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Fabi meets… Tom Leitner

„Fabi meets…“ is a series of interviews with Fabian Lentsch and other skiers, friends and people he meets on the road. Same questions, different answers!

Fabi meets….Tom Leitner – a passionate freeskier since day one! Tom had his first public appearence in the little world of freeriding later than most but rapidly broke into the small group of the world’s best competitors. After many years of alpine racing, he joined the ‘new-school’ freestyle skiing movement in the mid-90s, at the same time as many of his friends switched to snowboarding. Born and raised in southern Bavaria he grew up in the mountains, grew up with skiing and later got the chance to travel the world by moving fast and stylish on two sticks. Tom has been part of the very first Snowmads trip A Journey Towards Eastern Suns – unfortunately he’s had a super bad crash back then and was forced to leave Iran way too early.

Name: Tom Leitner

Age: 38

City: Traunstein

How is/was it to grow up around here?

It was paradise when I was a kid. I had the privilege to grow up very free and to be outside a lot. I definitely believe that  my childhood gave me the basis for everything I do these days. It`s those childhood memories that I strive for, even if more subconsciously than consciously.

Well, I`ve been skiing for thirty five years now and it has been one of the constants in my life.

What do you think about skiing? Have you ever tried it or seen someone ski? What do you associate with it?

Well, I`ve been skiing for thirty five years now and it has been one of the constants in my life. It`s my passion and it can take on so many forms. I think it can potentially fill up a lifetime. There`s always place for progression, even if our physical abilities decline with age.

To me backcountry skiing has a unifying power, too. Wherever you meet skiers with a similar dedication, you will most probably find yourself in a silent agreement with them, about certain values, attitudes and preferences. It’s like a secret bond of people who have made similar experiences, which, in the end, lead you on a certain path in life. 

Skiing chose me, I would say

Why did you choose this job/career?

Skiing chose me, I would say. It`s not like it has ever been a career path to me. One thing came after the other and for a couple of years I was able to make a living of it. Looking back, it’s been only a short period in my life and only one aspect of my life as a skier. A very special time of my life with certain privileges that most people don`t have the chance to experience.

What are you most passionate about and why and what makes you happy?

It`s definitely my family. Ten years ago I never would have thought that I`d become a family man. But the course of seeing a kid grow up from the start and experience humanity in its purest and most innocent form has definitely left a mark on me. But every dad knows that it is something which can not be explained until you experience it yourself.

I believe that vague fears are something to be tackled and to be actively overcome.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I mean, you only become the person you are through making all the mistakes and follow a couple of misleading trails here and there. Still, looking back, I wish I’d have had more courage in certain situations. I believe that vague fears are something to be tackled and to be actively overcome. It took me some time to figure that out in my life. But I am a very happy man at the moment, so I believe that everything had to go the way it did.

What is freedom to you? 

Personal freedom to me means the ability to realize the countless possibilities around us and to have the discipline to grab them. Freedom has a lot to do with discipline.

Love, What is it?

I am surely not a man to give a definition. But I definitely know that it is the answer and the way.

How do you spend most of your free time?

I love to be active in nature. It gives me peace of mind. Apart from that I am alway busy, somehow. Even if I don`t have a real job, haha!

What does money mean to you?

I don`t care about money, as long as there`s enough, haha!

How to follow Tom and his adventures:
Instagram

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Kung-Fu Fabi! A Journey to China (Video)

It was last year when Fabi and some of his friends realized a dream they’ve had on their minds for a couple years already. They traveled to China, signed up for a Kung-Fu school and spent a Summer in the Chinese backcountry. Find out what they’ve experienced on their trip to this rather military style Kung-Fu school.

