Every fall for the last 16 years Teton Gravity Research has unveiled prophecies of the shape of skiing to come in the form of a ski movie. These premieres are a staple of modern ski culture. Annualy, and in communion with skiers around the world, I practice the distinct ritual of sitting in a crowded theatre, trading mischievous smiles with ski friends I haven't seen since snowmelt. Beers are often smuggled and high fives are distributed and recieved. But after last winter's lackluster snowfall, and one of the hottest summers on record, I needed some extra spiritual healing. A local movie premier just wasn't going to cut it. I needed a pilgrimage. I decided the best way to do it was to pack my bags and head to Teton Village in a truck stuffed with skiers, bikes, and high hopes to see the World Premier of TGR's The Dream Factory. The goal was to experience TGR's medicine at its source, and slough off last season's funk in exchange for optimism.
So with the alarm waking me at 4:45 a.m., I got my first recollection of ski season: getting up early still sucks. I scraped fall's first frost of the windshield, joined a few skiing friends in a crowded truck, and left Colorado. The tallest peaks were covered in the season's first snow. Good signs were everywhere.
After eight hours of candy eating, emergency roadside bathroom stops, and laughs aplenty, we arrived in Teton Village at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.Snow was absent, but the magnitude of the Tetons never ceases to amaze me. As I made my way to bed that night the temperature dipped into the thirties. It's hard to sleep thinking about snow.
After sleeping on the floor—after all this was a ski bum trip—I awoke for some bike riding to prepare for the movie premier. The trails from the top of Teton Pass are plentiful, and they run all the way to the valley floor. If skiing isn't an option, biking almost makes up for it. Almost.
Then it was premiere time. Teton Village transformed from a quiet off-season base area to bustling center of activity. Hundreds of fans lined up to see the movie, get athlete signatures, and win free gear. Because it was the world premier, nearly all the athletes featured in the video were on-hand to spread the excitement to an already zealous Jackson Hole Community. After giving away more free gear than some small shops stock, the lights dimmed and cans cracked. It was time to see what teachings TGR had in store for us this season.
The Dream Factory opens up with Sage Cattabriga-Alosa explaining the problem we were all too familiar with: last season, the lower 48 was dry. To solve the snow problem, the folks at TGR did some soul searching and cancelled all their other plans in favor of just staying in Alaska. The movie sets the scene by mixing skiing history in AK—much of it documented by TGR—with today's top athletes shredding classic lines as well as exploring new zones like the Northern Chugach. I sat at the edge of my seat while Tim Durtschi mixed newschool jibbery with masterful big mountain prowess. I pulled my hair out as Daron Rahlves began tomahawking near the top of a spine wall, only to recover and slay the rest of the line like it never happened. The rest of TGR's family slashed their way through a dream-stuffed Alaskan winter. Then Dash Longe had his turn. After being swept over a bergschrund in his opening shot, he dropped bomb after bomb—flipping and spinning his way through unknown lines. The movie ended and the crowd cheered until voices were hoarse. TGR had spoken. When winter is hiding, go find it.
Afterwards, we hit the Mangy Moose. Athletes and locals mingled while American Royalty unleashed some funky beats, fueling a dance party that didn't die down until the lights came on. More high fives were handed out per capita in that bar than just about anywhere else in the world that night. OK, probably not, but the people rejoiced in TGR's visions.
The next morning it was time to return. Advil in hand, four Colorado skiers boarded into a truck and headed south. Somewhere in the Wyoming emptiness I understood the message I had received. Winter is coming. Shrug off the summer and get stoked. If you haven't ever been to a movie premiere, do it. TGR's Schedule is HERE. Time to head out on your own pilgrimage. It's the first step towards making this winter the best one yet.