‘YAW!’ screening shows first raft descents, supports Friends of the Yampa

Casey Vanderbroek/Courtesy
Casey Vanderbroek, on shore, looks on as Tony Glassman and Joel Wenblad raft over Crystal Mill Falls.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For the past five years, Tony Glassman and his Colorado-based crew of rafting friends have been running stretches of water that knew no other rafters. Kayakers, yes, but no rafters.

In between the crew’s descents of wild waterfalls and chaotic creeks, they were noticing the adventure sports movie scene seemed full of kayaking and SUP films — but not rafting films.

“We felt like rafters were underrepresented. We wanted to make a movie showing what rafts can do,” Glassman said.

One element of the situation may have been a dealbreaker for some.

“I have zero background in film,” Glassman said. “None of us did.”

But they didn’t let that slow them down. The friends pooled money to buy video cameras, then figured out how to use them with some help from YouTube tutorials. Soon enough, they were shooting raft footage across the Americas. 

The products of their adventures culminated in the 71-minute film “YAW!,” produced by Glassman and Joel Wenblad, which will screen Friday, Sept. 20, at Lost Range Headquarters, 2835 Downhill Plaza, No. 602. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception full of barbecue, beverages, live music and a drawing. At 8:15 p.m., the film begins, followed by a Q&A with Glassman and Wenblad.

The evening also serves as a benefit for nonprofit Friends of the Yampa. 

“We’re thrilled to have them benefit us,” said Friends of the Yampa President Kent Vertrees. “We love how many people want to celebrate the river, and boating films are something we look forward to this time of year to remind us how great the season was.” 

If you go

What: “YAW!” film screening and Q & A
When: 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20
Where: Lost Range Headquarters, 2835 Downhill Plaza, No. 602

The film recalls the highs, lows and unexpecteds of these expeditions — ranging from a world-record-breaking, 120-foot first raft descent of a waterfall, to when the group happened upon a company illegally building a hydroelectric dam in Ecuador. 

“YAW!” gets its name from the call one of the rafters brought from his place of work: a ranch.

“When they’re out on their horses, they yell, ‘yaw,’” Glassman said. “We started yelling that out as we’re going down rapids and thought it was catchy.” 

Glassman is proud to report that the group caught “way more first raft ascents than we expected” — more than 20 in the film. 

“We’re really hoping that people see what’s possible in rafts,” he said. “Hopefully, this will inspire people to go be out there on those stretches of river, and help build the rafting community.” 

While “YAW!” was filmed by the crew of five friends, they’re already having conversations with production companies who could potentially make “YAW 2” “something a little more artistic, Glassman said. The plan is for “YAW 2” to take place in Patagonia. 

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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