Adrian skier

Dingle's Vanlife

Henry Worobec

It is September, and I haven’t skied in over two months.

As a purist, summertime distractions like kayaking and biking don’t fill the hole skiing leaves behind, so I feed my boss an excuse for a long weekend and drive north. Around 2am, I pull into a curious camping facade outside of Glacier National Park. A dirt road winds through the various glamping sites of fully furnished tipis and Civil War-style canvas tents. At the end of these, a dirty white RV sits among young Fir trees. I see the calm visage of Adrian Dingle through the cab window. Leonard, I assume, is not far prowling the shadowy undergrowth, maintaining his domain’s perimeter.

The all-too-familiar inside of the RV smells of old ski boots and kitty litter. Leonard scratches at the door behind me, and I let the orange feline into his home. Nobody has spent as much time in the RV as Leonard the cat. His litter box hides under one of the kitchen benches and the rig’s frayed interior carpet trim suffices for scratching, keeping Leonard’s claws sharp on downdays. Equipped with a stocked food dispenser and water jug, the cat can hang out in the RV for days while Adrian camps in the high basins and plunders the remaining snow fields.

Adrian works maintenance at this plush campground for those deficient of survival skills and sentimental for the romance of the Wild West. He spends all his weekends skiing alone in the park, hitting crevasse gaps and wall rides. I haven’t seen him since spring, when we toured Montana in his RV, skiing new zones and filming a Wilderness video. He was an ideal character for the video I had set out to make, with a smooth and entertaining style and exciting to watch. More impressive though, was his ability to calculate risk and not over extend himself. You cannot take just any 23-year-old stuntman into the deep backcountry, point a camera at him, and rest assured that he will not break himself.

The gutted back room of the RV houses a yoga mat, a balance board, and an old Bernina, Aurora 430 sewing machine. Adrian makes his own clothing from scratch, outerwear included, and sells custom outfits to his friends under the production name, White Gold Designs. Tailored to his style and whatever funky fabrics he comes across, the themes vary from Safari to Northwest Indigenous, incorporating a mixture of screen print and patchwork. His buddies at Caravan Skis build him boards in Bozeman, and any other equipment needs incurred are likewise provided by the grassroot efforts of friends.

Adrian dingle white gold

The next morning, natural light pours in through the windows, contrasting from the cavelike atmosphere of the RV in the cold season, when the windows are blocked off with insulation. I almost miss the foam panel adorned with rainforest print that rests in the window above the dining table/guest bed.

Adrian lost his ski poles one-by-one over the course of his summertime adventures in the park, so our first stop before skiing was the campground’s appliance shed where he found some broomsticks as replacements. We drive up the Going to the Sun Road, park, and hoof our way past the defined trails and campgrounds. Past the onslaught of bear bell touting tourists who can’t grasp our ski carrying, the landscape of massive cliff faces with narrow waterfalls opens up. We make camp at the base of a glacier right before the rainstorm hits.

Adrian dingle cats skiing

Dark clouds loom overhead as we tour on frozen, sun-cupped snow and climb around blue crevasses the next day. As poor as the ski conditions are, I can’t help but look around at all the glacial features and think that Adrian has found his ideal playground. Being a creative soul, he has endless potential here for unique jumps and jibs. I struggle to stay locked into my tech bindings as we descend the solidified snowpack, but Adrian nonchalantly throws 180’s off of every hit he can piece together in one run.

In a time when the ski industry manifests itself into an over-saturated market of “sponsor me” videos, elite posturing, and helicopters-filming-other-helicopters-filming-corporate-athletes-in-exotic-locations styled messaging, it’s comforting to know that wildcats still exist, under the radar, in Winnebagos, and on top of the next un-marked run.


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