When Michael C Wirth is traveling in the backcountry, he’s focused on making as little noise as possible. In part because it feels like it saves energy on the ascent, he said. But also because the skier and filmmaker wants to leave as much space as possible to absorb the natural world that he’s passing through.
“I do a lot of solo backcountry skiing, and with that, I discover a surreal level of quiet out there in the vast snow covered mountains,” Wirth told GearJunkie. “It’s sometimes psychedelic — traveling through an environment that feels innately inhospitable and temporary.”
Counterintuitively, that feeling helps him find a state of belonging. He said it’s kind of like, “I’m naturally not supposed to be here. So being here makes the connection that much stronger.”
LNT (Leave No Trace)
That was the inspiration behind Wirth’s most recent film, “Leave No Trace.” That profound feeling he gets from backcountry stillness and quietude makes him want to protect those places. And he wants to inspire other people to preserve the beauty of the backcountry for all who access it.
The film is about “extending the concept of [Leave No Trace] past ‘pick up your trash’ into the intentionality of how you take each step,” Wirth described.
Backcountry skiing is becoming more popular by the season. It’s something Wirth says he is genuinely excited about. But, it comes at a cost. There’s more trash, greater environmental impacts, and less of that pure quiet stillness that people like Wirth venture out there after.
While LNT has nothing to do with Leave No Trace, the organization dedicated to spreading the “take only pictures, leave only footprints” mindset, Wirth’s film shares the same vision. Both aim to ensure a sustainable future for the outdoors and the planet.
“I think it’s good to ask folks entering into the sport: what do you want your kid to see for the first time? Serenity and the paradise of the natural world? Or an adventure park setting where beer cans and yahoos run wild?”
Presented by La Sportiva, LNT will get you stoked for the coming season of skiing. And, Michael C Wirth hopes, it will also inspire people to be better stewards of the backcountry we all love and enjoy.