One of these ski movies is not like the others

October 12th, 2009

So, as I’ve written about before, each fall ushers a wave of graphic ski-porn into peaceful little Bozeman, Montana. This year I attended the premiers of the Big Two: Teton Gravity Research (Re:Session) and Matchstick Productions (In Deep). They did not disappoint! Both shows were the rowdy, booze-fueled, adrenaline inducing stoke-fests I’ve come to know and love. I heard a friend who moved to San Fransisco attended the TRG premier there - and the audience sat quietly through it like an Indy film. I can’t imagine it. In Bozeman the Emerson goes off at these shows, hard, and that’s the way I like it.

My favorite scene this year? Best moments? Etc etc? Hard to say. After all these years these movies run together. What was last years even called? From which company? The Massive, Push, Hit List, Under the Influence, Seven Sunny Days? I really can’t keep track. It’s all awesome, but rarely do scenes or segments stand out. Every year some athlete/ninja gets injured too, and there is always a sad hospital or sit-ski scene (Marc-Andre Belliveau comes to mind). Not to sound callous, but, every year it is the same. Incredible, super-human feats of skiing and brutal, career ending crashes.

That said, Matchstick’s treatment of the tragic (if not unexpected) death of Shane McConkey was great. It was in a really good spirit and captured the ridiculously awesome legend he was. The “Saucer Boy” costume contest at the premier was pretty rad too. Shane was freaking amazing, and he is greatly missed.

But I digress. All of these high-budget super-stoker films are fun, but when I heard about a different kind of ski film, I was curious. Different how? Could it be better? Of course there are “jib” films, park films, Warren Miller films, snowboard films etc. But last year I started hearing about “human powered” films. The one with the highest profile is Jeremy Jones’ My Own Two Feet (this year’s Deeper looks rad too). But a new and even more specific genre is being cultivated by a company called Sweetgrass Productions: self-propelled art ski films. Last year’s Hand Cut was very well received, and since it bore a striking resemblance to Sinners I wanted to see it as well. I never got around to it… but I wrote about it on my blog. So this year Sweetgrass has a new movie, Signatures, and it looks very good too. My hope was that maybe it would come to Bozeman on tour so I wouldn’t miss this one (and might, a tentative “November” date is on the tour). But then Lo, and Behold, I get an offer from Sweetgrass to preview the new movie becuase I wrote about them last year!! This is officially the first time I’ve had a windfall from blogging, so, I was stoked.

Sure enough, I did get to preview it (thanks!). And it was indeed a very artful, tasteful ski movie. In fact, it felt like it was more about “art” and Japanese culture than skiing. Actually most of the movie featured “noboarding” (binding-less swallowtail snowboarding) instead of skiing, but even so the focus was more on the cinematography and foreign culture than even the “noboarding”. And although I enjoyed it (Japan gets some nice pow), by the end I needed a pick-me-up. It was so mellow. 180° different than the Big Movies. I really didn’t like it that much. I don’t think I’ll watch it again unless I’m having trouble falling asleep.

What surprised me so much about my reaction is that my all time favorite ski movie is Bill Heath’s Sinners. That film is totally amazing. Brings a tear to my eye every time I watch it. And it’s a very mellow, “arty” film just like Signatures. So why do I love Sinners but not Signatures? I think that part of it is the “noboarding”. I couldn’t relate and it was boring to watch. But honestly, I think the biggest reason is the music. Josh Ritter kills it in Sinners, and music in Signatures did nothing for me.

Signatures was a cool movie, but I didn’t like it that much. It looks like Hand Cut has more interesting music (blues) and more actual skiing so I still really want to see that one, despite my Signatures experience. Perhaps I will buy it, since I got such a sweet deal seeing Signatures. Oh! And check out Sinners if you ever can, it’s great (and short). Overall I welcome the growing variety in ski films, and hope to see more!

You can buy Hand Cut and Signatures from the Sweetgrass website (and check Signatures tour dates, too).

Ski Movie Trailer Buffet

Sweetgrass - Signatures

TGR - Re:Session

Matchstick - In Deep

Jeremy Jones (TGR) - Deeper

(siiiiick)

Poor Boyz - Every Day is a Saturday

(bonus because it might be the coolest trailer this year)

Share and Enjoy:
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Technorati
  • Google
  • Reddit

Short Hike to Lava Lake

September 5th, 2009

Beautiful Lava Lake in the Spanish Peaks

Rocky shore of Lava Lake (there are beaches too)The short and sweet hike to Lava Lake is a Classic around Bozeman. It’s just a little ways down Gallatin Canyon and for it’s modest 3 miles length it provides great mountain vistas. Plus it’s a lake, so fishing and swimming are options, which people always like. I hear in the right water level there is cliff jumping too, although I didn’t really see it. However, in the six years I’ve lived in Bozeman I had never hiked up to Lava Lake! This summer I fixed that. It’s a nice short (3 miles in) hike on good trail, the lake is bitchin, and if you hit it right the raspberries and thimbleberries are a delicious bonus.

