In Rogers Pass, the Trans-Canada Highway and Canadian Pacific Railway wind underneath 134 avalanche paths that release 2,000 avalanche events each winter, controlled by military artillery, helicopters, and remote control systems. It was off-limits to ski touring for decades. Then a surprising player stepped up to help mastermind the Pass’s modern winter permit system that’s designed to keep skiers safe from Howitzers and controlled avalanches.
In this 12-minute film, The Pass, we meet Sylvia Forest (63), a woman who rose to leadership in the rugged worlds of mountain rescue, guiding, and avalanche safety before equal representation was a blip on the radar, and one of the architects of the permit system in 1995. In turn, she mentored Danyelle Magnan, who recently became–after her own formidable experience in remote backcountry rescue and ski guiding–the first woman on the elite Rogers Pass avalanche forecasting team that’s responsible for thousands of lives on a daily basis.
The duo reunite in the Pass for their first ski tour together after ten years, to reflect on their journeys in the face of high-risk elements, immense pressure, and long-established cultural norms. In quietly and impressively showing what’s possible, these two women represent a small but pivotal part of the seismic shift happening to the face of mountain culture.
Douglas Sproul, Rogers Pass Guidebook Publisher, wrote, “When I arrived at Rogers Pass, the Avalanche Control Section were the legends of the era. As time went on, that all seemed to fade into the background as social media profiled skiers and riders and admittedly, even myself (guidebook guy) a bit too much in my opinion. I cannot properly express how stoked I am to see this film come to realization. The long-awaited, updated, version 2 of the legendary Snow War film and starring the true hero’s and legends of Rogers Pass. So proud of you Danyelle and all the members of the Avalanche Control Section, Parks Canada staff, Canadian Forces, thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do. I for one and I’m certain, many others, cannot thank you all enough for your service.”
This is a beautifully captured film that highlights the amazing work these folks do everyday.