Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Backcountry Film Fest Looks at Snowshoe Artist and More
Sindre Kinnerod and Audun Fjeldheim filmed Simon Beck as he worked in Stryn, Norway, for a 6-minute film called “Snow Artist.”
Monday, February 6, 2017


Some artists create with paintbrush or chisel. Simon Beck creates art with snowshoes.

The British snowshoe artist has walked up to 30 miles at a time, creating patterns in the snow that are seen only from above. Using a compass and sketches to figure out how many steps it’ll take, the Oxford-educated engineer has created everything from a wolf howling at the moon to an apple tree to mesmerizing geometric patterns.

His paintings in the snow last only as long as the snow holds. But you can see his work in the film “Snow Artist” at the 12th annual Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival on Thursday, Feb. 9.

The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10, available at local outdoor stores or at the door. Proceeds go to the Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Alliance of Idaho, Winter Wildlands Alliance and Friends of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center.

Winter Wildlands Alliance is a national nonprofit organized to champion Nordic, backcountry skiing and other human-powered winter recreation. The organization also works to protect and care for winter landscapes.

“All the films focus on winter and silent winter sports,” said Sarah Michael, president of the Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Alliance. “You’ll see everything from fourth graders who have never been on snowshoes before getting to experience winter ecology to some beautiful backcountry skiing.”

It might be tempting at this point for those who are weary of shoveling snow to wish that Winter Wildlands was Summer Wildlands and that the films focused on backpacking on a beach.

But, hey, we do live in snow country. And any gripes about the snowplow blocking your driveway are erased in an instant when you turn your skis through five new inches of fluff on Baldy or scissor your way around Billy’s Bridge against the backdrop of the stunning snow-cased Boulder Mountains.

The 2016-17 Backcountry Film Festival kicked off with its premiere in Boise in mid-November. It is touring more than a hundred cities through late March. Films range from two minutes in length to 16.

Here’s the lineup:

“Reflections”-This short explores how the woods in winter can seem like poetry to the senses.

“Lifecycle of a Powderwhore”—This ski film is provided by a young man from Salt Lake City who realized he could make a living with a camcorder and pair of skis.

“AK Girls Way”—This honors Liz Daley, a consummate mountain guide with an infectious enthusiasm for life.

“SnowSchool”—This shows the magic that unfolds in a Winter Wildlands Alliance National SnowSchool program.

“There on the Periphery”—Filmmaker Joel Wolpert takes viewers on a mid-winter dream with professional trail runner Ricky Gates.

“An Education”—Join an 11-year-old girl and her father on their quest to ski the backcountry of Antarctica.

“Season on the Brink”—This film examines lessons learned during a backcountry accident when a skier slid nearly 1,000 feet over rocks and ice near Tuckerman Ravine on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, necessitating a rescue operation involving an airlift.

“Pace: Pedal to Peaks”—Professional adventure skier Brody Leven uses a gear-laden bicycle to get to the peaks he climbs and skis in arctic Norway.

“The Lost Sierra”—The U.S. Forest Service is planning for the future of winter use on public lands across the country, beginning with five forests in northern California, including the Plumas. This gives viewers a snapshot of the history and current day culture of skiing in the Sierras.

“China—A Skier’s Journey”—Skiing as a sport is in its infancy in China but fast catching on with China’s middle class. It was, however, a means of survival born in the Altai mountains where China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Siberia merge—a past documented in this film, along with a look at modern-day skiing in China.

“Snow Artist”—A look at snowshoe artist Simon Beck.


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