WWA Backcountry Film Festival In Spokane, Thurs. Jan. 29, 2015!

The Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Backcountry Film Festival celebrates its 10th Anniversary with nine unique films to inspire winter adventurers to seek the snow less traveled.

When: Thursday January 29th, Doors open at 6 PM, Films start at 7 PM.
Where: The Bing Crosby Theater, Spokane.
Tickets: $12 Available in advance at Mountain Gear and TicketsWest.

The Backcountry Film Festival highlights the beauty, diversity and fun of the winter backcountry experience. Submissions come from world renowned filmmakers who travel every corner of the globe to submit their best backcountry work, and from grassroots filmmakers who take a video camera out on their weekend excursions and submit their best film short. The top films are then juried and assembled into a night of fun for all – whether you like to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or even just stay indoors and drink hot cocoa by the fire, there is something for everyone. These films are as diverse as the backcountry experience and will put a smile on the face of even the most winter-averse viewer.

This year’s films include:

  • Out on a Limb  Best of Festival award winner, from T-bar Films – tells the story of Vasu, whose love for skiing and the backcountry overcomes all obstacles.
  • Powder Pilgrimage  Best of the Backcountry award winner, from Joey Howell – chronicles the ventures of two friends ski-bumming it to Valdez, Alaska, a trip we should all take once.
  • Backcountry Baker  Best Grassroots Film award winner, from Jeremy Lurgio – follows Labrador retriever “Baker” and his owner as they pursue their love of mountains through backcountry skiing.
  • From the Road  From Fischer Creative – portrays the balance between liberation and limitation as a group of athletes come together to help a skiing comrade gain reconciliation with the Alaska peak where a 2009 accident ended his professional guiding career.
  • Afterglow  From Sweetgrass Productions – is a revolutionary and visually spectacular film that brings a whole new light to skiing in the dark.
  • 95 to Infinity  From Doglotion Media – follows brothers Andy and Mike Traslin as they keep the torch lit for 95 months of winter turns.
  • IRS Traverse  From Luc Mehl – a fun and quirky adventure through the Alaska Wilderness.
  • Sundog  From SturgeFilms – captures the dog days of skiing in Patagonia.
  • Higher  From Teton Gravity Research – continues the journey of athlete Jeremy Jones as he reaches new heights.

Proceeds from the Spokane showing support the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance’s efforts to preserve and promote opportunities for quiet human-powered winter recreation in the Inland Northwest.

The Backcountry Film Festival is sponsored locally by:

  • Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance
  • The Spokane Mountaineers
  • The Spokane Mountaineer Foundation
  • Gonzaga Outdoors
  • Mountain Gear
  • OutThere Monthly
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Backcountry Week at Boulder Hut to be Auctioned at Backcountry Film Festival, Jan 29th!

One lucky person is going to win a guided-catered backcountry ski week in British Columbia! The Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance will be auctioning a week with Boulder Hut Adventures (BoulderHutAdventures.com) at the Backcountry Film Festival at The Bing in Spokane, Thurs Jan 29th!

The Boulder Hut is located amidst the outstanding terrain and deep powder of the Purcell Mountains northeast of Kimberly, B.C. The high bidder wins a week-long fully guided and catered trip to the Boulder Hut in the 2015-16 winter season for one (1) person including helicopter access, a $2450 value!

boulder-glow-photoHow awesome would it be to win the auction and invite some backcountry friends to join you? Or maybe one of your friends will win and invite you to join them!

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A Vision for the Stevens Peak Backcountry

Where It Begins

The Stevens Peak Backcountry comprises the subalpine area in the vicinity of Stevens Peak, located on the Lolo and Idaho Panhandle National Forests, in the vicinity of the Idaho-Montana state line.  The Stevens Peak Backountry:

  • Offers prime terrain and snow conditions for backcountry snowboarding and skiing.
  • Has historically been used primarily for quiet human-powered winter recreation.
  • Is accessible during the winter from trailheads that can be reached by passenger vehicle, something uncommon for the public lands in our region.
  • Is experiencing increasing patterns of snowmobile use primarily for high-marking.
  • Is being threatened by the proposed expansion of the Lookout Pass Ski Area.

Proposed Stevens Peak Backcountry Winter Non-Motorized Area

The Proposed Stevens Peak Backcountry Winter Non-Motorized area (shown below) is an area of approximately 6,500 acres in the vicinity of Stevens Peak. It includes portions of the Copper, Saint Regis, East Willow (Stevens Lakes), West Willow, Boulder and Gold Creek drainages.  The concept was originally proposed to the Forest Service in 2000 by members of the Spokane Mountaineers.

Fig 1 IPNF Plan Revision Comments 4-16-12

The Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance

The Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance (formerly Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition) is a grassroots organization of backcountry skiers and snowboarders, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and climbers who value quiet human-powered winter recreation in the Inland Northwest.  Our goals:

  • Work toward the creation of a comprehensive and workable Winter Recreation Plan for the Stevens Peak Backcountry and other areas in our region.
  • Educate others about the value of and opportunities for quiet human-powered winter recreation.

