About two months out from ski season, and the itch for snow is setting in and ski movies are touring mountain towns and amping up communities. Attending a ski movie premiere is unlike any regular cinematic experience. There are resort representatives handing out 2 for 1 lift ticket deals and stickers. There are raffles with prizes to stay in yurts, cabins, go snowcat skiing, and for free skis, snowboards and split boards. At Missoula, Montana’s premiere of Higher, the Teton Gravity Research Center’s newest film starring snowboarding’s ten-time Big Mountain Rider of the Year Jeremy Jones, there is a local blue-grass band playing with couples wearing fleece and flannel swing dancing before the film starts.
Higher follows Jeremy Jones around the Alaska Range, Sierra Mountains, the Teton Range and to the Himalayas where he snowboards down one of the steepest spine walls to have ever been skied. The film is the third installment of big mountain riding with Jones. He co-directed Higher and reached what he describes as his “pinnacle achievements” exploring beyond what he could access heli-skiing in the Eastern Alaska Range and then attempting a line down a mountain neighboring Nepal’s 21,400 foot Shangri- La. But the film starts at the beginning of Jones’s snowboarding career, opening with home videos of his first ski experiences on Cape Cod’s Jailhouse Hill, tracking the evolution of the snowboard and Jones’s progression to becoming one of the best professional snowboarders.
As a snowboarder myself, I appreciate when a ski film features a snowboader, but it doesn’t matter whether you ski or board, the audience is all amped about the coming season. Everyone’s adrenaline elevates as Jones shreds perfect lines down pure untouched powder, and we recall our first memories skiing with the first footage of Jones snowboarding and shots of him teaching his kids to ride.
I am fidgeting in my desk as I am writing this right now. Snow begins to dust the Rockies, but we’re a ways off from getting on the mountain. Still I add new tracks to my iPod’s “Best Skier on the Mtn.” playlist, a throwback to my favorite ski movie, The Game of G.N.A.R and wait impatiently for my favorite season of the year and for the next ski movie premiere to come to town, Warren Miller’s No Turning Back. This year Warren Miller “pays homage to 65 years of mountain culture and adventure filmmaking.”
In the Higher trailer, Jones reflects “It’s not about scaling the highest peak, the descent, it’s about the journey, the people you meet.” So wax your gear, summit that peak, buy your ski-pass, or pack your bags and shred a new range. I’ll see you out there.
Check out the trailers for Teton Gravity Research’s Higher, and Warren Miller’s latest, No Turning Back. Happy skiing.