How Meaningless is The Pursuit of Snow?


The title of the new Patagonia film, does an injustice to the extremely deep and meaningful role the backcountry plays in the lives of those featured...

'Riding powder is a futile quest, and yet people all over the world dedicate their lives to it.'

Can I quickly clarify that the above words are not mine but a quote from Patagonia, introducing their recent film, The Meaningless Pursuit of Snow, which follows five different backcountry riders, all united by the quest to break trail and lay down tracks in the powder.

In what is becoming one of the most popular ski films of recent years, we're mercifully not subjected to backcountry pros scoring epic lines off stomach-churning steep ridges that you watch and think thank God that's not me. Instead the people are chosen because of their love of the backcountry, whose ski touring journeys would inspire any viewer to put on skins.

Having watched this inspirational hour-long film by Sweetgrass Productions, the title sits uncomfortably. Or is Patagonia being super ironic because for the people featured - as well as for all of us who regard powder as the Holy Grail of skiing - there is nothing more meaningful than the pursuit of snow.

And this is what comes across in the film. Shredding pow in the backcountry may not cure diseases or save lives (and indeed may, sadly, take them as the film reveals) but it is, without doubt, one of the most enjoyable pursuits on the planet.

And, okay, we've all heard the comment, 'Why are you walking up a mountain when there are ski lifts?' But any ski tourer knows exactly why. Because it's exhilarating, liberating - and fun.

There's Atsushi who spends his winters living out of his van chasing snow across Japan powsurfing on his strapless Yuki-Ita snowboard - and, yes, who knew that it is possible to ride with no bindings, without slipping off while hucking a pillow and saying sayonara to your board?

Across in the USA, Vanessa, an undocumented immigrant, only discovered skiing as a college student and is now a backcountry convert in Jackson, while Melissa is rediscovering her mountain mojo following the tragic death of her partner, Joe Lohr while touring in Wyoming's Teton Range.

Back in Europe, Aurelien and his partner bought a ruin above La Grave, which they are currently renovating while selling eggs from their chickens to give them the peace and pow riding the legendary descents of La Meije. In Vermont, Vicki. an ex-Olympic ski racer shreds the trees on the East Coast with her daughter. Now in her 60s, there's rarely a moment when she's not smiling as she skis.

Like all those featured in The Meaningless Pursuit of Snow, she proves with her joie de vivre that it is far from meaningless. The Pursuit of Happyness would have worked better if not already a Hollywood title. Or Society of the Snow, except this is the film about an entirely different group of people united by snow in the recent true-life based drama on Netflix!