We had the chance to chat with long-time member Steve Fargan ("Stev"), who just hit 200 months in his consecutive streak. Stev has skied with many of our readers, including me. We congratulate him on this historic milestone of tenacity and perseverance. Here's to your next milestone of 240 months (that's 20 years!), and then on to 300.

Pugski.com: First, when did you realize you had started a streak of skiing consecutive months?
Stev: When I skied on my birthday for the first time. On October 3, 2004, I achieved another first when I also skied 12 consecutive months. This was on a patch of snow just past Round Top Lake near Carson Pass that I named the October Patch.

Pugski.com: What drove you to start patch skiing?
Stev: I can thank my wife Michele for getting me started. She worked for the US Forest Service at a fire lookout. When she arrived at the Bunker Hill lookout in 1998, she noticed that there was a lot of snow on the north-facing slopes. She encouraged me to bring my skis when I visited her there. I was immediately hooked and have been seeking out more snow patches ever since then.

Pugski.com: When you realized you were on a consecutive month streak, did you have any idea you would reach 200?
Stev: It felt good when I completed my first 12 consecutive months, so I just kept going. However, I wasn’t thinking about 200 months then, just as far ahead as the next month.

Pugski.com: Is your goal to reach a certain number or just to keep it going?
Stev: I don’t have a set amount. The goal is to keep having fun while skiing.

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Pugski.com:
You ski a lot with your dogs, Penny and Zooey; have you always taken them?
Stev: Our dog Sputnik skied with me on my first ever patch-skiing day, which was July 4, 1998. I guess he started a tradition for our other dogs (Baka, Makisha, Penny, and Zooey). However, the dogs are included only when the situation is safe for them as well as the skiers they join.

Pugski.com: Do you prefer to go out alone with just your dogs or with other skiers?
Stev: Actually, I prefer to go with our dogs, other skiers, and their dogs too. We can form a pack that loves playing in the snow. However, there is a special feeling of peace and appreciation when it is just with the dogs or even on a solo ski day.

Pugski.com: What drives you to keep your streak alive?
Stev: Passion and fun keep the streak alive.

Pugski.com: What constitutes a day of skiing for it to count?
Stev: There are no strict guidelines. You come up with your own honorable rules. Mine are pretty loose: if you’re making turns on snow, then you’re good. Ideally, your turn total is in the double digits.

Pugski.com: Was there a month when you thought you might lose the streak, and if so, when?
Stev: September 2015 was probably the worst. It was the end of the fourth consecutive drought year. It was hard to find snow at all. Blind faith and long approaches were necessary. I did manage to ski twice that month. Once up at Sierra Buttes, which involved 8 hr of hiking for 10 turns on a patch of snow that needed to have rocks and branches cleared off of it prior to skiing. The next ski day that month was relatively better, when it only took 5 hr of hiking for 21 turns. Fortunately, I was able to ski fresh snow the following month, the beginning of what was to be a pretty good winter.

Pugski.com: Obviously you don’t only patch ski; you ski resorts during the traditional ski season. Do you prefer patch skiing or resort skiing, and why?
Stev: Yes, I love skiing so much that I do patch skiing as well as resort skiing. While I enjoy the ease of lift-served skiing, patch skiing offers more of an adventure. The lack of crowds is also a big plus.

Pugski.com: What was your best patch-skiing day?
Stev: There have been many best days. The one that sticks out the most had to be with my friend Spencer Abbott. Spence has an expansive musical knowledge, a prolific and professional writing background, and a creative passion for skiing. We did an entire day of skiing patches based on the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan. There is a patch below Round Top, near Carson Pass, that sometimes forms the shape of a letter W and looks a lot like the symbol for the Wu-Tang Clan. [This is the photo at the header of each page on Patchskiing.com.] We skied nine runs on different patches that all connected with a Wu-Tang Clan theme. We hope to do some more theme-based patch skiing in the future.

