Community Profile: Jackson, WY

Home of the Tetons, Jackson, Wyoming, boasts access to some of the most iconic mountains in the world, making it a mecca for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

The town of Jackson sits just 30 minutes outside of both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. If that wasn’t enough, Snowking Ski Resort is located in downtown Jackson, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort resides in Teton Village (technically just outside of Jackson in Wilson, WY), and Grand Targhee Ski Resort is just on the other side of Teton Pass. Teton Pass itself boasts some of the most well-known backcountry ski access in the country, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has been voted the best ski area in North America more than once while averaging about 459″ of snowfall annually.

Jackson Hole’s geographic location plays a very large role in this, as it is located at the feet of the Grand Tetons. While many natural elements contribute to the valley’s pristine reputation as an aesthetic masterpiece, the natural icon most synonymous with Jackson are the Tetons.

With natural capital residing at its core, the community simply orbits around it.

There are over 300 different species of birds in Grand Teton National Park, and six different species of hoofed mammals. The seven species of coniferous trees are dwarfed in comparison to the 900 different species of flowering plants that thrive within the park’s boundaries. It is these amenities of the greater Jackson community that make it indisputably unique.

Humans may have grown keen to Wyoming’s hidden gem, but the environment’s flourishing success is nothing new to the plants and animals who have prospered long before they were forced to share with us.


Although Jackson is a community that thrives on tourism, hosting an ebb and flow of people constantly coming and going, there is an underlying current of connectivity among locals.

“Ski towns” across North America are notorious for being dominated by the male population. Jackson is no exception. With a total population of 9,967, people between age 20 and age 40 account for a whopping 32% of the entire population. Half of that 32% is made up of people between age 25 – 29 alone. And of the roughly 1,600 people in that age bracket, 1,000 of them are in fact, male.

The summers arguably see the largest flow of tourists due to the operating season of the National Parks. Additionally, summer time in Jackson means mountain biking, white water boating on the Snake River, fly fishing, and rock climbing in the Tetons (perhaps with the Exum Mountain Guides, America’s oldest guiding service). Winters also attract an influx of visitors on ski vacations, but both spring and fall feature major lulls in activity that cause an economic lapse for the town and its locals.

The upper class clientele that Jackson attracts does not accurately represent the average working-class resident. Jackson’s tourism-reliant economy means a booming service industry supported by locals, which includes a lot of immigrants. (Check out the film The Quiet Force)

The high-profile status that owning a home in Jackson comes with means that a lot of out-of-towners own million dollar homes in the area, but don’t regularly occupy them year-round. Sometimes they don’t even visit these homes once during the year. Though, this is hardly an anomaly for tourism-based, destination towns.

With some of the highest property values in the United States, housing is a well-known issue for the working class of Jackson. There are simply not enough affordable housing options to go around for Jackson’s workforce and local populous.

Even Free Land Won’t Solve The Housing Problem, say’s John Spina of JH News and Guide.

“By providing land already owned by the town or county where a private developer could construct affordable housing, April Norton, executive director of the Jackson/Teton County Affordable Housing Department, hopes to keep the government out of the development business, reduce public subsidies and, most importantly, see housing built” (Spina, JH News & Guide).

The “free” (already owned land) that Norton is focusing on sounds like a great place to start. It doesn’t, however, seem to counterbalance the high construction costs and required deed restrictions that make it hard to utilize the “free land”.

The appeal of visiting, or living in, Teton county makes total sense.

Jackson’s luxury tourism industry and outdoor recreation opportunities collectively make it a landmark destination to anyone and everyone from professional skiers, mountain bikers, climbers, kayakers, and fly fishing enthusiasts, to high class tourists, families, and national park visitors from around the world.

Its completely fitting that action sports media company, Teton Gravity Research, set its roots in the community with its headquarters located in Wilson at the bottom of Teton Pass. Other outdoor industry companies like StioMountain Khakis, and Croakies are Jackson locals, too.

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding are at the cultural core of Jackson, WY.

“Backcountry” is defined as “sparsely inhabited rural areas; wilderness”.  Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers some of the best in-bounds skiing in the world, but because of the geographic marvel that are the Tetons, the terrain available for out-of-bounds skiing and snowboarding draw a lot of people to go exploring via ski touring (hiking to ski or snowboard without use of chairlifts).



The backcountry ski scene of Jackson is lively and robust. It is a facet of skiing and snowboarding that requires a different set of knowledge and skills than in-bounds skiing; mostly to do with avalanche safety and medical skills in case of emergency. As a result, there are a certain set of cultural codes embedded within this community that revolve around etiquette and behavior.

Learning from friends and locals is cool, but acquiring backcountry knowledge and skills largely takes place through avalanche awareness courses through AIARE, backcountry basics courses through JH Mountain Guides, and wilderness first responder and first aid courses through NOLS etc…

As far as knowing where to go in the backcountry, guidebooks are a great resource. Jackson Hole Backcountry Skier’s Guide: South by Thomas Turiano is a great example. This book does NOT teach avalanche safety skills. Rather, it gives maps and information to backcountry skiers and snowboarders. Things you can find in this book: best places to travel safely, hazardous things to look out for, places to park so as not to get in the way of snow plows and public works etc…



While visitors focus on fine dining after a day on the slopes (likely mixed with a beer at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar) you’re likely to find a local, who’s not at their second or third job, at Hole Bowl on Mondays for an hour of free bowling after 5pm with proof of a local pay-stub. You’re also likely to find that local competing in the Margarita Cup; a downhill ski racing competition on Wednesday evenings presented by Pica’s Restaurant in partnership with the Jackson Hole Ski and Ride Club. After the Margarita Cup, the local crop takes to the mic for karaoke night at the Virginian Saloon. When 6am rolls around, the same locals can be found dawning head lamps and ski or snowboard boots for an early morning lap on Teton Pass before stopping in at Pearl Street Bagels for some food and coffee on their way to work.

A popular example of social capital in Jackson is bluegrass night at the Silver Dollar Bar. Every Tuesday, One Ton Pig takes the stage (which really isn’t a stage but rather a corner of the dance floor) and locals from age 18-85 showcase their affinity for swing dancing. 70 year old ranchers in cowboy hats and cowboy boots shuffle alongside their 25 year old community members in ski branded trucker hats and flannel shirts while everyone wears huge, slightly sweaty, smiles- PBR in hand.

