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Why push through pitch black mornings, pain, long drives, and gambles of time? For some it’s the search for unique moments, the hunt for obscure areas. If weather, riding, place, and time find equilibrium it forms a rarity that’s not quickly forgotten.
The images here were put on hold last season, but they were too good to let waste away on a hard drive. In March of 2018, alchemy was alive during the Melodrama movie crew’s stay in the Tetons. The group was comprised of riders Bode Merrill, Pat Moore, Garrett “Worm” Warnick, Chris Grenier, and Johnny Brady, along with filmers Joe Carter and Jon Stark. Merrill and Moore are no strangers to the folds of the Tetons and its surrounding ranges.
The area’s icons have led them to obscure locations over many years of filming. During this stint, the crew pushed out into storms of wind and white fury only to retreat. Returning days later they were greeted with bluebird conditions and fresh wolf tracks. The wild we witnessed over two short weeks was not of the animal kind. Instead it was an extraordinary caliber of riding. Bode and Worm landed nearly everything they tried, a true testament to their talents. Other moments proved equally indelible: Grenier’s enthusiasm for all involved, Moore and Brady’s stoic ways. During a film and photo project, riding is often the biggest challenge, for there is so little of it that actually happens. We’re simply at the mercy of the weather. You can’t ride if you can’t see, and you can’t ride if there’s no snow. But when it all clicks and a trick is perfectly executed or a line is laced, it’s a phenomenal act to witness. The pages ahead present those scarce and sacred moments in clicks of 1/1000 of a second.
(About the opening image) Chris Grenier spent almost a whole season at his newly finished cabin deemed “The Freedom Frontier,” complete with rope tow, concrete skate park bike jumps, and more. A bleak winter in Utah meant this was some of the first powder Grenier rode, and we nearly lost him in it.
This step down is hard not to pass up and forms differently every season. Yet it’s also totally blind and a bit nerve-wracking as one falls from the ledge. Too fast and it’s a massive drop to flat, too slow and you risk slipping the edge. Here Bode Merrill brings a backside five off over the face.
Early bird gets the worm. Before this hike here we spied fresh wolf tracks in the valley below. Rather than cutting trail towards home or heading out to hunt like our furry, four-legged friend, Pat Moore breaks trail to a step down shortly after dawn.
This one-footed backside seven Japan from Merrill pushed the bar again, spinning and stomping with style while pinning it through some narrow trees at the bottom.
Worm is my spirit animal. Not sure who came up with that, but I’m a believer. There are even some T-shirts in honor of Garret “Worm” Warnick with this message.
This jump was a last-minute addition that proved beautiful. It was late in the day and we were pretty spent from breaking trail, exploring, and riding other features. The day’s fading light and snow were too good to pass up. We quickly built a jump then filmer Joe Carter and I hastily shuttled Pat Moore and Bode Merrill to the top as the sun faded. Here Merrill explores the lonesome Wyoming airspace as the sun goes down.
In the off-season Johnny Brady is a wildland firefighter. He was even in the area during the Roosevelt fire two summers ago. In the middle of this filming trip, however, he had to rally down to Salt Lake to take care of some firefighting paperwork. He was soon back taking care of business on huge kickers with the crew.
Pat Moore has seen a vast amount of terrain around the Tetons over the years while filming with legends like Travis Rice, Bjorn Leines, and Bryan Iguchi. Yet terrain always changes with storms and seasons. Here Moore spins a cab five over the spines of a familiar drop in the crisp morning.
Ben Gavelda is a part-time storyteller and full-time mountain man. @bengavelda