Logan Pehota

A Way Back Home

This April, Logan Pehota bought his first dirt bike. Within a month, he was leading his local pack on some of the gnarliest trails in British Columbia—weighting his foot pegs like a seasoned pro while jumping every hip and tranny in sight. By the end of the summer, he was more focused on dialing in his whips at the racetrack than riding singletrack.

It’s a rapid progression that barely shocks his friends. The learning curve has always just seemed shorter for the 25-year-old. In elementary school, he won almost every cross-country and track meet he competed in, podiuming at races across British Columbia as part of the 5 Peaks Trail Running series. Two summers ago, he took up rock climbing, and was able to scale 5.11s after only a few months. On his mountain bike, he’s dialing in 360s and backflips. There was also a summer of paragliding. His snowmobile—a comped 850 RMK from Polaris—is an extension of his body, and he’s close to landing a backflip on that too. But these are just extracurriculars. Logan’s true calling is on skis, the latest iteration of one of the most influential family legacies in recent ski history.

ABOVE Raised in the big mountains and trained in the terrain park, Logan is as comfortable skiing switch as he is laying trenches in the Pemberton, BC backcountry. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

Logan’s father Eric Pehota is one half of one of the most successful and emblematic partnerships in big mountain skiing. In the ’80s and ’90s, Eric and the late Trevor Petersen evolved ski mountaineering into big mountain skiing as we know it today, ticking off some 40 first descents in British Columbia and Alaska with unprecedented flair and style. Logan inherited Eric’s passion for skiing and innate mountain sense, and understands his big mountain pedigree. Still, Logan says he’ll save the “old-man” stuff for when his skis stay on the snow. In recent years, Logan has proven himself everywhere from the halfpipe to the high alpine. He’s won Freeride World Tour stops and was runner-up for the overall title his first season on the tour. The young Pehota has spent the early part of his career carving his own legacy, opting for snowmobiles and helicopters over touring gear and skins, big lines and progressive tricks over sufferfests in the mountains.

But recently his story has returned home. Logan and Kye Petersen, Trevor’s son, have begun following their fathers’ paths, chasing the classic lines Eric and Trevor pioneered decades ago. It’s a chance for Logan to learn more about his father’s past and honor his heritage, but it’s also an opportunity to leave his unique signature—scoping different lines, going bigger and charging harder than the duo that changed the BC ski landscape. As Kye puts it, “Logan has the ability to be better than his dad.”

ABOVE Despite traveling the world for competitions and film parts, Logan is most comfortable at home in the Pemberton backcountry. Getting cozy with a double stager. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

The Gulf of Alaska cradles low-pressure systems that pound the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, southeast Alaska and the southern Yukon. In 1992, Whistler, BC-based friends Eric Pehota and Trevor Peterson found themselves in one of the worst places to be during one such system—on the side of Mount Logan. At 19,850 feet, Logan stands as Canada’s highest peak and the second-highest peak in North America. Measuring by base circumference, it is the largest mountain in the world, its sheer size and relief—two miles higher than its surroundings—frequently creating expedition-ruining weather. The two spent the final seven days of their 27-day mission in a tent, waiting out minus-40-degree temperatures at high camp. While they skied from lower than planned, the experience stuck with them. Three years later, Eric named his first son after the peak.

When it was still allowed at the resort, Eric skied around Whistler-Blackcomb with a young Logan in his backpack. But Eric wasn’t cruising groomers. He skied serious lines such as the Sudan Couloir and False Face. Someone once told him Logan had his arms out like an airplane. When Logan was 5 or 6 years old, Eric started bringing him out on powder days and skiing steeper lines. Eric noticed his son’s passion for the sport, above-average sense of balance and ability to read terrain.

“He always had a sense for transition,” Eric says. One day when Logan was seven years old, he and Eric were on Disease Ridge off Blackcomb Peak. Logan told his dad he was going to jump his 120-centimeter Rossignol junior skis off the cornice and land right in the sweet spot. “I thought he’d drop 15 feet, but the transition he was looking at was 40 feet down,” Eric says. “Thank God I had a wide lens on. He just sent it. It still happens today. I’ll ask if he’s going to land there, and he’ll say, ‘No–100 feet down the hill.’”

ABOVE Logan’s backyard in Pemberton, BC, 10 minutes behind the house where he grew up. This was his first big bike and he took to it immediately. Here, he is riding a trail called Mission Impossible in 2005. Photo: Pehota Family Archive

Logan, like his younger brother Dalton, was a late bloomer (now both boys stand taller than Eric and are as sturdy as Douglas fir trunks). He barely reached 130 pounds in high school. “We both were super light and small and skinny,” says Logan. “All our friends got hair on their armpits and people asked us if we shaved our legs.” But athleticism was their great equalizer. Logan raced until he was a K2 (U16). He was regularly top three locally and top five provincially. While training on the Dave Murray Downhill on Whistler Mountain, Logan would detour to catch air on his race skis. Nigel Cooper, former program director of Whistler Mountain Ski Club, says Logan possessed a quiet bravado and an understated excellence. “Ski racing gave him a strong foundation of skills to excel in any situation—any kind of terrain, steepness, weather… just like all the Pehotas, Logan is just a great alpine skier.”

