DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

A Sims snowboard mystery is solved.

Hi friends,

Here's a little story for you for the long weekend.

Back in another life I was a pretty good snowboarder. More importantly, I was one of very few snowboarders who had a way to do it full-time. And I lived in the perfect place when the explosion of the sport took place. I sometimes hear about how lucky I was to get in so early, but by the time I started in December of 1987 I thought I’d pretty much missed the boat.

Still, within a couple of years I had sponsors and was traveling around to contests a bit, and more importantly going on “magazine trips” where we would travel with a photographer and a writer and someone from a magazine to take photos for a story in an upcoming issue. People these days like to talk about how Craig Kelly invented the freeriding pro, but there was already a whole culture of that in BC when he quit doing contests, maybe just not as successful as he was.

So in 1991 I was at the height of my “career” and was asked to come to Mammoth Mountain in California to do an on-snow board test for
Snowboarder Magazine. This was a time when one of the big brands, Sims snowboards, was going through some changes in their licensing and manufacturing. I’ll leave the details to those who were closer to it than I was, but the boards that Sims shipped to the board test were a weird grey model with the word “prototype” on the tail.

It was a great board. I may have given it the highest marks in the test, I’m not sure, but I do know that when we finished the test I asked the Sims people if I could keep it. Which was lucky, because soon after I started riding for Sims. Although those things weren’t really related. So for some reason I went home with the board and rode it through that summer. And I just grew to love it more and more. It had a crazy deep sidecut and huge camber, it was light and snappy, and it ripped.

Eventually I had to give it back. It was a prototype after all, and in the meantime Sims had formed a partnership with a manufacturer in Europe. I hated to return that board and before I sent it, I wrote on the nose “Dano wants this board” since I figured they wouldn’t be sending it back to the manufacturer. I hoped I had a shot of getting it back some day.

So the production boards came out and they had all sorts of problems. The fakie was delaminating like crazy and the rest of the line was super heavy with lousy shapes. I rode Sims for a while longer, but by the spring of ‘92 I’d started selling more photos and stories and that career path was becoming an obvious choice.

But I never forgot about that grey board.

When the internet started to become a thing, I would occasionally try to find pictures of the GSP, the Grey Sims Proto, but never found any. In fact, I never even found it mentioned anywhere. Board collectors didn’t talk about it, snowboard history dudes had never heard of it, in fact if I hadn’t gotten pictures published on it I might have thought I was making that board up.

Then a few weeks ago I got a message from my brother with a photo:

Tom Routh sent me this pic wondering if you knew anything about it.”


And there it was. After over 20 years. Of course I started to ask questions. Tom had as many for me as I did for him. I gave him the history up until '91 and he filled in the missing pieces. The board, it seems, was one of just 4 that were made, possibly by Apocalypse, and they ended up back with Tom. So upon cleaning out Tom’s estate after his passing in September of 2012 the boards finally saw light of day.

While I was amazed to see that there was a surviving board, what Tom sent me next BLEW MY MIND! He figured that I would know about the board because this is what the board looked like when it came out of Tom’s storage:


I was stunned, after all that time. My writing, stickers, everything. I looked like it had gone from the shipping box straight into the garage and nobody had touched it for 20 years.


So it sounds like there are 4 of these boards left and Tom has the one that I rode, the others are with collectors. It’s so amazing to finally have the answers about this board after all this time. I’m saving up pennies to try to buy it back but I’m not a huge board collector and Tom really is, so maybe it’s best that it stays with him. At this point, maybe it’s just the story I want.

In any case, here are a couple shots that ran in Concrete Powder and Snowboarder Magazine on that board. Have a great day.




Thanks to Tom Routh, Brooke Long and Michael Hess for solving a mystery 20 years old.

Westbeach Heritage video number one is alive!

The first of several videos for the Westbeach Heritage Project is up. It's essentially a teaser for what is to come. It's fun for me to see so much of the work that I've done over the last year put together in video form. We hired Lenny Rubenovitch to produce the series and I think he's done a really great job. Check it out:

The Heritage Teaser from Lenny Rubenovitch on Vimeo.

While you're in Whistler for the Grenade Games you should check out the "State of the Art" show at the Whistler Conference Center. Westbeach has a heritage display there featuring a bunch of my old shots and best of all, the Classic Westbeach video "Virus" is playing. Watch all the way through for one of the few video parts I ever had as a sponsored shredder. I laughed my ass off when I watched it there, it's been 15 years since I've seen it.

Speaking of the
Grenade Games, the riders are starting to show up already and Monster's takeover of the Adara hotel is almost complete. More green M's than you can shake a dead cat at. Come on up and check it out!


Cal B.C. becomes Westbeach

Westbeach grew out of Canada's fascination with California and everything it represented. If Chip had decided to sell shorts with an Eastern European theme we wouldn't be talking today.

Here are some things from the archives. First is an article clippped out of the Calgary Herald from Chip's personal stash from about 1983 or 84.

Next is one of Chip's early business cards.

