Vaya a la Cumbré goes Further

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Greece has the Parthenon but Aspen has the Wheeler Opera House, the perfect place for the 8th Meeting.

Greece has the Parthenon but Aspen has the Wheeler Opera House, the perfect place for the 8th Meeting.

The Meeting “film festival” in Aspen ended this past weekend. After viewing 19 ski AND snowboard films this past weekend my spirit animal has finally recovered from ski porn overload. Dreams of sliding down Alaskan spines, hitting 8 kink 50ft handrails, and sketchy avalanche airbag deployments have begun to subside in the beginning of a month I like to call “Sober October” which follows “Send-It September.”

Some people will sell their soul to get into a sold out ski flick but others have figured out the secret. Wrap around sunglasses with Croakies for $10 bucks! I was tempted but held my ground.

Some people will sell their soul to get into a sold out ski flick but others have figured out the secret. Wrap around sunglasses with Croakies for $10 bucks! I was tempted but held my ground.

Clarity was reached on Saturday evening as I shuffled into the balcony section of the Wheeler Opera House, Stella in one hand and a PBR in the other for the final two showings.

The clock struck 8pm and Sent Productions film Vaya a la Cumbré emerged on the screen as applause roared from the locals in the crowd. Ollie Nieuwland-Zlotnicki and Zach Ornitz co-produced and co-directed the short film on the unconventional venture of Toni Sponar, a veteran Aspen/Snowmass ski instructor, and his son Anton, a fellow Wildsnow contributor, who also teaches skiing in Aspen.

Vaya a la Cumbré is not your typical slash and bash powder flick. Instead, it tells the story of two Aspenites living out their dreams amidst commercialized resort operations world wide. Anton says this could be the rawest ski operation on the planet. True. Living in the few bunks at Ski Arpa is Anton, your cook, your guide, media liaison, and at the end of the day your ski buddy.

Ski Arpa base lodge and the backdrop for Vaya a la Cumbré.

Ski Arpa base lodge and the backdrop for Vaya a la Cumbré.

With two snowcats, the burden of the operation, Ski Arpa eeks out just enough loot to make it from one season to the next. Both Sponars, age 79 & 27 respectively, work all winter long guiding and teaching whilst saving funds to prime the operation each summer since 1982.

The film looks at the struggles of both older and younger Sponar to what the future of Ski Arpa holds.

Anton toasting to another great season at Ski Arpa. 2012

Anton toasting to another great season at Ski Arpa. 2012

With no set release date or trailer available, Cumbre’s production team is currently shopping the film around to various film festivals. Keep your eyes peeled for Vaya a la Cumbré, it is a winner.

Back on the commercial side of the ski and snowboard movie business, once again TGR brought the big guns. Jeremey Jones’ TGR produced Further and TGR’s in-house Dream Factory wowed the crowd and myself both Friday and Saturday nights.

I spoke with Jeremy about his film and the choice to focus on human powered snowboard mountaineering instead of the typical heli-drop films. He simply said it was time and is the future of where the sport is headed. In Further, a snowboard only flick, Jeremy recruits some of snowboarding’s legends and young up-and-comers, most of them pure rookies at camping and other alpine endeavors. Strapping on a climbing harness or clicking a “carabiner dohickie” were foreign acts to most of them, as was the plan to climb, splitboard, and snowmobile out to the furthest stretches of the globe in search of untouched lines.

Jeremy Jones introducing Further, screen shots from Norway and Paul Claus' Ultima Thule lodge.

Jeremy Jones introducing Further, screen shots from Norway and Paul Claus' Ultima Thule lodge.

Jeremy, a self-proclaimed WildSnow.com follower, enjoyed pushing his compatriots of the snowboard world to their limits mentally and skill wise. The snowboard missions around the globe fascinated me most in that helicopters were not used to drop the athletes off at each peak. Climbing and trekking were the only means used to access each zone.

Jeremy spilled the beans on some of his equipment. Beyond his signature Jones snowboards, he worked alongside Bozeman based Spark R & D on a Vibram soled crampon compatible snowboard boot called the Spark Deeluxe and additionally helped revive the Ramer Assault snowshoes that he used on many steep couloir ascents.