A couple words of Fabian Lentsch on how he experienced this trip to the far east:

„It was definitely quite a contrast to everything I’ve seen before.“

„About three years ago while climbing a mountain in Austria with my friend Steve he came up with this idea to spend some time in a Kung Fu school in China. He first wanted to stay for six months which wasn’t really an option for me so we settled for two months instead. Jules joined our trip kind of last minute and the three of us traveled to China beginning of summer 2019.
It was definitely quite a contrast to everything I’ve seen before. On the website it said that a good physical shape prior to arriving at the school is recommended. Being an athlete after all I already felt qualified while studying the website at home and kept going into the mountains and just did what I always do. After the first five days of training I had one of the strongest muscle aches of my whole life. Actually already after three days I would have for sure taken a day off if I wasn’t in this crazy Chinese Kung Fu school. Giving up wasn’t really an option. It didn’t feel right to disappoint our Shifu(master). As long as you are not really sick in the world of Kung Fu you can train every day.

„Everything works in a kind of military style.“

The daily workout lasted from 6am until 6pm with just a few breaks in-between. Taiji, Qigong, Shaolin, Chinese Kickboxing, running, temple stairways running, power workouts, conditioning, playing with sticks, fighting in the ring and and and.
Everything works in a kind of military style. You don’t wanna be late for any of your classes haha. There are weekly cleanups where everybody has to join, lunch and dinner gets served at an exact time for about 30min when you have to return your bowl and chopsticks. The room and bed needs to be tidy with weekly checkups by our masters. Most Shifus are talking Chinese with a translator next to them.

Shot and produced by Simon Lo www.liveflyfree.com

I really enjoyed my time in this school. After about two weeks my mind and my body really settled in and I loved being deprived of all these option I constantly have in life. In the school there was a fixed timetable and I never spent time thinking about what to do tomorrow, where to go and so on.“

Learn more about the Kung-Fu school here

Photo Credits
Simon Lo
Fabian Lentsch

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Snowmads Screensavers – Our Moments for your Device

Snowmads Screensavers – Our Moments for your Device!
When scrolling through our archives we quickly realized that there are so many unforgettable moments we’d like to share with you.

Here’s our first selection of screensavers (desktop and mobile) for you. Get inspired and motivated by the Snowmads, go out and experience your very own special moments.

desktop

mobile

Here you can download the screensavers:

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Snowmads Good Reads – Our Book Recommendations

Snowmads Good Reads is our series of book recommendations for you! Books we have with us on our travels, books we read on rainy days or lazy afternoons in the hammock. Snowmads Good Reads is no advertising for any book it’s simply what we like, what inspires us and what we think you should have on your reading list.

The Snowmads‘ way of traveling is a slow way of traveling, an intense and mindful way of exploring cultures, unknown mountain ranges and places far off the beaten path. Traveling slow for us also means taking time for reading, for inspiration and giving thoughts an open space. Reading offers fresh input, different opinions and perspectives on things that concern us.
This week Fabi Lentsch is sharing three of his favorite books that inspire him – find out which ones he is recommending and especially why!

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind 

by Yuval Noah Harari

“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.” 

“We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us.” 

I love to read books which challenge the ways I perceive the world and Sapiens was definitely one of these books. We Homo Sapiens exist since about 70.000 years and spent most of this time in the nature moving around looking for food. Then the agricultural revolution happened which led towards the present way of life. We settled, build cities and also invented stories which make it easier to live together. Such as money, nations, gods, laws and many more. It surprised me how much of our today’s behaviour is still rooted in the genes of our ancestors and saw the patterns of how we became enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism. An amazing book for everyone who wants to know more about our species or ultimately about her/himself. 

“As far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion.” 

Quotes by Yuval Noah Harari

Shantaram 

by Gregory David Roberts

“Happiness is a myth. It was invented to make us buy new things.”

“Love is the opposite of power. That’s why we fear it so much.”

I always thought of myself as being this great traveler and adventurer until I read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. He escaped a maximum security prison in Australia and somehow managed to flee to India where he lives many existences over quite some years. Such as running a self built clinic in a slum, producing fake passports along with many other dubious activities for the mafia, going to war in Afghanistan and another time in prison in Mumbai. As a hunted man without an identity, home or family he’s searching for love and a meaningful life behind the curtains of a hidden Mumbai society. 

Reading about his adventures made me question my way of traveling and the goals and values in life. Shantaram was one of my motivations to live in Iran right now and learn the language to experience life beyond just being a tourist. 

“But the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.”

