In the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series, every chapter ends with a choice like “to go left and figure out what’s at the end of the dark and scary tunnel, turn to page 26, or to go right and drink from the murky, blue water turn to page 73.”
As a reader, one could cheat and take a peek at how each option played out. But, if you followed the rules, every chapter was a new, random and unplanned journey.
This was much like the ski season for Powderwhore Productions’ Noah and Jonah Howell. In fact, the lack of snow made it adventurous for all skiers last year, but when your job as a film company is to produce ski movies, things can get more interesting.
Halfway through the ski season, the Utah-based crew accepted that they were dealing with a lemon. So, instead of calling it quits, the Howells got creative.
“This film is more about stories and characters than it is just straight ski porn,” says Noah.
Instead of highlighting blower powder shot after huge cliff drops — which they still do — the Howells focus on the stories that drive people to ski and snowboard in the backcountry in their film, “Choose Your Adventure.”
Powderwhore features only backcountry riders in its films, like Darrell Finlayson, a Utah ski patroller who has skied at least one day each month for 178 consecutive months (as of production time), including taking on a sketchy patch recovering from breaking his neck. He says “that as long as you can put skis on and make a couple of turns, it’s good enough for me.” He drinks Ullr from the bottle, wears something that resembles an elf hat and sports an extra layer of sunscreen.
It’s these characters that drive the movie.
For Noah, the bad season didn’t end with dismal snow; he tore his ACL in January and that put him on the couch and created an obstacle when it came to getting behind the camera.
“Again, we just had to think outside of the box that we normally do,” he says. “In the past, we stuck to using footage that had to come from that season and it had to be something we shot. We broke those rules, and made a really fun film.”
Much of the footage is breathtaking. On a previous expedition, Noah trekked through Pyramiden, an abandoned Russian mining town on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. It’s eerie, and naturally serves as a stunning backdrop to skiing.
When the snow didn’t fall, the team went south — really south — to capture some incredible footage on Antarctica which includes Aspen’s own Chris Davenport. There may even be an icy Speedo scene (that doesn’t feature Davenport).
Filmgoers will also visit Chile, France, Alaska, British Columbia and the Wasatch Range in Utah.
“Last winter, you never knew what was coming next, and the snow was the real theme,” says Noah. “It was an up and down ride from really unique locations. We got all this really random stuff, and this is how we tied it together. It may not be the best soundbite, but it’s reality.”
Powderwhore Productions presents “Choose Your Adventure”
Thursday, Nov. 15
Glenwood Springs Recreation Center, 7:30 p.m.
$10/advance, $12/at door
Friday, Nov. 16
Belly Up Aspen, 7:00 p.m.
$12/advance, $15/at door