Words: Blake Paul
Photos: Mike Yoshida
It is projected that the average person meets around 10,000 people in their lifetime, a somewhat impossible statistic to calculate depending on one’s circumstances. A very small fraction of those people seems to leave a lasting impact or influence on our lives in the long run. Aging through time we can look back and remember those that changed our perception of the world and the role we have in it. Some play a bigger part than others, and some can change the course of our future forever.
When I was seventeen years old, I was driven and passionate about snowboarding. I felt that I could make it my life and dedicate myself to the path it brought me on. However high school was coming to an end, and the time to make that ugly life decision about college and a real job was a pressure in the back of my mind. I didn’t know if I was good enough to make it as a snowboarder, nor did I know the sort of social cues or skills it took to navigate the role of an aspiring pro. I wasn’t keeping up with the slopestyle contest trick progression—the bar was too high for me. I had no idea where I stood, or if I had a strong enough will to risk the comfort of school, friends, predictable work, and a normal path. Truthfully, I didn’t look at life in the right way or justify what snowboarding really meant to me.
That was until I met Aaron Robinson and rode with him for the first time on a deep pow day in late January 2011 in Jackson Hole. A-Rob’s infectious positivity, and his way of living every experience completely and wholeheartedly in the moment with uncontrollable style, struck me and captivated my attention.
With a sly glow and huge smile on his face, he would talk shit to the serious skiers packed into the tram. Sometimes yell quotes from his favorite movies, then strap in and ride the mountain as if it was a playground specifically built for his style of snowboarding. He would float around slashing and airing anything in his way, letting his personality fully shine through. When the storm and film conditions would fade out, he would be gone on the next adventure. Always on the move, but consistently in touch with what was important to him and those he held close.
I look at Aaron as the gatekeeper of life flow. I studied and watched his movements and decisions like he was this ultimate master that had everything figured out. Although, it may have just felt that way at the time because he seemed to be happier and having more fun than anyone I ever met. In my naive and easily influenced state, Aaron was the guide that showed me how to live the snowboard lifestyle to the greatest extent.
Throughout the winter he saw something in me and distilled a sense of confidence in myself that I had never felt before. It felt like I was under his wing and the future was brighter and clearer than ever. He invited me to be a part of the Manifest video, which was the first time I ever worked with a legit snowboard filmmaker or snowmobiled out in the backcountry. Aaron navigated all these travel, filming, and snowboarding logistics happening around him fluidly. Without a drop of stress, anger, or a care in the world if things didn’t go his way.
July 19, 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of Aaron Robinson’s passing. Ten years have gone by, but not a single moment experienced with A-Rob is forgotten or taken for granted. If I have the pleasure of meeting 10,000 people in my life I don’t know if one of them can ever leave a greater impact than A-Rob did. If there's anything I learned from all this, it's to trust what you want deep down, follow it, find the motivation somewhere inside you. Remember that life can be uncontrollable and completely diminishing at times, but you have the power to turn all experiences into positive ones. A-Rob’s life and legacy will live forever in the hearts of those who met him or know his story. I think each one of those lives has been left a little brighter and fuller, with the reminder to always Smash Life and live purely in the moment around you.
The A-Rob Plant a Seed Project was started in memory of Aaron Robinson by his mom, Pam, and the Robinson family. The foundation helps underprivileged children have access to snowboarding in their hometown of Whitefish, Montana. Pam reminisces that it was always Aaron’s dream to help everyone enjoy the sport, the mountains, the outdoors, and life in general.
Learn more about the A-Rob Plant a Seed Project on the organization's Facebook page.
You can donate to the A-Rob Plant a Seed Project here.
If you don’t have PayPal, or prefer to Venmo, you can Venmo @blakepaul with the description “A-Rob,” and Blake will donate the money directly to the foundation and provide proof of receipt. The money will provide a sponsorship for the youth to access everything they need to go snowboarding.