Quotes by Gregory David Roberts

How to Change Your Mind? – The New Science of Psychedelics 

by Michael Pollan

“Why assume that “normal” consciousness is the real one, while the boundless and transcendent variety is somehow fake?”

“Compared with other drugs, psychedelics seldom affect people the same way twice, because they tend to magnify whatever’s already going on both inside and outside one’s head.”

Psychedelics are still quite a sensitive topic in our society and often linked to horror stories of people jumping out of windows. The truth is that humans are using psychedelics such as “magic” mushrooms since thousands of years which gives us reason to believe that they played a big part in our evolution. After the movement against psychedelics in the 1960s researchers have picked up the topic again and it even finds its way into therapeutic use. This book is about the history, recent research including brain scans while people are tripping and Michaels personal travelogues under the influence of these non-addictive drugs. I’ve made experiences with psychedelics during an Ayahuasca ceremony in Brasil about four years ago and this book managed to answer many questions I still had. 

“Habits are undeniably useful tools, relieving us of the need to run a complex mental operation every time we’re confronted with a new task or situation. Yet they also relieve us of the need to stay awake to the world: to attend, feel, think, and then act in a deliberate manner. (That is, from freedom rather than compulsion.) If you need to be reminded how completely mental habit blinds us to experience, just take a trip to an unfamiliar country. Suddenly you wake up! And the algorithms of everyday life all but start over, as if from scratch. This is why the various travel metaphors for the psychedelic experience are so apt. The efficiencies of the adult mind, useful as they are, blind us to the present moment. We’re constantly jumping ahead to the next thing.”

Quotes by Michael Pollan

As someone once said: „Reading is dreaming with open eyes.“ We want to wish you happy dreams, relaxing moments, many inspiring words, quotes and a quality time out from the every day life!

Photo Credits

Tamo Gokadze

Florian Breitenberger
Anjuna Hartmann

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Fabi meets… Guro Vashakmadze

„Fabi meets…“ is a series of interviews with Fabian Lentsch and other skiers, friends and people he meets on the road. Same questions, different answers!

Guro Vashakmadze is one of Georgia’s freeski pioneers and knows the Caucasus mountains like the back of his hand. Fabi and Guro met during the very first Snowmads trip A Journey Towards Eastern Suns in 2016.

Name: Guram Vashakmadze (Guro)

Age: 26

City: Tbilisi/Gudauri

How is/was it to grow up around here?

I grew up in the area of the Gudauri ski resort in the time of civil war and political instability of Georgia. Gudauri appeared to be an island of peace and joy in the ocean of wrath at that time. The mountains left me with good memories from my childhood so I am thankful for it especially when I imagine what my generation and the older ones had gone through.  

Guro enjoying the Georgian pow

What do you think about skiing? have you ever tried it or seen someone ski? What do you associate with it?

For me skiing is a lifetime competition with others and most important with myself. I am constantly trying to prove myself that what I am able to do. I can do it better and better – always! There are no real borders which could limit your abilities. Unless you are not trying to overcome gravitation  

Fabi during a skiing trip to Georgia

Why did you choose this job/career?

I did not choose this job, I just grew up with it. Maybe it was meant to be like this? I don’t know, I just know there was no exact moment when I decided to follow my real passion. This passion existed since I started skiing. I should admit that it is not my real job at the moment, hehe…

What are you most passionate about and why and what makes you happy?

I am passionate about team spirits, when I feel that I belong to the group of people on whom I can rely in the much needed moments. I used to play rugby and still I admire this sport. The reason is that the mental connection between the players gives the result of the game. The team spirit is about respect, support and honesty. These three things are one of the most important values for me. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’m not going to give any advice to my younger self as long as I am a result of the things I’ve done in the past and the decisions I made. I am proud of myself and my past life with its’ own good and bad parts. I do not regret the bad parts, that’s actually where an experience comes from and without this experience it is hard to grow as a successful person.

What is freedom to you?

Freedom enables us to call ourselves reasonable beings – humans. If there wouldn’t be the ability to free ourselves from our desires, being independent in making decisions considering all the results they could lead us to, we would look like the beings who are slaves of their own desires. To be free from yourself is the most important part.  

