A true all-terrain vehicle of snowboarding, Tom Pelley has done more than most. From winning not one but two Cattleman's Rail Jam titles to hiking some of Kosciuszko's most daunting lines, Pelley has earnt legendary status amongst the Australian snowboarding scene.
We sit down with the 31-year-old Jindabyne local and discover a few things like his philanthropic acts, what it takes to run a lodge, and much more.
From Tom Pelley:
I grew up riding UnInc boards and idolizing the whole team. JP Solberg, Romain & DCP. What they did for snowboarding was incredible. And timeless. And now, at age 31, I get to run my own snowboard focused business (Mowamba River Lodge), and ride for their family-owned snowboard company (YES. Snowboards). It's so sick. And my transition into riding for YES. was effortless. It grew naturally out of old friendships, and I am so stoked to be representing a true Rider Owned snowboard company ... they are more important now than ever. YES. On LIFE. And YES. on FAMILY.
From Amine Yasmine/SlidePath:
It is an honor to have Tom Pelley on the YES. TASMAN TEAM, he is one of (if not THE) most interesting humans I have ever met. He walks his own path, approaches the mountain his own way, and that is why we love him. Tom's passion for snowboarding continues to grow every year. Whether he was hitting the CattleMan's Rail, or splitboarding on the Main Range, when you watch Tom snowboard you can just tell that he's having a better time than anyone else. That is a rare quality and one that we at YES. enjoy honouring. BIG LOVE Mr Pelley, keep doing you.
You’ve been doing a few backcountry trips this season, right? How have they been?
Tom: Yeah no pass means lots of splitting. It's actually great. The season has been a bit off with snow conditions but we are making do with what we have and it's been fun exploring new zones. It's probably a good year to do more splitboarding haha.
You have been riding for a long time now – what are the main changes you have seen over your career snowboarding?
T: The main one is the slow death of magazines. It was always such a great feeling to be able to convince a photographer to come take time out of there day and stand in the cold while you tried to get a shot. Then to see it in a magazine was so awesome. Now people can take a phone photo on social media and it's forgotten in a week.
Australia can have some pretty sketchy weather, have you had many “Oh f*ck” moments on your splitboard trips?
T: Yeah thank god for crampons. Ice out the back is not a good time if you're in a sketchy spot.
YES. Snowboards just brought out their only split board this year, the OptiSpliStic. Have you ridden it yet?
T: Yeah I think I've ridden it almost more than my PYL.
How did you like it?
T: So good – the new locking system makes it feel and ride like a solid board. I also put canted pucks and it rides like my optimistic solid.
It's super rad to see a two-time Cattleman's Rail Jam winner evolve his snowboarding to this place you're in now. Still ripping and still having more fun than anyone – what's the secret to such longevity?
T: I was going to say something really smart ass and stupid (haha), but keep moving is what I think works. I skate, MTB and hunt in summer and I try to go to the gym as much as I can throughout the year. As soon as you get lazy you get soft and slow.
We saw on your Instagram that you were doing food drops to surrounding communities during that f*cked up fire season. How did that come about?
T: I went down to drop some food off and Jason who was organising the food drive needed some to drive it down so I went and got my trailer and a few cases of PBR beer and went down to Cobargo. It was humbling to see how much a cold beer and some fresh strawberries could really cheer up people who had been through so much.
I bet going on a month-long shred trip to Japan helped those intense summer memories fade a little ... hopefully!
T: Yeah I wasn't sure if I should leave at first but glad I did.
We heard a rumour that you gave Jesse Kennedy you a mohawk on his first night of his first YES. trip ... True or False?
T: Well we did drink nearly a litre of gin between Jesse, Jacob and I. So something funny was bound to happen.
Is it true that you have two pet baby goats called Curry & Basil?
T: Yeah, Curry and Beasolbob, they're 6 weeks old and little trouble makers.
What is next on your pet/farm animal wish list?
T: I think maybe a zebra.
So you own Mowamba River Lodge, which we think changed the accommodation game in Jindabyne. We see lots of international riders staying there too. How did you become a lodge owner?
T: I worked at Thredbo as a duty manager for a hotel. I saw a gap in the market down in Jindabyne to have accommodation that provided farm stay with amenities such as a gym and a skate ramp. We have had a few big athletes stay from snowboarding, surfing and skiing. As well as musicians and T.V stars. It's been great to provide affordable accommodation with a lot of extra perks and a standard that has seen a lot of return customers.
What is your favourite way to ingest snowboard media at the moment, versus ten years ago?
T: For me, it's still watching video parts. Instagram is fun but video parts will always be number one.
Favourite thing you have witnessed on a YES. trip?
T: Too many choices but watching everyone blast turns is always a good one or party lines with the crew.