GET OUT: Park Passport

By on October 18, 2016

From Yellowstone to Grand Teton, a new film celebrates winter adventures in protected places.


Caption: In the winter months, the national parks transform into more complex, mysterious and peaceful places. (Photo: Powder Magazine)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Powder Magazine’s first feature film will pique the interest of people both in and outside of the snow sphere. Monumental: Skiing Our National Parks is a celebration not only of athleticism, but also how the human relationship to nature has deepened thanks to the nation’s protected lands.

The movie illuminates a handful of these inspiring places, as skiers explore the most remote corners of the national parks. The film takes viewers through Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier and Olympic national parks during one of the parks’ most quiet and peaceful seasons: winter.

Local writer and explorer Tom Turiano notes in the film: “For me backcountry skiing is really the only place where life makes sense—you can pretty much go wherever you want, but you have to choose the most efficient line and so there’s beauty in navigating through terrain.”

Each segment features unique historical perspectives from different locals who are intimately acquainted with the parks. They discuss the first explorers of the land and describe the fragility of these wild places before they became protected areas.

Athletes like Jackson locals Griffin Post and Max Hammer, and Lynsey Dyer, Colter Hinchliffe, Kalen Thorien, Greg Hill and Connery Lundin practice extreme navigation in these places, enduring the beautiful and simplistic difficulties of walking and living in the mountains—when you must carry everything you need on your back.

The avid mountaineer will appreciate that filmmakers managed to depict actual ski-camping life, including the ever so glamorous bushwhacking and stream crossings. And while the savvy cold weather adventurer may discern a few classic descents, most of the ski lines will remain a mystery to the viewer.

What also sets this ski film apart is the absence of a dramatized, play-by-play conquering of the mountains. Instead, the main theme is to celebrate the power of place. Post explained: “I think there’s an emotional connection about national parks in these amazing landscapes that have been set aside for future generations to enjoy. The final product is more of a tribute to these places than it just being about skiing.”

In the process, viewers bear witness to a balance of slight misery and skiing adventure and gratification. A scene with Lundin comes to mind, when he steps up the fun factor in picturesque Yellowstone with some aerial sensibilities.

One other notable element of Monumental: It portrays an equal number of men and women in the wilderness. From athletes to interviewees to a pregnant videographer, this isn’t the obligatory ski film where a female skier or rider merely flashes across the screen. Each athlete is proportionately incorporated into the film with ease and flow.

Aside from the talented skiers and fascinating historical context, the true highlights of the film exist in the candid moments caught on camera, including some unexpected encounters with wildlife.

For Jacksonites, the film captures a deep appreciation and undying love affair many have with the national parks in their backyards and beyond.

Monumental: Skiing Our National Parks, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. screenings on Monday at the Pink Garter Theatre, $10. Athletes and filmmakers will be available for a Q&A immediately following each screening. PJH

About Elizabeth Koutrelakos

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