Tonight in Colorado, Powderwhore Productions premiers their new film CYA (Choose Your Adventure). This film catalogues “a ski odyssey”, as imagined by 11 sets of adventurers. A series of vignettes features different pursuits of adventure on the snow. There are skiers, tele markers, trekkers and a precious few snowboarders…each on a unique adventure.
The thread that ties these stories is the fluffy white stuff, and the myriad ways to enjoy it. While some segments, like that of “The Brothers Provo” (Neil on one plank, Ian on two), are standard ski movie clips with lots of first person filming and a funky soundtrack, most of the segments are more about story telling. And the story these folks tell is snow, and their passion for enjoying it. Darrell Finlasen has skied at least one day a month for 178 consecutive months, even managing a few precarious turns the month he broke his neck mountain biking. Todd Stuart spends much of his winter living in a cozy backcountry shelter with only Ullr as companion, just to ski the “highest quality skiing I can get”. These are folks who live for snow…the self admitted “powderwhores”.
With a focus on people pushing their limits and adventuring, there are plenty of details to add depth to each segment. The discovery of an abandoned soviet town by the expedition in Norway, the scenes of the “Four Amigos” prepping their gear and mounting horses to journey up some of Chile’s volcanos…these are the moments that make this film unique. We could have done without the botched translation of looped interview with a Chilean woman in “Four Amigos” (was that supposed to be funny?) but overall a variety of unique story-telling voices provide insight into how and why we make grueling journeys and sacrifice comfort, sleep, and sweat and tears just for those moments…and the freedom to Choose Your Adventure.
The depth of the stories is nicely complemented by the dramatic landscapes that fill the screen throughout CYA. Backcountry shots in the Wasatch are enough to have us anxiously eyeing our beacon probe and shovel (how soon can we get out there?). Further afield, the wild landscapes North of Arctic Circle in Norway —“like skiing in outer space”–, Antarctica and volcanic southern Chile provide a healthy dose of majesty and wanderlust. Imagery that stirs these emotions suits a film focused on passion and unexplainable urges.
With stories like these, and settings like these, what would you expect other than a cast of unique characters? While 40-year backcountry enthusiast Robert Athey claims “I don’t think I’m as eccentric as most people think I am”, we love the grizzled wisdom and quirky habits of genuine mountain men like Robert and Todd Stuart. We also feel the pain of injured Powderwhore star Noah Howe, drowning his sorrows in a snuggy, cheetos, and a highlight reel. There’s raw humanity here. There’s humor, sarcasm, frustration and triumph. Most of all there is love. While snow philosophies range as widely as personalities in this film…some relish getting out with your friends, others solitude and being in nature, some only ride good days, others average 100+ days…it is the drive for adventure that unites these characters. Snow is their story….what’s your’s?