The office jocks here at TGR are by and large a pretty mellow group when it comes to outdoor adventures. We cruise the blue squares and even the black diamonds over at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or Grand Targhee, do our little cross-country bike laps, and will occasionally turn on our beacons and do some meadow-skipping up on Teton Pass. But some of the people we work next to do not mess around; they're here to shred, and they do it at 100%.
Ryan Halverson, TGR's Logging Manager, spends his office time managing the army of folks we bring in to sift through every video shot that comes through the door and analyze, organize, and label each one for the production of the final films. But when he's off the clock, he's hiking 5,000 vertical foot lines in Grand Teton National Park and filming his group of absolutely ripping friends for his homegrown production outfit, Full Room Productions. "I started doing in back in Wisconsin, shooting park skiing on VHS and chopping it up at home. Since then, it's always been about going in the mountains with your friends, shredding, and coming back home and seeing what you got on tape."
Last spring, that ethos took them up to Thompson Pass, Alaska, where Halverson and his die-hard ski bum buddies were intent on bagging some of the state's legendary snow-and-spine-littered walls for the filming of their new film, Frosty Flakes (see the trailer below), which was a collaboration between him and another hardcore Jackson local, Darrell Miller and his Storm Show Studios. But in the world's most infamous helicopter zone, there wasn't going to be a drop of jet fuel burned to get them to the top of any of their lines. "The biggest reward in the past few years has been hiking for lines under your own power. It’s been a ski bum lifestyle as a logger for me; there was never any money for helis or anything."
Undaunted by the prospect - years of day-long ascents in the Tetons had conditioned the crew to an astounding ratio of sweat and tears to powder turns - they walked for three hours on their first day of good weather to get to the base of a perfect ridgeline of steep AK gnarliness. Despite the 70 mph winds that had scraped most of the local peaks of decent snow, this ridge remained deep and pristine... until a helicopter came hovering in overhead to drop a group of clients on top of the same ridge. "We had one heli come in for one run and we got all concerned they were going to lap this zone," Halvy said looking back. "But they saw us and took off after one run of skiing probably the only route we wouldn't have considered that day." Respect for their physical labors were rewarded, and after spending an hour setting a bootpack up the face, the crew were able to get three laps a piece without another soul in sight. "Granted, we didn’t get seven runs in a day, but we got three, and we didn’t have to pay a dime for 'em."
"Granted, we didn’t get seven runs in a day like you would in a heli. But we got three, and we didn’t have to pay a dime for 'em."
On the third day of decent weather, the crew set their sights on Mt. Dimond and it's Gun Barrell Couloirs. Ever since Doug Coombs made the first descent down its 50-degree slopes, the mountain has been a right of passage for visiting pros ever since. After four hours of skinning, including Halvy's first experience with AK's unique glacier travel challenges, including false snow bridges and a bergschrund with a bottomless crevasse, they booted straight up one of the 4,000-foot couloirs, and two hours and a few harrowing icy steps later, they were atop a legendary Alaskan peak. "Todd Ligare and Griffin had skied that in The Dream Factory. To actually summit that mountain, one that was known for heli-skiing, on foot was pretty awesome. I don’t know how many people do that on a yearly basis."