Justin Willis is an exceptional young climber and has been a good friend of mine for the last 4 years. Rusty, his father, is also an accomplished alpine climber. I've been kicking around the idea of shooting a project with these two for a while now, but this year we finally started the process.
Rusty recently bought a piece of land in some of the most wild country in Montana and he, his father and Justin have been building their backcountry cabin there for the last 2 years. "Swinging Leads" is a project about three generations of Montana mountain men, their relationships with the unique mountains, and the growth they have gone through.
This job was no joke. With two snowmobiles, one sled full of climbing, skiing, camping, and camera gear Justin, Rusty, and I along with ace camera operator Garret Smith made the trip to the cabin. The forecast was for -50. The thought of being on a snowmobile for an hour had me worried. On top of that the ride to the cabin involved an open river crossing and a lake that turned to slush that threatened to swallow our sleds, and us, as we pinned it across. On the way out the lake was in the worse condition with 2 feet of new snow and warm temperatures we were forced to go full throttle across the lake with basically no plan B if one of the sleds got bogged down. As I looked back and saw open water behind us my heart sunk. Some how we all made it across. That was just getting there and back. Filming these guys in there back yard was a great privilege and challenge.
What two feet of snow and climbing with a pack full of camera and climbing gear looks like. Lots of respect for these guys! And of course, if it's above freezing, why not get some rays?
Looking forward to more filiming this summer, and releasing this project this coming fall.