Pugski.com: What was your strangest day?
Stev: I could provide the same answer as my best patch skiing day. Actually, there was one very memorable strange occurrence. On the drive down from Jack’s Glacier near Dunderberg Peak, we were nearly attacked by some giant jackrabbits. They looked much larger than coyotes. They might even be related to jackalopes, as their large ears might have been covering their antlers ....

Pugski.com: Here is a softball question (because I have experienced you answering the question): what is your reply when people ask, “You hike all this way just to ski?”
Stev: I respond by quoting my friend Ben, saying, “You hike all this way not to ski?” I might also add that there are no lift lines (or lifts) and that the slopes are not crowded.

Pugski.com: Have you encountered any bears, mountain lions, or other wild animals while skiing?
Stev: I have seen bears, but not any mountain lions. I have also seen deer, coyotes, marmots, squirrels, lizards, snakes, eagles, rabbits, and others too.

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Pugski.com: We're sure everyone has their secret summer stashes; where are yours, and are you willing to share them?
Stev: I actually have shared most locations on my website, Patchskiing.com. It is more fun to show others the way in person when possible.

Pugski.com: How do you pick where you are going to patch ski? Are there spots that you save for certain times of the year?
Stev: Early in the skiing post-season, I keep track of when Sierra mountain passes open. This will often provide easier access to better snow conditions. In the late post-season, there are some places that usually hold year-round snow such as the previously mentioned October Patch past Round Top Lake as well as the areas near Dunderberg Peak.

Pugski.com: After 200 months, do you have any bucket list locations that you still haven’t conquered?
Stev: Yes, there are some locations on the bucket list. One is the South Sister in the Sweetwater mountain range. The other is a series of three chutes that I refer to as Bird of Prey since they look like an ascending Klingon Bird of Prey warship from a distance. They can be seen by looking west from Bridgeport Lake. However, when driving toward them, closer ridges obscure the view. Spence and I hiked toward Bird of Prey and got a somewhat distant side view of the chutes before we settled on skiing the Tribble Patch while there was still enough daylight to ski.

Pugski.com: What is the farthest you have traveled to keep your streak alive?
Stev: I started my 150th consecutive month skinning up and skiing in Iceland. This was after finishing my 149th consecutive month heli skiing with Arctic Heli Skiing Iceland. I would be happy to travel even farther to ski since one of my ski goals is to ski on all of the continents. I’m 3/7 of the way there.

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Pugski.com:
You have to be an analytical person to keep track of your streak. What are some of the other statistics you keep that would surprise our readers?
Stev: Okay, let me pull up a spreadsheet. Here are some numbers: as of June 2, 2020, I have skied 1,762 days during my 200-month streak, 291 of which were powder days. On 110 of those days, I skied at more than one location. During the streak, I have skied at 91 ski resorts and 68 different backcountry locations. I have skied in 17 states, two Canadian provinces, as well as the country of Iceland. I have been on 159 different pairs of skis and have used nine pairs of ski boots. I also skied our front yard on eight days.

Pugski.com: Do you use the same gear for patch skiing as you do in the resort? What setup you are currently using?
Stev: In the past I used the same gear I used for resort skiing. I’d just click my boots into my bindings and strap them to a pack. Recently I got a relatively lighter touring setup that includes Dalbello Lupo 120 boots and Atomic/Salomon Shift bindings on Dynastar Cham 107s and Dynastar Mythic 97s.

Pugski.com: What is your one tip for someone interested in starting a streak?
Stev: Try skiing 12 months in a row. If you had fun getting that far, you might want to keep it going. I’d also like to add a safety tip: unlike ski runs, snow patches can end abruptly. Make sure that you come to a safe stop while still on the snow.

Pugski.com: You mention names of snow patches. What are some of your favorite names that you haven’t already mentioned?
Stev:
  • Ol’ Dirty Bastard
  • Masta Killa’s Hidden Chambers of Death
  • Africa
  • Europe
  • North America
  • Luniz
  • Driveway
  • Lava Lamp Chute
  • Heartbreak Ridge
  • B Cup Chute
  • CR Chute
  • Chinese Fireball Dragon Chute
  • And many others, some of which are yet to be named.
Check out Stev's website Patchskiing.com for more stories and pictures.