One of the reasons I love being in the outdoors is that I’m afforded the time to unplug and think without the distractions of technology. Normally I feel like I’m at home in the mountains, but this time I was feeling very much outside my element. I was determined to fake it until I made it.
Photoshoot trips with the Big Agnes Marketing team are awesome for a couple of reasons: First and foremost, they only go out to really awesome and visually pleasing places. I was bound to see some awesome landscapes. We were headed to the Section House on top of Boreas Pass, which is part of the 10th Mountain Division huts. Those trips are also an opportunity to play around with some of the new upcoming gear that will be released in the next year’s product line, and I always love having the inside scoop on that kind of thing. Finally, the folks that go on these adventures are a hell of a lot of fun. This was bound to be an adventure.
Our Big Agnes catchphrase is “Outfitting Dirtbags Everywhere”. I haven’t had a proper hair cut in years, plural, and I haven’t been willingly clean shaven since high school. I’m not sure if that was intended to be a compliment, but I’m going to take it. Damn right I have the look. Let’s do this.
Fast forward to the trailhead outside of Breckenridge. We’re getting skins on, and gearing up to head out on a 7 mile skin to Boreas Pass, my longest skin/ski trip ever. I’m just really hoping I can keep up. I know I’m not in the best shape, and most of the time when I skin it’s for about a mile to get a few turns. I’m trying my best to look like a seasoned pro while I’m duct taping my skins to my rented skis… off to a super start with that.
I pull my backpack out of the truck, and I’m met with a strong whiff of pitch, oak and alcohol. I open the bag to find out that the backcountry flask I was using to transport a bottle of whiskey was a little bit less-than sealed. By a little bit I mean there was a few drops of the whole 750ml bottle I started with left. The rest had soaked into all of my extra clothes and gear. Now I’m not only looking extra pro with my taped-on skins, I also smell like a bum. A true dirtbag here.
The good news is that by the halfway point on the hike I felt much more confident in my abilities to keep up with the crew. The road was a steady but mellow incline, so I was able to hold my own on the way up to the hut. We stopped for lunch overlooking the Breckenridge ski area directly across the valley, and set off towards the final pitch to get to the hut just as I was hitting my stride.
Once we arrived at the hut, we were put to “work” straight away upon arrival. My first instructions were to grab a beer and enjoy it on the porch while photos of the new Dunkley jacket were taken. It’s a rough job, but somebody has to do it. I did learn that my modeling skills need some work, as the photographer gently instructed me to “make it look more natural.” I couldn’t help but laugh at that. I know I’m awkward, but now I know the camera picks up on it as well.
It was such a fun night with a great group of people. We laughed and feasted like kings at 10,000ft, sharing stories ’til late in the evening. The next morning I was greeted with the longest-lasting sunrise I’ve ever seen. It was amazingly pink and orange for what felt like hours. Normally we’re camping down in the valley, but the Section Hut being up on top of the pass allows for incredible views. You could see the very first ray of sun, and the colors changed every single time you looked out a window.
The morning involved a few more apparel photos, including the most embarrassing photo I’ve ever had taken of me. Even while we were setting up for the shot I knew I was going to be making my mama proud. Whether I’m awkward on camera or not, there was no doubt this one was going to end up in some sort of publication or up on the web. Without giving too many details, you should peruse the Men’s Apparel on bigagnes.com and you’ll see what I mean. I thought the shot would be featured somewhere buried on the site or in a catalog, not prominently placed on the front page.
The trip concluded with a mellow 7 mile skate ski back down to the cars, and it’s going to be a trip I will remember for a long time.
Andy Ditgen serves as Lead Customer Service Representative when he’s not on an adventure “faking it until he makes it.”