And finally an old sticker. This sticker is significant because it is a snapshot of the moment in time when Cal B.C. became Westbeach. It's cool to see the single surfer logo that preceded the "three surfers" that everyone knows. Also, Westbeach was never really known for its involvement in skating despite having sold the product for years so it's cool to see the "Westbeach Skate Lounge".

Finally, here is an excerpt from the book that talks about some of those times. Enjoy:

As the kids started to pick up on snowboarding, the retailers inevitably followed—even if they were a little skeptical about the new sport at first. Scott Sibley worked with Chip for Dome petroleum and he also had a business selling sailboats in Vancouver. He was the first to sell Chip’s shorts in BC and as they became more popular his business changed from sailboats to surf and skateboard brands. He and his partner Richard Mellon had a little pink house on 4th Ave. that they called Cal B.C. and they eventually formed a partnership with Chip and the store became Westbeach. Scott remembers his first impressions of snowboarding:

It was so good for us, because all the young guys [were] coming into the store going, “Oh, have you heard of snowboarding?”—you know, bringing input to us—and we’re going, “Oh, really?!” There was a kid called Kelly Alm and he was just on us like crazy about this new thing called snowboarding. He brought in this—it was the Burton with the medical-hose bindings and all of this stuff—and he goes, “Check this out!” And you look at it and you go, “Are you serious?” But, you know, that was my first discussion about snowboarding. And it comes through a kid.

Of course, once Westbeach started to carry boards, things really started to pick up steam. I asked early Westbeach team rider Paul Culling about discovering snowboarding and the role that the shops played in the sport’s development:

I went to Cal BC, which was a little pink house [on 4th Avenue in Vancouver]. It was a California-inspired clothing store, and then downstairs in the basement there was a skate shop, so we used to go over there. It was probably just a matter of hearing that there was a shop in Vancouver that sold some kind of snowboard…When you were a kid and you were skateboarding, you would take the bus clear across to—I mean it—two hours to go to a skate shop, not even if you had any money, [but] just to stare at the new decks on the wall, right? And that’s the kind of feeling of this passion that you have, and you want to go in and you want to talk to somebody else. Back then if you were to see somebody else on a snowboard, anybody to do with snowboarding, you would immediately just talk because you wanted to share experiences—“Where have you gone? What have you done? What are you riding?”—because it was all so new. I mean, everything was new.

In 1987 Cal BC officially became the Westbeach Surf Company, and the store moved out of the little pink house and into the spot that would be the center of the Westbeach brand for more than twenty years: 1723 West 4th Ave.

- From the soon to be published "Out West: Snowboarding, Westbeach and a new Canadian dream"

Life before this life

Right around the time I started getting pictures published, I had to quit my real job, and make a go of being a photographer. Those were lean years and I was broke. I did all kinds of strange things to make a buck and keep paying the rent until the photo thing took off. Coming from a background of being a sponsored snowboarder, I would do whatever jobs I could get relating to that. I modeled winter clothes for Japanese magazines, snowboarded and had lines an early Kokanee beer commercial, was an extra in that movie "Ski School" and on and on.

One of the best jobs I got though, was being a stunt guy for a Hong Kong action Movie called "Black Cat". Legendary shredder Kevin Young and I spent a few days getting chased off cornices by snowmobiles, riding through gunfire, lobbing grenades, and doing methods that knocked guns out of peoples hands. I think I made a couple hundred bucks. It was really bad, but the job was fun and I got to see how a movie set worked.

I never saw the movie. And now, by the magic of youtube, I have. I guess someone included it in some euro shred movie back then. Weird.

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Checkin in.

Hi folks. Sorry it’s been so long, things have been busy around here negotiating and starting my new summer project. I’ve been hinting away at what it is for awhile, and you’ll all know soon, but for now I’ll give you this; it’s a book.

It’s been super rainy here for the last couple weeks and I haven’t been shooting much. Part of the process of the summer project is digging through the vaults and finding some old shots. Take a look and see if you can figure out what I’m up to…

Also, I've updated some shots in all the galleries and done some reorganizing of the site. A little less history and a little more recent stuff is up now. I need to do a big rebuild but with the new project that may be awhile, so for now I'm just grinding off the rough corners a bit.


Who is Dano?

I'm Dano. I was born Daniel but the name never stuck. Around the time I started selling photos I got hit with the "Dano" nickname and I've had it ever since. I've been shooting photos professionally since 1991 when I quit my last "real" job at the local one-hour photo.

I've mainly shot snowboarding over the years but have shot a lot of travel and recently underwater photography. Over the course of my career I've shot for every major snowboard company and magazine and I even spent the last few years launching a snowboard magazine, building a studio, and shooting a lot of product.

I'm based in Beautiful British Columbia, Canada, and the all my work is informed by the spectacular natural environment in which I was raised. I like to think that I take some of it with me even when I'm traveling. Although it may be a little harder to find underwater in Roatan than it is in my work from home...

Dano Pendygrasse
snowboard photography, snowboarding photos, photographs of snowboarders, shred photographers, snowboard photographer, snow photographers, pictures of snowboarding, pictures of snowboarders, photos of snowboards, photos of snowboarding. Daniel Stephen Pendygrasse, DSP Photography.