Chris Coulter is a busy man these days spending over 130 days each season on the snow. His life in the snowboard world has taken him from being a well-known, pro shredder in the early 2000’s to a highly respected, year-round snowboard guide working in some of the most iconic mountains on the planet. He follows the endless winter so many of us dream about – spending the first half of the season in Colorado, spring in Alaska, and summering in the Andes of South America. Chris was nice enough to take a few minutes to chat with us about what he’s been up to, and what is on tap for him.
How long have you been snowboarding? I have been snowboarding for 26 years.
What about splitboarding? I’d say about 10 seasons.
What are you up to these days? I guide at Silverton Mountain in Colorado December through mid-March, then at SEABA Heli in Alaska mid-March through April. Working with a variety of clients in different mountains and snow packs keeps me really engaged. It is truly a pleasure to get to work for these operations; they have helped me grow immensely as a professional. In the summer I work at SASS Global Travel (SGT) and Sled Chile in South America. I spend a little more time on my splitboard during the summer months which is a great way to mix up the year of boarding. The last five seasons I have been getting 130+ days on snow working with clients between North and South America.
That’s a lot of time on snow each year. What do you do when you have some down time? Usually when I am not chasing winter I can be found in Salt Lake City climbing, biking, or training for the next trip.
How long have you been guiding? I started working at SASS Global Travel Argentina seven years ago. This is year five with Silverton Mountain and SEABA Heli.
What or who got you into guiding? I was inspired by many of the great guides I worked with when I was doing a lot of traveling and filming early in my snowboard career. I was a client of SEABA Heli, SASS, and Silverton Mountain before I started working for them.
What kind of training or certifications do you have as a guide? I have my Avalanche 2 and Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) medical. I am always learning more about mountain travel. I try to take advantage of any opportunity to learn that I can – skill specific classes, knowledgeable friends, and professional mentors all play a part in this.
What is the best part of what you do on a day to day basis? Typically I get to ride amazing powder. Often my clients are on vacation, so my day at work is very fun!
What is the most challenging aspect of your work? Seasonal work mixed with so much travel is tough. Being sure to get enough rest is also a challenge during long guiding stretches, especially as I try to add in my own recreational pursuits.
How important to you is the equipment you use on the mountain? Equipment is very important. When deep in the backcountry you depend greatly on your gear; having the right gear can make a huge difference on your experience. I spend a lot of days on my equipment and I’m hard on it. It’s super important to maintain your gear and to trust it.
As a pro snowboarder, the progression always seems to be new tricks, bigger lines etc… What is the progression and growth path for you as a guide? As a guide progression means spending time in avalanche terrain, making the best decisions you can, then analyzing your decisions and learning from any mistakes. Learning from mentors is a fun component in the process as well, both in the classroom and in the field.
Thinking back to your days of filming – do you have any parts or seasons that really stick out to you or that you’re most proud of? Why? I think my first parts with Finger on Da Trigger’s “Represent” and Kingpin Productions’ “Brainstorm” stick out to me. I filmed both of these parts in one season, they were my first main stream parts. I was struggling to make it as a pro shred; these segments were a big break through for me. I am really proud to have been in any Absinthe film as they are an amazing crew to work with. Also, stoked to have filmed with Defective films owner Sean Johnson who is a legend; it was an honor to work with him and his buddies in Canada.
What was your first snowboard? My first board was a Burton Cruise 135. I actually still have it. The bindings are crazy skybacks that don’t fold down.
When was the last time you slid a hand rail? Urban, I think it was the rail garden, playing around about seven years ago. In the park I hit some rails two summers ago when we did not have much snow in South America.
Growing up, who did you look up to snowboarding? What about now? Growing up, Peter Line and Johan Olofsson. These days – Jeremy Jones, Xavier De La Rue, Forrest Shearer, Skylar Holgate, Andrew Burns, all my co-workers at Silverton Mountain.
Who are your current sponsors? Spark R&D, Eddie Bauer, Jones Snowboards, Smith, Bluebird, Cheetah Factory Racing
What’s next for you? More family, friends, knowledge, powder, spines and couloirs!
Chris, thanks so much for your time. Good luck the rest of the season.