IN THE EARLY '90s ERIC PEHOTA helped define big mountain skiing in films like
The White Room
. He's made more than 40 first descents - including the northwest summit of Alaska's Mount Waddington. In 1996, he lost his friend and ski-film co-star Trevor Petersen to an avalanche in Chamonix (Petersen was skiing alone). Pehota skis 100 days a year and lives near Whistler, where he hangs with his family and shoots at the crows in his garden.
STARRING IN SKI movies was a means to travel around the world and get paid. We'd go to an area, find the biggest peaks, pick out the lines we'd want to ski, and say, "We should film this."
WHEN IT COMES TO SURVIVING, there's a bit of luck involved, but mostly it comes down to personal judgment.
AFTER A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE - you hear people talking about car accidents, whatever - after that, you really appreciate every minute of the day. Every day, every night, every morning.
I LOVE LIFT SKIING. There's no substitute for putting up the vertical (unless you can afford a helicopter). Groomed hardpack, gates, bumps, steeps - you can't get that variety anywhere else but on a ski hill.
I LIKE GOOD, CLEAN, HEALTHY LIVING. I like to know what I eat. I hunt.
I'VE GOT EVERYTHING I NEED. Everything's paid for. I've got my own sawmill here so I can mill my own wood. I try to be self-supportive and not rely on society.
I DON'T HAVE TO SKI SOMETHING RISKY. But sometimes you gotta get out there and push it so you can really kick back and enjoy life, enjoy that beer again.