My name is Rafael Pease and I’m a 21 year old splitboarder, burgeoning mountaineer, film producer, and student. I go to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder and splitboard as much as I can. I’m obsessed with it.
This winter I’m combining my love of splitboarding and my love of film making with the Connections Film project. There are many reasons why I helped create this project with fellow Spark R&D Ambassador, splitboarder, and activist, Tamo Campos; the most obvious one being that it gives me the opportunity to travel and explore the world. I love splitboarding, meeting new people, and exploring!
Connections is more than just another ‘bangers’ snowboard flick, this film documentary has a twist to it. I want to connect the film with my style of traveling and splitboarding. I always try to achieve a better understanding about the places I travel to, and the people I meet there. I want to know what the environmental issues are in certain regions, learn about the cultural traditions of the people that live there, and really get to know the people who live where I travel on a more personal level. I want to connect.
With this film the goal is to of course do some epic splitboarding, but also to show many of the unique aspects of the regions we are visiting. We will give the communities a platform to share their culture, and to voice the challenges they face in a changing world.
The first leg of this journey brought us to Japan and the north island of Hokkaido. The people are the friendliest I have ever met in my life. We had the privilege of interviewing a diverse group of really interesting north islanders. We spoke with descendants of the Ainu people about governmental land restrictions, a blueberry farmer who protects the island’s largest trees from developers, as well as nuclear activists and sheep farmers.
No matter how different our backgrounds were, it was amazing to connect and relate with the people of Hokkaido on environmental issues. It was a common thread that bound us all – we all work to try and make the world a better place. The passion they displayed for the issues was inspirational; we’re proud to help them tell their unique stories.
We did, of course, do some splitboarding too. And by some, I mean a lot. Most of our days began at 6am and ended well after 6pm. We were splitboarding all over the Niseko backcountry area and deep into Daisetsuzan National Park. The snow was some of the lightest, driest, and deepest I’ve ever ridden. If you make it to Japan, bring a snorkel!
One of the coolest and most unique aspects of Japan (and there are tons), are the onsens or hot springs. After a twelve hour day, the crew and I would often stop on the way home to relax and rejuvenate with some hot spring water. By the time we’d make it back to our pad, we had just enough energy to cook some noodles on our electric water heaters and prep our packs for the next day.
We are now back stateside and have been filming here in Colorado for a solid month. I will be using my spring break to go film in British Columbia if the snow is good. I’m also planning trips to Alaska in May, and Chile sometime over the summer.
I have put together an amazing crew of cinematographers, photographers, mountaineers, and shredders. These folks share our passion for splitboarding, environmentalism, and exploration. I am beyond stoked right now with how the project has started and I look forward to where it’s going.
Follow along on our social channels for weekly updates on what we are up to, and what is coming next. Our goal is to have the project filmed, edited and ready to show next fall.