Words and Images by Bruno Long
When my pusher quietly knocks on the door to my basement apartment, I let him in and make sure all three doors he had to negotiate are securely closed behind him. We exchange pleasantries, asking each other about our respective ski days but we quickly get down to the real business. It’s a bigger purchase than what I normally need to get by. This time, I’m supplying my family as well. I got them hooked over Christmas after I brought them a fat sack and it, like Santa Claus, was gone by Boxing Day. I hand him some crisp 20’s, the kind you only find out of an ATM. He takes off his messenger bag, lays it on the chair and opens it up. And that’s when the smell finally reaches my nostrils. It’s fresh. It’s dank. And there are five big bags of it now sitting on my kitchen table. For some strange reason, I feel like any second the police are going to kick open the doors and arrest us. The money quickly disappears into his pocket and the transaction is complete. We crack a couple of Mt. Begbie Tall Timbers and as I lift my bottle towards his, the clinking sound of glass connecting rings in my ears. We toast to drugs and alcohol. My pusher’s name is Mark Hartley. My drug of choice: Coffee. Big Eddy Blend.
I knew there was going to be coffee in his messenger bag, but what Mark pulls out next is quite a surprise. I’ve been asking people to bring a prop or object that helps signify who they are. Before I even see what it is, Mark warns me to be careful with it since it is one of his most prized possessions. Immediately begin to laugh when I see the shiny, reflective disco ball and know that the photos are going to be great, since it’s pretty much impossible to have a bad time when there is a disco ball around. The same can be said about Mark Hartley. We crack a couple of Tall Timber Ales, a beer I chose because I’ve spent some amazing days in the beautiful inland rainforest that surround Revelstoke with Mark. See, Mark is a bit of a splitboard ninja. Wait, that might be a bit of an understatement, let me try again. The dude is a highly understated, legendary hard-booting schralphawk who lives for the steepest, deepest lines and had been know to throw himself off the odd cornice now and again. Hmmm, much better. Mark has quietly, both figuratively and literally, ticked off some major lines over the years in the Rockies, Rogers Pass, around Golden and now Revelstoke, where he calls home. Wanting a bit more stability in his life, he and partner Conor Hurley started Stoke Roasted Coffee Company, to accommodate Revelstokians with locally roasted coffee while also allowing themselves the freedom to continue their extra-curricular activities in the mountains.
After we set up the disco ball, now dangling from the ceiling, we chat aimlessly about skiing, coffee, beer and whatever else comes to mind. Given his sometimes quiet demeanor, you would be hard-pressed to believe that Mark is a hilarious public speaker, who borders on stand-up comedian. Anyone who has seen a presentation of his at the annual Splitfest event in Rogers Pass knows what I’m talking about. He’s like a sluff of snow at the top of one his steep lines; he starts off slow but when he gets some momentum, he’s very difficult to stop. His antics, combined with a unique view of the world that is backcountry boarding/skiing, leaves people in stitches time and time again. As I set up for our shoot, I decide to use a unique lens for a unique guy. My tilt-shift lens controls and manipulates the perspective of what I see through the viewfinder through a complicated of mirrors and focal planes I barely understand myself. On the most basic level, the lens tilts and shifts in multiple directions, much like Mark arching heel and toe-side turns in the mountains, to offer a skewed perspective of reality. I want to capture the essence of the disco ball in the frame while at the same time keeping Mark’s friendly smile in focus. The perspective of the finished product is fresh and unique, much like Mark’s take on the ski bum lifestyle. Taking a different approach, whether in the mountains or as my personal coffee pusher, is nothing new to Mark. Sharing his personal perspective about life in the Columbia Valley is. Cheers Revelstoke!