January 2019, RED Mountain Resort, British Columbia, Canada
Reflections on a Warren Miller Shoot with Kaylin Richardson
We all come here for the same thing.
That is the takeaway I gleaned from a longtime coffee shop owner in Rossland, British Columbia, an eclectically quaint town at the foot of Red Mountain. We’d been talking about the personalities that have settled in this ski town, as well as those that pass through. I agreed I had witnessed the same phenomenon over my years and career in the mountains. CEOs worth millions, seasonal resort staff, and ski patrollers alike, they come for the same thing…to ski and experience a piece of mountain town life, if only temporarily.
In 2018, I had the privilege of filming at Red Mountain for Warren Miller’s 69th film, Face of Winter. It was a unique process with so many different people coming together to film the segment. Most often it’s two, maybe three pro athletes and a cinematographer. For this shoot, there were three pro skiers, three ski patrollers, three cinematographers, two drone pilots, a producer, and a still photographer working together to bring the landscape and narrative to life! That is a large team of people and a lot of moving parts. As a disclaimer, we had more to accomplish than just the Warren Miller segment, but it was still a broader and larger production than I had been a part of in the mountains.
The conditions cooperated, and I got to make the coveted turns in powder for the big screen. But, what I remember most about the shoot was all the different people involved. Even the pro skiers had different perspectives. Joining me was Dennis Risvoll, Norwegian freerider and father of one, and Simon Hillis, a young prodigy and hometown hero of Rossland.
On the patroller side, Duncan Browning, a Cornwall, U.K. native, crossed an ocean to find his home at Red, and Jill Macknee, the longtime snowboarder, taught herself to ski so that she could realize her dream of being a full-time patroller (read her story here).
Director, Chris Patterson, has shot more than 20 Warren Miller films and been at the helm of the most recent, but he’s just as passionate now about sharing the excitement than ever. Different paths, different stories, same love. The tour of Face of Winter has come to a close, but the greatest gift of attending premieres, from San Francisco to Minneapolis to Hartford, is that every theater is full of the same bright eyes and smiles of anticipation.
I was relaying that original conversation with the kindly shop owner to someone not long ago. Mildly perplexed, they asked, “What is that thing?” I laughed, because over the months since that chat in Rossland, it never occurred to me to have to define it. That “thing” that bridges culture and credo is, well, so many things – the exhilaration, the freedom, the sense of belonging – everything the mountains give us. It is not something singular, it’s a greater whole that moves us beyond words or labels. I attempted to explain “it” to my acquaintance, but finally gave up and just said, “words can’t describe, it’s just a feeling that draws us in.”
Whether I was able to convert this person into a mountain-lover is of no consequence. Maybe they find their chi near the ocean, maybe their zen manifests in the hustle and bustle of a capital city. All I know is that, year after year, my deep connection to the mountains grows, and these conversations just reinforce what I’ve known for a while now.
I’ll keep coming back, again and again for those high fives and good vibes.
You can check out the amazing Red Mountain Ski Patrollers below or by Warren Miller’s Face of Winter, among other goodies at warrenmillergear.com.
“We all come here for the same thing.”