National Park Service. (6/26/18). Park Statistics: Grand Teton. Retrieved from

National Park Service. (9/16/16). Park Statistics: Grand Teton. Retrieved from

United States Census Bureau. (2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates). Jackson, WY, Age and Sex. Retrieved from

United States Census Bureau. (2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates). Jackson, WY, AGE AND SEX. Retrieved from


Know your “Why”.


This letter hangs on the wall of my bedroom, next to my door, so that its one of the first things I see and walk past every morning when I wake up.


It was gifted to me by a high school student after a talk that I gave about my journey of overcoming depression and anxiety and the skills I learned in the outdoor world that allowed me to do so. Those skills changed my life. They’ve afforded me many great opportunities; one of which is the comfort and calmness that I feel in just being authentically myself. That used to be a very illusive feeling that I wasn’t sure I’d ever fully get to experience. That growth over time has made me pretty frickin happy, and I’m ecstatic that sharing myself with others can elicit such a positive response. Gratitude. Humility. Happiness. Sense of purpose. Drive. That’s how I start my day, thanks to this student and their incredibly kind gesture.


Sense of place is important to me. This might seem odd because my geographic location tends to be sporadic, and my plans ever evolving. But it’s there.

And for me, sense of place and sense of purpose tend to intertwine. Meaning without both, one alone tends to fall short. I’ve gotten better at going with my gut over the years when it comes to choosing life direction and angle of pursuit toward my goals. That also meant that I started moving around a bit more and exposing myself to new things and new groups of people again and again. This has made me really comfortable with transition, with forging into the unknown, and with adaptation. That practice of exposure has also given me a lot of friends in a lot of places; really great, genuine, hilarious, intelligent, and caring people. I’m really thankful for all of them and for the experiences we share. I feel pretty frickin lucky to be so fortunate. To those folks: If you’re reading this, know that I appreciate you a whole hell of a lot.

The hard part about pursuing goals in multiple directions and locations is that it usually means disengaging from those groups, at least in some capacity. They’re still there of course and I’m still a part of them when I’m able to circle back. I’ve also gotten really good at being alone, and my independence is something I really value. But the drawback to the constant state of moving around is that at times, it can certainly be lonely. Rejoining groups feels different because they’ve changed in your absence. Waking into a room full of strangers is rewarding when you connect, but a challenge every time. People contribute to my sense of place and sense of purpose. So does my proximity to the outdoors. As does what I choose to pursue.

The alignment of those things creates such a positive equilibrium for me. Getting active outside has become a fundamental pillar of my own self care because it’s impact cascades across all facets of my life. I’m missing being in the Tetons a lot these days. And I miss being on my snowboard. I’ll be back to both soon. Sometimes I feel like a snickers commercial, except the “you’re not you when you’re hungry” is “you’re not you when there’s no snow”.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on

I didn’t notice that Jen was in this photo at the time that it was taken. If I had, maybe things would’ve played out differently.

On July 2nd [2017], I woke up at 4a.m. in my hammock. I packed up my sleeping bag and quietly tossed it into my already loaded 4Runner, doing my best not to wake anyone else up. A few friends and I had been camping in the Popo Agie Wilderness outside of Lander, Wyoming near the Wind River Range.

By 11a.m. I was putting on my snowboard boots on the side of the road on Beartooth Pass, around 250 miles away—just shy of the Montana boarder. As I cinched down and tightened my boot, the lace frayed and snapped. Great. I kicked myself for forgetting to bring a spare. Had I just driven over five hours to ride a couloir in duct taped boots? Maybe. Sorry, mom.

I looked across the dirt outcropping I was using as a parking lot, and approached a Subaru stuffed with gear and the two owners of all that gear. Introducing herself, Jen quickly passed me an extra lace, and introduced me to Matt, while smiling and pointing to the chute I’d also been eyeing. Both were snowboarders. Rad.

At the top of the pass, and at 10,947 feet, Matt and I eyed the line below us with brandished smiles on our faces. Jen had stayed below on the ridge, and planned to ride a different chute than us. They were working on filming a snowboarding edit, and Jen was the photographer. Super rad.

Matt strapped into his board to drop first. Matt had reached the safe zone below the rock face, and hollered a nice, crisp “CLEAR”. I took a photo from the top of my line, and then dove into the chute. I met him at the bottom with a fist bump after dancing my way through the chute and the soft, summer snow conditions.

Beartooth Pass, Montana. @_derekmacdonald photo.

I looked back up to see Jen standing at the top, on the other side of the chute from where Matt and I had descended. She was standing on the overhanging cornice, the one on the left in the first photo. Leaning out to get eyes on her route below her, she held her board and yelled something I couldn’t quite make out. Not good, not good at all. Bad.

Jen and Matt had come up from Salt Lake City, Utah. They were searching for snow, too. We wild ones. We crazy, committed, fun-seekers, and pursuers of passion. Out here snowboarding in July—something the average person probably would never do, let alone understand. I saw it when I met them in the parking lot. It was in their eyes. An unspoken acknowledgement and understanding that we shared.

A loud scream followed the sharp crack against the rock. It belonged to Jen. The following outcries were interrupted by gasps and thuds. The source of the noise came from the other side of the rock wall from where Matt and I were perched. Turning toward the source of the sound, Jen emerged from the neighboring chute. She was sliding, and gaining speed. There was no snowboard on her feet. Her head and face were a dark maroon, the same color that highlighted her path down the snow. Jen hadn’t been wearing a helmet.

When we had been standing on top of our line, Matt and I had both noted the clouds encroaching on our sunlight. The day was warm, especially in the sun. The snow was soft, but firm. Snow tests had shown that the pack was solid and didn’t propagate or produce slough. Our turns had cut the snow like butter, and remained etched in the slope. Though my hoody was raised, covering my neck from the sun, I could feel a slight breeze penetrate the fabric. Flow state.

