Chris Stearns: Avid Skier

Montclair resident, Chris Stearns spends his free time climbing mountains and skiing down the snowy slope when he's not designing and remodeling.

Chris Stearns skiing adventures.

chris stearns
Photo courtesy of Chris Stearns.

Montclair resident Chris Stearns is a local fine cabinet maker who works closely with the Quakers in Pennsylvania to build high end furniture and cabinets, but has one breathtaking hobby: skiing.Stearns has been a Montclair resident since the late 70’s but grew up in New Hampshire close to the mountains and the outdoors. “I really like New Jersey and Montclair and it’s proximity to the city and especially it’s diversity of human nature,” said Stearns. “But, I still have a constant need to be out of doors and especially in the mountains.”

Stearns has been skiing since 1961 when he was three years old. “We had an instructor from Austria who took skiing very seriously and we had no lift,” said Stearns. “We had to hike first and make the trail by packing it down with our skis. Then, my dad helped to build Tenney Mountain Ski Area, about three miles outside of town. Then, I was hooked on skiing. At first, it was just a rope tow, then t-bar and probably by the time I was 10 or 11, there was a chair lift. it was a great place but they are out of business now.”

Chris Stearns has two children, Julian and Caitlin, who have been skiing with him since they were little. According to Stearns, his children started skiing at Campgaw Ski Area in Bergen County. “It’s only 300 feet high but it is the only place in the world where you can ski and see the Empire State Building at the same time,” said Stearns. “I highly recommend Campgaw to any young family. I think that it is run by the county and the staff are wonderful and the rates are hard to beat. They are also open at night.”
The photograph to the left is of Julian and his friends, Christian Furguson and Ryan Peters, taken by Chris Stearns; they had to carry their skis up on their backs to get to this spot. “At the time that I took this picture, we had been hiking for three hours and then steeply climbing with crampons for an additional hour,” said Stearns. “Then, up to the snow fields, another hour but it was just hiking again, not steep.”
Although the times on the mountain are exciting for Chris Stearns, they’re not always easy. According to Stearns, last year, the Tuckerman’s Ravine Avalanche Center was telling all visitors to have ice crampons and ice axes at the time that they were there in early April. This year, Stearns made sure that they had ice crampons that attach to the bottom of their ski boots.

When he’s not climbing mountains, Stearns work on residential design and remodeling. He has been running a business in Montclair now for 25 years with Chris Stearns Design Build. He also works with another company called The Amish Woodworking Company, where they build bookcases, furniture and other pieces. Stearns does the drawings and his Amish friends build the pieces.

Chris Stearns loves hiking and skiing, he does advise against the dangers to watch out for. According to Stearns, on Mount Washington, there are cliffs and ice falls. “You have to always know where you are and have visual references because it is so steep at the top that you really can’t see where your next turn is until you are making it,” advised Stearns. “There is also water running beneath the snow at this time of year and you have to watch out for that also, especially as you ski the last two and half miles out of the ravine and back into the tree line.”

Skiing and mountain climbing is a dangerous, exhilarating hobby, but all participants are advised to do their research before getting started!

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