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JHSM Issue 17 - Keegan Rice
Nothing like being on the backbone of the Tetons to make a person feel small. Photos: Keegan Rice

All Day to Get There

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Three friends on a splitboarding trip into Death Canyon

I am a photographer but I often wish I could write. Sometimes an elegant thought or a poetic phrase will slip into my mind but I never write it down. Journals no longer find their way into my pack, already heavy with extra lenses, when setting off for adventure. I am intimidated by the thought of failure: I fear that I won’t capture the experience well or find the words to do it justice. Despite that, I cannot help wanting to record the details that make a trip into the mountains so remarkable. So instead of scribbling notes, I shoot photos of every moment that catches my eye, every element big or small that creates the story I wish I could write. Photographs are my journals to look back and reflect on.

JHSM Issue 17 - Keegan Rice
The general vibe is very high. The group is stoked at the opportunity to get away from the hectic state of society and into the quiet respite only found in places where few venture. We spend our days meandering up and down hills and mountain sides looking for fun features and lines to ride.

It was April 2nd and I was too excited to be hungover from the Gaper Day festivities the day before. Bryan Iguchi, Alex Yoder, Alex Isley, and I set off that morning on a three-night splitboard trip into the Tetons. The plan was to drop off the backside of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and come out of Death Canyon in Grand Teton National Park four days later. Isley, one of my oldest friends in Jackson, was feeling the same. We were stoked to be spending time in the mountains with Guch and Yoder, two snowboarding legends. As we skinned onward Isley and I would often make eye contact and share shit-eating grins at being included on such a cool trip with these zen masters.

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JHSM Issue 17 - Keegan Rice
Abnormally heavy backpacks for your typical splitboard mission keep us at a relatively slow pace, but we have nowhere to be and all day to get there. Although Bryan typically has a quiet demeanor, he talks more than you’d expect while hiking. Isley and I welcome these stories of the old days and his undeniable wisdom. Yoder doesn’t seem to be slowed by the heavy pack at all and leads the group as we wind through the slushy landscape.

“Photographs are my journals to look back and reflect on.”

JHSM Issue 17 - Keegan Rice
In the mornings we hang around camp, sipping coffee and snacking on oatmeal. When the sun is high in the sky we pack up and slide on. If anything catches our eye, we deviate from our path and switch to snowboard mode. The riding reminds me of early in the season when you truly don’t care about the conditions at all and you’re just happy to be standing sideways. Having gratitude for the most basic of moments makes this trip so satisfying.


JHSM Issue 17 - Keegan Rice
On the morning of our third day, we locate some cell service and learn about the rain on the way. We decide to retreat back to town a day early and ride a fun line on the way.

It hadn’t snowed in two weeks and the weather had been hot as hell, so the conditions we found weren’t anything to write home about. But we still managed to find fun lines and features. It was the reset we all needed: time with a small crew in the mountains. With rain in the forecast, we ended up cutting our trip a day short and retreated back to the comforts of town. I still shot over 4000 photos in three days, both digital and film. When it comes to photography–which I am as passionate about as I am about snowboarding–I just can’t help myself. This was a trip I wanted to remember well.

JHSM Issue 17 - Keegan Rice
Our trip comes to an end and everyone revels in the success of simplicity. Instead of basing our expectations on epic riding and finding sick lines, we set off on this adventure with only the expectation of having a good time. With a goal like that, I’ve found a good time will almost always be the outcome, no matter what variables you run into.

You’d be hard-pressed to see Keegan without his camera– he’s always GTSing. @keeganrice

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