It is movie time in the ski universe. Trailers for just about everything are easy to find, so I’m inclined to focus on film makers who emphasize human power over helicopters. Sweetgrass Productions is one such, but they’re not releasing a backcountry skiing flick this fall, just a festival cut of their film for next autumn. Chris Davenport’s film Australis also emphasizes muscle power, review coming.
And then we have those telewhackers from Utah, the Powderhoes, who also eschew aviation fuel (at least once they’re at base camp). The powder boys’ name is of course actually spelled like the world’s oldest profession, but I hesitate to write it out here on the fear that Google will re-categorize WildSnow and you’ll have to sign some kind of over 18 disclaimer before you can get into the site.
On second thought perhaps the disclaimer is a good idea, since “Television” includes a load of humor that wee lads and lasses might find confusing. But it’s only PG at the most, so if you want to munch popcorn with your 6-year-old while you check out things such as the “Brogaine” commercial, have at it. What is Brogaine, you ask? Let’s just say it is a simpler and quicker way to go bro. You’ll have to watch the flick for the whole story.
Highlights of “Television” include long and enjoyable segment covering expedition backcountry skiing in the Revelation Mountains, a diminutive but nonetheless impressive subrange of the grand Alaska Range. Andrew McLean is along on that one, joined by telegenic telemarkers such as Nick Devore. From the looks of some of the skiing, they found lines that were actually pretty steep — not just filmed to appear that way.
Speaking of the skiing, the tele-whackers in “Television” charge hard and nearly match the mind blowing stuff you’d see in a Matchstick or TGR film. Nonetheless, I found myself fast-forwarding through some of the skiing. Perhaps I’ve been jaded by the stunt flicks, or perhaps knowing the skiers were on telegear wasn’t as much a turn-on to me as it would be for a telemarker. I will say that some of the lines are beautiful, and the powder-in-your-face Wasatch segments are simply classic, hearkening back to days of yore when historical flicks such as “Last of the Ski Bums” blew minds with over the head powder skiing footage that changed the sport. (And since most of the powder chewing segments are in slow-mo, all my fast forward button did was make them ski normal speed. Film maker Noah Howell probably planned it that way, the sly dog.)
What’s interesting about both Powderhoes and Sweetgrass is that they constantly attempt to make the UPHILL exciting (or at least aesthetic). They almost pull it off. Yet slogging is pretty tedious and sometimes downright boring, so setting upbeat music to someone walking uphill on skis can only go so far.
Indeed, we should have a contest between the human powered film makers, with a prize for the best uphill sequence. I’ll have to talk to 5 Points Film Festival about that. Seriously. With some incentive I’ll bet something can be done with camera angles, music, and perhaps a more earthy style of shooting and editing that could make the uphill super compelling. I mean, how about a close up of sweat dripping off some guy’s chin? Noah? Nick? You guys up for a little friendly competition?
Powderhoes are known for their campy humor. You’ve got to respect these guys for putting it on the line and trying to interject some levity in the sometimes all to serious and overly “significant” presentation that some ski films have. Other companies try to do the same, of course (think Saucer Boy), but Powderhoes goes for it. Reality of humor is not everyone laughs at the same thing, so by having plenty of vignettes sprinkled throughout the film, just about anyone will get a good chuckle or better. Yeah, brogaine, will it grow hair on top of my head as well as my face? Noah, pray tell.
Wildsnow two thumbs up. Check it out.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.