Heliskiing in Georgia

Love, What is It?

The ability to express pure kindness given to us by ultimate power.  

What does money mean to you?

I do not belong to the category of people who consider that they have to be deeply negative about money. I think we should be as honest as possible. Money is the thing that gives us the possibility to follow the things we have a passion for, to be independent from the others, to have a chance to do something good for our families, friends or just unknown people. It is not important what money means for me or what it actually is, but the way you get it and the purpose you spend it for. 

How to follow Guro and his adventures:

Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

Keen on traveling to Georgia? Here you go! Snowmads Travel Georgia Experience

Check out what CNN has to say about skiing in beautiful Georgia: Why Georgia is one of the world’s most underrated skiing destinations!

Big Mountain Dream Lines – The Snowmads in Georgia

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„Cooking with the Snowmads“ is our new series about Food and Recipes from all over the World.

As Van Life, Traveling and Cooking go Hand in Hand we think it’s a Topic that might be interesting for you. Let’s cook a real Iranian Classic today: Lubia Polo

As we love to travel to Iran we got to know and love the Iranian Cuisine, so we want to bring you one of our favorite recipes.
The Iranian way of cooking is pretty simple in its ingredients yet amazingly complex in its taste and so is Lubia Polo, which simply translates to „Bean Rice“. Seeing the Ingredients maybe you would think to yourself „How could this turn into something special?“ But then you take the time and passion for the process as the Iranians do and in the end you’ll be stunned of how little things you need to create an amazing tasty meal.

What you need

1 Onion

500g Green Beans (best fresh ones, but frozen ones work as well)

2 1/2 cups of rice (Persian rice is perfect for this dish if you can get hold of it, or any other good medium to long grain white rice)

1 tea spoon of tumeric powder at least 1/2 a tea spoon of bloomed saffron

500g pure tomato sauce

Potatoes (optional)

If you’re lucky enough to find a Persian market close by you can easily get your Iranian ingredients there – a couple minutes of intense Persian experience inclusive. 😉

Fabi on a market in Teheran…

How the magic happens

You begin by frying the diced onions in oil until they get some color and add the turmeric powder and the green beans. The tumeric powder is important for the final taste of the Lubia Polo so don’t be shy on using it. The beans should start to get a glassy bright green color when you add the tomato sauce, usually you will use tomato sauce from a can or glass. If its a really thick sauce, pour some water in the can or glass to get the rest of the sauce out and make the sauce more liquid. You don’t wanna make a soup, but it shouldn’t be too thick in order to not burn in your pan. You let that cook for some ten to fifteen minutes if you’re using fresh beans, if its frozen beans that reduces the cooking time to around 5 minutes. Add some salt and let the sauce sit in the pan.

Meanwhile bring some water (about 1 1/2 to double the amount of rice) to boil, add the rinsed rice and let that simmer until the rice is al dente, which means that if you take one grain of rice between your fingernails the middle of the grain should still be a little hard. The Iranians are true masters in cooking rice and one of the many secrets is simply to rinse the rice before cooking to get rid of the starch around the grains. Pour the rice and water through a sieve. After around ten minutes, depending on which rice you use pour the rice and water into a sieve.

„Thadig“ Iranian rice cooking magic

Now the stacking of the rice and the bean/tomato sauce starts, which is probably the crux in the whole process. For that you use a deep pot, pour some oil in and put it on low to medium heat. Cause now another speciality of the Iranian rice cooking magic can be achived, the so called „Tahdig“ It means that in the bottom of the pot you get a amazingly tasty crust of rice, that if you got it right once you ask yourself why you would ever cook rice without Tahdig again. Optionally before you put the rice in the oil you can put thin sliced potatos, which would make for an Potato Tahdig, but to get that right its even more difficult than a plain Rice Tahdig, we ourselves still struggle with that, so probably start with rice only. Put a layer of around 2 to 3 thumbs thick of rice into the pot, take the bean and tomato sauce and stack that on top of the rice, also 2 to 3 thumbs thick. Continue with layering until the sauce and rice is finished, the rice should be the last layer. With every layer of rice you put in pour some blossomed saffron over the rice. „Blossomed“ here means that you put the saffron in some water and let it simmer on low heat for some minutes. Saffron can be amazingly expensive in some countries, so how much you’ll use will be depending on where you live or your budget. Generally we would say the more the better. It’ll give the typical taste of Persia, as Iranians use literally tons of it.

