Backcountry with backstory in Powderwhore’s ‘Choose Your Adventure’
Ryan Summerlin November 8, 2012
The Utah-based Powderwhore Productions’ eighth ski film, “Choose Your Adventure,” is a backcountry tale compiled of chapters evoking the popular books from (some of our) childhoods, each centering on an individual or group with a story to tell.
The movie starts with diehard Darrell Finlayson, who skied at least one day a month for 178 consecutive months, even taking a goofy go at it in 2007 after he broke his neck in a mountain bike crash, just to keep the tally going.
There are other “crusty locals” – like Todd Stuart, with the hand-hewn cabin buried deep in snow, who “will do anything to get the goods,” whoring himself out, as it were, despite the toll on his body, for pow. Or the long-haired, shaggy-bearded Robert Athey, the self-taught backcountry split board and ski addict in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah who’s been at it nearly four decades, and rocks a style all his own.
The film is not without its pros tackling big lines and cliff drops – so maybe there is a little ski porn thrown in there after all. The brothers Provo throw down some great lines (one on a snowboard, one on skis), and there are plenty of big cliff drops from Hugo Harrison and PY Leblanc in British Columbia, among others.
Pro or local, skier, snowboarder or telemark skier, however, everyone in this movie has a story to tell. Because of that, “Choose Your Adventure” reminds us of ourselves – or our friends – who ski, ride, skin or just love doing what we do outdoors.
“We wanted to tag along and capture their actions and motivation for heading into the mountains, creating more of an authentic experience,” the filmmakers explained. “We traveled light and moved fast to avoid interfering with the actual adventures as they unfolded.”
Most, though not all, shots are foot-accessed; several entail multi-day journeys. Some are adventures to new realms, like the flats of Svalbard, Norway – an island in the Arctic Circle – that was “like skiing in outer space.”
Or roping into telepherique-accessed couloirs in La Grave, France, with Dylan Freed, where it looked exciting even if the snow didn’t look as primo as the rest of the locations. (“There’s no such thing as bad snow, only bad skiers,” Freed says.)
Others are just straight pow shots – pow shots to the face so deep that in one scene, Ian Provo wears a snorkel.
Then we are whisked away on an adventure to Antarctica. Never mind how cool it is to see the ship navigate icebergs, or how cute and cuddly the penguins are, we then watch snowboardcross Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott and big mountain skier Chris Davenport clean lines with a roiling, teal-blue, Antarctic Ocean at their base. Later, the ship’s passengers take turns jumping (roped) into the ocean, and on the way back, they face hurricane-force winds and waves reaching eight meters tall, by the captain’s estimation.
This film has some feel-good, multi-tool love between skiers, snowboarders and telemark skiers, including a great segment on tele maverick Jake Sakson, who took third in the 2012 Freeskiing World Tour at Kirkwood, free heeling it against the alpiners.
There are some funny bits – like the woman in Cerro Castillo, Chile, telling us about her land and her family in Spanish while she’s subtitled something very different, and the Howells’ commercial for “Brogressive” insurance: “Next time you’re out there walking the tightrope of stupidity, do it with the added confidence of having your bro’s at your back.”
Awesome flick. Watch this one to the end. “Choose Your Adventure” screens at the Blue Spruce Inn in Frisco tonight at 8.