TGR OPENS NEW ZONE IN ALASKA… AGAIN
Todd Jones Checks In From TGR’s Latest Exploration Into The Unknown
Words: Jamey Voss
Photos: Dana Flahr
A couple weeks ago we checked in with filmmaker Todd Jones from Teton Gravity Research on their recent exploits and exploration into a totally new heli zone aside Petersburg, AK in the Alaska Coast Mountains forLight The Wickreleasing this fall. Their group consisted of skiers Seth Morrison, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Ian McIntosh, Dana Flahr, and Daron Rahlves. TGR has a long and storied history for opening up un-skied areas in Alaska, and it looks like they may have found the nextitzone for filming in Alaska. Here’s what Todd had to say:
“For TGR and our riders Alaska has always been about exploration, as has the whole experience of making a film. Having explored a large chunk of the coast and opened a vast majority of the runs and terrain in Valdez, Haines, the Tordrillos, and more; we really felt the need for new stuff. The first four years we were in Haines we were all alone: no freeriders, no heli operators. I think last year there were eight film crews battling for lines. It felt like a ski area and it leaves little creativity to the filmmaking. The puzzle has largely been put together and solved in Haines.
Thus we decided to throw caution to the wind and hang it out to dry in a new location. It is an extremely challenging process to map and open an unexplored zone. We have a strong crew for doing this. The entire team from our lead guide Jim Conway, to our heli pilots, to our riders, is versed in the process.
It can be extremely scary at times due to the risk factor. You have people’s livelihood and season on the line, and you do not know if it will stack up and work compared to the standard that has been set in big mountain riding. It’s a big gamble. On this trip we were able to get some early recon in, but then we got destroyed by weather. It was one of the worst cycles I have seen in a long time. This added a tremendous amount to the stress and unknown questions.
We finally got in an incredible film day on Easter Sunday. I think we filmed 15 lines, all from the ground and air. Everything was a first descent. We tagged some gems. Dana blew his knee, which made it a bittersweet victory, but we had opened the door to a new universe. We looked over the edge, dropped in without knowing what was on the other side, and discovered it went. It felt good to get the initial burden off our backs and put some ridiculous footage in the can.
At this point the weather looks to be in a much better pattern. The crew is out filming again today. This is still a very challenging location with or without good weather. The mountains are very big and rugged with tons of glaciers and ice, so we have to keep our program tight out there. In the end, I think the viewers will see an amazing new location on film and see the process we have gone through in bringing it to life. I think the general sentiment in TGR right now is that it is time to explore. We are going to cut the chord and start poking around some stuff that has been on our radar for a few years.”