Over the past two years, the Full Moon crew has scoured British Columbia and beyond in their quest for deeper pow and steeper lines. As much as their brand new release is a forward-looking film, smashing through any perceived limits of women’s snowboarding, the movie makes a point of reflecting on and incorporating the females who initially paved the way. And they succeed in both endeavors, and more. It would be a gross misstatement to label this simply a good women’s film. This is a killer snowboard movie, and here we offer up your tangible teaser.
Bella Coola - Annie Boulanger :
We drove 10 hours north with our fingers crossed that our luck would allow for a short, sunny window at Bella Coola Heli Sports. We heard the snow was good, and were being given a last-minute chance to make it happen. Bella Coola is one of those spots you’ve dreamt of but just never seems to have the right conditions; it’s fickle to say the least. Seeing those big, magical mountains in the movies sets dreams in motion, though achieving them never seemed possible.
The drive was long and flat, but once the road began to drop into the valley, the mountains stood up proudly. Massive and steep, and flanked by the the Pacific Ocean. It’s beyond breathtaking. Our first day in the heli everything was so unknown. We were amazed by the size of the glaciers and all these impossible faces. We had no idea where to start or what to do, so we stopped the heli in front of Mount Saugstad, one of the biggest peaks out there, for some scenic shots and warm-up turns. Our guide was named Woody, and little did we know, he was famous in the guiding world. It was special to be on such big faces and for him to have so much confidence in what we were about to ride right after a big storm. It definitely helped shake the feeling of being so small. He guided us in the right direction, stepping it up to larger lines and faces as the day went on.
You can only take so many baby steps up until it’s just scary any way you look at it and you have to just swing it. Leanne and I were both a bit scared. Leanne rode one line with a pretty dangerous drop off and a massive cornice and, as is her style, she used that fear as fuel, dropped in and just straight killed it. It was amazing to watch! By Day 3, the snow had settled and Woody took us to this high face with four long, steep couloirs. We had never rode couloirs that big and we were a bit hesitant at first but there was no way we weren’t going to ride them. Opportunities to ride cool faces in bomber snow conditions were few and far between that season. As we flew to the top of our lines, we realized just how massive the lines were. Eyes wide open, our photog Jussi Grznar radios in to tell us that he had zoomed in all the way and we still looked like ants! I guess we had all underestimated how big these faces were having never shot anything like this before. But what are you going to do? We were at the top and there was no way to go but down. Really, the entire trip was face after face of new frontier for us. Bella Coola delivered not only amazing conditions, but a new perspective on how big our own backyard can be.
Whistler - Jamie Anderson :
The first time I went to Whistler, I was 15 years old. It was March of 2006 and I was unbelievably stoked to be filming with Leanne Pelosi and Hana Beaman for Runway Films' LaLa Land. It was my first time to Canada and my first time filming in the backcountry. I was such a grom and I had to ride in front of Hana on her snowmobile as she mobbed us through the most magical mountains I'd ever seen. It's been nearly a decade, and since then I've been heavy on the contest circuit and not spending much time in the pristine mountains of Whistler. Last year I was given the opportunity to film with the Full Moon crew - some of the most bad ass women in snowboarding, all based in Whistler! I knew it was time to get back in the mountains to film and explore new shit!
That’s not to mention I was a bit burnt out on repetitive park riding. I couldn't believe how blessed I felt to have these badass women take me under their wing. Whistler is like nowhere else on the planet. With the ocean right there and the beautiful, humid climate, the ever-changing weather, and the community of awesome, outgoing people, it's a privilege to be apart of such a community and to spend more time there. The natural life is so alive and the mountains are endless! The snow is all-time, and with so much terrain to explore I remembered the feeling that I could spend forever here! It's the Whistler effect.
Alaska, Year One - Helen Schettini :
Alaska, 2015: my first time in Haines doing doors off (having our filmers shoot out of the helicopter), which means big money, high stress and no room for error. We hadn’t even spoken of it before the moment our guide, Mark Kelly, told us what was happening. He knew our ability level and he knew we could do it before we even believed in ourselves. The face was called Triple Shot, and there were three of us: Robin Van Gyn, Marie France Roy, and myself. We stared at the lines from the bottom and chose who was going where. This was it,
these shots are what makes a movie. We got dropped and billy-goated to the tops of our lines. I think we all soiled our pants before strapping in. In these situations, you question everything and contemplate why it is you’re on top of a mountain peak, about to do something extremely dangerous. But before you have time to question it anymore, you hear the heli getting closer and see it coming over the peak. You see the nod of the pilot, you drop, and it all goes silent. You can hear a pin prick because everything around you, save for the line you’ve focused on and the surrounding mountains, has disappeared. You feel the mountain, and you feel the powerful energy between you two. It’s the most surreal feeling ever, and it’s highly addictive.
