The Mystery of Mt. Stoy
words & photos • scotty arnold
Area 51, Fort Knox, the Grotto at the Playboy Mansion… what do these places have in common? They are all mysterious locations that you will never visit. Do they really exist? Is the hype real? Well, you can add another location to this list, Mt. Stoy. Is it a real mountain? Or is it just a state of mind?
Have you ever had a group of your best friends riding epic conditions with no one else around you for miles? This is Mt. Stoy – there are no rules, no stress to get your multi-million-dollar epic production finished. There’s just the bros, a couple of cameras and some of the best terrain you can imagine. It’s not easy to get there either. You must be an expert snowmobiler who is able to weave through tight trees in waist-deep powder. There are miles of forest, riverbeds, terrain traps and aggressive hill climbs that must be traversed just to scratch the surface of this magical mountain. Rumor has it that multiple trespassers have been beat down and their faces whitewashed in the snow just for setting foot on Mt. Stoy. It has also been said the mountain is protected by a local ogre that keeps a pistol on him for anyone that sets foot on his turf without express permission from said ogre.
For the lucky chosen ones to actually experience Mt. Stoy, there is any type of terrain you can imagine. There are mellow tree runs, epic jump zones, pillow after pillow, and gnarly lines to satisfy anyone from the average powder hound to the most serious of shredders. I have been snowboarding for 25 years and never have seen one zone that has it all like Mt. Stoy does. Do you want to wake up early and get the shot? Do you want to sleep in late and still get the shot? Since we are the only ones out there, it doesn’t matter. There is no pressure to beat rival crews to the spot because there are no rival crews. With such exclusivities comes some danger as well. I’ve seen one of the biggest avalanches of my life out there. People have wrecked their new snowmobiles into trees in efforts to make it out to the heart of Mt Stoy. The weather can change at the drop of a dime at 12,000 feet, from bluebird to blizzard. There is no cell phone service, just walkie-talkies. Snowmobiles break 30 miles out in the middle of nowhere. Getting hurt way out there is always in the back of your mind as well. She can be a bitter bitch if you don’t treat her right. That being said, we only go out with an experienced squad that knows how to have fun but stay smart and safe. No kooks allowed!
Our group consisted of Doran Laybourn, Colin Langlois, Ozzy Henning, Chris Grenier, Shane Charlebois and myself. It was one of Ozzy’s first times snowmobiling, which could have been a nightmare, but he handled like a boss and caught on quickly after getting stuck a couple times of course. With any good group of friends riding, we didn’t just want to get the shot all day; we also wanted to take pow laps together. If we came across a nice pitch that looked fun we would double up on the snowmobiles and ghost ride them (let the snowmobile go down the hill with no one on it) to the bottom. This way we could all ride the same face together and still grab the sleds to get up for another lap. If you have had a deep day in the backcountry, you will know there is nothing more fun then riding in a group and watching your friends flipping off rocks and getting pitted in the white room. One could say it is what snowboarding is meant to be. After multiple party laps, the crew would usually think of a cliff or jump spot to get down on and we would start lapping. It could be a certain feature or build a jump, or just hit cliffs JB Nach. For photography, there is no shortage of amazing mountain ranges, wind lips, or pillows in powder-filled pines, making for some nice backdrops to whatever we rode. After a day of turns, stomps and some aggressive ragdolls we make the 30-mile trek back from Mt Stoy and head home to rest our heads.
The nightlife fits the environment, with secluded cabin living with no cell service, which is more of a gift than a curse these days. There’s also no grocery stores or restaurants. After riding and sledding all day, you end up getting back around 6 p.m. What’s the first thing we do when we get home? We do what any typical group of friends would do… drink beer. Copious amounts of food is cooked and eaten, and empty beer and pizza boxes are stacked high by the fireplace. If you want heat, you have to chop some firewood and burn some boxes. Do you want to watch TV? Well you can’t, but you can watch various DVDs from the ‘90s. Everyone is usually passed out by 10 p.m. from a combo of sheer exhaustion and food and beer coma, dreaming of the pow turns to come the next day.
So where is Mt. Stoy? You will never know. Is it an actual mountain, or is it just a state of mind? You may never get to physically ride there, but if you have ever been on a backcountry trip with your bros, with cabin living, beer drinking, and the main goal being to ride good snow, chances are you have already experienced the essence of Mt. Stoy.