When you ́re finished with the stacking put a cotton kitchen towel around the lid of the pot, which will help to keep the steam inside the pot, so the before „al dente“ rice will be steamed to finish. Leave the pot on a small to medium heat for some 30 minutes while not letting the steam escape by opening the lid many times, which is another secret to a perfect rice. The crux here is to get the rice finished without the Tahdig at the bottom getting burned, you’ll probably need some tries to get it right, but if you do you’ll know that it was worth it. After around 30 minutes you can open the lid and check if the rice is finished and if it is you can stir and mix the rice with the bean/tomato sauce, The rice will get a beautiful yellow and red color and the aromas of sauce, rice and saffron will have merged.

Lubia Polo traditionally is a side dish, we recommend some white bread to go with it, best coming from a wood fire oven, maybe some salad. As there are often vegetarians under us we most of the time cook without meat, if you don’t wanna dispense on meat, you can put it in the bean/tomato sauce, traditionally Iranians use lamp for their Lubia Polo.

Enjoy! And „Nush e jahn!“ -Farsi for „enjoy your meal“, which translates to „Nourish your soul“

We’re curious on your Lubia Polo experience – you’re very welcome to send us a photo or tag @snowmads on Instagram.

Video Recommendation:
Happy camping, happy cooking and good times in the Snowmads Truck

Photo Credits
Florian Breitenberger
Anjuna Hartmann

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How to… Van Life with Fabian Lentsch

Find out how to live in an old, refurbished fire truck. Fabi is taking you on a truck tour through the Snowmads Truck.

(C) Florian Breitenberger

Curious what’s inside the Snowmads Truck?
Fabi is showing you around in the truck, gives some interesting insights on how he’s living in this adventure vehicle and even reveals some van life hacks for your next adventure on four wheels.

That video was shot back in 2016 when Fabi and the Snowmads headed off for their first trip A Journey Towards Eastern Suns.

Enjoy!

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Interview with Julian Vogel – the creative Mastermind behind the Snowmads Truck Paint Job

Roof top chills in Morocco – Julian and Fabi hanging out on the Snowmads Truck

Julian Vogel, artist and van life lover. Famous for his World Peace Walls all around the globe. He’s the creative mastermind behind the paint job of our Snowmads Truck and Markus Aschers‘ van „Blacky“.
In our interview he’s talking about his connection to Snowmads, van life, freedom and his World Peace Walls.

Julian, how did you get in touch with the Snowmads? 

Hey, Fabi contacted me a while ago, because he heard about my Project World Peace Walls where I travel to different areas around the World to paint Murals for Peace.

He asked me if I could paint the Snowmads Truck from outside. Thats how it started.“

What is Snowmads for you? 

Snowmads for me is a community of young people, who live their dream, they are curious and creative, openminded and conscious about their environment, cultures and nature.

Moggäs‘ Blacky and the Snowmads Truck – both painted by Julian Vogel

Do you think there is a connection between art, skiing and vanlife? 

Sure, van live gives you the most freedom, you live simplicity and flexibility, it brings you to every place you want to go. On the way you find new mountains or inspirations, you meet people on the road with similar interests and you can always share your stories.

„Van Life is a way of art.“

You’ve built up your own camper van some time ago – inspired by the Snowmads?

Of course I am inspired by the Snowmads Truck and lifestyle and for me its the best way to travel. But my Truck is still under construction, but it will be finished soon.

The World Peace Wall is one of your projects that really impressed us – what’s the idea behind and how do you see the future of the project? 

Good to hear, thanks so much!

