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Not your usual ski porn

Monumental: Skiing Our National Parks is a tribute to 100th anniversary of U.S. park service

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It's a challenge; that's the beauty of it. It's a challenge that can kill you."

Monumental: Skiing Our National Parks opens with some of the best skiers in the world engaged in arguably the least sexy thing about backcountry extreme skiing — trekking and climbing for long stretches to get to the top of a tall mountain face.

In August, the U.S. National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday. KGB Productions and Powder Productions, the new filmmaking offshoot of Powder Magazine, decided to pay tribute in the best way possible, skiing mixed with a healthy dose of history.

"The skiing in some of these places is really good," says the film's executive producer John Stifter.

"The narrative of this film is to juxtapose the original explorers and naturalists who settled these places and called for their preservation, with these contemporary skiers who are tracing their steps."

The film is directed by Chris Kitchen of KGB Productions.

Film locations include places well loved by Whistler wilderness fans and not too far from home — Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton, and Olympic National Parks.

No helicopters or snowmobiles were used in getting the athletes to each spot, Stifter says, but the pro skiers — including Lynsey Dyer, Greg Hill, Andy Mahre, Kalen Thorien, Max Hammer, Connery Lundin, Colter Hinchcliffe and Mike Gimmeson — had no trouble getting to work.

"The 100-year anniversary is a pretty big deal. We knew last year we wanted to do something in the magazine to honour it," Stifter says.

This is Powder's biggest film project to date.

"We essentially wanted to translate the quality of storytelling from the magazine and website into video and film," Stifter says.

"The anchor for this story is the film, but we also have a multimedia visual feature, a hardcover book and the print stories. And now we have the tour."

While millions visit these parks every summer, they are much quieter places in the winter. The film was shot earlier this year, from February until June.

While the Grand Tetons provided the best skiing experience because, not least, the national park shares a boundary with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Stifter says his favourite segment was Olympic National Park in Washington, with a climate not unlike Whistler's.

"It's right on the ocean and the crew hiked 18 miles (29 kilometres) through temperate rainforest before they got to a glacier," he says.

"It's such a beautiful contrast of climate and geology."

Stifter wanted to bring Monumental to Whistler because he says, "Canadians appreciate the importance of public lands."

Monumental: Skiing Our National Parks will be screen at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. Filmmakers and athletes will be in attendance to talk about making the film in a Q & A session.

Tickets can be purchased at www.artswhistler.com.

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