Bralorne - Hana Beaman
I had heard many stories about this place over the years. It always comes up when we talk about rad trips for filming around Whistler because this special place becomes harder to access during the winter since the direct route becomes a trail for snowmobiles. A hunger for powder along with fewer people, colder snow, sick terrain, secret pillow zones, crazy parties, and somewhat general lawlessness pique the interest of sledders and snowboarders alike. Remnants of the mining industry remain along with some decrepit houses, a few dozen in population and limited amenities. It's eerily close to a modern ghost town but has unlimited opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Just make sure to pack in all your supplies...
Most of the crew had been to Bralorne before, though I hadn't been able to make it out there until now and boy, I was not disappointed. Robin and I decided to sled the 45 kilometers over the pass with minimal gear
to get some riding in and check some new spots along the way. Helen and our filmer, Ben, would drive the four hours around with all our gear, gas and other necessities for the week and meet us at our friends cabin in town. After a casual afternoon hanging and no-boarding with the Absinthe crew at a more well-known area, Robin and I linked up with photographer, Erin Hogue, and we continued our sled mission to the cabin. Just as the last bit of sun was disappearing we rode into town to see two familiar trucks headed up the road toward us. Sleds are the preferred mode of transport in the winter here, so we joined our friends on the slush-covered road and rallied up to the cabin.
We arrived to another friend chopping wood at the cabin, whom we later nicknamed "Braap Man,” and once we got the furnace going, unpacked and settled in, we began making tasty food and watching snowboard videos from the ‘90s oh VHS to get psyched for the week of shredding here. Classics like Decade, Technical Difficulties, the TB movies and Project Haakonsen set the tone for the week.
Over the next five days we sledded back and forth on bumpy logging roads to relentlessly hike tasty pillow lines, with plenty of laughing and serious snacking thrown in. We returned to a zone we called "Big Poppa Noobs Land" a few times in order to satisfy our pillow hunger on the endless options. So many pillows were slayed - it seemed like there wasn't enough time to do them all, but we sure tried! There was a close call with Helen getting buried by a collapsing pillow on one of these visits that made us all very aware of just how isolated we were and how quickly situations can change. So when we woke to a sunny morning we decided to take a break from pillows, take advantage of the sun and explore a new zone. We weaved our way through trees and creeks and finally made it to the alpine for a few fun laps before getting milked out on the jumps we built. During one outing we spent hours building a hip in a snow storm only to find out we couldn't quite get enough speed. But Braap Man gave us a good show by jumping it on his sled, making all the effort worth it! Every day we chowed on freshly fallen pow and had a freegin’ blast doing it! After the week of non-stop hiking, shredding, sledding and, of course, snacking, we made the call to head home.
If we had packed more food and gas, we could have easily stayed another week. But our supplies were exhausted along with our bodies, and with our powder hunger satisfied for the time being, we loaded up our gear in the dark and powered out the 45k back to the trailhead through a blizzard that no doubt would leave more snow for the next crew fortunate enough to make the trip.
Bella Coola - Leanne Pelosi :
Bella Coola is a hidden gem in beautiful British Columbia. The stars aligned for Annie B and I to head up from Whistler on a road trip two springs ago. We had heard that a few crazy Scandinavians had found these mountains and that some of the lines were much bigger than the more popular Alaska ones that we see in the movies and in magazines. Most runs are 5,000 to 6,000 foot runs, and these mountains are almost 9,500 feet high. The lowest pick up at 3, 000 feet. We didn’t know what to expect, however, as we approached the town of Bella Coola. We had to drive down a dirt road to the valley floor that was so scary - no guard rails and no pavement! Apparently the town had built this road themselves to connect with the rest of BC, otherwise it would have been just a port town on an inlet on the ocean; a tiny, secluded town called Bella Coola, where the main industries are fishing and tourism, but a hard town to get to from anywhere else.
As we approached Bella Coola, the mountains looked like they protruded out of a rock monolith. The access up to actually shred them proved only successful with a helicopter. Annie and I were freaking out on how big some of the couloirs were. By the time we had ridden a few of them, we were completely out of breath, our legs were burning and we wondered when we were going to reach the bottom. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. Jussi captured some of my favorite landscape shots of some of the most beautiful peaks. We would highly recommend anyone who wants to experience feeling like they just rode the biggest lines of their life to go here. And besides the snowboarding, the community is extremely quaint and very welcoming of visitors. It’s a fishing town with a lot of good salmon, hot springs just a boat ride away and lots of nature to enjoy!
