- Sep 11, 2013
- Sweetgrass Reflections with Molly Baker
As we ramp up for the WORLD Premier of VALHALLA tomorrow night, we thought it would be fun to take look behind the curtain and into the world of what goes into making this kind of creative magic. Team CLIF Bar's Molly Baker shares a bit about life on the road with the Sweetgrass crew below.
Over the past two winters life has been weird. I’ve lived in a 112-square foot cabin on wheels with three to four boys, using hot springs to shower, eating quesadillas and CLIF Bars for every meal, having vehicles catch on fire, and car mechanics become a part of daily ski routine. But, every once in awhile I took a break, went to sleep in a larger house (or backcountry lodge), ate more than cheese and tortillas, and took a shower after skiing every other day. Those days were spent with Sweetgrass filming for their two-year project, Valhalla. Often viewed as the wild, esoteric weirdos of the ski world, the Sweetgrass gang sure likes to keep it real. But, what’s wrong with me when the most normal part of my year is hanging out with the guys who LOVE to film naked skiing? What would my twelve-year-old self think of me now?
Looking over the tiny town of Nelson, the Sweetgrass Manor housed 15 to 20 skiers at a time.
The typical day with Sweetgrass involves many things that aren’t stratospherically ridiculous. Early wake-up calls, deep powder, good food, great music, and a heavy night of sleep. Many skiers would categorize all of the above in “normal” “standard”, “status quo” even. But it’s the moments in between the moments. The tepees. Yama’s peace sign hologram sunglasses. Vans constantly breaking down. Skiing in the forest in the middle of July. Nakedness. They’re right, Sweetgrass are the guys my Momma warned me about. And my twelve-year-old self, well, she would think they’re out-of-this-world-awesome!
Because when you’re a kid all you want to do is run around naked and howl at the moon. When things go wrong you don’t care because whatever is going right is so right you can’t bother with the wrong. And when you’re twelve all you want to be doing is something like chase a bunch of wild boys around the woods showing them you can ski too. When you’re a kid you’re thinking that growing up will look a lot like Sweetgrass.
Nearing the top of Young's Peak on a rare sunny day.
In March of last season I found myself combining tiny house living and working with the Sweetgrass crew: Myself, Zack Giffin (tiny house builder and pillow aficionado), Zac Ramras of Sweetgrass, and our longtime Argentine friend Santiago Guzman, comfortably crammed into the tiny house (perfectly positioned in the Asulkan Lot on Roger’s Pass) for a two-week period of pillow smashing and relentless gawking at the terrain on Roger’s. I succumbed to the pressures of filming at some point in the trip, frustrated with crashing, timing the perfect light, and getting shots to contribute to the work of art Sweetgrass was out there to produce. As much as I wanted to get shots for Zac that he would be ecstatic about, I was also thinking of that twelve-year-old girl I used to be, wanting to make her proud. Days and days went by. The more I thought about not getting shots, the more I crashed, missed the light, or missed my line.
One of the most beautiful places on Earth.
One day near the end of the trip the whole crew decided to hike for one more lap through the pillow stacks. Avalanche stability had shifted in a negative direction. I was tired. Apprehensive. And a little scared. I was feeling like an adult. Zac Ramras, being the incredible human and encouraging dude that he is just smiled at me and said we should just try once more before the day was done.
From above we both heard little shouts. Hoots and hollers that came closer and closer until we saw a small group of skiers and snowboarders above us on some pillow lines. It was local Greg Hill (fellow Team CLIF Bar skier) and a group he was guiding. They were all smiles. Pumped. Giggling like little boys that just found something they weren’t supposed to. We shared a brief, enlivened, energized, and completely day-changing conversation and they continued on, loving the moment like it wasn’t going to last forever.
Our home for two weeks on Roger's Pass last March.
I know this has happened to you before. Someone has completely changed your day without knowing it. Humans have the ability to make other humans feel good. Those guys, Greg Hill and his gang, made so happy. Watching them ski, smiles from ear to ear, was a shot of Serotonin, a reminder that whatever is right is so right that you can’t bother with the wrong. The snow was good, the company was better, and the mountains were a divine display. Skiing was right. For a minute I forgot that I was out their trying to get shots for Sweetgrass. I wanted to go ski powder. The childish laughter of other skiers was the cure. And I think we got a shot. I could feel it because I was feeling it. I was feeling skiing in my blood and in my bones, like love or hate, it’s so strong you can’t let it go. Skiing was the blood pumping straight to my heart.
And when your heart is filled with skiing, well, that’s when you make incredible moments happen for ski movies. I believe that every person that has worked with Sweetgrass has skiing in their heart. From the main boys to the interns to the athletes to the sponsors, Valhalla is a project that has been birthed from the heart of skiing (and a great penchant for story-telling) and I am so proud to be any part of it.
Valhalla seems to be a coming of age story and relates the beauties of the world to the joy of a child the first time they experience snow. Working with Sweetgrass has been that experience. Struggling as an adult to perform, succeed, and deliver what the world is expecting, but with a deep intrinsic desire to just be a child and enjoy the snow.
The sunsets in the Kootenays are the best. A late afternoon filming session with the Sweetgrass crew was common.
Hope everyone enjoys the film and thanks to CLIF Bar, Outdoor Research, and Sweetgrass for allowing me to be a part of it.
- Posted by:
- B Cole