Lel Tone: Commutes by A-Star Helicopter, Skis with TNT

Published in SnoWorld, magazine of the 62nd annual Warren Miller film tour

Official magazine of the Warren Miller film tourCOMMUTES BY A-STAR helicopter, skis with TNT and blows things up. And that’s just her day job.

“I don’t think anything in life is gratifying or satisfying unless there’s some kind of risk involved.” – Lel Tone

It’s funny to think of a mountain icon like Lel Tone as a ‘hidden gem,’ or ‘undiscovered talent.’ But for all her lifetime of achievements in backcountry ski guiding and avalanche safety, Tone had never before appeared in front of ski movie cameras.

Tone joined Lynsey Dyer for this year’s whirlwind expedition to Kashmir. A good travel companion? “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that woman complain,” says Dyer. “Oh and she’s a snow science nerd.”

Tone ranks as Squaw’s number two avalanche forecaster (read: “bomb-hucker”). She’s also 12 seasons deep into Alaskan heli-guiding, so it’s not easy for Tone to shut off that instinct of looking after clients to keep them alive. In five days filming with Gulmarg Heliski, though, she was able to let her hair down. “It allowed me to purify my experience,” she says, “and to see it through my own eyes; experience it for myself.”

“We called it the Saucy Minx: a narrow, steep couloir. The one thing in my mind was: ‘This isn’t the cleanest of lines. If everything goes poorly, I’m going to get drilled right into the rock wall at the bottom.’” – Lel Tone

“You make smart decisions,” says Tone, “you’ve laid the foundation and you’ve come up with a good plan. Then, at some point, you just need to lift up your skirt and jump.”