Mike Waesche started pressing skis in his garage when he was 22 years old. He had no plans for his hobby to ever become a full-fledged business. “It was never meant to be a business,” he says. “We call it an accidental ski company.”
That surprisingly successful accident? It’s called Rocky Mountain Underground, a boutique, hand-made ski company that Waesche founded in 2008 and now runs out of his hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado. Waesche and RMU are featured in this season’s first episode of Westward, the Flylow video series produced by KGB Productions.
Waesche grew up in Summit County, Colorado, and has been skiing all his life. In the episode, he talks about remembering the moment, at age 11, when skiing became such an integral part of his existence. It was a powder day and he was skiing with his dad. “It hit me—I’m going to be a skier. This is fun,” he remembers.
For seven years, until 2015, Waesche worked as a fireman with the Lake Dillon Fire Rescue. He was juggling his ski business on the side. Now, he’s dedicated himself fully to RMU. In 2016, he opened a showroom and shop, plus a neighboring tavern, on Breckenridge’s Main Street. It’s Colorado’s first ski shop and bar in one. They sell RMU skis and other gear, but most folks come in for a pint of beer from one of the 14 local brews on taps.
Nowadays, Waesche is an enterpriser whose inventions and ideas go well beyond skis. He’s also created a waterproof commuter backpack and a dog collar that unzips into a dog’s drinking bowl that he launched via Kickstarter. “We’ve made huge mistakes,” he says. “It’s the persistence to keep moving forward, keeping walking through it. Having that strength is what keeps you going.”
When the mountains call, you must answer. Or at least that’s what happened to the four characters profiled in the newest season of Flylow’s webisode series, Westward, produced by KGB Productions and now in its second season. Westward follows the life stories of four unique individuals who’ve chosen to forgo traditional lives—like desk jobs in skyscrapers and 9-to-5 commutes—for alternative paths in the mountains. They have ventured out on their own, choosing to risk it all to follow their inexplicable devotion to snow-covered peaks. Through that leap, they have become their own bosses, setting their own destiny and breaking their own trail in a world that’s rugged, wild, and beautifully unknown.