Mentors: Hilaree Nelson
It may be tempting to think of the world of ski mountaineering as one dominated by brawn. With, admittedly, some brain requirements to help mitigate serious risk factors. But, beauty? Is there room in this burly, testosterone-fueled world for the feminine? And not just for the token female, but for many of the fairer sex? As a pioneer in this often rough-and-tough milieu, Telluride’s own Hilaree Nelson has an unequivocal answer and shows us, by her personal example, how women can do anything men can do (...and better).
PHOTO VAGABOND, A Yeti Tribe Story
Professional photographers inhabit a rarefied space where the chances of success are negligible, at best. Narrow the niche to adventure/nature photography and — f-stopping the focus down even further — to life as a biking photographer, and you’re in Dan Milner’s world. It stretches from cloud-hung valleys in the Alps to baking hot Ethiopian villages. And to anywhere and everywhere in between that a passion for the perfect shot and two wheels can get him.
The Explorers: Casey Brown
“Am I a crazy person?” downhill mountain biker Casey Brown asks in this short film. Decide for yourself as you watch her negotiate the massive drops, huge gaps and puckering lines of southern Utah.
Ikigai: The Shin Biyajima Story
When American professional snowboarder Travis Rice visits his friend Shin Biyajima in Nagano, Japan, the two join up to snowboard some of the best tree runs on the planet. But Biyajima’s life as a professional snowboarder is not just about chasing chest-deep powder. It’s about facing challenges, following his own path and appreciating the divine spirit in nature. In snowboarding, Biyajima has found his motivating force, his ikigai — or reason for being.
In the high steppe of Little Tibet, a young boy develops an unlikely obsession: ice hockey. He fashions pucks out of stones, trains on homemade skates and worships Czech hockey icon Jaromír Jágr. And he has his heart set on an outsized dream.
Tenaya Creek Kayak Run
Yosemite isn’t just for climbing anymore. Consider this a world class kayaking destination for outrageous creeks and water freaks.
French freerider Kilian Bron takes his mountain bike on a via ferrata in the Dolomites, where he faces impossibly tight turns, hair-raising exposure and massive consequences for the smallest error in line choice. No you didn’t, Kilian Bron. Yes, he did.
Cracking Ice Ceilings
The cholita climbers of Bolivia have been subverting the culture of machismo since 2015 by climbing mountains. Not content to stay in their traditional roles as high-mountain cooks, these 11 escaladoras wanted to see for themselves what it felt like to go to the top. Pairing the traditional cholita garb of colorful skirts, shawls, bowler hats and brooches with ice axes and crampons, these women climb for the same reason many others do: that feeling of freedom that comes with standing on the summit.
“I didn’t think I had a future,” Will Robinson says of coming home from Iraq with PTSD and injuries. For 12 years, he endured the dead ends of medication-and-alcohol abuse and ineffective therapy. Then inspiration struck. He tackled the Pacific Crest Trail, then the Appalachian Trail, walking 3,800 miles on his own path to recovery. “Hiking gave me the ability to be the person that I always was, the confident person who was capable of doing anything,” says Robinson, whose trail name is Akuna. He’s already eyeing his next objective: The Continental Divide Trail.
Inner-city Memphis is not the likeliest setting for an enormous rock climbing gym. But since it opened in March 2018, Memphis Rox, the nation’s only nonprofit climbing gym — open to all, regardless of ability to pay — has proven that the challenges of technical climbing have strong appeal, and can provide benefits well beyond the traditional outdoor-recreation community.
Feel of Vision
Anyone who has kayaked whitewater knows that it can be scary. The idea of kayaking serious rapids without being able to see? Terrifying. And the notion of kayaking the entire length of the Grand Canyon, blind? Almost unthinkable. And yet, people do it. The first of them was Lonnie Bedwell. Bedwell lost his vision in a hunting accident and emerged from an ensuing period of intense self-examination determined to take back his independence and his identity. That he has accomplished. In spades. Just to add some glory to the guts, Lonnie now dedicates himself to helping wounded vets learn how to kayak and, in the process, to regain some freedom. And some fun.
All In: Alaska Heli Skiing
Tune in for a tutorial on how to absolutely shred Alaskan spines.