22March 2019

How to embrace tradition AND innovation

Here and there throughout the season, people have been asking Jeff and me:

“So, how does Rudi feel about the new program?”

They wonder if it’s been a smooth transition, or more of the kicking-and-screaming kind.

It’s an understandable thing to be curious about.

In a generational, family business, it’s common to encounter some disagreement at the point of overlap. For the one passing the reins to have skeptical opinions about the horizon the young ones are galloping off to.

You picture the conservative elder, and the brash junior.

As the conventional wisdom goes, as experience stacks up, we increasingly get the sense that ‘we’ve seen it all’ – explored all the ways and the limits and the iterations that are available.

We become more convinced of THE WAY to do it, and less open to change.

Which isn’t to say that the insights born out of the experience are anything to sneeze at. Just that you might not see things with the same eyes as the newbie.

And though Rudi’s 50 years of heli-ski guiding make Jeff’s 20 years look like a warm-up, we’ve had some years to make our own time-worn grooves.

Jeff’s first heli drop was at age three, and I’ve been writing and selling and arguing about ideas since the get-go.

I’m the blonde in front (who clearly dragged them into this), ready to convince you this is THE BEST Kool-Aid on the block.

But when people ask us if Rudi is on board with the changes we’ve made, the answer is an easy one.

“Hell yeah he is!” (while he crushes a 7000 metre day in his trademark effortless rhythm)

He loves it.

In fact, he’s the one who inspired us into being the kind of people that embrace evolution.

Experience can limit imagination, but only if you let it.

When we started The Yodel, the name and the concept came out of commitment to two things: tradition and innovation.

Wait, what?

Yes. Both.

It needed to be a place where we could keep the spirit of both alive – the timeless stuff that’s always mattered and always will; and the new stuff, that adventurous drive that keeps us craning our necks to get a view around the next corner.

You can discover old wisdom, over and over in fresh adventures.

This guy, for one, is always up for a fresh adventure.

Tradition without innovation can feel stodgy and stagnant.

Innovation without tradition can feel wild and untethered.

But if you don’t sacrifice one to the other, you’ve got yourself a fresh new day, with all the meaningful lessons from every day before.

Fifty issues of The Yodel later, we’re still trying to live our lives, and run our business, with that spirit in the forefront.

How is that working for you?

Where is the conventional being combined with the experimental in your life? How are you keeping your traditions alive in the present?

What new horizon is always possible, right where you’ve always been?

The old and the new were made for each other:

Jeff will keep hand-making wooden skis with modern powder shapes (more on that later). And Rudi will keep listening to his traditional Swiss yodeling music over internet radio.


This week we proudly shared the 50th Issue of The Yodel: Call of the Mountains

It’s grown from a humble newsletter sent to a hundred people into a vibrant community of thousands, where we share stories from our lives, reflections on adventure, the backcountry, and a life well appreciated; plus behind-the-scenes info and advice to help people understand all the ins and outs of heli-skiing and the art of hunting for deep powder.

If you don’t get it, you can sign up right here.