Film Review: Elevation

Photo by Noah Howell

Skiing and snowboarding in the backcountry.

While the view from the lift line rarely changes, the backcountry experience is new every time. Elevation, the newest film from Salt Lake City–based Powderwhore Productions, premiers in Bozeman on October 1, taking viewers from one backcountry adventure to the next in search of elusive, untracked lines.

The film documents a diverse mix of riders and locations across North America: telemark skiing in the Teton Valley, snowboarding in the Wasatch, lightweight touring in Washington and Wyoming, and deluxe camping in the Tordrillo Mountains of Alaska.  

The film highlights elite riders who spend their time exploring the terrain in their own backyards. Jake Sakson skis in the Teton Valley and talks about areas so vast he rarely comes into contact with other riders. “It’s sometimes a lot of work to get out to ski the stuff you want to ski," he says, "but that’s what makes it special.” 

Photo by Noah Howell

The people featured in Elevation are alike for one reason: they love riding in the backcountry, earning turns under their own power, and exploring new locations along the way.  

“There’s the act of skiing, but then there’s the whole act of discovering and I like mixing the two together," says backcountry skier Andrew McLean. "There’s just this sense of exploration that you really can’t get anywhere else.” 

The Dorais brothers are featured prominently in the film, holding notable speed records on the Grand Teton and Mount Rainier. They claim they “just want to ski a lot, try and go fast, push ourselves, and go to some pretty places.”

As the natural skiing experience becomes more prevalent, Powderwhore has chosen to stay fixated on the authentic element of the sport, creating a film without the use of helicopters or large-scale productions. Their newest film portrays the real skiing experience, not just an intangible reality that the majority of viewers will never grab hold of.

Photo by Jonah Howell

In this most relatable of ski films, it's refreshing to see that the everyday skier is not lost. While the athletes featured are talented in their own right, it’s not always about the best trick or the biggest line, rather the people themselves who spend their time in these places.

Backcountry riding requires no validation—it’s out there waiting for anyone that’s up to the challenge. Elevation shows us what it means to get out under our own power in places where nothing comes easily... and it’s that much better for it.

Elevation comes to Bozeman on Tuesday, October 1 at the Eagles Club. The show starts at 9pm and tickets are $10. There's also a raffle to benefit the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. For more information, head to