In 2011, Logan left the racing program and joined the provincial park and pipe team. He excelled at doubles and learned to spin four ways. “He could hold his grabs longer, jump bigger and control his speed better,” says Jeremy Cooper, Freestyle Canada’s NextGen halfpipe head coach. He says Logan had potential to be one of the greats in park and pipe, but though he considered a 2014 Olympic push, he eventually looked higher. “I think Logan really wanted to find what motivated him in skiing,” Cooper says. “He used his park experience as a catalyst to jump better, with a burning goal to take that to the backcountry.”

ABOVE “Logan’s first big ski huck in the Blackcomb backcountry zone formally known as Disease Ridge. We spent many late evenings out on this ridge enjoying the alpenglow sunsets back in 2005.” Photo: Eric Pehota

In Logan’s first big mountain competition, Wrangle the Chute at Kicking Horse, BC in 2011, he placed third after stomping an exposed line, then throwing a massive spin before the finish line. The same year, at the age of 16, he spun a 360 off a 25-foot cliff at the Red Bull Cold Rush in Silverton, CO, as top big mountain pros looked on. They might have seen him as a teenager coming out of nowhere, but Eric had already prepared Logan for serious terrain.

Logan was 12 the first time he skied Mount Currie, the iconic Pemberton peak that features one of the highest uninterrupted vertical rises in southwestern British Columbia. He and Kye were under the watch of Eric and a couple of his friends as they ski-toured from the heli drop to the entrance of Central Couloir, the north-facing, no-fall chute. They exited the 60-degree line about five minutes before a large chunk of cornice broke off and crashed down—a sobering reminder that big mountains are as consequential as they are beautiful. It was New Year’s Day 2008, 20 years after Eric and Trevor recorded a first descent of the line.

ABOVE After graduating high school, Logan worked summers at heli logging operations to fund his ski seasons. Here, he takes a different approach to a familiar landscape at BC’s Snowwater Heliskiing. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

Logan can see the Central Couloir from the dining table of his childhood home. In 1996, Eric and Parveen, Logan’s mother, bought two acres of raw land in Pemberton, clearing enough space to plop down a 60-foot trailer with a bullet hole in the door along the banks of the Lillooet River. Parveen, raised in greater Vancouver by parents who emigrated to Canada from India in the early ’60s, went from snowboarder and bartender to homesteader and tireless mother (and eventually athlete agent). Eric, hailing from the logging community of Mackenzie in northern British Columbia, bought a sawmill that spring, cleared the land and started building their post-and-beam forever home a few years later. Every couple of years the family would complete a new project: barn, shop, carport, a truck port, Parveen’s garden. The coops have housed chickens, turkeys and pigs. The family collects pears and walnuts on their land, as well as raspberries and blueberries that Parveen cans. Eric and Dalton hunt deer and the family processes everything at home, making their own sausage and jerky.

“The boys worked for everything they had,” Eric says. “Sometimes they didn’t like it, but there was no other choice.” When their friends were going to the lake or a soccer field, Logan and Dalton were headed home to stack firewood or shovel the driveway before dinner.

“At the time I hated it,” Logan says. “What kid wants to come home from school and work again? Now I’m reaping all the benefits. I can do any sort of mechanical thing I need to do in our fully decked-out shop.” Though he moved out right after high school graduation (albeit only a kilometer away), Logan says if his parents ever sell the place, he’ll take them to court.

Logan’s two-summer heli-logging gig off the west coast of British Columbia continued the Pehota logging lineage into a fourth generation. Exhausting and dangerous, heli logging involves hanging hundreds of feet high from the tops of trees while chain sawing and loading huge sections of timber onto lines dangling from helicopters hovering 500 feet above. By the end of the season, an 18-year-old hard-working Logan had won over a burly crew of cigarette-smoking, neck-tattooed loggers from Vancouver Island. A teenaged Logan developed newfound upper body strength and a level of grit that’s hard to achieve outside of the world’s most dangerous jobs. It also helped him earn enough money for his first sled, a secondhand 2014 Ski-Doo 800 Summit, which allowed him to unlock Pemberton’s vast backcountry.

ABOVE This popular sledding zone in the Pemberton backcountry is one of Logan’s playgrounds come wintertime. Here’s one of his first backflip attempts on a sled in January 2019, three seasons into his sledding career. Photo: Eric Pehota

Unlike most pros, Logan likes to keep his skiing close to home, opting to hang out with childhood friends over industry heavy-hitters, and honing his big mountain skills in the peaks surrounding his hometown. Of course those abilities do tend to lead him beyond the Pemberton Valley from time to time. In 2018, he won the Freeride World Tour stop at Kicking Horse by racking up one of the highest scores of all time (he’d finish the 2018 tour in 10th place overall). Logan’s competitiveness, style and creativity make him a constant threat on the FWT, but he’s never been a fan of the waiting and the tour’s sometimes-sketchy conditions. At one stop in Hakuba, Japan, he spent the better part of two weeks in a hotel room frustrated while his crew was skiing powder at home.

