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Vol. 1 No. 5

A Basin Comp

Couloir Extreme
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Staffan A.
Lori S.
Stuart K.
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Stuart Kellermeyer photos: Justin Machus

Descender: Hey Stuart! Let's start from the beginning. How'd you get into freeheel skiing?

SK: I was born with skis on. Momma said labor was a bitch. The free heels didn't come until much later, my dad discovered tele skiing 25 years ago. He had to teach himself, and my brother was a champion Nordic racer. I preferred the speed & excitement of Alpine skiing, so I only Nordic skied on family tours and such. Dad always commented; "some day you'll grow up, and out of alpine skiing." It wasn't until I demoed the first pair of Super Comps that I realized Tele was the way I wanted to take my sport. My technique was far from polished, but I knew the speed and power I sought was there.

D: You guide backcountry ski trips as work with your business, Sierra Sherpa. How has skiing as a job affected your perspective?

SK: Guiding has been a great experience. Sierra Sherpa has forced me to be on my skis at all times, and in situations that I might not normally be if was just skiing for fun. Such as being in the backcountry in heavy storms, high avalanche danger, and even knee deep slush. It has turned me from an athlete to a student of snow and winter weather. Plus, my strength and conditioning is better than it's ever been.

Photo: Justin Machus

Photo Credit: Justin Machus Location: Tahoe Backcountry

D: What do you ride? Describe your ideal all mountain setup...

SK: I ride K2 Skis. They seem to have a ski for every type of condition and adventure I find myself in. For tours and guiding, I have a pair of Piste Stinx. If itís more performance, backcountry skiing, or airs and the like, I ride the Totally Piste. But the best all conditions, all speeds, all around ski that I have found is next year's Super Stinx. I probably sound like a K2 salesman, but K2 seems to have a handle on Telemark skiing, and they understand we are getting better at what we do, and need the skis to compliment our advances in style, power, and speed.

D: Describe the most sphincter tightening run you've had ...

SK: Far and away the tightest my cheeks have ever been was riding on the back of an avalanche through a funnel of rocks, over a cliff, and into a forest. It was the only line I have ever taken that I couldn't ski away from. Even though that was exactly what I had to do, and did.

D: Lucky you! Avy danger is something for all of us to be aware of. Back to more important questions: Diesel or unleaded?

SK: When given the choice, Diesel.

D: Is there a freeheel "scene" in Tahoe?

SK: Tele is getting bigger out here every year. Everyone wants to do it, but it's still a great minority who are willing to put in the time it takes to be a really great tele skier.

Photo: Justin Machus Photo: Justin Machus

Click photos to enlarge. Credit: Justin Machus Location: Tahoe Backcountry

D: Macro or Micro?

SK: Macro. When you gotta go big: GO BIG.

D: What do you think of this whole New School vs. Old School hubbub?

SK: New School, Old School, it is all the same to me. It's all skiing. I like to think of myself as a New School Old Schooler, or an Old Schooler with some New School tricks.

D: A wise man once told me "never to eat yellow snow." If there was one tip you would offer the tele world, what would it be?

SK: Free Heel Skiing will go wherever we decide to take it. As long as it has soul, it's all good with me. Keep it real, Keep it soul, keep it Tele.

D: Step in or three pin?

SK: Depends on what I'm trying to accomplish.

Photo: Justin Machus

Click photo to enlarge. Credit: Justin Machus Location: Tahoe Backcountry

D: You've been skiing a long time. Who's your hero?

SK: When I was younger it was Scott Schmidt. Now, without a doubt, it's my Dad. He deserves my respect as a skier.

D: Final thoughts?

SK: If you ain't droppin' the knee you ain't Tele!

Visit Sierra Sherpa Winter Outdoor Adventure on the Web @ www.sierrasherpa.com

Top Photos: Justin Machus Location: Tahoe Backcountry

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