When Zack Giffin was growing up in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado, he had a lot of important men in his life.
First, there was his grandfather, a man who loved to drive, especially in the mountains. “We lived about 40 minutes from Eldora,” explains Zack. “And my grandfather would take me skiing because he wanted an excuse to drive.”
Then there was his father, “a wild inventor,” a man who was “constantly developing new ideas” and let his sons use his tools to create whatever they wanted.
“I was brought up in an environment where I was encouraged to try. No one has a finite amount of creativity. It’s like athletics. The more you do, the more you feel like doing and the better you get at it.”
And then, there were his brothers, one older, one younger, with Zack in the middle. As he explains it, his family position motivated him to become a better skier. Hanging out with his brothers and friends, they pushed one other to build their skills.
“My older brother led the way and showed us what was possible. He gave me something to work toward. My little brother was phenomenally gifted and was always trying to overtake my position as his older brother involved in skiing.”
And as for his for his mom?
“My parents already knew that skiing was a never-ending passion, long before I made money at it,” shares Zack. “Once it got serious, they weren’t very supportive of my professional intentions. They saw the potential for danger, clouded by the camera.”
“My mom likes it better when I swing a hammer.”
In Search of Powder in a Tiny Home
In addition to skiing in feature and web-based films, like last season’s Valhalla and this season’s Shadow Campaign, Zack Giffin is becoming known for his hammering, as one of the hosts (and the talented carpenter) on FYI’s Tiny House Nation.
In 2011, Zack and his partner professional skier Molly Baker, hitched up their truck to a brand-new 112 square-foot tiny home to chase storms and fresh snow across the West.
“Our idea was to go on the road and film. I’d owned a van that had a wood stove, but we decided that was too ski bum. Renting an RV was too pricey, so we decided to do something really rad, at the opposite end of the spectrum, and build a tiny house.”
One of the couple’s sponsors, Outdoor Research, paid for the house and Zack designed and built it, with help from family and friends. That season’s journey and skiing adventures are documented in this film, Livin’ Tiny: A Quest for Powder.
There were days (and nights) during that first ski season when five people lived in the tiny house. Do the math, and you’ll discover that this is just 22.4 square feet per person, not including room for “avalanches” of ski and snowboard gear (using Molly’s description).
Following season number one, the tiny house became Zack and Molly’s tiny home, and aside from the occasional guest, it’s just the two of them.
“Anything less than five people in the house feels like total luxury,” laughs Zack.
The Luxury of Being Right There
As Zack explains it, his tiny house has most of the luxuries you expect in a home (except a for a toilet). But, the greatest luxury is having more time.
“Taking the commute out of skiing allows time to get chores done, get daily requirements out of the way, and still have a chunk of time that is unfilled and requires you to fill it. This is the time when I get to do what I enjoy: reading, playing guitar and drawing.”
Zack and Molly’s typical day goes something like this: they awaken at a trailhead or lift and walk out the door to go skiing.
“For the most part we’re not flying around in helis, and staying in lodges or eating at ski areas. We’re in parking lots with back country access, looking for beautiful places to go and film.”
For more on Zack and Molly’s tiny house ski adventures, check out the Tiny House Tour videos sponsored by Outdoor Research.
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