Splitboarders Bryan Iguchi, Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice look back and take it slow in TGR’s ‘Roadless’
If you go...
What: Teton Gravity Research: “Roadless”
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Saturday, doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15 for adults; $7 for children 16 and younger
Your typical snowboard movie doesn’t need volume. It can be played in the background at ski town dive bars while locals control the jukebox and the viewer will still get the message. While massive backcountry lines, anxiety-inducing heights, bottomless powder pillows and other staples of snowboard cinema still make appearances in “Roadless” — a new film from Teton Gravity Research that follows snowboarders Bryan Iguchi, Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice as they split-board through the Teton Wilderness — the narrative is as redeeming as the views of the Wyoming backcountry.
Veritable OGs of their industry, Iguchi, 46, and Jones, 44, have transitioned into a more exploratory phase of their careers, focusing more on the connection with mountains than the pursuit of peak-bagging via mechanized means. And Rice (37), best known for one of the crown jewels of snowboard films “The Art of Flight,” is literally following in their tracks.
The Teton Wilderness is the fourth cast member in “Roadless,” a title that drives home the reason for the trek: To immerse oneself fully in nature as far away from civilization as possible.
The man-powered journey into the most remote area in the lower 48 runs concurrently with an introspection into the career arc of the snowboarders. Unable to use any sort of motorized transportation due to the protected state of the Teton Wilderness, the three men (and unseen camera crew) split-board miles at a time atop the unconventional landscape of plateaus.
Iguchi refers to the geography as a snowboarder’s paradise — and even for people whose ideal backcountry trip involves minimal elevation gain — you’ll be ready to buy a split-board after witnessing the favorable approach. The three men start skinning above 10,000 feet before dropping into the valley, with Rice even pointing out that they’re skinning by a ton of tempting terrain.
However, for snowboard porn addicts looking to get their fix of face-melting montages set to rollicking EDM, they may have to look elsewhere.
The most extreme lines in the film come from footage of previous films. Whether it’s Jones scaling and descending the 13,770-foot Grand Teton, Rice’s career-altering experience stuck in Alaska during the film “Deeper” or Iguchi’s first taste of backcountry freeriding, the wow material serves as way to help the audience gain perspective on each snowboarder’s journey into the sport and reverence for nature.
We see a young Iguchi compete in early competitions but it’s not a gauzy, nostalgic memory — he explains how little he enjoyed the grind of lifestyle and the physical toll it took on him. That unhappiness led him to move to Jackson Hole, which at the time was unheard of from a business standpoint. All of his sponsors dropped him and he ended up cooking before reconnecting with the sport by riding in the backcountry with Craig Kelly, an icon of snowboarding from the days of its inception.
While the friendship ends tragically, we learn that Kelly’s influence on Iguchi also extended to Rice, a native of Jackson Hole who met both men growing up in the ski town. There seem to be as many conversations about career and the embrace of backcountry snowboarding as there are trips out to explore the vast terrain.
The maturation of the men is evident as the wild flashbacks are juxtaposed with three friends sitting around a campfire, reminiscing about career, friendship and life. Even the music — up-tempo for early footage, decidedly more mellow for runs in the wilderness — lends to the growth of the film’s subjects.
Because the land prohibits motorized vehicles, the three are limited to lines they can reach on a split-board. A full day of snowboarding only generates three runs, most of which are pretty tame by snowboard film standards.
“Roadless” is not your standard snowboard flick, though. The audience at Saturday’s Wheeler Opera House screening can expect a Discovery Channel-like feel. There are sweeping views of Wyoming backcountry with Iguchi playing the part of narrator, sharing the unique history of aspects of the Teton wilderness like the Two Ocean Pass near the Continental Divide which separates the headwaters of Pacific Creek, which flows to the Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Creek, which flows to the Atlantic Ocean.
The fundamental reasons you came to watch are the same — snowboarding, adventure, untouched powder — but the hosts have aged and evolved, which is a good thing because the message has changed into something more substantial than just snowboarders hucking cool shit.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”