Without looking at each other, Matt and I sprang across the slope. We weren’t aimed at Jen, but below her. We were riding toward where she would be by the time we got there, so that we could intercept her slide. She was sliding fast, and we needed to physically catch her so she wouldn’t careen to the bottom.

Beneath the flowing blood, Jen’s darting eyes told me two things. First, that she was awake. Second, that she was really, really scared. While I was quickly removing my backpack to get at my first aid kit I asked a question that I already knew the answer to: “Do either of you have any wilderness medicine training?” I broke the silence, took a deep breath, and quickly followed up with “I’m a wilderness first responder, can I help you?”

Recreating in the backcountry comes with risk. That risk is often multiplied significantly by a lack of cell phone service to call for help in an emergency. I explained what I was doing as my hands searched Jen’s head and neck for injury. I forced a smile. I hadn’t found anything other than the gash in her forehead, a broken nose, and the baseball sized lump protruding from above her opposite eye. At least three points of contact.

Beartooth Pass, Montana. @_derekmacdonald photo.

The flash of lightning was concerning. I tried for a tone of voice that wouldn’t cause unnecessary alarm, but would convey urgency. Jen’s vitals were remarkably stable. She had not lost consciousness, and was completely coherent which was a miracle. She knew her name, where we were, the time of day, and what we were doing. She even knew who the POTUS was, but admittedly wasn’t happy about it. She cracked a smile.

My search for injuries to the rest of her body had come up empty, except for minor scratches on her hands and wrist from trying to cease her slide down the snow. Even with my warning, I could tell that my yells for help and waving arms were making Jen uncomfortable. But they were necessary. I was only one person, and Jen needed to get to a hospital, now.

If the people in the distance on the road had heard or seen my efforts to communicate, I couldn’t tell. I monitored Jen’s vitals, and any other signs that would indicate a change to her state. However, I worried about injuries that I couldn’t see that could be forming below the surface. Since Jen didn’t have her snowboard, she had to slide down the rest of the way on her butt. Matt and I flanked either side of her to support her while she slid. We also used the handle of my avalanche shovel from my backpack as a “brake” for her to dig into the snow.

At the bottom of the run, and at the intersection of the snow and grass, there were a couple of hikers that had heard my calls for help. They had seen everything. They saw Jen’s fall as she was strapping into her snowboard, which the rocks had shielded Matt and I from. After the steep hike up the grass and rock to the parking lot, Matt drove Jen to the hospital 45 minutes away in Red Lodge, Montana where she would get scans of her head.

The hikers returned to their car, and continued on to Beartooth Lake. I hitched a ride back to where we three had left my 4Runner at the top of the pass, and silently stowed my gear. I untied my boots, pausing to examine the lace that Jen had handed me. A faint smile emerged on my face in stark contrast with the knot in my stomach. It was 2pm. I exhaled, and embarked on the five hour trip home.

Jen’s courage and ability to maintain her composure in the face of significant adversity is what got her off of the mountain, and eventually to the hospital. That, and Matt’s equal command of composure; and his unrelenting commitment to get our trio off of the slope and to the base of the hike up to the road. Jen was able to walk herself out. She was able to walk away alive. A week prior, someone else had fallen down a chute in Beartooth Pass while backcountry skiing. They, unfortunately, did not walk away alive. Jen was lucky.

My phone buzzed around 7pm. It was Jen. Her scans had comeback clean. Phenomenal.

Colby Thompson spends months every year traveling the U.S. in his fixed-up, albeit fragile, green VW bus fondly named, Dharma. A 26 year old filmmaker by trade, with a degree from Champlain College, Colby maintains a job doing freelance digital media work while traveling and playing music across the country. He traded LA traffic for national parks in search of the freedom to lead what he calls an unconventional lifestyle.

Colby Thompson Photo: @anamericanroadstory


Colby has always relished adventure. He originally went to film school to feel like part of the stories he’d be creating; to feel inserted into the world of The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. After graduating from college, Colby moved to Los Angeles, CA in pursuit of his Hollywood dreams. Life in LA started to deflate his preconceived expectations of what being a part of the filmmaking industry really looked like. It forced him to take an honest look into the life he wanted to lead. The answer he found, was one of meaning. He still adored storytelling, but came to realize he’d only ever be on the set… not living within the story being created. So, he decided to change that.

Colby’s social media feed showed people in his life backpacking, traveling through Europe, teaching English in Thailand etc… This prompted a realization for him, “I can do whatever the fuck I want in life” and sparked the motivation to live his own adventure, in his own way, on his own terms.

He departed on his first trip across the United States in his fixed up VW bus just over 2 years ago in May of 2016, and was on the road for 5 months.

While vanlife has become a sensationalized trend, and an attraction for those with curated social media profiles, Colby strives for authenticity in his pursuits. Spending the summer of his first trip as a campground host in a Colorado national park, a job that offered minimum wage and a place to park in exchange for campground upkeep, sounded perfect but was enough to burst the vanlife bubble for him. The job included scrubbing bathrooms, well, pit toilets, and gave Colby an appreciation for the pros and cons of living simply.


Colby Thompson Photo: @anamericanroadstory


Colby hasn’t completely abandoned his filmmaking skills either. In fact, he still makes a living through his video production work for Boston based event company, Nuimage Entertainment. When he’s on the road, he has a videographer attend and capture the weddings, corporate parties, or other events managed by Nuimage, and then send the footage to him for post-production packaging for clients. When not on the road, you just might find this van dweller dawning a suit and tie, with his shoulder length blonde hair neatly arranged in a bun on top of his head, eating hors d’oeuvres while mingling with his clients at their events.

This paradox used to be the source of some internal conflict for Colby, who previously felt as though he was masquerading where he wasn’t truly welcome. “I don’t feel that anymore. I get paid to go do these projects. People find value in what I do, and it’s a cool experience for me. Now when I attend, I’m just being me. I’m here to work and do what I’m good at”.

It was this new appreciation, and another road trip from October, 2017 to April, 2018, that turned Colby on to another trend: building a tiny house.

The book, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, which features a picture of a worn down airstream camper, parked amongst a dusty desert landscape on the cover, resonated with Colby on this particular adventure. The book delves into the lives of transient, older Americans that have adopted a nomadic lifestyle surrounding cheap seasonal labor out of necessity.

