Sam Anthamatten was born with a sense of adventure. Combining a passion for skiing and alpinism led him into the backcountry, putting his skills to the test in places people could only dream of. Over the last six years, Sam’s focus has been freeride skiing, facing extraordinary challenges in the most extreme environments. So what does it take to prepare for something like this? What essentials are key to success? We caught up with the man himself to find out.
For those that don’t know, tell us what you do in one line.
I’m a freeride skier and a fully-qualified mountain guide.
What’s your favourite thing about skiing?
It’s the liberty of your own style and creation. You can set your own goals. The challenge is always the mountain and that’s the amazing thing; if you do the right training, use the right tactics and follow smart decisions, you'll be successful and able to realise your dreams.
What are your top 5 essentials for this winter season?
First of all, definitely the Freethinker Jacket and the Freethinker Bib Trousers. I know it sounds cheesy, but I will spend literally seven months in these. They keep me warm and dry out there! I will also use the ABS Vest quite a lot during the beginning of the winter. But the two most important things for me will be snow and health; without those two nothing will go on!
Why have you chosen these items?
The Steep Series combination is just the perfect outfit for me. It has great functionality, the pockets and zips are well placed and the fabric is really durable. So even if I ski every day I only need one outfit per season!
I’m also hiking/climbing a lot of lines this season so to make sure I’m all set, I’ll pack a shovel, probe, crampons, ice-axe, ski skins and a small safety kit. The ABS Vest can hold all of them; it also has an avalanche airbag and it’s super centered on your body, making it possible to ski harder lines.
Which items of clothing do you absolutely rely on throughout this season?
Besides the shells of the Steep Series I always bring a small packable insulation jacket. In my opinion the Thermoball™ Jacket is the ultimate tool for that!
Any personal items you always keep with you on your trips?
Well I have a little emergency pack for when things don’t go to plan – so I’ve got all kinds of medication for first aid situations, plus a small reparation set. For a lot of situations though, I find a bit of tape or a zip-tie can help out a lot.
What can you not live without?
What are the off-season essentials that prepare you for the mountains?
I do most of my ski preparation at the Zermatt Crossfit; I try to do as many different types of training as possible there. I also spend time working out in the mountains.
What weather do you prefer shredding in?
I don’t really care what the weather’s like; as our sport is outside I’m always adapting to the weather conditions. Sometimes I get surprised with bad weather; I end up having just as much fun shredding then as on a bluebird powder day!
How do you prepare for a day on the slopes?
It always depends on the goal that I have in mind. If I’m having a day on the slopes I might just re-sharpen the edges of my skis. But a day on a 4,000m peak on a difficult line? A lot of hours are involved in preparing for that, from the skis to the crampons to the ropes I bring. Everything needs to be in perfect condition. On the mountain there is no time to think about gear. You have to fully trust everything you use.
What goals would you like to achieve this season?
For me there are a lot of different goals, from competing on the FWT to different expeditions on bigger mountains. I think the most difficult achievement during a long, busy season is to stay focused, motivated and healthy. With these three elements I feel I’m able to achieve my dreams!
What’s on your wish-list in terms of must-haves and must-sees?
One really important thing is avalanche transceiver technology – it’s evolving as we speak, meaning it should become much easier to search for an avalanche victim. Secondly, as we bring more and more electric tools out in the mountains, I see a potential in having solar powered recharging stations in our future packs.
In terms of locations on my wish list, there are a lot of places I’d like to visit such as Georgia, the Himalayas, Antarctica... to name a few!
Where is your next adventure going to be and why?
I’ll spend December at home to enjoy the early start in the Alps and to spend time with friends and family. From there, I’m flying to Japan for some deep early season turns; then after that I’ll be traveling around the world to get to the Caucasus Mountains by mid-May.
What are your top three memories from your time skiing?
- Last year’s descent of Corrugated on the Tsirku face in the Yukon.
- Standing on the 7,350m-high Jasemba in Nepal
- In Alaska dropping from a paraglider several metres down on a virgin powder run
What advice would you give to people looking to get involved in skiing?
- Get the right gear!
- Ski with a guide. Learn about the risks, and how to handle them.
- Always use your brain! Do your own risk calculations and learn to say ‘NO’!
What phrase do you live by?
Do what you want but do it right!
Are you wondering how gruelling Sam’s experiences can really be? Take a glimpse into his latest expedition in Tsirku, a three-part, big-mountain series following Sam’s attempt to tackle the most challenging lines of the Tsirku Glacier.