Camper Cruising in Austria

Riding forbidden fruit in the Austrian Alps with pro snowboarder Alex Yoder and friends

Camper Cruising in Austria

Author

Ian Durkin

Photographer

Ian Durkin

Camera

Olympus Stylus Epic

Film

Kodak Portra 400

Alex Yoder bought a camper off the internet. The thing is a beaut. Complete with 4WD and palatial living quarters. It started life as a VW service vehicle and had since been customized into an adventure rig equipped to get you to whatever far off destination you could possibly imagine—a true one of a kind domicile on wheels. Only thing was, it was in Europe.

I’d never been to Europe for the sole purpose of snowboarding before. And I really had only met Yoder a few of times, but we got along well so when an invite arrived via text it sounded like a great idea. I was in. We both flew to Zurich right after New Years. Yoder from Jackson Hole, leaving behind a record breaking snowfall year and me, from Brooklyn, where winter hadn’t quite made up its mind yet whether to arrive or not.

When we landed in Zurich I noticed a lot of grass. Turns out, the Alps didn’t have much of a base yet. On top of that, upon arriving at the lot where the camper was parked, we realized the license plates had expired, meaning we couldn’t drive it. Morale wavered for a second, but pinged right back into the green as we talked about the different countries that would be cool to check out. Warning signs aside, we were hyped, and minutes later on our way to Germany to get legit.

"There was no base, so the snow was very forbidden fruit style—look, don’t touch. Sometimes though, like secretly, we did touch, and it was pretty fun."

We ditched the camper and hopped on a train, spent the night in Germany, got the plates, trained back to Zurich, popped the plates on, and then drove another 5 hours back across the border to the same German equivalent of a DMV to prove that the new plates had been properly affixed to the camper (selfies did not count for some reason, idk). After some confusing sorta-German-sorta-English exchanges and a few shoulder shrugs we were deemed good to go.

Austria sounded like the place to be for optimal snowfall and so we went there. As we began to enter the mountains, it started snowing very hard. Alex said that it looked like Japan. I’ve never been, but took his word for it. It was time to see what the camper was really made of. Four wheels of driving fury, baby! Except not. A scary grinding sound lurched from the engine as Alex shifted into 4WD. I took my phone off airplane mode and scanned some VW forums while Alex got a hold of the original owner. As it were, it just needed some TLC, and lube. Because two wheel drive wasn't going to cut it, we decided that we had traveled far enough and pulled into the parking lot of the closest mountain, Stuben am Arlberg.

Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-4

Fortunately, Stuben was amazing. From our cozy parking spot we had access to blisteringly fast wifi, a bathroom, a bar that had a large stump in it and a chairlift just a couple hundred feet away.

The snow kept falling and we rode at Stuben for a few days. There was no base, so it was very forbidden fruit style—look, don’t touch. Sometimes though, like, secretly, we did touch, and it was pretty fun. I got a couple of core shots as a result though.

Alex’s friend, Nicholas, joined us in the parking lot in his mini Subaru van and we had a great time lapping the mountain together. Each morning, the three of us would convene in the cold camper and make breakfast, coffees, and listen to “Back in the New York Groove” by Ace Frehley. It’s a great soundtrack for when you’re sleeping in a car in the Alps for 10 days, hanging with friends with no real pressure to get work done, and not the best conditions, but also not the worst. It’s the kind of speed that you wouldn’t mind maintaining for a while. Ace probably felt that same feeling when he was hanging in New York. Like how he sings, “This place was meant for me” and then he goes on to harmonize with some other guys “oOOOOOoOoOoOOOOOooo” as if they all felt the same. We sure did.

Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-15
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-6
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-17
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-1
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-12
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-18
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-7
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-10
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-8
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-5
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-9
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-16
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-20
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-3
Durkin-Austria-Snowboard-13
Related articles
Smith Squad Imprint 3D Review: Is Old Tech the Future of Snow Goggles?
Trying Smith's 3D Printed Ski & Snowboard Goggles to See If They're Worth the Hype

A hands-on test of Smith's recently expanded line of custom-made, 3D printed goggles with the Squad and Squad XL

Black Crows Explores Japan's Abandoned Ski Resorts With New Film & Gear
Black Crows Explores Japan's Abandoned Ski Resorts With New Film & Gear

Archival footage and interviews reveal that Japan's dreamy ski scene might've peaked decades ago

Raide Launches With a Sleek Ski Pack Backed by Serious Engineering
A New Brand Called Raide Just Made One of the Best Backcountry Ski Packs Ever

After stints at SpaceX and The North Face, the Colorado-based company's founder has turned to solving design problems with mountain gear

Q&A: How Hyperlite Mountain Gear & Cody Townsend Made the Crux 40 Ski Pack
How Hyperlite Mountain Gear Used Pro Insight to Make the Ultimate Ski Pack

Insights from a lifetime of skiing and a quest to descend the biggest lines in North America helped the skier and brand make the end-all bag

Spot Delivers Comprehensive Injury Insurance for Adventure Lovers, From $90
Meet the Upstart Insurance Company Covering Adventure Lovers for Just $90/Year

With partners like Ikon Pass, USA Cycling, and American Mountain Guide Association, Spot offers otherwise healthy outdoorists full coverage for cheap

Powder, Rails & 35mm Film at Vans Hi-Standard Series, Brighton Resort
Photo Essay: Powder & Rails at Brighton Resort's 2023 Vans Hi-Standard Series

A visual recap of the style-focused snowboard contest, where 32 of the most creative international pros competed for $20,000+ in equal prize money

More articles
Camper Cruising in Austria

Gallery Mode

Photographer

Ian Durkin

Camera

Olympus Stylus Epic

Film

Kodak Portra 400

Back to article
Get Free Shipping on our New Photo Book!

Meet WINTER, a fine art photo zine full of adventure inspiration

  • 70 pages of beautiful photography
  • 35 international contributors
  • Limited-edition & hand numbered
  • Printed in NYC with love
  • Use code "ZINEME" for free shipping
Shop Now
Get Free Shipping on our New Photo Book!