Thimbleberries!Raspberries!Alpine wildlife enjoys sunning in the boulder fields

Looking back towards the mouth of Lava Lake

View Lava Lake Hike in a larger map
Share and Enjoy:
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Technorati
  • Google
  • Reddit

High Alpine Fishing in the Spanish Peaks

August 20th, 2009

High alpine fly fishing

My new hobby this summer is fishing. Now, I don’t mean fly fishing on the Gallatin and Madison a la Brad Pitt, although that may be where it’s headed. What I like is running around in high mountains, so that’s where my fishing hobby takes me: to our glorious, scenic, government-stocked alpine lakes! It’s perfect. All the excitement of hiking, climbing and camping in our wonderful Montana peaks, plus catching big, delicious trout! It’s hard to ask for more.

Hiking up into Bear BasinMountain goats in Bear BasinMe in Bear Basin

My friend Ben and I planned on fishing Diamond Lake, in the Spanish Peaks north of Big Sky. Diamond is a big lake, and after looking at the stocking schedule Ben thought there would be some monster Cutthroats in it. The trouble is that there is no trail to it. The usual approach up the drainage from Spanish Creek is a tough bushwack. Our thought was to drop in on it from above, via Beacon Point. It looked steep, but it was alpine tundra so the going should be easier than the other approach. Plus, it would give us a much more scenic hike up Bear Basin and by Gallatin Peak, with better camping and more lakes.

Flowers by Summit Lake

Hiking up to the Bear Basin saddleCamping by Gallatin Peak up North Fork Little Hellroaring CreekGallatin Peak, looking huge

We started in on Friday afternoon, camping on the trail in Bear Basin. The next day we climbed up out of the Basin, with the company of mountain goats. The trail drops down the other side a short ways into the South Fork of Spanish Creek before cutting over right past Summit Lake into the North Fork of Hell Roaring Creek. Summit Lake was one of the more spectacular high mountain lakes I’ve ever seen. It’s way up on a pass and wreathed by big peaks like the Blaze and Gallatin. A lake on a pass?? Amazing.

The Blaze and another peak from Summit Lake

We set up our second camp at Thompson Lake, right at the foot of Gallatin Peak, which towered above us. In the back of my mind I hoped to bag Gallatin Peak on this trip, but the Northwest face is pretty imposing and I decided just to fish. Another peak for another day. (Nice TR here of my buddy Steve skiing Gallatin Peak.) Fortunately, the fishing was awesome so my regrets at not getting up Gallatin were quickly allayed.

My trophy cutthroat

Every 5th cast it seemed we were hooking fish. They must have been hungry. Starving. A few even tried to take my strike indicator! Within a half hour Ben and I had both landed 15″+ Cuttys. The biggest might have been about 17″. This being my first summer doing much fishing, I’d never caught fish this big before so it was very exciting. It’s a lot more fun to play and land a 15″ fish than a 5″ one! We kept three big ones, and had to start releasing the rest for fear we couldn’t eat more than three of these monsters. Ben was using full fly gear, and I was using flies on my Eagle Claw backpackers spinning rod.

Big cutthroat trout - 17in?Living the lifeBen, making a big cutthroat look even bigger with perfect holding technique

That night we enjoyed whiskey and more fire-cooked trout than, frankly, I ever care to eat in one sitting again. A man does not need to eat that much fish, ever. But it was delicious!

Beautiful old cutty - look at the teeth!The fish in the fireTasty trout dinner

The next morning we felt satisfied enough with the previous day’s fishing to just scout Diamond Lake from Beacon Point, without plans to actually climb down and fish it. The hike to and view from Beacon were very nice, but I was glad left our fishing gear. The drop down to Diamond was pretty sheer. I liked being under no obligation to find a way down it.

Thompson LakeGallatin Peak from the Indian Ridge trail up Beacon PointDiamond Lake

We finished our weekend with a little more fishing at Thompson Lake, and then the hike back out to the car. Yet another great weekend in the mountains of Montana! The best map of this area is the somewhat elusive Spanish Peaks map, but another good one is the Beartooth PublishingBozeman - Big Sky - West Yellowstone” map available from Amazon and also directly from Beartooth. Oh, and the USGS has free topos online now too! store.usgs.gov

The Spanish Peaks above Diamond Lake

Share and Enjoy:
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Technorati
  • Google
  • Reddit

Emerald Lake and Heather Lake

July 26th, 2009

Heather and Emerald Lake

heather-lake-trout.jpgMy goal this day was actually to get to Fridley Lake, since I heard it was rarely visited and might have nice fish in it. Well, it’s rarely visited for a reason! My plan was to hike up from the Emerald Lake trailhead, past Emerald and Heather Lake, climb Overlook Mountain, and drop into Fridley Lake. Easier said than done. I did get up on Overlook Mountain’s right shoulder, but I couldn’t see any obvious routes over the top and down to Fridley. I know there is a way through that steep, rugged terrain, but hiking solo I didn’t want to get myself into trouble. So I had to be satisfied with lovely hike, great views off of the ridge, and some good fishing in Heather Lake. Life is tough here in Montana… :P

Overlook Mountain, as seen from it's North ridge

heather-lake.jpghyalite-peak-from-overlook.jpgmoss-flowers.jpg

mossy-rock.jpgPhotoshopped mushrooms - pretty sure they are not psychedelic, just poisonousLovely Heather Lake in the Gallatin range

Some seriously pink Indian Paintbrush

Share and Enjoy:
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Technorati
  • Google
  • Reddit