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The Story Behind Le Skieur Anorak

By Chris Pew on

Gilles Sierro is not someone that I could ever imagine myself being lucky enough to ski with. I don’t even know how people find out about him. You won’t find out about him by googling “backcountry ski guide switzerland” or by showing up in Verbier and asking the bellhop at your hotel if he knew anyone that could take us on a tour.  

Ladies and gentlemen, Gilles Sierro.

He doesn’t advertise. He’s not handing out flyers at the apres ski party. Only if you happen to socialize with the type of people that travel the globe searching for top-quality experiences in the mountains, and are willing to extend the time, effort, and resources required to find the best quality descents in the Swiss Alps, then probably by asking one of them, they might point you in the right direction. If you know, you know.


Needless to say, when we booked a flight for Gilles to come visit us in Oregon and he said that he “was looking forward to skiing with us,” my first thought was “oh shit…where are we going to take this dude to ski!” 

The final product on the legend himself: Le Skieur Anorak.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, how did this story start? How did TREW start working with this mega-badass Swiss Guide, embarking on a multi-year design collaboration, and importing him to Oregon for one week of photoshoots and shredding? We owe this one to our frequent collaborator and Gilles’ teammate on K2, Marty Schaffer of Capow Guiding fame. 

Gilles and Marty worked closely with the engineers at K2 to design and develop their line of backcountry skis and they had met frequently on zoom calls. During one of those calls, Gilles and Marty started talking about outerwear design and Gilles expressed his desire to be more hands-on with design and development of apparel. Marty sent him to me. 

Gilles and I first connected over zoom sometime in the Spring of 2020 and Gilles laid out to me the basic design for what we would later become the ultralight shell that we are releasing now, in the Spring of 2023: Le Skieur Anorak.

The most recent sketch next to the final digital rendering.

Gilles’ basic concept was an ultralight, minimalist, touring shell with a more freeride style. At the time, I thought that the Anorak styling was a little much, but from our initial conversation I knew that Gilles would be an incredible person to work with. His insights were clearly refined from thousands of hours in the mountains, and, most importantly, he clearly saw something in his head that didn’t yet exist. We sent him some of our inline products so he could get a feel for the brand and we started working together. 

Countless emails, sketches, meetings, and several prototypes later, we were ready to import Gilles into Oregon and show him the final product. Oh yeah, and we had no idea what we were going to do with this superhuman skier for seven days in Oregon. 

Gilles working with the first prototype in the 21/22 season.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Mt Hood. I got married in its shadow. It will forever be one of my favorite places in the world to ski. But this dude is a capital “G” fucking mountain Guide: he goes heli skiing in Albania, has first descents to his name in the Alps, and can ski thousands of vertical feet of Swiss pow right to his back door. I was feeling a little, well, self-conscious about our local hill. 

As Gilles made his long journey across the Atlantic, Hibbs and I had an idea. Gilles lands at 6pm. Skibowl is open until 10p. We might not be able to measure up the Swiss Alps during the daytime, but sure as hell you can’t beat a good night skiing at the Bowl.

It was well after 6p by the time Gilles got through customs and we were waiting there with our ski pants on. After we greeted each other, our first meeting in person, Gilles looked us over and noticed the ski pants.

“What, are we going skiing?” 

“The lights are on and the snow is good, are you down?” 

He lit up like we knew that anyone with the nickname, “Gilles, The Skier,” would and we were off. We stopped for “dinner” at a gas station and Gilles picked up his signature snack, Coca-Cola and chocolate candy.  

The Bowl was on. It was dumping and cold. We charged the Upper Bowl under stadium lights. It was plenty tracked but the snow was light, cold, and fast. Watching Gilles smile with pure joy as he powerfully arced turns across tracked, powder-covered moguls in his touring boots, pin bindings, and prototype K2 skis was something that I’ll never forget. 

Under the lights at Ski Bowl.

Later that week, we ended up finding incredible snow with a proper day of touring at Snoqualmie Pass, but that first night at the Bowl set the tone for the week. Skiing is fucking fun, whether you’re night skiing at Mt Hood or climbing in the Alps. 

Behind the scenes at our photoshoot day for the new anorak.

Skiing was our only common denominator with this superhuman Guide from Switzerland, and that alone was enough to ignite our creativity, trust, and respect that led to this incredible product collaboration. That’s pretty cool. 

We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor and the spark of Gilles’ insights. The Anorak is my favorite shell that I’ve ever toured in.     


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1 comment

  • Rob on

    Great read. You definitely have my attention now. Thanks!

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