Summit County backcountry guidebook writer Fritz Sperry shares love of skiing in short film
DILLON — To filmmakers Grant Robbins and Lio DelPiccolo of The Road West Traveled, Fritz Sperry is “beyond a ski bum.” The duo and fellow filmmaker Sara Robbins, Grant’s wife, learned that firsthand skiing Wheeler Peak on July 4, 2019.
While documenting Sperry in the short film “Making Turns with Fritz Sperry” — the first ski flick of Sperry’s life — the trio was amazed to see the passion and fitness the then 49-year-old Sperry brought to the backcountry in between his ritualistic breaks.
“Lio, Sara and I have skied backcountry primarily the past five to six years, 80-100 days in the backcountry, and we consider ourselves quicker,” Grant Robbins said. “But that first day with Fritz, Fritz is fast. He was smoking cigarettes the whole way up the mountain the first day, and he’s still beating us up the mountain.”
“The guy loves skiing,” Robbins added. “He’s been out here 30-something years, pretty much dedicated his life around skiing. … He’s not the youngest of guys anymore, but you wouldn’t know it when you’re out there skiing. He’s as excited as anyone else in the backcountry. He takes it seriously, and he needs to.”
When Sperry thinks about it, after years of backcountry skiing and guidebook writing, he’s not quite sure if he’s a ski bum. On first thought, it feels like bums don’t necessarily give back in the ways he has, researching and writing his “Making Turns” guidebooks so many have used to have fun in the backcountry. But then again, Sperry says he lives a modest life much like a ski bum.
“I live for winter,” the longtime Summit County local said. “I live for spring. I live for summer, until the snow is gone, and then I start living for winter again. It’s like a reverse seasonal affective disorder. When there’s no snow, I’m kind of depressed. … I guess I do, at heart, consider myself a ski bum but an invested ski bum.”
In the “Making Turns” film, the Robbinses and DelPiccolo shine a light on Sperry’s dedication to the life he loves. The Boulder- and Golden-based filmmakers got to know the man behind the guidebooks at a ski art gallery. It’s there they saw Sperry’s love for art, namely paintings of the remote, intimidating backcountry terrain he’s been to. In the film, Sperry says he loves trying to “build” the mountains when painting, thinking back to the places he’s been on his skis.
The Robbinses and DelPiccolo said their goal in profiling Sperry’s art and backcountry skiing is to highlight a character who promotes and lives by a message of getting out into the mountains safely while also protecting them.
Go to GiterdunPublishing.com for more information on Sperry’s guidebooks.
“To get people to explore terrain that is not just Loveland Pass, not just Buffalo Mountain,” Robbins also said about the goal. “There are a lot of other mountains that surround Summit, a lot more in the state. Fritz has beyond a lifetime worth of skiing backcountry in Colorado, and he says it doesn’t need to be this whole ‘This is my mountain, my backcountry zone’ mentality. That’s an important message going into this year, that people can still be friendly on the trail and excited other people are out there as well.”
Sperry said the short film project was a first for him and that he enjoyed how the video showed the nature of backcountry skiing. It’s a life that Sperry said the lens can follow only so much because the filming is sectional and meticulous as opposed to skiing uninterrupted down a big line.
“It’s definitely a different type of skiing,” Sperry said. “… To me, the goal of skiing is skiing, and the quality of the skiing. That’s what matters most.”
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