Films showcase backcountry experience |

Films showcase backcountry experience

Frances Hohl/For Steamboat Today

The Backcountry Film Festival, sponsored by Yampatika, takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs.

— Nearly 20 years ago, a group of friends were skiing the backcountry of Rabbit Ears, when a noisy snowmobile popped out of the forest, wrecking their peaceful trek. That's when a movement was born.

"It was the beginning of the proliferation of snowmobiles. We knew it was necessary to work with the Forest Service to preserve winter 'quiet-use' on public lands," said Backcountry co-founder Leslie Lovejoy.

Many folks take the quiet winter areas on Rabbit Ears and Buffalo Pass for granted, but at the time, there was no such thing as a "non-motorized" area during the winters on public lands. Snowmobilers could go wherever they wanted.

"We were one of the first winter backcountry groups in the country," Lovejoy said.

Fans of Routt County's quiet winter areas will really enjoy this Saturday's Backcountry Film Festival, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Chief Theater. In fact, part of the box office sales will go the Routt Backcountry group and Yampatika, which provides educational programs to the public.

The film festival will show 11 short films, ranging from 3 to 12 minutes, with an intermission. And Yampatika Program Director Kellie Gorman says this isn't YouTube home video quality.

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"No offense to anyone who puts their stuff on YouTube, but the films are gorgeous with engaging scenery,” Gorman said. “It's all focused on enjoying the natural environment without motors.”

Yampatika's Executive Director Joe Haines adds that the films are a way to increase awareness about the backcountry sporting opportunities.

"We've got a film that's a memoir of a mountain guide, a skier's journey in China and how skiing is becoming big there,” Haines said. “They (short films) run the gamut.”

"A lot of this is connected to what we do here," added Gorman. "We try to have our participants have a wonderful experience so they go back outdoors and appreciate it … these films capture that 'a-ha' moment."

The film festival is produced each year by Winter Wildlands Alliance with local sponsors like Yampatika and the Friends of Routt Backcountry.

Tickets to Saturday's show are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Visit for more information.

If you go:

What: Backcountry Film Festival 2017

When: 6:30 p.m., doors open; 7 p.m., films start, Saturday, Feb. 18

Where: Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave.

Tickets: $20 for adults; $10 for students