A story about connection to the mountains we all enjoy

Skier going down a slop with mountains in the background
Man holding a snowboard watching the sunrise on top of a mountain ski slope
Young man in ski gear tossing snow in the air

“The land is part of life’s balance.” – Connor Ryan

Connor Ryan, Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta and Lonnie Kauk, Ahwahnechee, have a special relationship with the mountains we all love to ski and ride, and they seek to share that passion with others. Connor and Lonnie tap into their Native roots to understand and connect to the majestic mountains on which they live, ski, and snowboard, and they hope to teach everyone that we are all connected to this land and that it is important to show respect for the people who lived there first.

Connor explains, “These moments fill me with lessons taught by the mountain – the lessons of serenity, of knowing that this world exists in such a perfect balance. And, I know my people have passed down the way in which this balance can be upheld by my every action.” A moment on the mountain fuels the soul – both energizing and calming the mind through our connection to the beauty and strength of the surrounding land.

Connor, from Colorado, and Lonnie, from California, were both taught by their elders to spend time in the mountains and give thanks to the land that provides strength and offers a place of serenity. Lonnie explains, “Our elders taught us to go up on the mountain and really find your purpose and bring it back and share it with the family and keep continuing to grow that as far as you can.”

This winter, Connor and Lonnie created a short film directed by Shaandiin Tome, a Diné woman, to speak to the ski and snowboard community and encourage others to connect, respect, and appreciate the land while also welcoming Native people into the conversation.

“I want to reach skiers and snowboarders through this short film and show them how Native people have always been a part of the stories of the mountains and how we will continue to be in the future, through demonstrating my personal relationship to my home mountains. I’d like the ski community to see themselves as a part of a longer and deeper story with the land,” said Connor.

This winter, take a moment to find your own balance by spending time in the mountains.

“My Ikon: My Connection” is presented in partnership by Ikon Pass and Smith Optics. Ikon Pass has also made a monetary donation to Natives Outdoors & Sacred Rok on behalf of Connor & Lonnie.

Watch the complete My Ikon series:

My Ikon: My Dad

My Ikon: My Girls