Words and interview by Amanda Hankinson:
Blake Geis loves snowboarding. His life is built around a schedule that's allows him to snowboard year round and has done so for the last eight years. Traveling the country in his Ford Ranger, armed with a thermos of Folgers and his rake, he bounces back and forth from the Midwest to Oregon, digging along the way. This year he was part of the crew who built The Troll Project and put in two solid weeks of building and maintenance for Snowboy Productions' infamous Holy Bowly before heading back to High Cascade Snowboard Camp for yet another summer on the glacier. When the lifts and ropes stop turning he goes home to Bend, Oregon to spend time with family and install radiant heat flooring. Blake found a path within snowboarding that few choose to follow, especially in the day and age of the Instagram Snowboarder. He pays his way to rake and build some of the most progressive event and resort setups in the world, contributing his time and energy and body to snowboarding. Only a true digger would be able to manage all that and at the same time put together a part of this caliber, filled with fast, technical, and high consequence snowboarding. I for one would like to thank Blake for the blood and sweat he's contributed to snowboarding and for being the driven, opinionated, hard-working guy that he is.
You always have a rake in your hand, how long have you been digging? Why?
If my dig to ride summer counts then I've been digging for eight years and I've worked at Troll for part of the last two winters. I dig because its the goddamn best shit on earth. The whole process is so fun. Diggin' the holes, setting rails, raking the pipes, arguing about what should go where, all that stuff is equally as fun as snowboarding for me.
What is it about the Midwest that makes you pack up and leave the fluffy west coast to chop ice at Troll?
I think it’s the people mostly. Any given day at any hill out there you’re gonna run into a crew of rad people to board with. And tow ropes are the mother fucking best. Plus smaller resorts don’t have as many rules for diggers, more freedom is more fun.
I was so hyped to see this part come out because I know you put in a lot of work to film it. What were challenges you had? How do you keep your body moving and maintain motivation?
It was a lot of the typical challenges – trying to get where the snow is without a budget, having a project fall through, footage getting lost, getting hurt a few times. But in the end that’s all inconsequential, it’s just part of the process. I do a lot of stretching, foam rolling and physical therapy that seems to keep me moving. Motivation is the easy part, I just really love filming.
You’ve seen it all – you’ve been a part of larger productions and have sponsors but you're on more of a DIY program at this point. What kind of work are you doing in the off season? What is snowboarding to you these days?
I work for Bend Heating doing radiant floor heat. Mostly I do installations of hydronic floor heat and snowmelt systems, occasionally I install tankless water heaters and help out with service calls. My boss is pretty awesome, he doesn’t mind me taking off for the winters, which is rare. Snowboarding is the same as it’s always been, it might even be more fun now that I’m not doing it in kind of a DIY manner. There definitely isn’t any pressure unless I want to put pressure on myself. I really like it this way.
Music is pretty big for you, any insight into your tastes?
I read a Lemy interview right before he died and he said there’s only two genres of music – music you like and music you don't.
What about your family?
My family is the best, I’m so lucky. They are all super supportive and we are all really close so it’s a really kick ass support system, we all do a lot to help each other out and make sure everyone has their ducks all in a row.
Thoughts / feelings about Instagram?
It’s kind of a double edged sword. It’s awesome to get to see so much ripping boarding, but at the same time, seeing so much content every day desensitizes us to everything. Does anyone even remember what they saw last time they looked at instagram?
Shout outs / thank you’s?
Thank you to my family, the diggers, C-mac, Krush, Geno, Jeff, Trollhaugen, Beresford, Colin
Walters, Riley Goodwin, Horn, Matt Heneghan, Tyler Orton, Dan Tyler, Derek Combs, Riley
Erickson, and Derek Weimer.
Filmed by Derek Combs, Tyler Orton, Matt Heneghan, Derek Weimer, Philip Damianakes, Johnny Brady, and Dan Tyler.
Edited by Derek Weimer.