Check out the Spark Deeluxe here.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I will definitely be buying this snowboard movie to add to my collection. With an emphasis on climbing and mountaineering along with a captivating story it is a win in terms of production and content.

The last film of the long weekend was TGR’s Dream Factory. The film was shot entirely in Alaska because of the historic amount of snow the state received this year, in Valdez, Haines, and the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Todd Jones and his team reached back into their film/guiding history on the Richardson highway from the cowboy days of stoned Vietnam pilots, $5 heli-drops, and zero safety protocols. They touched on the history of WESC, World Extreme Skiing Competition, and how it continues to define modern big mountain freeskiing.

Although the crowd was excited to see the film the real action of the night was local boy Colter Hinchliffe’s big screen debut. Colter works in Aspen slaving away at the iconic Red Onion with fellow Wildsnow contributor, Jordan White, during the summers, but come winter his basecamp is located at Alta. From there he ventures off in search of untracked powder and this past winter to Alaska to film with TGR. The crowd went absolutely ballistic when the Trew sponsored athlete casually slayed an iconic Alaskan spine with utmost precision.

Colter Hinchliffe, Todd Jones, Todd Ligare, and Griffon Post introducing Dream Factory to the Aspen crowd.

Colter Hinchliffe, Todd Jones, Todd Ligare, and Griffon Post introducing Dream Factory to the Aspen crowd.

The highlight of the film for me was Griffon Post’s deployment of a BCA avalanche airbag. From what Todd Jones told me, whilst filming, it easily saved his life and made the need for a search unnecessary. Look for the clip here on Wildsnow soon.

Additional photos from the weekend.

Standard shenanigans from the weekend included PBR pajamas, 60mph go carts, reggae bands, and way too many Red Bull's with vodka.

Standard shenanigans from the weekend included PBR pajamas, 60mph go carts, reggae bands, and way too many Red Bull's with vodka.

Many thanks to the dedicated Aspen Snowmass team that was able to execute another great event including Meredith McKee, David Amirault, Deric Gunshor, Cat Leonitis, Maria Hidalgo, and Buck.

The Meeting 8 from Aspen/Snowmass on Vimeo.

Comments

6 Responses to “Vaya a la Cumbré goes Further”

  1. Matt Kinney October 5th, 2012 10:34 am

    There was only one stoned heli pilot.

    Heli drops were $100 not $5. Ski planes were $40.

    Safety meetings were held before and after each drop off. (see stoned pilot)

  2. Jess October 5th, 2012 12:02 pm

    Looks like another spectacular weekend in paradise. So excited to see all these films. I’m a big fan of ski films with some sort of human/historical/geographic theme — as much as I love watching ski/snowboard flicks to get excited and brush up on the latest synth-pop-rap. Hope you picked up a set of those croakied wrap arounds for the Wildsnow team.

  3. Joe October 6th, 2012 12:52 pm

    @Matt really? Can’t you still get drops for $100 today? Even Silverton has half price heli drops for under $100 on certain days…

  4. Lisa October 7th, 2012 6:34 pm

    Last night it dropped to 22 and the chilly temp left me wishing for a few more days of summer sun…until I watched the ski clips. Now I’m psyched for winter and all the fun ahead. Thanks Joe!

  5. Callie J. October 8th, 2012 12:33 pm

    Agree with Lisa! This recent cold spell is reminding me of the great skiing days to come. Are all these films available online/ in stores or were they exclusives to the film festival?

  6. Joe October 8th, 2012 2:52 pm

    @callie

    The movies from the weekend were as follows:
    Level 1- Sunny
    Jeremy Jones & TGR – Further Intermission
    Burton – 13
    MSP – Superheroes of Stoke
    Givin – Too
    Voleurz – Kill Your Boredom Intermission
    PBP – WE: A Collection of Individuals
    Sent Productions – Vaya a la Cumbre Movie
    TGR – Dream Factory
    Pirates – Unique8
    Standard Films – 2112

    Many films are available although a few will be at film festivals only.

    http://www.amazon.com
    &
    http://www.backcountry.com/dvds
    Are great places to find many of the films.

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