These are the folks who got hit the hardest during the recession and who’s social security and retirement plans didn’t pan out as they’d hoped. The vagabond labor community often stays invisible compared to their younger counterparts; the full-of-wanderlust 20-somethings posting pictures of national parks on their Instagram accounts.

Colby also noticed that the portrayal of vanlife across social media lacked a sense of authenticity, and commented “The life-coaches of Instagram who post photos of amazing landscapes and say ‘live your life now or find your purpose’ feel really dumb when your engine won’t start and you have to figure out which direction to walk in search of cell service”.


Colby Thompson Photo: @anamericanroadstory


Dreaming of what he could accomplish when he returned from road life in the van, Colby hatched a plan to build a tiny house with his partner, Aria. “It’s not the tiny house itself that is the dream come true. It’s that we’ll have this, paid off. We’ll still have the freedom to live life in any direction that it goes without being constrained.”



Colby Thompson Photo: @anamericanroadstory


When asked about his decision to leave LA in the pursuit of his own adventure, Colby aptly responded:

“I’ve been adjusting my goals to reflect the things that will fulfill me” citing that his motivations changed “from external and egocentric to internal, soulful motivators.”
“Health and happiness. That’s what this whole experience is about.”

You can learn more about Colby and his adventures on Instagram @anamericanroadstory

It doesn’t always seem cool to talk about mental health, let alone post about it on social media. So let’s take a second to do that now, because 1 in 5 of you reading this suffers from mental health; which means everyone reading this knows and loves someone who does.

derek turkey heel
Did you know that 43.8 million adults (19%) in the U.S. suffer from a mental illness? Did you know that 16 million adults in the U.S. suffered from a major depressive episode in the last year alone? 18% of adults experienced the effects of an anxiety disorder in that same time frame and of the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who battle substance abuse, 50.5% of them also battle mental illness.

I chose this photo of me snowboarding for this post because it’s probably what you’re used to seeing on this page. And that’s because it’s what I choose to show you. These days, we have that ability in our society… we get to decide what parts of us people see. You probably wouldn’t know that I deal with depression and anxiety (but you can probably tell that snowboarding’s good for my mental health 🤙🏼)

So, what can you do? You can pay attention. Does someone in your life seem different than they normally are? Are they distant, down, low-energy, uninterested, moody, explosive, combative, or constantly “on edge”? Does it worry you? Tell them. Call them. Encourage them to talk to someone. Don’t be their therapist, but be their advocate. Are they thinking of hurting themselves or someone else? Call someone immediately. Not sure who to call? Call their doctor, the local emergency room, or 911. Don’t be a bystander because the topic is uncomfortable. These conversations matter!

Mental health effects someone you know and love. Talking about it is important. Share your thoughts with me @_derekmacdonald

My 5 Favorite Podcasts

Tips on performance, athlete interviews, and ski industry happenings: podcasts for working out, commuting, or keeping you company at the office.

(Cover photo: Throwback of me recording with AK on the WintryMix Podcast. Photo: @wintrymixcast)

  1. Finding Mastery

    Curious how elite athletes and industry-leading badasses think? What their outlook, lifestyle, and physical/mental training practices look like? Me too. High performance sports psychologist, Dr. Michael Gervais, conducts long form interviews with these folks to learn more about them, their process, and the structure or format that led them to their successes and that pilot their everyday life. Unlike some interview styles, Gervais avoids casual banter and digs into the “how” and “why” behind the actions, thought patterns, and behaviors of his accomplished guests. His excitement and genuine interest in his guests is palpable, and makes for very interesting interviews.

    I love to listen to Finding Mastery when I’m working out- rowing or running (activities where you can get into a rhythm and focus on the dialogue).

    Some examples of Finding Mastery guests include: Retired Navy SEAL and ultra marathoner David Goggins, two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Carli Lloyd, Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll, and big wave surf icon Ian Walsh.

  2. The Powell Movement

    Mike Powell spent 18 years in the ski industry managing athletes. He knows the ski industry well, and uses his experience to chat with some of the best skiers and action sports stars to learn more about them as people. Most of the time episodes provide a bio of, and glimpse into, the lives of these professional skiers. These conversations give the skiers a chance to showcase their personalities. Most of the time their public image is relegated to photos and videos of them skiing (nothing wrong with that, either). The Powell Movement allows you to learn about their careers and who they really are beyond the cliff drops and pow shots.

    Like Finding Mastery, I like to listen to The Powell Movement when working out- rowing or running (activities where you can get into a rhythm and focus on the dialogue).

    Some examples of guests that you can find on The Powell Movement include: veteran badass skier Sage Cattabriga- Alosa, mind blowingly unique snowboarder Scott Stevens, U.S. Olympic skier (and silver medalist) Nick Goepper, and snowboarding legend Kimmy Fasani.

  3. The Tim Ferriss Show

    This podcast is pretty unique; it comes from best selling author and business advisor, Tim Ferriss, and features everything from long-form interviews with guests to tips on improving your own health and productivity. The marketing nerd in me loves when he does segments on branding, writing, and business. The performance geek in me loves when he gives advice on daily structure, fitness, and organization.

    In Tim’s own words: “Each episode, I deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use.  This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more.”

    Unlike the Finding Mastery podcast and The Powell Movement, I usually will listen to The Tim Ferriss show on my daily commute instead of when I work out (unless it’s an interview with an athlete or someone that I’m particularly interested in). Listening when I’m cooking dinner is always good, too.

    Some examples of Tim’s guests include: Jamie Foxx, Edward Norton, Tony Robbins, and Terry Crews.

  4. The Low Pressure Podcast

    Another one on snow sports. This interview-style podcast feels like you’re listening to conversations about what’s going on in guests’ lives over a couple beers- because you are. Mark Warner of Whistler, BC usually shares a couple of bevys while he chats with professional snow sports athletes about their latest trips, film projects, contests, off-seasons, and upcoming plans. The Low Pressure Podcast’s tagline is “the podcast for skiers”, but also features interviews with people of the ski industry like Jason Levinthal of J Skis, Matt Sterbenz of 4Frnt Skis, and Rooster and Geoff of Ski The East.

