087: Mike Basich/Area 241

Mike in the type of situation that had defined his life. Photo: Mike

“All I’ll have when I leave this planet are experiences”.

What attributes spring to mind when you think of the average action sports athletes? Style? Skill? Bravery? Youth?

Whatever comes first, longevity is unlikely to figure too highly. After all, the majority of professional action sports careers burn short and sharp, averaging a decade at best before real life intervenes.

Sure, there are a handful of special talents that have graduated to the legend programme, notably in surfing and skateboarding. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

Quite a perspective on quite a line. Photo: Mike

This context is why Mike Basich‘s achievement is so unparalleled. Here is a professional snowboarder who has sustained a career for 30 years. Even more impressively, he’s done so by managing to remain relevant in the face of the relentless progression that is the hallmark of all action sports culture.

That alone would make him a member of an exclusive crew. But what makes Mike’s story even more special is the fact that he has done it all completely on his own terms, and by following his own idiosyncratic path.

Not surprisingly, this experience has given Mike a unique outlook on life, and in today’s episode we explore the entire tale. Central to Mike’s story is the legendary Area 241, the private resort compound he’s created for himself somewhere near Lake Tahoe.

Photo: Mike

Its a two decade project that is central to the entire Basich story and ethos, and in this chat we explored what it means to Mike, and just how integral to his life it really is.

Sure, this the story of a snowboarding career. But as is always the case with Mike, it is so much more: about how to live your life on your own terms, and how to play the long game while staying true to your principles. It’s an extraordinary story from one of snowboarding’s most extraordinary individuals.Listen to the episode below:

Connect with Mike

Show Notes

  • Mystic the dog joins the interview.
  • On becoming a dad.
  • Best snowfall on record.
  • “We’re 3 miles from any kind of machinery”.
  • The upkeep of living remotely.
  • Starting from sketch.
  • Living in a teepee.
  • The Golden Ratio.
  • The star that shadows on his birthday.
  • Brunel’s Box Tunnel.
  • What it takes to survive on your own.
  • The role of hardship.
  • “As humans we just want to make things easier”.
  • Seeking guidance from nature.
  • Our relationship with failure.
  • His Area-241 projects: from chairlift to vehicles.
  • The joy of pulling things apart.
  • Snowboarding aged 13.
  • “It’s really fun to be out here and not have to chase the snow”.
  • Finding the plot of Area-241 buried under snow.
  • Early snowboarding crew days.
  • The punk and freestyle culture of the 80s.
  • Started his clothing company in 1991 after high school.
  • Competition vs lifestyle marketing.
  • 241’s reversible trousers.
  • “Making something fitting that’s more universal for different lifestyles”.
  • Doing things DIY-style.
  • Suffering from epilepsy in his childhood.
  • “I want to be on the edge of feeling alive”.
  • The helicopter drop being an “experiment with art”.
  • Pioneering self-shooting.
  • The advancement of action cameras.
  • The backlash to his snow portraits.
  • Jib shots.
  • Rainbow rails,
  • “If you put your heart into somewhere, it finds a home somewhere”.
  • The hardships of getting sponsors.
  • When Michi Albin got dropped by Burton.
  • “There was no way to market the old age”.
  • The idea behind the helicopter shot.
  • Shooting with Sam McMahon this season.
  • Area-241 ambitions.
  • The role of sponsorship today.
  • “I’ll probably drive a car up here August 1st”.
  • 100ft of vertical drop to play with.
  • Hydrolift plans.
  • Niseko’s single person chairlift.

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned

Companies/Brands/Organisations Mentioned

  • 241
  • GoPro
  • Burton
  • Vans Duct Tape Challenge
  • Patagonia