Mountain Story 2023
Our annual festival devoted to great adventure and great storytelling
Program Schedule - please note locations!
In and Around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Travels in our Backyard by Bike, Foot, and Boat
WED, JAN 25
Alta Branch Community Room
A 1200-mile bike ride around the perimeter and multiple trips into the core wilderness areas by foot and boat, have given Don Carpenter a unique view of the vast, varied, and complex landscape of our incredible backyard, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Join us at the Alta Library to learn about the perspective gained and lessons learned during these remarkable explorations of the wild place we are so fortunate to call home.
Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry, But Make Them Wait
Melinda Binks & Matt Hansen
THUR, JAN 26
This workshop is an introduction to storytelling through podcasting with specific examples shared from the presenters' experience with the podcast The Fine Line, explaining how to weave a narrative through complex and emotional topics such as trauma in the backcountry. The workshop will also touch on the importance of sound and editing in podcasting, how to approach and conduct an interview, and how to engage an audience in the hectic digital age. Participants should expect a practical component where they partner up and interview each other prior to meeting as a group.
The Art of Paying Attention: Documenting A Life At Home and Abroad
Wendell Locke Field
TUE, JAN 31
Field shares the artwork and stories he’s accumulated over decades spent traveling as an artist and living close to the ground in Kelly, WY. He touches on the process and materials he uses in faraway places, how the “notes” taken on the road can be expanded upon at home, and talk about how creating while traveling slows you down and opens doors to new experiences. Photo credit: Ryan Dorgan
Mountain Stories: A Painter’s Journey
Wendell Locke Field Exhibit Opening
THUR, FEB 2
Wendell will be showing his mountain stories featuring works spanning many years, depicting scenes from the Andes to the Himalayas and the Sangre de Cristos to the Northern Rockies. This exhibit includes oil paintings, watercolors done in remote locations, travel drawings, woodblock prints, and multi-mediums. This exhibit reveals the journey as well as the destination—how on-location studies in charcoal and watercolor become finished pieces in oil.
“Buried” Film Screening & Panel Discussion
Lanny Johnson, Drew Kneeland, Ethan Lobdell, Mike Rheam, Lewis Smirl
In the early 1980’s, the Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol were the undisputed gods of winter in the mountain hamlet of Lake Tahoe, California, a sun-drenched wonderland of endless powder and parties. This sundry crew full of youthful hubris and a zest for explosives were guided by a newly minted avalanche forecaster named Jim Plehn. More thoughtful and strategic than the others, Jim was a stickler for safety and protocol; he had to be at this avalanche-prone resort. The responsibility to keep the skiing public safe was an all-consuming obsession of the patrol crew, which made the day of March 31, 1982 all the more devastating, when an avalanche of unforeseeable magnitude broke free. Millions of pounds of snow hurtled down the side of the mountain demolishing the resort’s base area.The wreckage was unimaginable and for the shell-shocked patrol team there was no time to dwell, eight missing victims were buried in the slide - co-workers, friends, family - and every passing second was precious. Over the next five days, through an unrelenting storm and unimaginable tragedy, the rescue team persevered, never losing hope for a miracle.The film screening is followed by a discussion led by Teton County Search and Rescue, JHMR Ski Patrol, Bridger Teton Avalanche forecasters, film contributor, and more. Film written and directed by Jared Drake & Steven Siig.
Photo Workshop: Finding Your Own Path
THUR FEB 9
Ordway Auditorium and via Zoom (will be recorded):
Jaramillo takes you through her journey as a photographer, shares her philosophy on photography and business, and inspires you to take the next step in your career. Photo credit: Shannon Corsi.
Melinda Binks is a camerawoman, producer and director based in Jackson, Wyoming. She has over ten years of experience working on independent documentary films and television series, both nationally and internationally. Her television work includes A&E’s Intervention, ABC’s New York Med, Oxygen's Final Appeal and more. Much of her independent filmmaking focuses on social justice issues. Melinda is very proud of the awarding-winning film Africa’s Daughters and the Right to Know/Right to Decide series produced for Oxfam America about the clash between extractive industries and indigenous peoples.