It all began in 2007 when I traveled to Iraq and I was overcome with an idea to leave something behind. This spontaneous urge took the form of a mural on the walls of an old Hussein Palace in the North of Iraq, or my first “World Peace Wall.” Since then, I painted around 30 walls all around the globe.

World Peace Wall Nicaragua

The Idea is to use the local language for my murals as well as cultural symbols and elements to connect fully with the observer. If somebody thinks about peace, he will act more peacefully. I try to change perspectives, thoughts and attitudes with a silent revolution, through a painted message. Everything happening around us, originates in our minds. What we think is our reality. Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, actions become habits and habits form our outlook and personality.

Since ancient times people have been influenced by this principle. Church paintings, propaganda and advertising campaigns all require attention and channel thoughts into one direction.

World Peace Wall in Bagdad/Iraq

„Peace can only be achieved by our attitude.“

The more human beings are at peace with themselves, the more they surrender fighting against themselves and the flow of life, the more they create a world of tolerance and love around them. The „World Peace Walls“ in prominent places of the world give an impulse to start a dialogue about peace – a message that, similarly to a spiritual mantra, is repeated over and over again and therefore slowly manifests itself in reality.“

Any travel plans for this summer?

Not yet, but sometimes wanderlust overwhelmes me and I go where the wind blows. 

How to follow Julian

www.ju-li-an.com

Instagram

YouTube

Facebook

Check out our Home Story with Markus Ascher and spot Julian working on the Truck in the beginning of the video.

Photo Credits:
Jochen Mesle
Fabian Lentsch

Florian Breitenberger

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Fabi meets… Neil Williman

„Fabi meets…“ is a series of interviews with Fabian Lentsch and other skiers, friends and people he meets on the road. Same questions, different answers!

Neil Williman, mainly Kiwi, partly English, living in Austria with a Swedish lady he met in France. Beside skiing he’s working as commentator and engineer. He’s been filming with Fabi since 2013 after meeting him and Raphi Webhofer in New Zealand. Their welcoming and generous ways are a big part of the reason why he ended up moving to Innsbruck. Neil has been part of the Snowmads films A Journey Towards Eastern Suns , Ya Mas and Snowmads – Sense of Home . Neil is also well known as the voice of the Freeride World Tour.

Neil during the very first Snowmads trip „A Journey Towards Eastern Suns“

How was it to grow up in New Zealand? 

Good, but not very ski focused, the closest ski hill was 1.5 hours drive then 1.5 hours walk away! And it only had rope tows that you needed a special harness to ride. Eventually I moved to Europe, mainly because of the skiing.

What do you think about skiing? Have you ever tried it or seen someone ski? What do you associate with it?

 Yep I love it and I do it a lot. Skiing means a lot to me, especially since it gives travelling such a sense of purpose since. It’s something you can share with people at home, or on the road, whether you know them well or you just met them.

Why did you choose this job/career? 

Being a pro skier just kind of happened from following my dreams and heart. 

What are you most passionate about and why and what makes you happy? 

Skiing, travelling, friends. They just go so well together since the mountains bring people together in such a special way.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Follow your heart just as much as your head.

What is freedom to you? 

The fact that we can travel to pretty much anywhere in the world that we want to is pretty special, it’s something that not everybody has the chance to do and I appreciate it very much.

Love, what is it? 

Being ready to give something back to a person or thing that makes you happy.

How do you spend most of your free time? 

Skiing, biking, playing guitar or with firestick.

What does money mean to you? 

A necessary evil that allows me to do the things I love

Neil and Fabi on the summit of Mt. Olymp in Greece

How to follow Neil and his adventures:
Instagram
Facebook

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The Roots of Snowmads – Interview with Markus Ascher

Ever wondered how the whole Snowmads idea started?
Markus Ascher is talking about the first steps, how things developed and about the process of refurbishing the old fire truck. Read the full story now!

Markus „Moggä“ Ascher, skier, life artist and Snowmad from the very beginning! Moggä introduced the idea of combining skiing and vanlife with „Blacky“ , his 4wd Mercedes van. When Fabi came up with the idea of refurbishing an old fire truck, he didn’t hesitate to join the project and play an important role in the whole process of turning an old fire truck into an outstanding and unique vehicle to travel the world with. 

