December 9th, 2020

My Experience Riding With the Boondockers Crew

Riding with a new crew is always intimidating.

Trying to juggle new personalities, different ability levels, unfamiliar zones and different snow conditions while keeping your nerves in check is never easy. So you can image how I felt going into my first ride with the guys from the legendary film crew, Boondockers.

I was invited to ride with the group by the hype man of the crew—the pure, raw-talented Mr. Kris “Smasher” Kaltenbacher. Smasher is always ready to go. Always ready to stay out longer. Always ready to take the hard way home, and is the only one willing to claim that snow makes him “horny”.

Smasher and I drove from Reno, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah late on a Friday night, arriving just before 1 am at Dan Gardiner’s house. Dan is one of the longest active members of the group having been in every Boondockers video since #2. He’s a quiet guy who lets his riding define his public persona. A simple “good job” is about the biggest compliment you can receive from him. So if you hear it, that means you’re doing something right.

Joining us the following morning was the tail guide of the group; the calm and cool-headed “Phatty” Dyer. Phatty knows how to ride a snowmachine and how to give you the perfect critique to improve your riding ability.

Phatty slays a spine while the efficient crew films from above and below.

In the mix was a guy who has only been in the crew for a few years, Brock Berry. Brock has proven his riding ability and is riding the next wave of the Boondockers talent pool.

Then there was me—an ex-professional snowboard photographer who originally bought a sled for riding snowboard lines. But, over the last decade, I’ve transformed into a die-hard sledneck, always and consistently trying to push my physical riding ability to match my photography and video skills.

Was I intimidated?

You better believe it. However, I went into it eager to learn and hungry to ride hard.

Riding with the Boondockers Crew 05
Brock Berry takes an interesting line through a pillow minefield.

Riding with the Boondockers

Our group rode together for two days. Both days were early starts, and both days were testing. I was quickly reminded how different in quality the intermountain snow is compared to the maritime snow at my home in Lake Tahoe.

The quickness at which the crew does their filming and the level of professionalism each rider exhibits really impressed me. Each shot is a feature you only get one chance at. Each shot features something the average rider would never even think about hitting. And each shot has great lighting.

Riding with the Boondockers Crew 04
Dan Gardiner lets his riding do the talking.

A “three-hour tour” is what the Boondockers jokingly call their rides—an homage to the tv show, Gilligan’s Island. This saying is symbolic of the group’s desire to put themself in sticky situations that are more difficult than expected, to continue to push the boundaries—a true testament to the M.O. of the Boondockers.

It wouldn’t be a three-hour tour without something going awry. Smasher earns his title.

As everyone knows, those first few interactions of meeting new people can be awkward and difficult. It takes time for you to find your spot in a crew and to open up to show your personality.

But my time with the Boondockers was highly-valued, and I enjoyed the opportunity to take a small peek into their lives and experience a couple of rides that were as legendary as Boondockers themselves.


– Ben

Riding with the Boondockers Crew 02
Smasher, showing why he gets so exciting about snow.