Banker during the week, passionate free-rider at the weekend. Oliver Dugan’s life is acted out between office and mountain. Approaching an extreme sportsman.
Only once Oliver Dugan was too hasty. He had the ticket to Salzburg in his pocket long ago, but the winter season was only due to start. No problem, he just moved on a few valleys further. Someone like Oliver knows all the snowy spots. He earns his salary as a managing director at an investment bank in London, was born in Munich, conducts business in New York and Tokyo, owns a house in the Canadian town of Whistler and lives in Zurich.
But his real home are the top ski areas of the world. Mountain climbers are drawn to the Himalayas, surfers to Hawaii. A free-rider like Oliver sets up base camp in Zurich. The mountains of the Engelberg, Andermatt, Chamonix or La Grave are around the corner; Kitzsteinhorn, Riksgränsen, Valle Nevado and Whistler in the orbit of the airports that one can head to from Zurich.
“Over Easter, Sweden is the place to go. The area around Riksgränsen close to Norway lies farther north than the large parts of Alaska. The mountains here may not be exceptional here but there are extensive parts. My friend Jonathan and I hire a helicopter, and then we are independent.”
“In France I have fallen for Chamonix. Extremely steep slopes can be expected here, but the view from the Mont Blanc on the French as well as on the Italian side is breathtaking. And the thrill of going down over 2400 metres on the north side, which at most used to be climbed by mountaineers, is indescribable.”
Okay, he has adopted rules. One of these: never go into the mountains alone. Another: keep to the locals that know their way around. some of the best extreme skiers and free-riders, ski developers and ski testers are amongst his companions. With them, he spends most of his weekends.
For Oliver this is all not a hobby, but a way of life. “Which mountain are you going up next, where do you go up, where did you not go down yet, what material do you need for this?” These are the questions occupying him. Ski mountaineering is his only luxury, he says. And his own fitness coach whom he meets several times a week after the office to work on balance and endurance.
“Snow at the Pacific is different. It is damp and really sticks to the rock face. In Alaska one can descend the steeper slopes without triggering an avalance. And because the snow is so sticky, one doesn’t sink in as much. Despite this, perfect turns are still possible; it simply has to do with the consistency.”