We seek to strengthen the traditional winter recreation community by identifying and connecting the growing number of non-motorized winter recreation enthusiast users in our region — eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana, an area that includes the cities of Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Missoula, Moscow and Pullman. #Speak4ThePeak

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We Hope You’re Looking Forward to Engaging in the Winter Travel Management Planning Process

The INWBA is looking forward to the upcoming public comment period regarding the Forest Service’s proposed over-snow vehicle Travel Management Rule.  We believe that this will be an opportunity for a major step forward toward the creation of the Steven Peak Backcountry Area.  When the time comes, INWBA members will be asked to engage in the process, including writing comments both during the initial rule-making and in the future when the forests are developing winter travel plans.

Hidden Meadow, Boulder Creek

Hidden Meadow, Boulder Creek

Just so you can (re)familiarize yourself with what has transpired to make this possible, HERE is the Winter Wildlands Alliance’s press release on the federal court decision from last year.  In the press release, Winter Wildlands Aliance Executive Director Mark Menlove says, “We’re pleased with the ruling and we look forward to working with the Forest Service and other winter stakeholders to establish management plans for winter motorized use that are consistent with vehicle use in all other seasons.”

Thanks to the efforts of the WWA and Advocates for the West, it appears that the Forest Service will have the tools for managing important winter backcountry areas for quiet self powered recreation.

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Payette Winter Recreation Forum, A Working Model for Winter Travel Management

A model for creating a winter travel management plan may be what is occurring in Idaho’s Payette National Forest. The Payette National Forest issued a special order for the 2011-2012 snow season on a trial basis to protect resources and to provide areas for backcountry skiing based on the work of the Payette Winter Recreation Forum.  The forum is a collaborative process involving a wide range of stakeholders in winter recreation and conservation.  During its first year the special order, was according to reports, successfully implemented and the Granite Mountain Special Closure Order will again be in effect January 15 – March 31, 2013 for this winter.  More information may be found Here.


2012-13 Granite Mountain Travel Map (Click to enlarge)

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Stevens Peak is the Location of the Spokane Mountaineers’ Mountain School Annual Snow Climbing Practice Weekend

Stevens Lake and Stevens Peak have been the location of the Spokane Mountaineers’ Mountain School’s Snow Climbing Practice for more than 30 years.  The 2012 Mountain School Snow Practice was held the weekend of April 14-15 and is documented in a great video Here.

Roped team travel, self arrest and avalanche awareness are taught by volunteer instructors.  The Spokane Mountaineers Climbing Schools is possibly one of the best and most comprehensive climbing courses in the US.

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Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition Efforts Recognized

Local Outdoors writer Rich Landers of the Spokesman-Review has written a good summary of the recent history regarding Lookout Pass Ski Area’s proposed expansion and the INWBA’s (formerlyStevens Peak Backcountry Coalition) ongoing collaborative efforts Here.

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Forest Service Denies WWA’s Petition for Management of OSVs

Yesterday the Winter Wildlands Alliance’s petition asking for management of over snow vehicles (OSV) on national forest land was denied.  The petition was signed by the Spokane Mountaineers and 89 other organizations, representing 1.3 million members.  Details can be read on the NewWest Blog Here.

Quoting from the NewWest story, “…the Forest Service did agree to develop guidelines or factors for local officials to consider if they choose to implement winter travel planning, but gave no timeline for when those directives might be announced.”

Mark Menlove, WWA’s director was quoted as saying “We appreciate the offer to establish better guidelines, but guidelines are of little use without a directive to actually follow them.”

The Stevens Peak Backcountry Coalition will continue to work toward creation of a winter non-motorized recreation area for the Stevens Peak Backcountry.

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Snow Pact: A Model for the Stevens Peak Backcountry?

An agreement between backcountry boarders/skiers and snowmobilers has succesfully been in effect in Idaho’s Wood River Valley for the past decade.  The Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Alliance of Idaho worked collaboratively with the Sawtooth Snowmobile Club, Blaine County Recreation and the U.S. Forest Service to create the ‘Snow Pact’ which designates motorized and non-motorized winter recreation zones in the upper Wood River Valley.

The Snow Pact is a model of what we are seeking for the Stevens Peak Backcountry.  Read more about the history of the agreement in the Winter 2010 Sun Valley Guide story Here.

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Unprecedented Highmarking in Lone Lake Basin Leaves Backcountry Skiers Wondering When the Forest Service Will Take Action

Yesterday, three inbound snowmobilers passed us as we were climbing up the north end of West Willow Ridge at about 5,000 ft.  They passed us again on their way out at about 6,400 as we were nearing the shoulder of Stevens Peak near the head of West Willow basin.  The photo above (click 2x to zoom in) shows what we saw when we reached the vantage point on the ridge above the basin and what three snowmobilers can do in a short time.  The precedent is being set.

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