    The LPP is great for listening to at your desk while you work, or while you’re driving to the resort. I even throw it on sometimes when I’m on the uphill skin with my splitboard.

    Some examples of guests that you can find on the LPP include: veteran big mountain skier Ian McIntosh, freeskiing all star Sean Pettit, freeskiing sibling crushers Angel and Johnny Collinson, and badass skier and Powder Magazine’s Female Performance of the Year winner for 2017, Tatum Monod.

  5. The WintryMix Podcast

    This ski biz podcast is different than the other snow sports ones on this list. After 3 seasons of an interview-style podcast, host Alex Kaufman switched things up. Season 4’s new format featured a call to action: a submission based approach dependent on listener engagement. For a description of how this works in Alex’s own words, check out Episode 46.

    Essentially, WintryMix is a monthly bulletin board of updates on the ski industry. No, not the TMZ version highlighting which pro skier is dating who. Episodes feature things like event promos, ski stories, press releases (that are encouraged to be unscripted), debate topics, conversation starters, rants, resort info… all told by listeners like you.

    Alex is the former mastermind behind Ski The East’s social media and partnerships. There is definitely a slight focus on New England ski culture, BUT, the combination of Alex’s ski-biz exposure and the general popularity of the podcast means that it extends across the U.S. with ease. Fun fact, you can catch me on a couple of early episodes from when I was interning with Alex and Ski The East (Episode 13‘s interview of Olympic Skier Hannah Kearney and Episode 20‘s coverage of energy consumption and snowmaking in Vermont).

    I listen to Wintry Mix a lot while driving. It usually prompts me to record a submission on my phone while still in the car. I have yet to actually submit though…

Here’s a list of all of the 2018 Olympic Snowboarding, Freestyle Skiing, and Alpine Skiing event schedules and their live stream links.

This might come as a shock, but I like the winter Olympics just a little bit more than the summer Olympics. The bigger shock? My favorite part of the winter Olympics are the snowboarding and skiing events. I know, I know- huge surprise.

I follow action sports year-round. I grew up watching (and still watch) X Games, Dew Tour, The Freeride World Tour, The U.S. Open and all the other qualifying comps along the way. If you’re like me and you can’t get enough of both skiing and snowboarding, NBC has you covered for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.

Snowboard Event Schedule and Live Stream Links

Freestyle Skiing Event Schedule and Live Stream Links

Alpine Skiing Event Schedule and Live Stream Links


(Provided by NBC)


Men’s Qualifying: Friday, Feb. 9, 8:00 p.m. ET
LIVE STREAM – HEAT 1 (8:00 p.m. ET)
LIVE STREAM – HEAT 2 (11:00 p.m. ET)

Men’s Final: Saturday, Feb. 10, 8:00 p.m. ET

Women’s Qualifying: Saturday, Feb. 10, 11:30 p.m. ET

Women’s Final: Sunday, Feb. 11, 8:00 p.m. ET


Women’s Qualifying: Sunday, Feb. 11, 11:30 p.m. ET

Women’s Final: Monday, Feb. 12, 8:00 p.m. ET

Men’s Qualifying: Monday, Feb. 12, 11:00 p.m. ET

Men’s Final: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 8:30 p.m. ET

Snowboard Cross

Men’s Qualifying: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 9:00 p.m. ET

Men’s Final: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 11:30 p.m. ET

Women’s Qualifying: Thursday, Feb. 15, 8:00 p.m. ET

Women’s Final: Thursday, Feb. 15, 10:15 p.m. ET

Big Air

Women’s Qualifying: Sunday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m. ET

Men’s Qualifying: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m. ET

Women’s Final: Thursday, Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m. ET

Men’s Final: Friday, Feb. 23, 8:00 p.m. ET

Parallel Giant Slalom

Qualifying: Wednesday, Feb. 21, 10:00 p.m. ET

Final: Friday, Feb. 23, 10:00 p.m. ET

Freestyle Skiing:

(Provided by NBC)


Women’s Qualifying Rd. 1: Thursday, Feb. 8, 8:00 p.m. ET

Men’s Qualifying Rd. 1: Thursday, Feb. 8, 9:45 pm. ET

Women’s Qualifying Rd. 2: Sunday, Feb. 11, 5:30 a.m. ET

Women’s Final: Sunday, Feb. 11, 7:00 a.m. ET

Men’s Qualifying Rd. 2: Monday, Feb. 12, 5:30 a.m. ET

Men’s Final: Monday, Feb. 12, 7:00 a.m. ET


Women’s Qualifying: Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:00 a.m. ET

Women’s Final: Friday, Feb. 16, 6:00 a.m. ET

Men’s Qualifying: Saturday, Feb, 17, 6:00 a.m. ET

Men’s Final: Sunday, Feb. 18, 6:00 a.m. ET


Women’s Qualifying: Friday, Feb. 16, 8:00 p.m. ET

Women’s Final: Friday, Feb. 16, 11:00 p.m. ET

Men’s Qualifying: Saturday, Feb, 17, 8:00 p.m. ET

Men’s Final: Saturday, Feb, 17, 11:15 p.m. ET


Women’s Qualifying: Sunday, Feb. 18, 8:00 p.m. ET

Women’s Final: Monday, Feb. 19, 8:30 p.m. ET

Men’s Qualifying: Monday, Feb. 19, 11:00 p.m. ET

Men’s Final: Wednesday, Feb. 21, 9:30 p.m. ET

Ski Cross

Men’s Qualifying: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 9:30 p.m. ET

Men’s Final: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 11:15 p.m. ET

Women’s Qualifying: Thursday, Feb. 22, 9:30 p.m. ET

Women’s Final: Thursday, Feb. 22, 11:15 p.m. ET

Alpine Skiing:

(Provided by NBC)

