Words by Mark Abma
Although a geodesic dome has a futuristic look, similar to that of a space station on Mars, it was popularized back in 1947 by the visionary Buckminster Fuller. Fuller’s concept was to create a lightweight, cost-effective, easy-to-assemble structure that enclosed more space without intrusive supporting columns, which would efficiently distribute stress and withstand harsh conditions.
It’s for these reasons I was initially intrigued by the idea of building my own geodesic dome. I wanted a structure that would be mobile and serve as a semi-permanent “cabin” to access different skiing zones at different times of my life. And it was an opportunity to create a place where I could check out of civilization, live off-grid and shred pow.
A trip I took to my dome with Stan Rey, Alexi Godbout and Sam Kuch to shoot for Blank Collective Films’ new movie, The 7 Stages of Blank, is a prime example of one of the reasons why I built my own: incredible skiing that is accessible with relative ease and efficiency.
In recent years, I’ve had it set up in my backyard, the backcountry around Pemberton, British Columbia, and presently, it resides at the Bralorne Adventure Lodge in Bralorne, B.C. Its current location is strategic for a variety of reasons, with the first being water. If you’ve ever winter camped, you know the value of having close proximity to flowing water. It helps one avoid spending the time and energy it takes to constantly melt snow for cooking and doing dishes. A creek next to the dome provides drinking water, and also flows through a pond, which offers a place to bathe and cold plunge. Next to the cold plunge is a wood-fired hot tub and sauna, where I can warm up and relax after a day in the mountains.
The second is access, as the Bralorne Adventure Lodge is situated on the Noel Creek Forest Service Road. This road provides a quick approach to relatively untouched terrain right out the back door. Along with Noel, there are a few other expansive zones that allow for weeks of exploration.
The next is amenities. Bralorne has a population of only 68, and is therefore limited in terms of this third reason, but around the corner is a town called Gold Bridge. It has a general store where I can top up on supplies if I decide to stick around longer, or if I’ve forgotten anything critical.
The last is heat. The dome has a wood-burning stove that will warm the place up in 20 minutes and maintain a comfortable temperature for eight hours or so, which is key for drying gear and living relatively civilized. Two years ago, Chris Turpin and I cooked all of our meals on the stove. This style of cooking allowed me to appreciate the process of slowing down in life. Being disconnected from WiFi and the grid in general is an experience that we should all give ourselves intermittently, in order to reconnect with our surroundings and friends.
A day in the life at the dome entails getting the fire started, boiling water, making breakfast and checking on the wood-fired tub. I set my alarm for between five to six in the morning, and look out the window for stars. If I can see them, I get up. If not, I’ll snooze for a while. The daily conditions determine whether I, and whomever I’m skiing with, hustle in the a.m., or slow roast and kick it for the day. But this hustle is casual when filming, as we’re not racing any other crews, since the aforementioned forest service road leads to an assortment of terrain that is ideal for a variety of skiers and their own creativity.
Be sure to check out the “Exploration” segment in Blank’s new film to see it for yourself.
For more on Abma’s geodesic dome, watch Natural Habitat with Mark Abma above.