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Bryan Iguchi Explains the Accidental Origins of ‘Roadless’

Bryan Iguchi rides the last lingering light of the day. Ming T Poon photo.

It started as a dinner conversation between two friends. The Fourth Phase had just wrapped and to celebrate, director Jon Klaczkiewicz joined Bryan Iguchi and his family for dinner. Instead of kicking their feet up and relaxing, they grappled with the inevitable question of “what’s next?” Except, Iguchi didn’t struggle to think of an answer. An objective had been brewing inside his brain for some time now. His hope was to traverse from Togwotee Pass to Yellowstone.

RELATED: Travis Rice Reflects on the Magic of the Teton Wilderness

Out of all the mountain ranges in the world he could splitboard, Iguchi was intent on exploring the wilderness surrounding the Continental Divide. This desire goes back to his roots back in southern California. “Playing on a skateboard and swimming in the ocean, somehow led me to these headwaters,” he said.

In 1995, he packed his things and moved from California to Jackson, Wyoming. Towards the end of that inaugural winter, Iguchi got a real sense of how infinite his new home was when his crew of snowboarders rented a few sleds and set out for Togwotee pass. It’s a zone that’s notorious for the best early and late-season snowfall. The drive up rewards travelers with breath-taking views of the surrounding valley. The pass tops out at 9,658-foot high plateau, which acts as a gateway to the backcountry. It’s where Iguchi first discovered sled-accessed terrain to snowboard.

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The word Togwotee is Shoshone for “from here you can go anywhere.” It’s a fitting name because the view from the boundary line brought him a whole perspective. From this vantage point, it’s possible to see the Grand Tetons, the Wind River Range, the Gros Ventre, the Absarokas, and the Wyoming range. That sight left Iguchi with an insatiable desire to explore it all. “I had this feeling of infinite possibilities and inspiration,” he explained. “It really does feel like there’s a lifetime of exploration out there.” The surfer from Laguna Beach traded the coastline for what felt like an ocean of uncharted land.

One of Iguchi's biggest highlights was shredding with his two close pals: Travis Rice and Jeremy Jones. Ming T Poon Photo.

As Iguchi elaborated on these ideas bouncing around in his head, Klaczkiewicz saw the potential for a film. He started looking into permits and found that the Teton Wilderness would be willing to greenlight a production crew. At most, Iguchi expected it to be a web edit, but the project carried momentum like a cascading waterfall. Sierra Nevada jumped on board as a principal sponsor allowing them to think even bolder. Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice were tapped to join, and somehow both of their schedules were free. Suddenly this wasn’t a simple web edit, but a full-fledged film that would come to be Roadless.

* * *

Journal excerpt: Cosmic Intersection

After the ghost ride, we started skinning down the valley and found a good zone with lots of options. We got on it. It turned out to be super productive. We ended up naming the area “the skatepark” and rode some Northeast lines. While skinning up the South face, Travis and I looked back and spotted some super fun looking lines on a Northwest aspect.

We found a camp with open water in a flat valley running East to West. There were several riding options that followed the sun from sunrise to sunset. The moon was full and bright and rose just as the sun dipped behind the horizon.

Iguchi did a rough sketch of the zone in his journal.

It was a cold morning. Travis and I moved down the valley to the skatepark. He built a step-down and I skinned to the top to traverse around a large bowl to access a nice line to the West. Jeremy set out with Clark to ride a southeast line. After dinner, we made plans to recon the octopus’ garden utilizing the full moon.

* * *

“It felt special that this actually came together, I still can’t believe everything worked out,” Iguchi reflected in half-disbelief. The film premiere was two weeks ago and it had him traveling nonstop with the tour. On one of his brief breaks, he popped by the TGR HQ to debrief. With a big smile that beamed through his salt and pepper beard, he told me about all the positive feedback he’s received. “It was a dream come true to have both Travis and Jeremy and see the alignment of the timing, weather, snow conditions, ” he explained. The entire experience in the Teton Wilderness was new for the entire crew. “That was the whole premise of the trip, to not get too attached to anything and just discover,” he said and that discovery was only possible because of their collective experience in the mountains.

For this particular trip, it was the perfect combination of people. “Jeremy and Travis just have such a clear vision of what’s possible on a snowboard”, he emphasized. “We found what we set out for.”

Iguchi's natural curiosity for the outdoors even bleeds into his artwork. Bryan Iguchi Art.

Journal Excerpt # 2: Land of the Lost Moonrise

The full moon lit the mountains with great detail dropping into the valley. As we descended deeper the walls steepened into a vertical channel with a massive cave. We didn’t dare to explore the predawn primordial landscape. It was a spooky route through avalanche paths crossfire. Its heavy spirit presence was felt by all. At the junction of the river, the terrain transformed into a deep ravine with massive pillows.

It was amazing. There were lines all around us. This was it. The dream was realized.

* * *

Realizing that his water was empty, Iguchi descended back down to basecamp. It was about halfway through the expedition and the team’s productivity was off the charts. After days of walking, they discovered a valley full of incredible riding options. This new zone was nicknamed the “cosmic intersection” because the moon and sun's path traveled directly through the middle of the valley. On either side of the valley were a variety of ridable aspects, and thanks to a brilliant full moon, they could start moving in the middle of the night. When the moon dipped below the horizon, the sun came trailing right behind it.

Bryan Iguchi takes the fun way down back to basecamp. Ming T Poon photo.

Once his water was restocked, he radioed up to check in, but the walkie-talkie failed to crackle to life. The majority of the crew was already on the move above him exploring the upper valley and setting up the next shot. For the first time on this 11-day expedition, he felt completely disconnected. Unfazed, he stowed the dead device and started moving. There was no need to worry. He knew where to go. Instead, he welcomed the silence like an old friend. “It was nice to have a little offline moment,” he explained. Even on these crazy production trips, you become distracted and preoccupied with the overarching objectives for the trip. But at that moment he was completely in tune with the present. “I had all these rich emotions and feelings...sometimes you don't have the space to let these feelings enter into your consciousness," Iguchi said and it’s this kind of full mind and body experience that keeps him hungry to explore. “It’s just being human—being an animal out doing what we’re designed to do: move, hunt, and seek something,” he said. “I could have spent another week out there—easily,” and he’s likely to go back for more next winter.

“Living here in Jackson, it really does feel like we’ve got a lifetime exploration out there,” Iguchi explained. If anything, this trip only reminded him that he’s barely scratched the surface. 

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