From your perspective: when and where would you say Snowmads was born? 

I guess I can’t name this one specific birth date or place, it was more like a years long process leading up to what Snowmads is today.
If you go all the way back the idea of chasing the snow and exploring mountains in a camper van started with a trip to Switzerland where Fabi, Matthias Egger and Jonas Blum, a swiss photographer borrowed the Volkswagen van of Fabis parents, in lack of money for hotels. We were freezing our asses off in the van because we neither had a heating system nor did we have good sleeping bags with minus 10 degrees outside. I remember Matthi saying „Moggä, i think my nose is frozen“ while shivering next to me in the middle of the night. Nevertheless we had some of the most amazing days of tree runs in that Swiss valley – thanks to a nice lady called „Chrige“ who we met in the gondola. She let us sleep on the floor in her living room, I don’t know if we could have made the whole week in the camper… That was in 2011 and we definitely learned that for winter camping you need a proper vehicle. We didn’t have that, neither did we have the money to buy it or the knowledge to build one. But the plant was seeded so to say and after some more years it started flowering.

The very first vehicle that later turned into a Snowmads Van – Moggäs „Blacky“
The Mercedes LAF1113 that would later become the Snowmads Truck

Moggä, we need to build another van like yours, but bigger and for more people“. 

How did the whole idea of building the Snowmads-Truck develop? 

It probably started with a phone call from Fabi some weeks after he, unexpected for almost everyone, quit the Freeride World Tour in 2015. He called and said „Moggä, we need to build another van like yours, but bigger and for more people“. 

Two or three years before that Fabi went on a six months road trip to climb, fly and ski with an almost falling apart standard camper van you can find in every camp ground, which him and two friends Leo and Domi bought for around 5000 Euros. They drove from Austria all the way to Kirgistan, learned how to travel big distances and to live on the road – even with a far from perfect vehicle for those dusty dirtroads. I remember when Fabi told me that one time their engine dropped down onto the road in the Kirgistan no mans land. When they came back the car was a total wreck for european standards. But Fabi still says it was one of his best trips.
Meanwhile I had rebuilt myself an old fire fighter truck with the goal to build a winter camping van which turned out really nice. The inspiration came from a 3 months surf trip to Portugal with my girlfriend in a super small and really basic van, just big enough for the two of us and no luxury whatsoever. We saw a lot of surf bums living at the beaches in their big, old Mercedes Trucks. Rusty, but luxury villas compared to our Renault Espace, some of them even had wood stoves inside.

The idea to bring that surfing lifestyle to the mountains fascinated me. So the idea for my second, now bigger van was born.

Surf vibes in Portugal and Moggäs Renault Espace
Truck and project became way bigger than expected!

The idea to bring that surfing lifestyle to the mountains fascinated me. So the idea for my second, now bigger van was born. I finished it just the same season as Fabi had his short stint on the Freeride Worldtour and it was his second FWT stop in Andorra coming up. We decided to drive to the Pyrenees one week before the contest to visit Aymar Navarro and we had an amazing time! Camping in the parking lot and skiing really nice lines in front of our door. When Fabi and Aymar left for Andorra and the competition Fabi already was like „Man, I really don’t feel like competition,  I would much rather stay here“ But yeah, usually when you’ve qualified for the tour, you just go there because as a freerider its one of the best opportunities to make it as a professional. Not so Fabi and when we had a chat on the phone the next day he was really considering quitting the tour – one day later he was already sitting in the bus on his way home. Of course we were far from being the only ones quite stunned by Fabis move to quit the world tour at the second stop in his first year. His explanation blog post reached a lot of people and gave everyone to understand that he wants to explore the world outside the contest scene. That was also the time when that „Moggä, we need to build a bigger van“ phone call happened… We were still talking about a „van“ back then.

Slightly turning into mechanics…

From a crazy idea to suddenly having bought an old fire truck – what happened in-between? 

