in one run you can meet a soul mate then brutally loose it all in just one other run. tragically ephemeral. like snow.
Picture from Court Leve
http://www.courtlevephoto.com of Christian Cabanilla flying. A good memory of who he was.
I was at the top of the world on that ridge. in shape, sick runs, good people. With a great friend . …Everything IS new and fresh. I was Being a “pro” photographer in a heliski paradise. Imagine that. We had so many projects. so much joy. It all scrambled in one seconds. game over.
IT was a freak accident. Like many other in the mountains. We were not pushing it or trying to be rad. The run was steep for only 200 M. It was not exposed: no seracs/crevasses/cliffs. Not even that much snow. A pretty mellow run by today’s standard really. I was off guard not paying attention. misstep. I’am still unclear on how we could have made it safer other than using ropes. Tom konop was at the safest possible spot, he fell. The short time it took to break, 5>10 mins, tells me it would have broken even with small weight. I had all the tools to make a fast abalakov, carrying cams and nuts even. I didnt think of it. It was just bad timing. Gravity. Weak layers. Not predictable. Our mistake was to be on that ridge. We all wanted to be there. That’s that. Bad happenstance of less than a meter (i could have hugged him just seconds before we fell) or bad luck. Both. I dont know. he is gone, partying with too many of my friends.
i would not trade any minutes i had in Haines Ak for anything else. It was all good times. I was there for my friend Chris Cabanilla last week to second of joy. For his last breath. I documented it. it is the job he gave me. His spirit knew it was time. I fell down with him, close to him. Maybe to realize it is ok. It is a good ride. No pain, no fear. You give it up, relax and fly away. It is a beautiful way to pass. Hell really start when you wake up. I lost him, I lost our pipedreams I lost my health, my skis, my pride. I was there for his last perfect moment of joy. For his ride up and over. brotherhood. i am back in my homeland. Almost recovered .trying get my dream back. Christian cabanilla was a good one, loved by so many, positive, enthusiastic, happy, professional. Heli pilot and guide allowed him to visit the world and give many people the best time of their life. He is remembered and loved by many as a great man, fun to be around .
i have more dust of gold in my heart. I cherish that.
thank you cab.TU M’A RENDU LA MORT PLUS DOUCE.
tchao mon ami. see you tomorow.
Cab wanted more pictures of him guiding and snowboarding. Maybe to market his next “grand scheme plan” as he called it. He needed to be more visible as a snowboarder and a guide. He knew with me around it would get done. I just pull out my camera constently. Bad light good light , good pictures or not. It doesnt matter.I am a social media whore. Unfortunately the 2 hours riding we had together was in the shade and most days we had in AK were cloudy. I didnt come back with the “promised” load of spectacular bankable Haines AK pictures. OH well. Still, each one of those remind me of a smell, of words, a feeling, a moment, a touch.
I dont know why we play that game, It just feels good, riding takes me away from my everyday That’s my real being. it’s an escape TO real life, to what IS an amazing reality. There’s no better feeling then being on top of the world, surrounded by nature.
Christian loved it, the steepest and exposed the better. He was good at it. He wanted to come back to cham for the steep season and for winter again. this is how I was in Haines, couch karma he told me once.
I miss his world
A dreamer like me, we were hiding in the same places. He came into my life, and left a mark. . . his place in my heart is tender; a bruise of longing, a pulse of unfinished business. Just hearing his name pushes and pulls at me in a hundred ways…
may 31 2013
30/06/13. 4 months now. My life is on hold. Since the 3rd of March. I lost my stoke for the mountains. Is it ever gonna come back? I cant stop thinking of that week in Haines.The What ifs? are haunting. Often, i feel like calling, get pissed at him for the accident “little Brash, so you came out fine from “the death sport capital: chamonix”. Im not even a “guide”. 3 runs in your mini playground and game over.You failed, poseur,fuck you!” … tell him to be safe and i care about him. this”loss” is taking so long to heal. I should let it go.
Is it because i fell down as well, post trauma. It is the first time i am in a ski accident. getting hurt. Maybe because Chris snatched me out of my routine. I was smached back to it violently. It is Not a bad routine but being in that routine completely wrecked phisically, mentally and financially isnt that fun. It pulls me back to that week.