In that respect, Logan is a lot like his father. Eric competed in one—and only one—ski contest. It was at Blackcomb Mountain in 1991. Eric entered last-minute and ended up beating Dean Cummings and Doug Coombs to win the first-place check he needed to pay for a ski expedition to Mt. Rainier.

Logan prefers filming, starring in Matchstick Productions, Poor Boyz Productions and Warren Miller films. He’s a natural talent on camera with a photographic memory and a photogenic, hard-charging style, but it was his role in Kye Petersen and Dendrite Studio’s film Numinous that earned him a 2017 Powder Award for Best Line.

ABOVE “Growing up near the coast where the snow is denser, Logan was mind-blown after his first turn through the weightless champagne blower in the East Vail backcountry zone near Vail, CO in 2017. Lucky for him, the light and dry snow continued all the way to the valley floor.” Photo: Scott Bellow

Three years later, Kye has called on Logan once again, digging up archival footage of Trevor and Eric’s exploits, researching the history of big mountain skiing, and ticking off iconic legacy descents with Logan on his heels. It’s part of a two-year film project called Kinship, a piece that brings the young men closer to their fathers’ life work than ever before. In early 2020, the two joined Matty Richard and snowboarder Nick Russell on an expedition to Mount Tantalus, the Coast Range mountain their dads attempted together, and the peak Eric and Johnny “Foon” Chilton went on to ski and spread Trevor’s ashes from in 1999. The East Face, which Eric and Foon scored in perfect powder conditions, has yet to be repeated.

“In their day, [our dads] were doing much harder adventures than what Logan and I are doing,” Kye says. “Until now, I didn’t realize the weight of their accomplishments. It wasn’t just leather boots and steep slopes—they were hiking up 3,000-foot faces to ski deep powder snow. They started something that’s still to this day the raddest thing in skiing.”

Kye hopes Kinship can do for skiers what Dogtown and Z-Boys did for young skateboarders who knew little about the origin of their sport. “[My dad] and Eric inspired people like Seth [Morrison] and people like us after that,” Kye says. “The older generation who lived it will shed a tear… [It’s] a cool story of bloodline connection and brotherhood.”

ABOVE A break in the action at the 2015 Freeride World Tour, Verbier, Switzerland. Logan would go on to secure several podium finishes on the tour. Photo: Dom Daher

Moreover, the Kinship project is a chance for Logan to unlock a vault of world-class adventure stories and learn more about his father’s past in the process. Eric doesn’t talk much about his past or share many ski stories with his sons—or anyone for that matter. In a 1999 magazine profile about Eric, his brother Dave said he’d never heard Eric tell any ski tales. Dalton, born a month after Trevor’s death and named after another first ascent by Eric and Trevor, says he’s never seen his dad cry. “Maybe I don’t ask him enough,” Logan says. “He’s not the person to talk about himself.”

When Trevor passed away, Eric dialed it back, but not out of fear. Trevor was Eric’s drive and the once-in-a-lifetime partner he knew he’d never find again. As Kye says, their partnership flourished on connection rather than objectives. “My dad was more the motivator, and Eric had the skills and the style on skis to make it work,” says Kye, who is five years older than Logan, and Logan’s ski mountaineering mentor. “I’m getting motivated by Logan. He’s younger, he pushes me—which I like.”

Though Logan and Kye have known each other their entire lives, the age gap and different ski pursuits hindered a close relationship. Until they filmed for Numinous, their ski days together were limited to the occasional resort rip at Whistler Blackcomb. Now the two hope to deepen their friendship as they approach their fathers’ descents decades later.

ABOVE “Logan dusting off the cobwebs during his first session getting airborne for the season. It was a beauty day in the East Vail backcountry zone near Vail, CO, and he was stomping bolts every time despite the unfamiliar location.” Photo: Scott Bellow

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders,” Kye says, echoing a sentiment shared by many in Logan’s circle. “He’s definitely not afraid, but he’s calculated with all the risk he does take. He’s learning the time and place to send it—that’s when you really start showing your skills.”

Logan and Kye’s skiing and filming plans this winter remain loose, but they will revisit the Tantalus Range and spend some time around Revelstoke. They want to go to Alaska, where their fathers made first descents on peaks like Pontoon and Meteorite—two of the most famous lines in the Chugach. Logan won’t be scoring a first descent like his father and Trevor experienced, but his approach—the line, the speed and the style—will carve a different kind of signature into the mountains.

Logan is on course to accomplish things Eric, in his day, could never imagine. But first he’ll have to follow his father’s tracks.   

This article first appeared in The Ski Journal Issue 14.3 as “Beyond Legacy: Logan Pehota’s Big Mountain Pedigree”


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