'Til the Wheels Fall Off | The North Face in Revelstoke, BC

by Johan Rosen 
photos by Justin Kious

It’s a dark February evening around 7 p.m. Done and dusted, we have no more to give. Even my truck has had enough as its left front wheel violently rattles loose right before a steep icy downhill on the drive on our last day of ‘boarding. In this game, you need to know when to push hard and when to give up. For us, this was it. It had been a great trip with many good moments, but this was our time to throw in the towel. Enough is enough.

Like my truck, there are many loose parts that must work together in perfect harmony for any video/photo production of backcountry snowboarding to be efficient. Snowmobiles love to break down, along with sophisticated camera gear and snowboarding gear. The weather and the avalanche conditions—all must align and function properly. Our muscles, bones, nerves and minds need to be in shape. Actually, it’s a goddamn miracle that we see so much amazing backcountry footage each year. In a perfect world, all parts would be working together for the majority of the winter. In reality, one or more of these crucial parts are always missing or broken, and we end up improvising, compromising and making up for it with die-hard dedication and work.

This past winter, The North Face team riders Keenan Filmer, Brin Alexander and myself teamed up with photographer Justin Kuios and videographer Logan William to do exactly this: work in unison to snowboard, film and shoot photos in the Revelstoke backcountry for a few days. On the first day of the trip, we were snowmobiling up the trail to the spot. Our filmer Logan, completely new to snowmobiles, didn’t strap his camera gear properly to the tunnel of his sled. 30 minutes into the commute, his tripod caught on the spinning track, and was violently sucked into the tunnel punching a golf ball-sized hole in the radiator. Resulting in us having to double him around for the remainder of the trip, and had to spend all of his earnings from shooting for this article on fixing what he had just broken. See, things never go as planned. But if it wasn’t for these struggles, the ones where we blindly push forward through foggy peaks with rattling sleds, to huck off cliffs and down pillows in the hopes of getting a clip or photo. The times when everything does align wouldn’t feel so euphoric.


Some of my best snowboarding memories are from hut trips, when you’re in the middle of nowhere with a tight crew of homies, with some of the best terrain in the world just kilometres away from where you sleep. We found ourselves far up a logging road close to Revelstoke, we had packed our sleds like mules ready to cross a continent. We had every necessity needed to sleep and survive in a backcountry cabin. Food, camera gear, a few beers, snowboarding gear and enough gas for the sleds to take us back to the trucks when the trip was over. Freeride Snowmobile Rentals is the best shop in Revy, they did us a solid and hooked Brin up with a sled for the trip. He was putting it to work as we were breaking trail in the deep dry snow up to the hut that we’d call home for the next few days. The location of this secret hut is absolutely magical. Hidden by the trees right by a little sub-alpine lake, super close to world-class freestyle terrain.

Keenan Filmer

Both Brin and Keenan are style kings, and I was stoked to spend more time with both of them. Brin’s riding is sick and unpredictable, he walks up to a spot, pokes around, straps in and asks if the media is ready. You have absolutely no idea of what is about to happen. All of a sudden, he’s dropping in, tapping a few pillows, sniping a steep
transition further below, then popping a back rodeo off of a natty lip, stomping the landing next to a tree. He’s the type of rider that inspires me more than anything.
Keenan has spent over a decade cruising Whistler-Blackomb’s parks, and over the last few years, he has transitioned his clean style from the park to the backcountry. He has a trademark hat game with handmade furry animal-looking toques, and his quotes like, “You can’t break your neck if you don’t have one.” stick easily.

The snowshoe hike to the zone we headed to took about an hour. We were lucky, the snow had accumulated over the week prior to our arrival and the landings were deep and filled in. Riders were soon patting down diving boards, checking landings and Logan and Justin started looking for angles. Keenan starts off by doing big Methods off of a natty diving board as well as riding mini-golf lines, Brin pats down a huge popper and sends an insane attempt on an Underflip into the abyss below. Like the professional stuntman he is, he just about tosses the rotation around and lands on his back just past a rock that is poking out of the landing. The crew is shocked but stoked he is safe. The bar has now been set for how big we need to go.

Keenan Filmer, Buckaroo

Last year marked a decade of my snowboarding around Revelstoke. The reason I moved to Canada from Sweden was simple: back in 2011, my friend and I watched Absinthe’s Twe12ve on repeat. Significant sections of the movie were shot at the fairly-new Revelstoke Mountain Resort. We couldn’t stop thinking about the Canadian powder dream, and soon enough, we had our tickets booked. We used to pause the movie and look at the spots, thinking about what we would be able to stomp on the same features that were ridden in the movie. Growing up in central Sweden, we had good parks, but no backcountry riding. The mountains back home look more like big wide loaves of bread in comparison to the dramatic mountains around Revelstoke. We had absolutely no clue what we were in for. As it turned out we had underestimated riding pow. As a couple of rookie Swedes fresh off the plane equipped with 152cm park boards, we tried our best to hit these legendary spots but realized that we didn’t have the skills, cojones or gear to get very far. Nevertheless, the fire was sparked, and the urge to return next year was real.

Brin Alexander, buried and alive

Brin Alexander

Fast-forward 10 years, my perspective on riding here has completely changed along with my means of getting into the backcountry. It took years of riding here to learn how to read the terrain and snow, a lot of trial n’ error and valuable lessons learnt by being clueless and doing sketchy shit. Years of hoarding mountain equipment have set me up to be able to do these missions comfortably and safely. This experience doesn’t happen overnight.

Keenan Filmer, smooth Frontside 720


Think about how lucky we are. It’s 2023, and we’re living in a super-advanced civilization. With just a quick finger motion, you can watch and learn anything from how to build a house made out of car tires or learn how to speak Latin. But what I think is one of the biggest privileges of today is that we can turn all of this off. We can still go off to a cabin in the woods and be out of reach of reception, the internet, Instagram and all of the digital noise surrounding us in every second of our lives. We might be the last generation that knows how it really feels to be offline.

Back at the cabin after a long day in the mountains. The boys are tired after a good day of boarding, hiking, and hucking. The food tastes better when you’re exhausted, looking into the crackling fire inside of the hut, no electric lights, just a few candles lighting the scene. Beers taste better when you’ve hauled them all the way out there in your backpack, running out for more isn’t an option, so you enjoy the few drinks you’ve brought. You really get to know the people you’re with during these trips. And we couldn’t ask for better company. Tomorrow is a new day, and we will keep grinding until the wheels fall off, literally.

 Johan Rosén, rides the rollercoaster into a stack. 
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