Women’s Giant Slalom

Run 1: Sunday, Feb. 11, 8:15 p.m. ET

Run 2: Sunday, Feb. 11, 11:45 p.m. ET

Men’s Combined

Run 1: Monday, Feb. 12, 9:30 p.m. ET

Run 2: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1 a.m. ET

Women’s slalom

Run 1: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 8:15 p.m. ET

Run 2: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 11:45 p.m. ET

Men’s Downhill

Final: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 9 p.m. ET

Men’s super-G

Final: Thursday, Feb. 15, 9:00 p.m. ET

Women’s super-G

Final: Friday, Feb. 16, 9:00 p.m. ET

Men’s giant slalom

Run 1: Saturday, Feb. 17, 8:00 p.m. ET

Run 2: Saturday, Feb. 17, 11:45 p.m. ET

Women’s downhill

Training: Sunday, Feb. 18, 9:00 p.m. ET

Training: Monday, Feb. 19, 9:00 p.m. ET

Final: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 9:00 p.m. ET

Men’s slalom

Run 1: Wednesday, Feb. 21, 8:15 p.m. ET

Run 2: Wednesday, Feb. 21, 11:45 p.m. ET

Women’s combined

Run 1: Thursday, Feb. 22, 9:00 p.m. ET

Run 2: Friday, Feb. 23, 12:30 a.m. ET

Team event

Final: Friday, Feb. 23, 9:00 p.m. ET

2017 was a big year for me; a year full of transitions.

Here’s a peek at some of my favorite moments and photos from 2017.

For starters, I kicked off the year by accepting a new job and moving across the country from Vermont to Wyoming. 2016 proved to be one of the most challenging years of my life and the jump to Wyoming felt like the perfect opportunity to move in a new direction. Literally.


The job was in the marketing department for a non-profit called NOLS. For those who don’t know, NOLS is an outdoor leadership school that takes students of all ages on backcountry expeditions around the world, teaching them both leadership and technical outdoor skills. 3 years prior, I had been one of those students on a much needed, semester-long expedition in college. (For more about that, check out page 11 of this article).

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 3.16.40 PM

Anyway, back to the new job. The job was as a marketing representative; a position that let me interact with prospective students, travel, and work on marketing projects that would help the company to better reach its target demographic. Oh, and emails. Lots and lots of emails.

NOLS world headquarters, and my new office, can be found in the town of Lander, WY. Lander has a population of 7,665 and is probably best known for its proximity to the Wind River Mountain Range. That, and rock climbing. There are some seriously badass rock climbers that call Lander home. I’m certainly not much of a rock climber, but I do love me some snowboarding and was super excited to explore Wyoming and its surrounding states for mountains that I could hike up and ride down.


You can call Lander a town, but I quickly learned that “community” would be a much better description. Lander is a mix of NOLSies (people that work for NOLS either in the office or as instructors/ trip leaders for the courses and expeditions that NOLS offers), ranchers/ farmers, climbers, outdoor enthusiasts/ dirtbags, outdoor enthusiasts/ dirtbags who are just passing through in the van they live out of, and long term Lander residents who grew up there and have always called it home. You will find all of these people at any of the 4 bars in town, but usually at the Lander Bar (LB), at least to start the night during happy hour.

I found myself as part of the NOLSie crew from the very beginning. These people were here for the same reasons that I was, and loved a lot of the same outdoor things that I did. Go figure.


Ya know, the crazy things that I call fun? They do too. Like snowboarding and splitboarding (hiking up the mountain and then riding back down, because chairlifts are for squares). Togwotee Pass, WY. March, 2017


Fast forward to March, and it was time for my first travel tour for NOLS. I’d be traveling to high schools, colleges, and expos in the mid-west to recruit prospective students and spread the good word about romping around the wilderness. February had been spent hashing out the logistics; like, which schools were in our demographic, what dates were they available, what order did it make sense to go to them in since we’d be flying there and then renting a car… Again, lots of emails.


Sometimes you just have to channel your inner tourist and go for a hike in the concrete mountains. Chicago, IL. March, 2017

The trip went really well, and things at work were pretty awesome all around. March also featured a visit from some familiar faces and a Zac Brown Band concert at Jackson Hole. Not too shabby.

The rest of March included planning and logistics for a full month of travel in April. This time, to showcase the NOLS Exploration Film Tour to college campuses throughout my northeast region in New England. (Yes, still lots of emails).

But first, closing day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.



John Wohlgemuth in Cody Bowl at Jackson Hole on closing day. Derek MacDonald photo. April 2017

Annnnd right before taking off for a month long trip, it seemed only fitting to pull an all nighter and drive 14 hours after work to Mammoth, CA. The 7am arrival on Thursday launched a long weekend of shredding pow and rock climbing with the one and only Shawn Robbins during arguably the deepest winter Mammoth has ever seen.


Spend all day Sunday driving back to Wyoming, go for a run, pack for a month, get up at 4am, drive 2 hours to Casper, WY, fly to Denver, fly to Boston, kick off the month long public speaking and film tour? Got it. Cool, ok let’s do it.



April 12th, 2017. The tour is underway and I made it back to Vermont. Birthday trail run by the water, nice! IMG_2297

The month flew by and the travel tour went better than I could have hoped for. I got to see family and friends while I was in New England too, which is always a bonus. Traveling is a lot of fun. It allows you to meet a lot of people and see a lot of places. But it is also really demanding. You’re sort of always “on”. Most days looked like: wake up, pack up the hotel room, grab some breakfast and coffee (have to have my coffee…or 4) drive a couple of hours to the next destination, check into the hotel, log on to the computer and crush some emails, go for a run, shower, drive to the event, set up for it, speak to crowds of people and watch the Film Tour, break down the event, get back to the hotel, sleep, repeat. (Side note: I listen to a ton of podcasts. Big fricken fan of podcasts. Great way to spend time when traveling, running, or working out; but more on that some other time).

Ok, it’s the end of April and my final day in New England before flying back to Wyoming from Boston the next morning…  better call up Andy Root and see if he wants to wake up at 3am to drive to New Hampshire with me to hike and ski Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington. Duh. No brainer!


Yeah I’m short, but let the record show that Root’s on the uphill here. Tuckerman Ravine, Mt. Washington, NH. April, 2017


Like I mentioned, traveling is super tiring. It’s awesome and I love it, but having time to recharge is nice too. Back to Wyoming, the office, my desk, and…emails. 3 days later: ok, time to go to Montana to represent NOLS at the BANFF Mountain Film Festival. Sweet. 6 hour road trip with the newest marketing rep, Caleb? Sweeter. Caleb snowboards? Sick! Better bring the splitboards and call up the friends in Bozeman. Friends tell us there’s a graduation party for someone we don’t know… Oh there’s a keg? Sure, yeah, we’re in. As the band, Dawes says, “When the tequila runs out, we’ll be drinking champagne“. Happy Cinco de Mayo.


