base of the line and then had to navigate a series of seracs, crevasses, and bergshrunds while the ambient light reflecting off of distant mountains faded. We grouped up again and skied the final 100 feet to the glacier where we would attach skins and hike back for another hour and a half. After sharing some stoke with the boys, we began our trek. The stars were out in full effect without any light pollution hindrance. A multitude of thoughts ran through my body as I looked back to the line I’d skied, thinking about the whole adventure and what it took as a group to accomplish. The line itself was merely an afterthought and a minuscule piece of the puzzle. My body moved, blood pulsing, sweat accumulating, muscles tired but alive as ever. The sound of my skins slid in a harmonic rhythm with the rest of my gear chiming in while the surrounding quiet giants in the distance offered comfort with their stoic dispositions. A smile grew deep inside and rose to the surface, joy spilling out of every molecule in my body. There was no one around to share that moment, but needless to say, I probably wouldn’t have been able to speak it to anyone if there had been.
What one item in your jacket pocket would surprise us the most?
– Ryan Leglu
I have a Britney Spears doll I carry around everywhere. Psyche. I just carry the essentials. No surprises.
What was the most frightening experience you’ve had while skiing, and how did you handle it?
– Ryan Chase
Oddly enough, the most frightening experience I’ve ever had resulted in only minor repercussions. I was going for a triple stager at Silverton Mountain, CO. I made some observations, but what I observed turned out to be different than what I skied. Immediately upon leaving the edge of the first drop I realized my mistake. The prevailing slope didn’t face the way I was going, so I basically hit an abrupt wall. To save myself, I think I tried to butt check a little, but the snow wasn’t very forgiving and sent me tumbling down the fall line. I tried to self-arrest, but it was a bit too steep. Then I realized I probably needed more momentum to get over the protruding rocks below. I tumbled over the second stage and missed all the rocks, gained speed, tucked my body up and flew off what was about a 60-footer, hit some rocks with my shoulder in the middle, and landed on my feet in soft snow at the bottom. I was in a bit of disbelief as I stood there virtually unscathed. I took a hasty inventory of my body and started trudging down the mountain to retrieve one of my skis that I saw had made it off the cliffs. The other wouldn’t be found until summer. I was pretty shaken, not stirred. After the shock wore off I realized my shoulder and wrist hurt pretty badly, but neither seemed broken or dislocated. I also had a small puncture wound in my forearm. I ended up going to the hospital after all and had a small hairline fracture in my wrist. I handled it pretty well, though I definitely got down on myself for not trusting my gut before I dropped in. I hadn’t had a good feeling about the line, but I’d felt self-induced pressure to ski it and show what I was made of. I took a day off and then drove back to Salt Lake City knowing I had just tempted fate and survived. It was a harrowing and humbling experience.
Can you tell me your life story in six words?
– Chelsey Hughes
Naturally Grown Oregonian Passionate Skier Adventurist
Photo Credit: Blake Jorgenson | Courtesy of Patagonia
What is your favorite culture that you’ve experienced while skiing throughout the world? Why?
– Daniel McFadden
I really enjoyed the culture I experienced in Gulmarg, India. I specify Gulmarg because not all of India is like it. Most everyone in the streets said hello or gave a friendly nod in passing. Many people invited us in for tea and sometime snacks without any ulterior motive. Their primary goal was to talk and relate to us in some way. They lived very simply, without excess, and most seemed genuinely happy or content. While there, we each had our own room, which was warmed by a wood stove and came with a butler who always wore a smile that never looked forced. To me he is an example of their culture.
What personal items do you usually bring on backcountry trips that wouldn’t be in the 10 essentials?
– Tommy O’Grady
Sonicare Toothbrush. Whiskey.
What’s the official number of days in a row you can wear the same pair of underwear?
– Michael Newman
That is one thing I do not skimp on when I travel, as well as socks. I usually bring seven pairs wherever I go, so you will probably be disappointed to hear my max is three days in woolen undies.
Which four ski locations would you pick for the perfect “Endless Winter”?
– Paul Stockton
Alaska. Austria. BC. Chile.
What’s the origin of your name “Pep?”
– Lorna Williams
“Pep” is a nickname that comes from my middle name, Pepperrell. My great grandfather was Pepperrell Wheeler, of English descent, and was apparently a geologist and quite the adventurist, but that’s another story. My full name is Braden Pepperrell Fujas; “Pep” was appointed to me pre-birth, and that’s what I’ve stuck with and been stuck with. There were moments in my life where I felt “Pep” was childish and I tried to convert myself to Braden, but I had no luck.