Man and machine hurtle through the air independently from one another, arcing across the blue skies and rugged mountain landscape before simultaneously crashing down to Earth like comets. They send up twin eruptions of snow with such ferocity you have fear for the rider’s life and limb. Okay, @morgan.gamache, you have captured my attention. As a snowmobile photographer I remember watching the social media video with admiration and awe and thinking I just had to get to know the man who could put it all on the line in such an aggressive way. The man who had the skill to perform such extraordinary back country feats, the man who could fly. So, I did.
In early March, I opened a garage door and walked right into Morgan Gamache’s life. Sled parts littered haphazard throughout the garage, the smell of gasoline biting my nostrils and a lanky man wearing plaid bent over an Arctic Cat snowmobile eyes crinkling in laughter at something his buddy said. It’s almost a year later and I now find myself routinely opening the same garage door and walking into the same scene. A year’s worth of adventures, sharing stories and snowmobiling later and the complex pieces that make up the man are coming together.
Raised in the mountains of Pemberton, Morgan was entrenched in an adventurous lifestyle from an early age. An only child to two active parents meant full saturation in the lifestyle so many residents of B.C. seek: skiing, camping, dirt biking and mountain biking were all regular occurrences in the Gamache household. At age three Morgan took one ride, doubled by his father on a snowmobile. The love affair with throttle, snow and adrenaline began. At age 5 Morgan opened a Kitty Cat sled on Christmas Day and his fate is sealed; Morgan Gamache is a sledder.
Fast forward to present day and Gamache is considered one of the best in the industry. His signature gravity-defying whip can be seen all over social media, gracing the cover of magazines and featured in the snowmobile films The Hickshow and BRAAAP. People took notice and this year Arctic Cat offered Morgan an exclusive sponsorship to join their backcountry team, The Arctic Cat Blackcats, as a factory sponsored rider.
While it’s obvious that Morgan is a thrill seeking adrenaline junkie — not many consider launching themselves in the air or dropping off cliffs attached to a 500-pound machine to be their idea of a good time — his motivations for the sport go much deeper than just the rush. For Morgan sledding isn’t an activity you do a handful of days in the winter. It’s a lifestyle. For him it means hauling his broken snowmobile into his garage and working into the wee hours of the night after a long day of “tree bashing.” It means researching how to do metal work, then designing and fabricating a flat deck for his lifted Dodge so hauling his two snowmobiles around is easier. It means producing creative content for social media channels — mastering editing software to produce amazing videos and photographs. It means making the permanent move to this amazing mountain paradise — a hub for snowmobiling known globally — to immerse himself in the culture and lifestyle of Revelstoke. For Morgan, it means walking out his back door, firing up his snowmobile and riding, something he does for six months of the year.
Vroom vroom. Solid day last week with @the_hickshow thanks @denver_heli for iPhone capturing this for me. @arcticcat_blackcats @arcticcat_snow @vernonmotorsports @speedwerxusa @motorfistgear @fox #meow #mountiancat #ArcticCat #BlackCats #RideFox #bombsaway #Snowmobile #Motorfist #RuggedByDesign #Speedwerx
But at the heart of everything for Morgan it’s always about the personal connections made through the mutual love of sledding.
“It always comes back to the people. There are a million different ways to have fun on a snowmobile. It’s who you’re with that makes the difference,” he said.
While snowmobiling has led to many friendships for Gamache, his riding skills in all aspects of the sport are phenomenal, his mountain awareness and his cool and calm demeanour in crisis situations makes riding with him a pure pleasure. What keeps the people around off the mountain is who he is as a person: Morgan is magnetic. Easy to laugh, dynamic, ultra intelligent, genuine and warm, he is the kind of man who will lend a stranger his sled for the day, help a fellow rider fix their machine on the mountain or welcome a new parking lot friend to his table for dinner. His caring attitude and endless patience make him a natural ambassador for the sport. Morgan gets a lot of enjoyment teaching backcountry snowmobile skills and hopes to continue facilitating growth and development in new riders going forward.
Most would be satisfied with the sponsorship, the film segments and the knowledge that their skill set is at the top of the game in the sport. Not Morgan. The name of the game is relentless progression and that is why Gamache is loading his sleds and making the trek to Afton, Wyoming this winter to compete in the Rocky Mountain States Hillclimb Association, where the best of the best lay it all on the line to race up gnarly mountains with the hopes of making the fastest time. 2015 whetted his appetite for RMSHA and Morgan raced semipro at the Vernon Hillclimb event. 2016 saw Morgan finish first in open-improved and finish second to Carl Kuster in Vernon in the pro class in the King of the Hill competition. The taste and thrill of victory last season left Gamache hungry for more. He decided to become fully invested in the race side and is committed to racing for the 2017 season.
Relentless progression on the mountain, at the races and in the shop leaves one asking what else is possible for a man in pursuit of so many different snowmobile-related passions. The answer? Creative content. An eye for photography, superb video editing skills and a zest for pushing the envelop on regular media conforms means that we can expect great things from Gamache through his social media channels.
The day I walked into Morgan’s garage and his life, my own life improved. I met a remarkable athlete, an innovative inventor, an adventurer, a creative force, I met Evel Knievel crossed with Bill Nye The Science Guy, one of the best people I know and I made a best friend.
This story first appeared in the March issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.