Yurting with Eric 'Fix It' Hjorleifson
Eric Hjorleifson is crawling around the wooden floorboards of a yurt on the Tetons. Using the backside of a kindling ax, he's intently hammering down all the nail-heads that have backed out over the years. "Next time, you know, maybe some nice Canadian Robertson screws would be better," he says to no one in particular, tapping away from behind the woodstove.
We've just arrived at this yurt on the western slope of the Tetons, and Hoji, in town for Powder Week with his newest prototype model from 4FRNT, has joined us to shred some powder.
The modified ski boots that he made for himself out of Dynafit Titans, which captured the attention of the ski industry and led to a new Dynafit freeride line, are clearly not an isolated incident. Hoji, it seems, cannot help himself from improving, or repairing, everything in his path.
After blowing his ACL last spring filming with Matchstick Productions, Hjorleifson got back on skis last November. "I'm out skiing full time, but not pinning it," he says. "I'm having fun, I'm not quite at film caliber but I'm optimistic that won't take long."
Still, Hoji has been pretty busy so far this winter. "I just lived the dream Europe trip I've been dreaming about since I was like 10 years old," he says of the month-long jaunt he has just returned from. "I had a lot of good meetings with Dynafit, there's some really exciting stuff in the works. Then we did a 10-day trip to Austria with 4FRNT, filming for the team movie, and then I tagged along to Switzerland and France with an Arc'teryx photographer. And the snow was good all month."
For someone not quite "pinning it" yet, Hjorleifson has still plenty to come on the books for this winter: a film trip to Norway, to Bella Coola, British Columbia, with Sherpas Cinemas, and maybe something with MSP.
Back at the yurt, however, it's just the tasks at hand that matter. Anything that crosses the path of Hoji is subject to modification -- be it the insulating layer he's wearing or a ski partner's Buff or the his own Leatherman. "It's the ultimate repair kit," he says, pulling out not just the expected tool but also a neat array of screwdriver bits and Allen keys. "You can fix anything or do stuff like tighten down the screws on camera tripods," he continues.
This fix-it mentality extends to other skiers, too. On our first all-day outing, we are peering into a tempting couloir -- fair game some other day, but avalanche conditions have shut us down. But when I unintentionally click out of my new Dynafit set-up on the most exposed section, nearly sending the ski or myself flying down the line, I look up to Hoji eyeing this mishap from above.
"Hey, I'll give you some tips at the top," he says after I extricate myself in piece. In the howling wind on the summit, his tutorials include making sure there's no snow packed under a key lever so skis don't come off, better ways to keep my skins clean, and how to flip my binding into ski mode with my pole.
Dismal failure at this last one was to be blamed on my recently bent pole, which I knew needed to be replaced. But when I look down at my pole, the massive kink has suddenly disappeared. "Oh yeah, I just fixed that for you," says Hoji, just before dropping into his line. Of course he did.