There is the moment before. A moment when life was normal. When I lived with Chris in a small place, sharing life . moments. Hope. the last night was spent talking about life and death. Projects and dreams. Womens. helis. mountains… This moment before the accident I know, but not before I understand because there is no understanding moments like this, the moment before the future no longer matters, before the future is nothing but a wish for the past. fawk! i miss him. I miss his enthusiasm his obsessions. He was driven. crazy. Passionate. Like a spoilt kid flying thru life. So fresh. I didnt just fall down from the ridge. I fell down from his dream cloud.
in a weird twisted way, I dont mind this state of mind right now . Its summer, I am back into the pace of office life. night shift day shift. it chafes. It seems pointless and dull. Boring. My boiling heart and mind- His world and projects in comparison seem alive.
July 22nd full moon : reminiscing
waking up at 5am under the full moon.His livingroom in Juneau. I remember thinking it feels melancholic. I could hear him sleep. He woke up. We smoked a spliff.
It all stopped so brutally. Like waking up from a nightmare. I can remember each and every seconds of the day. Every words we said. When we woke up. His daily happy-good- mood song “goooood morniinnng cedric” , Our breakfast. the guide meeting. Hanging out, smoking in the sun. Each runs. The last heli ride. I remember buckling him up. His face when we heard the whumfs before it all disapeared. That very second before it all vanished. Like an illusion . A day dream. it never existed.
It is mid summer so im started to go thru all my winter stuff. Craving the white fluff moments. Im not much of a video guy but I stumble unto this. Nothing much, you can see cab just a little. It is the first day I met him and skied with him. The video just shows Us hanging out at the bottom of an epic 2500 Meters of knee deep powder run thru couloirs, rollers and forrest in Italy. We are waiting to go on another run. Hanging out. This is what we do mostly: Hanging out. With great people. In between we ski or climb. but mostly: we hang out. We Meet with amazing people from around the world. We Share moments. Priceless epic time. Perfects moments. Until one day some disapears . That does not get any easier.
3rd september. Im out of the shockwave now. I am still not active in the mountains, just trying to get stoked for next winter. I cant stop being pissed off at how it all turned out. Christian wanted me to have the best time of my life, make a lot of money, shoot amazing pictures. He wanted to show me the best of AK, of his zone. It is presisely the opposite of everything that happened. Worst 6 months, worst ski, lost money , crap pictures. WTF. If i had cash, i would go back and make sure to do as planned….like he wanted. To cab it up!
I had to charge my US phone , i open my messages box and found that one ..message from heaven?
I was apres skiing at the fort the night before when i got that message. I went back home. We went to have dinner at that mexican joint, some nice fish tacos , ak shrimps and tons of margharitas. Chris paid the bill, that was his last dinner. We went back home, wasted. Carried on with crown royal. Cab wanted to go check out the borealis outside but i was tired. That is when he said “if it is your last night , you’d die without ever see the borealis”. We went on and on talking about life death and what we would do right now if we knew it was our last night. Odd timing.
Electronic memory is odd sometime.
I managed to get a picture of Cab published in the winter issue of Kronicle Magasine, which is a good backcountry snowboard mag in the USA> he would be stoked. Especially a picture of him in the white room.
It is chris’s B day in 5 days Facebook tells me. I just realize i took that picture last year on the 21 st of december. I didn’t know him then, he just happened to be there with a mutual friend the day we were shooting picts and film. I remember seeing him shredding down that run like a pro, thinking who is that dude…We didn’t know it was his bday. we were joking about the Mayan end of the world calendar thing…. A friendship was born that day …
It’s been a year now. They say: everything happens for a reason. I am still searching. I haven’t had fun skiing since then. I ski because that is what i do. I have good times but feeling changed since then, Not the same stoke. Im not so psyched. Oh well. it will come back.
Alaska. The end.
April 28th. 2016
3 years now. Skiing changed so much . Since that day i lost Magnus Kastengren, David Rosenbarger, Andreas Fransson, J.P Auclair, Liz Daley, Brendan o’sullivan, Scott siderstrom. What a waste. The steep skiing frenzy is more popular than ever. But skiing doesn’t really give me a reason to live anymore. I tried to fall back on ski photography with no success really. I am a free man trying to figure out what is next. Photography probably. I’m still skiing. But it is so far away from that pipe dream we had.
