Production company Almo has made French snowboarding’s star shine for quite some time now. They’ve made movies with the likes of Mathieu Crépel, Sylvain Bourbousson or Victor Daviet, where they showcase the best of backcountry and freestyle snowboarding. But last year, they set out on a new project – their first to mix skiing and snowboarding. Almo followed freerider Thomas Delfino on a one of a kind trip to Alaska with skier Léo Taillefer.
Prod Company: Almo
Riders: Thomas Delfino (snowboard), Léo Taillefer (ski), Zach Clanton (photographs)
Sponsors: Picture Organic Clothing
Length: 26 minutes
Highlights: Sunrise on the mythical face
A freeriding adventure
Storm Troopers is not a snowboarding video, it’s an epic adventure! The 26-minute-long movie revolves around a simple plot: how a bunch of crazy modern-adventurers will ride one of Alaska’s most mythical faces. It all started several years ago, when outdoor photographer Zach Clanton saw the mountain from a plane… Yeah, sometimes, the craziest things start with pointless details.
I would say the process of figuring out Storm Troopers started in February when @flydrake and I began establishing the first Super Cub and 180 strips "near" the wall and skinning to the base to dig pits. Or I could say it started in February 2015 when he first showed me the place by air, told me a bit of the history, how nobody had done it on foot yet. Vivid memories from snowboard videos I watched in highshool suddenly flooded my brain. THIS was Storm Troopers?! In reality then, I started my research in 2006 with @absinthefilms Future Proof. But none of it would have actually gone down if I didn't meet @tonypavlantos in 2008 in Utah and @thomasdelfino in the Aleutians in 2014. Sometimes it all comes together then the sun shines too 🌞Learn more about Thomas and Storm Troopers on @snowboardmag online. Link in bio 🕵🏻🏔🏂
To be honest though, the guy was not on any plane. The plane pilot, a guy named Drake, looks kind of like an insane person and he’s definitely one of the reasons to watch the movie! He told Zach about Storm Troopers, which had been ridden by the likes of Jeremy Jones and Gigi Ruf. The snowboard enthusiast immediately connected the mountain he was seeing with memories from old Absinthe videos. When he learnt that nobody had ever done it on foot, he had his next project in mind.
Feeling the mountain
Storm Troopers is part of an area of Alaska near Haines that you’re not allowed to fly over. This means that in order to make it there, you’ve got to sweat. Good thing Thomas Delfino is apparently the kind of guy who doesn’t mind! The French rider who made a name for himself sending heavy BC tricks for Rome reinvented himself in one of today’s most dedicated mountain rider.
He met with Clanton during a trip to the Aleutians in 2014 (talk about holydays!) and the guys clicked. Thomas made a first successful camping trip on Alaska’s glaciers and he was hooked. So last year, he took Picture Team-mate Léo Taillefer with him in order to conquer Storm Troopers. A story Zach Clanton beautifully details here.
Living the dream
So, the movie doesn’t have much in common with what we usually call snowboard flicks. The cast is not that impressive, there aren’t any tricks done, but it definitely is an essential boarding flick. The production really shows you what it takes to make your dreams come true. How much planning, preparation and care is put in, in order to make this crazy expedition go right. From Thomas’ first night, alone on the glacier, to his first try down the beast, you get to follow the man’s journey in an amazing way. This guy is always stoked and his happiness really spreads. Remember Into the Wild’s “Happiness is only real when shared”? Thomas didn’t need to get lost to understand it. It runs in his blood!
The film is also a story of friendship, and of living the way you want to. Léo Taillefer and Thomas Delfino are not big money makers, nor is Zach Clanton. But guess what? They manage to make the most insane trips by working hard on it, and it shows. What’s more, their movie doesn’t feel like a prowess. It doesn’t’ have an “our lives are better than yours” vibe you can find sometimes. Basically, what you’ll see is how a bunch of friends set out to plan their tents right on a glacier. How they dug a hole in the snow to sleep closer to their goal. How they woke up early, walked through the Alaskan night with headlamps and made it to the top by sunrise, then got down happy as fuck! Sweet.