Bridger Bowl, MT. Caleb Walker Photo. May, 2018

After a great weekend and one very hungover drive back to Wyoming, I finally got some time for that recharge. Day to day life at the office resumed and of course the weekend warrior mindset that comes with it. There was still snow to be found, but the weather was also warming up. Perfect opportunity to meet up with the Salt Lake City UVM friend group in Jackson, WY for a long weekend of hiking and camping!


Jackson, WY. May, 2017. Derek MacDonald photo.


Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park. May, 2017. Derek MacDonald photo.


Derek MacDonald and Russ Hanson at Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park. May, 2017. Caleb Walker photo.


Derek MacDonald in Jackson, WY. Caleb Walker photo.


Duty calls- head to Vail, CO for the GoPro Mountain Games! I ended up meeting some incredibly cool people and some pretty awesome NOLS alumni including Jimmy Chin, Loki the Wolf Dog, Loki’s human companion Kelly Lund, and Chris Davenport.

Yeah, it’s June- I know, I know… but did you really think I was going to go to Colorado and not bring my snowboard? The 6 hour drive from Vail back to Lander conveniently took me through Loveland Pass on Colorado’s continental divide. So, I hiked up to the snow, snowboarded to the bottom of the pass, and hitched a ride back to my car at the top of the pass. And then drove back to Lander.


Derek MacDonald on the continental divide. Loveland Pass, CO. June, 2017.


Continental Divide-Loveland Pass, CO. June 2017. Derek MacDonald photo.

June also means that it’s that time of year again: time for HOBY. What’s HOBY? Good question. HOBY is the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization. They’re a non-profit organization that provides a unique leadership training, service-learning, and motivation-building experience for high school sophomores. This comes in the form of an annual, weekend long leadership seminar. I attended this seminar as a student in 2010 and have been involved as a group facilitator for the seminar since then.

Time to fly to Boston for the weekend!


Great weekend at Bentley University in Waltham, MA for Massachusetts HOBY! Quick turn around, though. Back to Wyoming. (Boston Logan airport and Denver International Airport kind of felt like a second home this year).

Things had been pretty busy, probably a good idea to catch that quick recharge. Better land at the airport in Casper, WY and drive 5 hours up to Jackson to say whats up to Shawn and the Tetons. That’s also why keeping the hammock in the car is a great move… just sayin.


Hmmmmm… end of June and I want to go snowboarding… drive to Montana after work on Friday? Deal.


Stopped for the night on the way to Montana in Dead Indian Pass, WY. June, 2017. Derek MacDonald photo.


Beartooth Pass, MT. June, 2017.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re not supposed to snowboard in the summer… Whatever. But Montana’s snow was good! How about a compromise- I’ll go camping and hiking with the friend group for a couple of days, and then take off to go snowboarding? Ok, cool. Sounds great.


Always bring a book. Popo Agie Wilderness, WY. Erica Nelson photo. July, 2017.


Derek MacDonald featuring Melvin Brewing. Liz Shultz photo. July, 2017.

“On July 2nd, I woke up at 4a.m. in my hammock. I packed up my sleeping bag and quietly tossed it into my already loaded 4Runner, doing my best not to wake anyone else up. A few friends and I had been camping in the Popo Agie Wilderness outside of Lander, Wyoming near the Wind River Range.

By 11a.m. I was putting on my snowboard boots on the side of the road on Beartooth Pass, around 250 miles away—just shy of the Montana boarder. As I cinched down and tightened my boot, the lace frayed and snapped. Great. I kicked myself for forgetting to bring a spare. Had I just driven over five hours to ride a couloir in duct taped boots? Maybe. Sorry, mom.

I didn’t notice that Jen was in this photo at the time that it was taken. If I had, maybe things would’ve played out differently.”

Check out an article I wrote about this summer snowboard mission turned medical rescue on


Beartooth Pass, MT. Derek MacDonald photo. Read full article on

In the weeks that followed, I kept in touch with Jen. Her injuries healed up and she was up and moving around a lot sooner than either of us expected. Phenomenal news!

The weekend warrior saga continues. Jackson, WY is only 3 hours from Lander, so I like to send it up there when I get the chance. Plus, Grand Teton National Park is one of my all-time favorite places. I flippin love it. (I’m so sorry, I had to).


Phelps Lake, Grand Teton National Park. Maddy Kwasny photo. July, 2017.

A great weekend, and another productive week in the office means heading back to Jackson the following weekend- this time for snowboarding.

Where do I stay when I go on these adventures? Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have nice friends that let me crash on their couch. That’s when the adventure takes place in, or at least starts in, civilization. A lot of the time, it means sleeping near the trail head on the ground, in my tent, in my hammock, or in the back of my car. More on the details of that some other time…


The key to the dawn patrol is the sunset prep. Caleb Walker photo. Jackson, WY July, 2017.

The weather foiled my first attempt at a snowboarding objective I’d had my eye on. Summers in Wyoming play host to a ton of afternoon thunder storms. Usually, they roll through pretty quick. Other times, they don’t. The snowboarding objective at hand required hiking up to 11,600ft to ride a snow-filled couloir, and then hiking back down to the car. I didn’t think I’d have enough time to get up and down before the storm, and I had zero desire to get trapped in that kind of weather at that elevation, especially by myself. Since I got up at 4:00am to evaluate the situation, I had some time on my hands once I pulled the plug. I decided on an early morning, 13.1 mile trail-run around Jenny Lake instead before heading home.


Jenny Lake, GTNP. Derek MacDonald photo. July, 2017.

A couple weeks later, the weather looked good to try snowboarding in the Tetons again. And this time, Caleb was interested in joining. So we sent it.


I always need my coffee, especially at 4:00am before snowboard missions in July.


Derek MacDonald and Caleb Walker at Amphitheater Lake, GTNP. July, 2017.


Derek MacDonald on Disappointment Peak, GTNP. July, 2017.


