Michael “Bird” Shaffer on Old & New Ways of Experiencing the Mountains (Ep.83)

A while back at a dinner party here in Crested Butte, my friend Mike Horn told me about a guy he knew — named Bird — who I absolutely had to get on the podcast.

So I had Mike connect me with Michael “Bird” Shaffer, and the result was a very interesting conversation that I am very happy to be able to share with you.

Bird — aka, Michael Shaffer — grew up on a hippie commune in Twisp Washington, where he fell in love with the surrounding mountains and with skiing. He eventually found his way to Chamonix, France, where he found a new home-away-from-home, and a community of ski mountaineers, lovers of mountains, and people who loved pushing themselves in alpine terrain.

Michael Bird Shaffer discusses his background, skiing, speed flying, and more on the Blister podcast
Bird in his element. (photo by Alex Bosco)

I talked to Bird about all of these things, including, of course, how he picked up the Bird name; how he forged his unique view of the world; the best ways to experience the mountains, the future of his most recent passion, speed riding (which is basically a combination of skiing and paragliding), where he continues to find inspiration, and more.


  • Bird’s life, work, and passions (3:00)
  • The story behind the Bird name (9:35)
  • “Ski Bohemian” vs “Ski Bum” (12:39)
  • On “listening to yourself” in the mountains (14:26)
  • Bird’s relationship with fear (16:17)
  • Speed Riding: “skiing pow in the sky” (26:08)
  • How social media is shaping ski culture (35:34)
  • Balancing Friendships & Solitude (45:16)

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1 comment on “Michael “Bird” Shaffer on Old & New Ways of Experiencing the Mountains (Ep.83)”

  1. jonathan, thank you for where you are taking these. provoking thought is always a good thing…

    prime time in the PNW is mid spring to early summer. which of course varies with the year… the north cascades are not tall, but they are overwhelming. take the bird up on his invite.

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