Mountain Life Time Travel Issue – “How did they make the cover??”

The February 2019 “Time Travel” issue of Mountain Life: Coast Mountains features Brett Tippie on the cover, carving a turn from a Kamloops gravel pit in 1991 through to the pow of Keefer Lake Lodge in 2019.  Created by Stu MacKay-Smith the cover image brings the idea of time travel to a whole new dimension.


Mountain Life Cover
Stu is a digital magician, for the non animated version – get off your computer, get to town and get a mag!

Tippie is a legend—one of the founding fathers of freeride mountain biking, he also has a deep history of competitive and freeride snowboarding. And at age 50, he continues to have a career in both sports.

Mountain Life interviewed both Tippie and Stu for our cover story and uncovered these nuggets of extra insight about the shredder/artist duo.

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Brett Tippie
Photo Blake Jorgenson

Making The Cover With Stu Mackay-Smith


Hey Stu, amazing work on the cover image for the latest “Time Travel” Issue.  At first it almost looks like a painting but is actually many different photos of Brett from over the years.  How did you come up with the idea?

I’ve been friends with Tippie for almost 40 years(!), so when my good buddy Feet Banks (ML Editor) asked if I could do something to accompany his article about Brett’s life, I was the right guy for the job.

Feet sent me a bunch of Tippie photos and I found several with a similar pose spanning 1984 to 2018 –  so immediately thought of stacking them up into one big endless carve.


Brett Cutting a turn
Eric Berger Photo

A ‘Tippie time-slice’ spanning from 1980’s sandboarding in the hills of Kamloops to modern day coastal alpine powder boarding.

I used the photo collage as the base layer for a digital painting. I painted over the photos to create a consistent and surreal image.  Big thanks to all the photographers I ripped from and to Todd Lawson and Feet for letting me get weird with it.

I grew up with Brett (aka ‘BearHair’ aka ‘Headbutt’ aka ‘Indian Muscles’ aka ‘Tan Man’) in Kamloops and actually boarded with him as far back as the 80’s.  We had Burton Performers – swallowtail, leash, rails and fins! Ha ha

I also tried gravel boarding with him and ate dirt hard. That shit is wayyyy harder than he makes it look.

So this cover was a bit of a trip down memory lane.

Once you actually sat down to start working on it, did you have a super clear approach from the beginning on exactly how it would look?  Or did you let the overall feel of the image morph as you went?

I had a clear vision of what I wanted the final to look like and pretty much stayed on track.

The snow was really tricky though, it evolved a lot as I tried to make a seamless spectrum of gravel to hardpack to powder.


Brett Tippie sandboarding
Courtesy of the Tippie Family

Staring at his face for so long, do you dream of Tippie these days?

My dreams of Tippie are more like nightmares. Fun, dangerous, hilarious, sweetheart, dirt-eating, bear-hair nightmares.

Thanks Stu! It looks amazing animated too!-ML


Brett Tippie’s Tips for a Low Budget Shred Trip


In the late 1980s Tippie began racing in amateur snowboard contests around British Columbia. With no vehicle and very little cash he was basically a snowboard hobo, hitching rides and couch surfing. “It was tough but I learned how to spark up a conversation with a total stranger and keep it going,” he says. “That is a skill I still use.”


Brett Tippie Hitching
Courtesy of the Tippie Family

Here are a few more tricks from the road:

“A good cardboard sign with your destination is key. And buy a box of beer—it goes a long way and is cheaper than a bus ticket. Standing there with a box of beer, you get picked up right away. Of course, then you are riding with a drinking driver… but you get picked up.”

“Some trips I would sleep in bus stations. I’d go down a hallway and crawl up the lockers like a ladder and move a ceiling tile over to stash my stuff. Sometimes I’d sleep in the attic crawlspaces too. The best one was in Montreal.”


Brett Tippie
Photo Blake Jorgenson

“Stretch your budget. It comes down to what do you really want? You can go for a nice dinner and the bar, or you can shred. For me it was shredding. One summer I set up a tent in the forest below the 7th Heaven chairlift on Blackcomb. I could hear bears passing by every night and Doug Lundgren and Steve Edmondson and Dano Pendygrasse would bring me water every morning. They thought I was crazy but I would ride in the summer on the glacier for a week on one lift ticket, and a bunch of cans of beans”


Hitting the shelves this week get out there and grab yourself a copy.  And remember to ask yourself, “What would Tippie do?”