For a ski bum photographer like me to go on a heli ski trip in the ski dream land haines alaska is a pure phantasy , a dream alike seeing unicorn shitting rainbows. That was until i met with christian cabanilla in chamonix ….after a few days showing him the best of chamonix , a road trip thru switzerland and a month worth of a platonic internet relationship he made it clear that i will enjoy the AK powder this year. Wether i want it or not. i am happily kidnapped. He hooked me up with seaba (south east alaska backcountry adventure) , organized my itinary , paid for my lodging and a month worth of food. When i arrived in juneau, we immediatly floated to haines where i met with the seaba crew and the fort seward lodge . I was thrilled and exited , everyone there is hearthy, genuine and are characters. The guides, the cooks , the owners every one is the embodiement of awesome. There are no plain , boring persona. The fort seward lodge is unique and it is clear that you are here to ski. You could easily compare seaba/ fort seward lodge with chamonix. It has the same vibe the same kind of people. A skier’s dream. The first 5 days were shitty weather :we went slednecking , met with awesome locals. Chris was sick for 2 days which i spent making a cattrack with nick trimble (one of the owner of seaba) for future catskiing. When the first clear day came up, i was hired by guests to take picture of their day. That day was my first day skiing AK, my eyes wide open looking at the endless snowporn in front of me. . The second day, cab and myself were given a seat with 2 AK locals who come and ski here frequently. They are good riders so the pace is fast and the runs bigger and steeper. I am skiing the dream: Haines, AK. Cab is so stoked to see me having a blast . living the dream. …. But. Unicorns dont exist and the fuckin ridge broke off. In 3 seconds i fell off from heaven thru the 300 meter asshole of hell and with no rainbows. Its like a nightmare, an out of body experience. I could see my body bounce off stuff and fall thru darkness. Painless but frightening. Cab is dead. And im here in haines ak, in his house , in his bed, in the middle of his clothes . Broken up, heart broken and completly lost. I was not expecting a 7 days trip in haines. it was more a month worth of skiing a safer-than-cham snow heaven . but destiny decided otherwise i guess, the bitch. why so short? why chris?. WHY now?
The seaba crew and guests helped me a lot recovering, trying to see the light. I m poping oxy like candies. Drinking beers smoking. Trying to figure out what to do, what to think, what to understand. What did i learn from cab’s death, from that fuckin accident. Nothing really. Or nothing i didnt know already. I will go back to haines . To the fort seward lodge skiing with seaba. (well! without cab’s loving generosity it might just stay a dream. )
Time will take care of the my loss: Chris Cabanilla. my beloved friend. my brother in arms. it’s been way to short, i had important stuff to tell you . you had to show me your playground. fuck. it sucks. rest in peace.i am swimming in a dark cloud.
For now, i am trying to heal and I cant wait to get back on my skis and honor Chris Canabilla with skiing the rad and fast.
here are some pictures. unfortunately, i only had 2 days riding and i thought i had a months shooting lifestyle…so its limited to a few runs…
so My new best friend Christian Cabanilla (a bad ass heli pilot/guide in alaska..) told me he had a friend to visit in the swiss land (who happen to be Ueli Kestenholz (multi olympic medalist-woldcup winner -xgames winer.–and so on ..skier snowboarder and speed rider …google him guys it is worth it) ) most importantly a very down to earth soul rider and early bird ripper in alaksa))))) anyways…we stayed at his house and had a wonderful time with his very nice family (including a wife who is a bad ass base jumper) . we didnt get to ski as the weather was not friendly . Me and chris went on a drinking/smoking binje getting lost in interlaken-grindelwald. After being stuck in the road closure at col des montet for a few hours we decided it was time for more intoxication at the moo-fy in cham…next waking up was at the the top of the midi ridge trying to not fall down the north face due to lack of brain coordination. It is saturday morning and the light is magic. My brain cant figure out my camera. sucky. … I met with Nathan wallace production and a few friends and had 2 laps of gorgeous powder skiing…That is it… here bellow are a few shots but i mean…it is saturday….i am off. A video is on the way from wallace prod. better.
It is always good to have someone under 25 years old you can send first in that situation…Ben Briggs was the kid today although …I had to clean the south ridge myself. And you always need a virgin , It was Chris Cabanilla first midi run, so… … Its good and wild out there!
send the kids first
and the virgin: Christian cabanilla looking good.