Derek MacDonald snowboarding the Spoon Couloir. Caleb Walker photo. July, 2017.

This July snowboard mission was one of the highlights of my year. I often hear the word “crazy”… someone recently suggested the word “dedicated” instead. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The pursuit of passion requires a certain combination of both. Brendan Leonard of wrote this article on the “crazy” things people pour themselves into for seemingly “no reason”. I think his perspective on this is brilliant.

Anyway, duty calls again, this time to represent NOLS at Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City! I got the chance to meet some pretty rad folks; Johnny Collinson, Angel Collinson, Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright.



Got some new ink! Maybe I’ll write a separate post about this at some point.

August was also a suuuuper busy month for me at NOLS HQ spent planning another month long travel trip to New England for the new and improved Film Tour. Different landing pages for the website, different email work flow campaign, different films, different presentation; same outdoor stoke!

It was also really nice to be in Lander for so much of the summer. I’m a pretty routine oriented person and I thrive with some measure of consistency. Yes, there’s a lot of spontaneity and variety in the activities that I do, BUT the daily practices that I employ get used a lot regardless of where I am. Maybe I’ll write an article on that itself in the future…

Simple things I enjoyed about being home in the summer… Things like waking up and having my coffee in my own house- very nice! Things like seeing and joking with my coworkers and friends at the office every day- very nice! Things like working out during lunch and running my favorite loop around town after work- very nice! Things like getting dinner and drinks with friends downtown and jamming to live music at the LB- very nice! Things like weekend adventures in Lander or close to home- very nice!

Ok, on to September.


Flew to New England and kicked off the month-long film tour on a high note: Chas and Aeri got married!


Chas and Aeri’s wedding on Lake Champlain, NY. Derek MacDonald photo.


Cheers from Shawn and Derek!


The tail end of the Fall Film tour brought with it one of the highlights of my year- my visit to Sleepy Hollow, NY. I got the chance to work with the students and faculty of Sleepy Hollow High School’s Outdoor Club (SHOC) to spread the good word about NOLS and outdoor education. In addition to speaking to students in classrooms and the auditorium, they invited me to join them on a day-hike with the SHOC program. I LOVE  interacting with people. Laughing, joking, talking, and connecting with others fires me up! I had a truly fantastic time meeting these folks, and getting to experience Sleepy Hollow during Halloween was pretty cool. They also have some beautiful spots to go trail running (shout out to Noah, Charlie, and Peter for showing me)!


Sleepy Hollow, NY. Derek MacDonald photo. October, 2017.


Day hike with the Sleepy Hollow High School Outdoors Club (SHOC)! Charlie Hildick-Smith photo.


My fall travel tour concluded in Portland, ME at the WRMC (Wilderness Risk Management Conference presented by NOLS, Outward Bound, and SCA).


Portland, ME. Derek MacDonald photo. November, 2017.

Before flying home to Wyoming, I got to grab breakfast with my mom!


Selfies with mom. Plum Island, MA. November, 2017.

Ok, now back to Wyoming.


Boston from the air. Derek MacDonald photo. November, 2017.

November brought with it another big change for me: I decided to leave my position at NOLS and move to Jackson, WY. This was a really hard decision. I love what I did for NOLS and I love Lander and all of the incredible friends I have there. I made the decision to leave because I wanted to reengage with outdoor education from a different role than I was currently serving. I wanted to move back toward field-based work where I would be directly interacting with people in the outdoors; where I would be doing what I’m truly passionate about.

I’m so grateful to NOLS and all of the people who made my time there so, so, so incredible! Who knows, maybe life will lead me back to NOLS in the future. Now, you can find me working at Jackson Hole Mountain resort as a snowboard and ski instructor (want to ride? hit me up)! Two of my best friends, Shawn Robbins and Steve Gregory, moved to Jackson and work at the mountain too. Come summer, I’m hoping to lead backcountry backpacking trips again.

After my last day in the office, Shawn and I decided to take a mini road trip to go surfing in California before the launch of ski season. But, since the snow was already falling, we jumped over to Grand Targhee to hike and ride powder before pointing the car to the coast. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.


Grand Targhee Resort- Alta, WY. Derek MacDonald photo. November, 2017.

Now it’s road trip time!



Santa Cruz, CA. Derek MacDonald photo. November, 2017.


Back in Jackson, the ski season began, work was underway, and days off looked like this.


Togwotee Pass, WY. Steve Gregory photo. December, 2017.


Digging pits! Togwotee Pass, WY. Tami Razinger photo. December, 2017.

December’s welcome to Jackson was incredible. Not the deepest snow, not the most stable snowpack, but I find myself smiling every day anyway. I love living in Jackson. I love the people here, the shared stoke for skiing and snowboarding, and the proximity to some absolutely mind blowing terrain for romping in the mountains. Life. Is. Good.

Aaaannd before you know it, the holidays are here and I’m hopping on another plane to New England to spend them with the fam in Vermont! (Yupp, Wyoming to Denver to Boston… the usual).


Mad River Glen. Waitsfield, VT. December, 2017.

Vermont has a certain magic to it. The place just drops my jaw and clears my head of everything else going on in life. I, of course, brought my splitboard and my snowboard so that I could mix in some 4:00am sunrise hikes with friends and ride the resort all day with the family afterward.


It’s very important to check your pits when getting pitted. Waitsfield, VT. Abby Keough photo. December, 2017.


Merry Christmas from the fam! Colby Thompson photo. December, 2017.


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Thanks for reading!

If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed some snippets from the 2017 highlight reel. Thank you 2017 for one hell of a year. Thanks to the friends, family, and adventures who made it so frickin awesome!

Check back in on for the latest adventures and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn!



Adventure Not War

A story of human connection fostered through connection with the outdoors.

A couple of months ago, this popped up in my news feed thanks to professional rock climber Alex Honnold. Like I do with content that piques my interest but that I don’t have time to look at in the moment, I emailed it to myself. And there it sat, in a folder in my gmail account.

Well, I finally got around to watching this film and I wish that I had taken the time to watch it sooner. Stept Studios (well known for its contributions to the ski industry) teamed up with 3 army veterans on a mission to return to Iraq for… a ski trip? Yupp.

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