Not one to beat around the bush, I’m going to get straight to it – At the end of this ski season you were a broke, relatively unknown ski bum lacking a major sponsor. You’re now sponsored by an internationally recognized brand, getting bylines with Freeskier and are a recognized athlete. What gives?
I’ve worked very hard, both on and off the mountains. Support from Surface, O’Neill, and Canyons has proved invaluable to expanding my stories’ audience. That, and bribes go a long way in the ski industry.
The lifts stopped spinning for the 2011/2012 season at Canyons on April 15. Give us an uber quick rundown of your travels between that time and when you woke up this morning.
A lot of my time is dedicated to writing and working to get my mountain stories published and shared through various online outlets.
Tons of late-season skiing in the Wasatch until the snow disappeared, ski mountaineering trip to Montana’s Beartooth Mountains on the Yellowstone National Park periphery, sleeping on glaciers, early-season climbing in Utah, Park City mountain biking, ski mountaineering trip to California’s Sierra Mountains on the Yosemite National Park periphery (with Tioga Pass still closed to vehicles, we biked 4000 vertical feet with ski, camping, and bike gear in order to get to the trailheads),whitewater kayaking, lots of time in tents, Escalante backpacking, Bryce Canyon backpacking, Whistler skiing with the O’Neill Experience (oneillexperience.com), Mt. Hood skiing with Surface Week at Windells, Bend, skiing Mt. Jefferson, Smith Rock climbing, skiing Mt. Shasta, Arches and Canyonlands and Moab hiking, Zion big wall aid climbing, Grand Teton alpine running, Middle Teton skiing, Jackson Lake camping, and now back to Wasatch mountain running and climbing. I’m in Utah for two weeks before visiting my family in Ohio, returning to Utah for a day, then heading to Colombia. That, and this morning I woke up sweating on the floor atop a pile of climbing gear in the closet I call my bedroom.
You ran/scrambled/climbed the Grand Teton in one day. What were you thinking? How did it go?
Yeah, about that. First of all, I’ve seen a lot of hype about running the GT lately, and want to remind everyone that it IS a mountain, it IS huge, it IS dangerous, and it IS rock climbing. I’d climbed it two other times, once via the same route, and am familiar with the terrain. I saw a guy running it last summer and thought it looked fun. The problem was that I’m not a runner. So before I set out to do that this year, I went running a few times. Which didn’t help at all. About the time I was leaving the summit, I decided that I wanted to see how fast I could finish. I wish I would have decided that when I was starting at 6am. Either way, it took me over 6 hours car-to-car. The record is under 3 hours, set by a mutant. But it’s funny to run past climbers in down jackets and boots and chalk bags and harnesses and beanies and handwarmers. And by “funny” I mean “carelessly dangerous.” That, and a runner’s backpack is way lighter than a climber’s pack.
You’re now a member of the O’Neill team alongside the likes of Seb Toots and THE Jeremy Jones. Tell us how that came about and what they’ve got planned for you.
I forfeit many days on snow to tradeshows, meetings, and planning sessions. Between meeting O’Neill’s marketing peeps in Denver and my new ski sponsor, Surface, hyping my mountain exploits to the ski world, 6 months of discussion finally led to my joining the team. They are supporting my worldwide travel in pursuit of storymaking opportunities from the mountains. That, and I share a fondness of bicycle commuting with the marketing director.
What’s it like learning from, and being able to pick the brain of, Jeremy Jones?
On a couch in Whistler, Jeremy pulled out his iPad with some “snapshots” (read: most epic photos ever) from a reconnoissance AK plane ride. With endless mountains and many photos to choose from, he handed it to me and told me to pretend I was him: Where would I land the plane, where would I set up camp, which faces would I ski, where would I cross the bergschrunds, and where would be my ascent route for each line. Seriously: Jeremy Jones told ME to pretend I was HIM. Since then, I’ve considered myself the best snowboard mountaineer on the planet. That, and I mimic the way he talks, walks, and smells.
From stalking you through Instagram, I see that you have a new found love for climbing/skiing volcanoes. What ones have you checked off your list so far?
Oooh yeah. I had never skied any of the PNW volcanoes until this year, when Adam Clark and I did a short road trip after Surface Week. We skied Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Shasta in a few days. Read a little about that trip here: http://www.tetongravity.com/blogs/Sleeping-Around-And-Skiing-Around-From-Whistler-To-Shasta-6292407.htm That, and I want to return every year…for the huckleberry shakes.
I’m just curious – how do you fuel yourself for your adventures on an athlete salary? I mean, you gotta be consuming Olympic athlete quantities of carbs, right?
I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life, which has helped foster my ability to eat very inexpensively. That, and I don’t eat much food at all. It helps to forget meals by spending time in the mountains. My money is better spent on memorable trips than forgetful food. That, and finding a food sponsor seems hard.
You’re one of the most socially savvy athletes out there. Tell us why you do it, and what’s your favorite outlet (twitter, instagram, facebook, etc.)?
Perhaps socially engaged, but far from savvy. Look at the Julian Carrs, KC Deanes, and Cody Townsends. They’re engaged, savvy and have the following to prove it. Instagram Instagram Instagram. I enjoy seeing the photos that people share with others and trying to interpret what they are trying to tell their audience with few, if any words. That, and I like quantifiable ego boosts, which my signature portrays best: “@brodyleven”
You just recently joined Facebook. Why the delay? Has it helped you out with the ladies?
Oh yes, Facebook. Until 3 months ago, I was one of the few remaining 24-year-old men on Earth unburdened by a following of The Good Book. Everything was going fine, but I was finally convinced that the credibility received by my facebooklessness would be trumped by that of my ability to share my stories with a wider audience. That, and I love pictures of food, cats, and babies.
Let’s talk about your home mountain for a bit. What is it about Canyons Resort that keeps you coming back? North Side of Peak 9990 and the storm day backcountry access. That, and Spring Gruv bikinis.
What are your goals for Brody Leven the athlete?
My goal is to become one of the best ski mountaineers in the world, recognized for an ability to amiably share compelling stories of mountain pursuits with enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. That, and to have seven private jets.
Everyone has a list of places they’re dying to ski. What are the top spots on your list?
I want to check out the Italian Dolomites, climb and ski huge mountains and volcanoes in South America, and find sketchy lines off France’s Aguille du Midi. I’ve never even been to Europe, let alone skied the Alps. There are huge mountains in Asia that steal my attention regularly, too. That, and the unobtainable, coveted ride on the Ski-School-Only magic carpet at the base of the gondola.
What , besides skiing, are you doing to train during the “off season?”
Off season–HAH. I borrow mountain bikes, buy trail running shoes from thrift stores, road bike with gear (that I bicycled across the United States with) from a consignment shop, mountain run on climbing routes, rock climb a few times per week, and ride my fixie around Salt Lake City every day. That, and I flex in front of a mirror a few times per hour.
Need more Brody Leven shenanigans in your life? Here’s where you can get them: