Chasing Advanture with Chris Benchetler and Rob Machado
Chris Benchetler is a well-respected pro-skier who specializes in big mountain and back country skiing. Chasing adVANture follows a unique journey up the West Coast of North America in his custom-built Sprinter van as he skis, surfs, climbs and snowboards with other athletes that have mastered each of these sports.
Chris: My first stop of the journey was to head South to SD and link up with Rob. It was a pleasure to get to know him better, watch him shape a board, and better understand why he shapes boards a certain way. We were able to talk surf technology and how one of his boards directly influenced a ski I designed for Atomic years ago. I like looking outside of skiing for inspiration, and Rob is on a very similar path in a vastly different sport.
Chris Benchetler in Chasing AdVANture
Chris: I have always been very inspired by surfing, and especially the way surfer’s draw a line down a wave. Rob is very much at the forefront of that inspiration in my eyes. The style, flow, and fluidity he has is definitely something I try to bring to the snow.
The journey starts North up to Alaska in a newly converted Sprinter van documenting the build and travels while connecting the dots to the individuals and sports that has shaped him into the person he is today. By simplifying his life and living out of a van, he hoped to learn more about himself by reducing overall consumption, while capturing the journey North.
Chris: Scott Smith [Smith Made] was the mastermind behind the van. He is a very close friend and incredibly talented carpenter who was looking for more creativity and inspiration than what his current work was giving him. We were able to collaborate on ideas and design on a very authentic level. He has an artistic eye that blends incredibly well with his craft. I was able to work with him day in and day out on the van, and seeing him in his element was mind blowing. His attention to detail and understanding of shapes, angles, materials were amazing. We were able to keep the van incredibly low in VOC’s and focus a lot on the materials and function of the van. It came out to be a real piece of art.
Chris: Thankfully Scott researched and insulated the van incredibly well. It was one of the biggest winters on record for the West coast, so cold mornings and coffee were a common occurrence.
Chris: It was super enjoyable to slow down my process of chasing storms on a global level, and really absorb my surroundings. Anytime we made it to somewhere special or beautiful, we could stop and enjoy it, and stay wherever the road took us. I really enjoyed the change of pace.
Chris: The maiden voyage on my hand shaped Midas. It was a true pleasure being able to surf with Rob and see his skills in person, that inspired me for so many years.
Chris started in Cardiff with Reef ambassador and fellow Van goer Rob Machado, who has heavily influenced his Signature ski design over the years, as well as the way he reads the mountain as Rob does in the surf.
From there he travels North to Mammoth, to ski and board with friends in the surrounding area. Then continued North to Bend, OR to meet with multiple friends and pro athletes, including snowboarder Austin Smith who was living in his Fire truck, Eric Pollard, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa plus more.
Chris: The drying rack… We had a rad design that utilized climbing carabiners, and a piece of rebar, that allowed wetsuits and outerwear to drip into the entry of the slider door, keeping the van nice and dry from all the moisture.
The journey continued to Smith Rock to meet with pro climber Emily Harrington. From there we drove North to Whistler, BC to meet with Sean Pettit, Cody Townsend, Mark Abma in the surrounding backcountry, with some surfing in Tofino, BC.