Last year, the world lost the great Warren Miller, a perennial inspiration to ski-bums, entrepreneurs, and dreamers everywhere who envisioned a life beyond the 9-to-5 cubicle existence. Warren celebrated the journey, the successes and failures of anyone willing to step into a pair of skis, from the icy beginner slopes of Vermont to the riddled spines of Alaska, all shared with an unforgettable grandpa-like storytelling voice.
After leaving the Navy in 1946, Warren bought his first 8mm camera and teardrop trailer, which he promptly drove to Sun Valley, Idaho. Working as a ski instructor, his friends would film each other to improve their technique. He quickly became both a proficient skier and filmmaker. But his true talent shined when he would show his previous winter’s films to small audiences, narrating the film live each night. It was this narration that would change the action sports and adventure film industries forever.
The ski-porn industry has come a long way since the mid-80’s Warren Miller movies I remember watching as a child in preparation for the coming season, but I will always pick Warren’s voice over an insane 100ft cliff drop to stoke the anticipation for the season’s first snowflakes to fall.
Breanne and I saw him speak many years ago at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. The voice, the storytelling, his ability to make everyone in the sold out, 2,000-person auditorium feel as if they’re having an intimate fireside chat only him; the experience still gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes writing this years later.
He represented the best of adventure. It wasn’t about how hard you charged, only that you were in the mountains. And his story telling instantly turned a full theater of strangers with a shared passion into whooping and hollering gang of best friends.
Life is short, so go ahead and embrace your dreams. Take that trip of a lifetime, or quit your job and move to the mountains because “if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”