Italy - Marie France Roy
I am pretty sure that just about anyone can say that they dream of visiting Italy one day. Either way, it was definitely on my list. The land known for its flavorful pastas, exquisite wines and more olive oil than you could ever need to host a Full Moon wrestling night party. In fact, the last of my expectations going there was to find prime snow conditions. I was indeed fully satisfied to go experience all the other Italian assets, but boy, did I underestimate this place.
I usually believe that everything is meant to be, and that in hard times, there is room for discoveries you wouldn't have made otherwise. This was the case for us in the winter of 2015. We had never seen such a lack of snow before, not only at home in BC, but pretty much anywhere in the world. In fact, our meteorologist extraordinaire Annie Boulanger predicted it herself - the only snow on the way was going be in Italy in a week. Helen and Robin had already left, and not wanting to miss out on the world's only good patch of snow, Leanne, Annie and I showed up a week later to the mountains and valleys of Alagna and were charmed instantly.
As forecasted, we scored a few dumps right away, waking up to our rental vans buried in snow and praying we could make it back up the hill to the house every night.
Leanne called one of the runs “Baker on steroids.” There were pillows everywhere, even right under the chair, and we were entertained by weekend warriors hucking themselves off anything, yolo-style. We quickly met our new favorite locals, Lauri and Alex. Lauri had been following Full Moon on Instagram and saw that we were in town. She recommended us to her friend Alex, a local ripper who generously brought us to all the spots and hit everything with style and more stoke than Miley Cyrus on a flying hot dog. We scored! The snow was deep and light, there were features everywhere within the resort - pillows, houses and cliffs to jump off, and cheese wedge spots with every snowboard film crew on it... We were far from being the only ones on a desperate search for the only good snow on Earth. Everyone was there, the Transworld crew, Absinthe, Manboys. Even Dylan Gamache was out there carving the shit out of that velour like Italian corduroy! Just kidding, but you catch my drift.
It sure was worth the trip, though. We had a few insane, sunny powder mornings that ended up being the best of our season. The girls all got a really vicious cold that took them out for a few days but we still got to session some awesome features with the locals. Alex had us over for a royal dinner at his place, the whole
house fashioned of old wood, mud and stone roofs. We had wine, local traditional drinks and a gourmet vegetarian meal. The scenery was so rad, with views of mountains and valleys holding houses a few hundred years old. It’s the kind of history you don't experience in North America. Hopefully we won’t experience these snow conditions struggles too often, where you need to fly across the world in order to find snow. But, no matter what, Italy is a destination that I want to experience again, for sure.
Baldface - Robin Van Gyn :
Our Delorean looked more like a helicopter, but it had the same effect. We exited at 2,050 meters, one by one, onto the powder tarmac in front of Baldface Lodge only to meet in the lodge and realize we were now flanked by some of snowboarding's most influential females, old and new. Here was the line-up:
Marie France Roy
Robin Van Gyn
I am going to go ahead and call it a dream trip. Seriously, come on, taking tits-deep laps at the epicenter of snowboard culture with legendary females who were our snowboard idols growing up… MAJOR FAN OUT. We hung onto their every word as they told stories about the early contest days and the mayhem of old snowboard trips, them being the only females in a sea of dudes. Tina, in particular, fully time traveled on this trip. She hadn't been snowboarding in a decade, so to see her decked out in her vintage gear on her first-ever free snowboard gifted to her by Tom Sims himself was something special. From Circe and her daughter Ava shredding together to Estelle Pensiero showing us how to actually ride Baldface to Barrett showing us the true meaning of style to our own Full Moon crew slapping fives and making elegant selfies, the entire three days was filled with once-in-a-shred-lifetime moments. The entire crew was buzzing on being together under these circumstances and it was inherently a bit of a challenge for our guides. Imagine a cat filled with 16 amping females in epic conditions; herding cats, lassoing wild ponies, trying to catch fish with your bare hands, whatever you want to call it - patience was imperative. Those guys probably went home after four days of guiding and partying with us and slept for week. We kept the lodge up to the early hours of the morning making bonfires, jamming off-key, crowd surfing and chugging beer out of Homey J's left foot, second hand shoe. There couldn't have been a better way to get our heads in the game to start filming the last season of FULL MOON.