Gary and Sophia Fondl are Father Daughter duo that ride for Liberty Skis. Watch their Origin story in the video below and keep reading for more of what we learned about this rad duo. As storytellers, we love capturing adventure, beauty, and relationships.
In late spring, we met the father-daughter team at the Mayflower Gulch trail in Colorado to go backcountry skiing. Late spring may not provide the best conditions when it comes to snow conditions, but when you're on an adventure with Gary and Sophia, any and all conditions are celebrated. The day was an adventure as we headed up toward the majestic peaks surrounding Mayflower Gulch.
After climbing to a high point on the mountain, we soaked in the views and solitude of the Colorado wilderness. Backcountry skiing is popular in Colorado but you can still find those moments of solitude that make backcountry touring so appealing. We only saw a few skiers that morning and were able to find our own path.
If you haven't heard of him, Frisco resident Gary Fondl is known as the Mayor of Pow Town. He's a self-proclaimed ski bum who loves human-powered skiing enough to build his life in a way that allows him to get outside constantly and consistently. And I'm not just talking about in the winter.
Based in Summit County, Colorado, Gary can find terrain to ski no matter the month. His backcountry season pass is valid year-round and the cost is limited to having the right ski and avalanche safety gear. There weren't many people backcountry skiing on the day we met up with Gary and Sophia but he still ran into people he knew simply because he's always out ski touring.
When winter ends and the famous ski resorts have to close, the Colorado backcountry continues to have something to offer in every season. Just because the snowmakers turn off doesn't mean your passion for skiing has to. In fact, exploring the backcountry allows you to skip the lift lines altogether and have the great snow and the whole mountain all to yourself.
Gary Fondl's legacy lives on with his daughter Sophia who has picked up his habit of backcountry skiing year-round. During the pandemic, she really started getting out a lot when she was home and they could ski out their back door. There's nothing like being able to do backcountry laps in your backyard.
An athlete in her own right, Sophia also plays hockey. In college, her friends actually recognized her because of her fathers' reputation in the ski world. She loves letting him take her and her friends out to explore.
It's a father's dream. In his own words, "Being a parent, it's all about seeing your kids happy. I like to see her out in nature being happy with her friends and doing it safely."
Gary seems to prioritize safety and fun. He wants to go outside and have a great time while also being safe doing it. Avalanche safety is very important, especially in Colorado where the avalanche danger can be high. That's why avalanche education is important but more than that, Gary has a ton of experience which makes him an asset to his skiing partners.
His daughter Sophia notes that she's fortunate to benefit from her dads' knowledge and experience in the mountains. Gary has skied over 3 million vertical feet in the backcountry over the past few years with no avalanches. That's a testament to his decision-making.
When we last spoke, Gary had skied 154 consecutive months in the Colorado mountains and Sophia had picked up the challenge racking up 29 consecutive months of skiing. There's nothing like having a good goal and role model to keep you inspired and remind you to get outside and do what you love.
Capturing Gary and Sophia was an inspiration both creatively and for our own adventurous souls. Be sure to follow Gary over at @friscopowderaddict for year-round ski inspiration!
Stay tuned to the blog for more adventure photography and more.