Don Carpenter has been guiding and teaching in the mountains since 1998. He was an owner and operator of the American Avalanche Institute for 12 winters, and continues to teach avalanche courses and assist with operations and curriculum updates at AAI. He has always had a passion for backcountry travel as a means for exploration of wild places. This exploration has taken him to remote corners of the world for travels by foot, ski, bike, and boat. Local outdoor adventures (big and small) have also given him a stronger connection and appreciation for his own backyard- Teton Valley and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Don lives with his wife and son in a strawbale home they built on the west slope of the Tetons.
Matt Hansen has been a professional editor and writer for 25 years, producing content from breaking news, essays, and profiles to in-depth feature stories spanning months of research. For 16 years he was an editor and writer at Powder Magazine. Today, he is the Communications Director for Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation, providing information about backcountry accidents and safety across multiple platforms and outlets. He is also the producer and co-host of The Fine Line podcast, which seeks to build support for Search & Rescue volunteers and explore decision-making in the backcountry.
Sofia Jaramillo is an adventure photographer and filmmaker based in the Tetons. Her work in photography and filmmaking focuses on telling stories of underrepresented groups and disrupting traditional narratives in the outdoor space. She is a National Geographic photographer and has worked for various editorial and commercial clients worldwide. Photo credit:
Wendell Locke Field grew up on a dairy farm and in the woods and lakes of rural Michigan, where he developed a deep curiosity and love of the natural world and began to express that in art. Since attending the University of Wyoming Wendell has spent most of his adult life in Jackson Hole. For the last decade and a half, Field has lived a deliberately simple life in a yurt at the edge of Grand Teton National Park, while also living his dream of traveling the world sketching and painting along the way. Wendell documents the life he has curated in various mediums from oils to woodblock prints to public art. Photo credit: Aaron Vermut.
Drew Kneeland grew up in Northern Vermont and attended Colorado College. He moved to Jackson Hole the day after graduation in 1989 and started working at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. He has been very fortunate to work with the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol for over 30 years, and now lives in Victor, ID with his wife and two kids.
Lewis Smirl is a mental health therapist that specializes in various therapeutic areas, including trauma-based treatment. He works on a specialized team that provides direct care to Teton County’s first responders to help them increase their resilience and mitigate impact from trauma and traumatic events as well as help address, treat, and manage complex trauma incidents. You can find Lewis exploring long technical climbs and mountain canyons, or, more likely, two hours behind schedule trying to identify a wildflower species. He feels deeply grateful for the ability to serve the heart of Jackson Hole through therapy. He lives in Wilson with his wife and their dog, Batman.
Lanny Johnson first began skiing and climbing in Canada and became a Full UIAGM guide in summer 1981 in Canada. He worked as avalanche control and Ski patrol Alpine Meadows from 1979-86, and worked as a climbing Ranger in Grant Teton National Park during the summers of 1981-89. He has also guided seasonally in Nepal and Tibet. Additional skills and passions include adventure photography and medicine, and he contributed valuable footage to the film. Lanny has worked as a paramedic, RN, PA-C, and associate medical advisor.
Mike Rheam works as the avalanche hazard reduction leader for Jackson Hole Ski Patrol and as a forecaster for the Bridger-Teton NF Avalanche Center. Mike is the coordinator and lead instructor for the JH NAS Field Session. He has had extensive experience heli-ski guiding and forecasting and is currently a guide and snow safety consultant for a backcountry lodge in the Alaska Range. Mike floats, fishes, hikes, and skis with his wife and daughter, both of whom ski better than he does.
Ethan Lobdel has lived in Teton County since 2007, moving from northern NH to be an educator and serve the local community. He is currently a member of the TIPS (Teton Interagency Peer Support) group (which provides mental health assistance for the first responders of Teton County), an active member of Teton County Search and Rescue, and is employed as the executive director of the Jackson Hole Children's Museum. He has a Master's Degree in Decisional Analysis, a field designed to integrate qualitative and quantitative observations to optimize decisional outcomes.