From the idea to buying the truck it was just one and a half months actually. We quickly saw that with buying and rebuilding a simple van we ́ll never be able to fit eight people plus equipment and necessities like water and food and make that vehicle drive well in the offroads. So we came to a Mercedes Truck from 1985 that was actually used as a lorry in gravel pits and construction yards to carry heavy loads on heavy roads. You don’t see them a lot here in Europe anymore, in the east, specially Iran, you do a lot. If you see them here they’re mainly rebuilt into expedition trucks, cause they’re one of the most reliable vehicles you can think of. Really basic, but really well built. Fabi was just on a filming trip in Alaska with Legs of Steel and we were talking a lot on Skype, when I found the right model of the truck for sale on a scrapyard in Hamburg. Ready to be shipped to Africa, thats what usually happens to them when they get discharged from European Fire Departments with usually really little kilometers on them.

Fabi getting to know the Truck from the inside

The Snowmads Truck had 33.000km on it. The Price and condition of the Truck was too good to let it go, even though we had no fixed plan for the further rebuilding. So I took the train there and bought it for Fabi. It took one more month that he actually saw what he had just bought. Fun fact: None of us was even allowed to drive it, cause it is a Truck with more than 7,5 Tons and neither Fabi or me had the license for that.

Finally allowed to drive a Truck – Fabi and his brand new driving license

We talked to many people and companies if they would help us build the truck and quite a few of them told us, especially when we told them details, that we are crazy and would have no chance to do that with our amount of money.

The long process of refurbishing the old fire truck and finally hitting the road for the first time with the Snowmads-Truck. How would you describe that time? 

Woah that was crazy! Fabi once said that was probably the most exhausting time in his life. As I said, when we bought the truck we didn’t have a fixed plan and none of us had ever build something like that. We just had the experience and blueprint of my van, but the truck was an incomparably bigger project. The idea to buy the truck, put it in front of my house and rebuild it like I basically did with my van was not possible with that one, for once just because of its sheer size. We talked to many people and companies if they would help us build the truck and quite a few of them told us, especially when we told them details, that we are crazy and would have no chance to do that with our amount of money. Luckily Fabis‘ manager Karin of NINE&ONE had a lot of trust in our crazy idea and also Fabis‘ long time sponsors Red Bull and Scott where willing to join the adventure. But still we were far from being on a paved road and the rebuilding turned out to be 6 months of craziness that would actually fill another blog post. But in the end the truck turned out to be amazing! 

„With passion you can achieve a lot that is  thought to be impossible – and we definitely have a lot of passion! „

What do you connect with Snowmads? Which values? What kind of lifestyle? 

I guess the story of how it was born shows quite a lot of what Snowmads is.  It’s about realizing things you dream of, even when it seems unreachable or even impossible. I guess we learned that from skiing, just because no one has done a line you feel absolutely good with doesn’t mean it’s not possible – even if there will be people telling you that it is. When we came up with the idea of the truck and especially details about it, for example the fact that we wanted to insulate it with sheep wool cause we like natural materials, many people and even offroad camper building experts told us we were idiots. Most of them didn’t even believe we would be able to build something like a functioning truck in the first place, cause of too little money, not enough time and too little knowledge.

„One of the essences of Snowmads: going on adventures that are deemed impossible for whatever reasons

Probably you’ll always have those reactions… But yeah, with passion you can achieve a lot that is  thought to impossible – and we definitely have a lot of passion! Thats probably one of the essences of Snowmads, going on adventures that are deemed impossible for whatever reasons. I can tell you, buidling the truck was not the last time we got a lot of questionmarks on faces for our ideas… Generally we all love to be outside in the nature, the mountains, we love to ski, love to explore remote places and cultures and make deep connections with the people and places we meet. And we try to do all of that with open hearts and minds. I can tell you it was a crazy but beautiful ride till now and I’m looking forward to what’s still to come! 

… and finally a paint job! Our good friend Julian Vogel did all the art work for our Truck
Somewhere in Iran…

Want to know more about Markus „Moggä“ Ascher? Check out his episode from our webisode Snowmads Home Stories!

Photo Credits
Florian Breitenberger
Marco Freudenreich
Fabian Lentsch
Markus Ascher
NINE&ONE

Thank you!