"I don’t drink Gatorade; I drink beef broth. It’s the secret weapon"
It’s 10:00am and we’re 10,450 feet in the air. We’ve taken the Tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain at Jackson Hole’s Teton Village, and around us, the purest blue skies and silver peaks fall away into the white valleys below. This ride and these views are a near-daily ritual for Andy Bardon. “I spend about a third of my time up here,” he says as he clicks into his skis. “It’s not a bad way to live.”
Bardon is a former mountain guide-turned-photographer and filmmaker. He’s also a talented skier and climber, and these skills afford him (and subsequently, his lens) access to some of the world’s most beautiful and dangerous places. Everest, El Capitan, The Grand Tetons – Bardon has photographed them all. As a freelancer living a life spurred by travel and adventure, Andy seeks to find balance in his schedule. “If anything, work takes over sometimes,” he says. “And that’s okay for a stretch, but then you have to know when to take a moment for yourself.” He smiles. “Never too much work without play.”
Bardon starts his mornings with coffee. The rest of his routine, he explains, is dictated by the weather. “I have the ability to work and to ski, so if it’s snowed, I’ll be on the mountain first thing,” he says. “But then I’m back at the house editing photos for the rest of the day – I’ll usually fit in some gym time, as well.” Andy’s girlfriend, Whitney, appears from the bedroom and Andy pours her a cup of coffee. “[Whitney] is part of the morning routine, too,” he smiles. “If fact, if she isn’t, I’ve probably done something wrong.” He cracks eggs into a skillet and seasons bowls of salad greens with olive oil and salt and pepper. “For breakfast, it’s always eggs, protein, vegetables.” He brings Whitney her breakfast as she sits propped up in bed, knitting a wool ski hat. The pair washes down their eggs with Meyer lemon water while Andy explains to us his philosophy on stocks. (No, not those stocks.)
“I’m really, really into bone broths – I feel like if someone did [it] right, broths could be the next Starbucks,” Andy laughs. “We make ours with local grass fed beef bones – they’re full of collagen for your joints and they really hydrate and keep you going during high intensity workouts. I don’t drink Gatorade; I drink beef broth. It’s the secret weapon.”
Andy dresses in ski pants, a zip-up microfiber top and knit cap, and packs a bag with everything he’ll need for a morning on the mountain – including an avalanche beacon for skiing out of bounds. Out in the garage, he drips performance wax on his skis with a hot iron and scrapes them down, then loads them into his big, white van. (“The Creeper Van,” as he calls it, has a pop-top loft for overnight trips.)
The gorgeous 10-minute drive to Teton Village is interrupted only by a stop at Aspens Market for – yes – more beef bones. Today’s selection is from nearby Lockhart Cattle Co. Andy pays for the bones, and has the butcher hold them until he returns from the slopes. In the parking lot, he straps on his helmet and goggles and then we pack onto the Tram with 97 other eager skiers. At the summit, Andy points out a few landmarks – this peak is where he shot the Harry’s campaign alongside pal Jimmy Chin, and that peak is where he was almost buried in an avalanche. “Risk is a part of being out here,” he says. “That’s why you form such strong bonds with the people you climb and ski with…if you screw up, your partner dies…there’s a lot of trust there.” He lets that point sink in, cracks another joke about beef stock, and skis away into the sunshine.
"I spend about a third of my time up here...it's not a bad way to live."