Plake Ponders | Glen Plake on the life-changing effects of the Blizzard of AAHHH’s


People often ask me, what is my standout memory from our time shooting Blizzard of AAHHH’s. I would say it’s just the innocence of it all.

Glen Plake / Elan

To think that what we were simply doing on this six-week trip in Chamonix, making this dumb little ski movie – to think about what that manifested into – I mean, I can’t go anywhere in Vail without being recognised. I’m not complaining! But I can’t sit down at a restaurant. I can’t get on a chairlift. I can’t walk into a ski shop. I can’t go anywhere without having somebody come up to me and give some personal testimony about what happened in their life because of Blizzard, or effect that it had on their life, or an influence on their life.

Sure, we wanted to set the world on fire. Of course! We were fired-up frickin’ skiers who wanted to BE somebody, so to speak. But to think that that has become what it is, is beyond anything that we could have ever imagined, and certainly it was never the intent. That trips me out for sure.

And the generational aspect of it is trippy too – this thing continues to go on. Parents are showing their kids Blizzard of Aahhh’s and all of a sudden we’ve got these little kids who are, for whatever reason, tapping into what we were doing.

At the same time, I’m really proud of the skiing that we did in the movie. Though I think it got a little bit misinterpreted from the fact that most of the skiing we were doing was actually just raging around on-piste, skiing manky snow. I mean, there were some great shots on the Envers du Plan area, but a lot of it was just mashing moguls. The whole world of freeride came about after, but the reality is we were, like, skiiiiing. I just think what we were doing has been missed a little bit.

Everybody’s chasing these untracked, virgin powder fields. And we really didn’t do any of that in the movie, if you really watch it. There are some sections of course, but a lot of it was just good old, hard-charging skiing. We did a lot of turns. I’m happy about that.

            If you measure life on financial success and all this other crap then so be it, but the only thing that’s ever provided for me were in fact my skis, to a level that I’ve had a career out of it, so I have a lot to be thankful for.

And the cool thing is, Mike Hattrup, Scott Schmidt and me, we’re still making good turns. Two years ago, for one of the Blizzard of Aahhh’s anniversaries, they got us all together. We met at Squaw Valley and went skiing together and it was super cool, because we were all skiing well, all strong, all healthy – we were three frickin’ tough individuals.

And I was thinking, here are these three people who were supposed to ski to their death. We were supposed to be wrecked, physically. And yet here we were, after all this time, in really, really good shape. And especially among our peers. It was like, dang! I was really proud of it. And we all noticed it. We all looked at each other and were like, “Good to see you looking and skiing and living the way you do, man. That’s fricking bitchin’”. Even though we’re all living totally different lives.

Because, you know, my life is very different from Mike’s. And Scott’s is a completely different life also. Mike is still based in Ketchum, Idaho, skiing his brains out every day, guiding a lot. He’s enjoying his new-found position at Black Diamond. I was on a chairlift with Mike just this morning.

I don’t ski with Scott very much. I don’t even see Scott very much. But I do know he’s very active in that private ski area called the Yellowstone Club, up in Montana. He’s like their resident host. I don’t know what he does exactly. I think he skis with people like Tom Brady and other weirdos – he’s definitely doing the rich and famous babysitting jobs. But he skis a bunch of really good snow and I think he’s living a good thing. My wife Kimberly and I, we definitely bite off more than we chew most of the time. But I think Scott’s definitely stepped back and taken a slightly easier road to existence, and more power to him.

I don’t see Greg Stump a lot. He’s living in central Oregon. It’s not my place to do Greg’s story, but he was an incredibly influential editor and visionary, producer, director, or whatever you want to call it, the list goes on and on of what Greg was, and achieved, in the medium of music and film.

I think that if we weren’t skiers our lives would be completely different right now, to be honest. The door was, let’s say, cracked open, and the stepping stones were laid for an incredibly different life in the world of production and cinematography. But I think that some opportunities may have been steered away from us because we were from the ski industry, not from, say, the surf industry, or the snowboard industry, or the skateboard industry – not from some of these more metropolitan-driven activities.

 Skiing is an obscure activity and certainly while our film had a massive point impact on everybody, I think that if we were from one of these other disciplines we’d be in very different places. All of a sudden Greg Stump would be, in fact, a highly awarded Hollywood director by now, or a highly recognised commercial producer. It would have been interesting to see.

People would say, “Oh, but those guys are those skiers”, and I would be like, what’s that got to do with it?! I heard it many times. There was this marketing meeting in the early 90s for Canon, for an advert for their Rebel camera. They were going to use Andre Agassi, or me. And it literally came down to, “Well, yeah, but isn’t he just that skier?” So I didn’t get it. It’s just kind of funny.

But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If you measure life on financial success and all this other crap then so be it, but the only thing that’s ever provided for me were in fact my skis, to a level that I’ve had a career out of it, so I have a lot to be thankful for.

There have been a lot of times in my life where the only thing I had were my skis. You gotta ride the ride. Try not to get too caught up in where you’re going next and what’s going to happen next, because you really don’t have a choice. Keep riding those skis. Let them tell you where to go. When you don’t know, let the skis decide.