Behind the Scenes: The 12th Anniversary of Colorado Mountain Club’s Backcountry Film Festival

Founded in 1912 by a group of 25 dedicated, outdoor-oriented civilians, the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) has experienced exponential growth, expanding into all realms of the outdoor world. On Feb. 3, 2017, they hosted their 12th annual backcountry film festival. Produced by Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA), the backcountry film festival acts as a fundraiser for CMC’s Backcountry Snowsports Initiative. While CMC hosts many other film festivals, including Banff and Radical Reels, the Backcountry Film Festival is geared towards winter themes and includes a variety of adventure, environmental, and artistic films selected by the WWA. For CMC, this festival is an important opportunity to raise money, reach out to new members, and inform people about the club’s conservation initiatives.

Photo Courtesy of Colorado Mountain Club

The CMC Backcountry Film Festival travelled to nine different screening locations around Colorado this year. The line-up included both individual films and professional shorts. It featured “Reflections,” “Lifecycle of a Powderwhore,” “Snow School,” “The Lost Sierra,” and “China, A Skier’s Journey,” to name a few. Films range anywhere from three minutes to 30 minutes. While some focus on professional skiers or snowboarders pushing the limits and achieving greatness, many films are more family oriented, and each year more of them focus on the magic of the wilderness and the importance of its survival.

The Backcountry Film Festival is one of many events put on by CMC. Their primary focus is outdoor recreation, and they currently have over 6,000 members who participate in thousands of trips each year, including hiking, backpacking, high-altitude mountaineering, climbing, backcountry skiing, and international travel. Most events are open to the public, but the club also offers outdoor skills classes and supports mission-driven conservation and youth programs.

Conservation Director Julie Mach manages the club’s statewide conservation efforts. The Stewardship program, Backcountry Snowsports Initiative, and advocacy/policy work all fall within her realm of duty. Her position allows her the opportunity to address both the policy and stewardship aspects of conservation and public land management, a holistic approach that she feels is unique to CMC. By representing both management decision-making and on-the-ground stewardship projects, CMC can ensure sustainable recreation and public land management that benefits everyone.

The club does much more than provide opportunities for people to go outside or watch cool movies. They also hope to increase public interest in and access to the outdoors, while encouraging the preservation of forests, flowers, and natural scenery. The official mission statement of CMC is “to unite the energy, interest, and knowledge of various people in Colorado in order to share information regarding the Rocky Mountains on behalf of science, literature, art, and recreation.” They sponsor a view of the outdoor world that is interconnected with all other facets of life.

If you’re interested in getting involved with this organization, there are often conservation initiative internships and opportunities in marketing, membership, and the youth department. The CMC Conservation Department is also currently hiring for its Stewardship Crew; they can be contacted at:

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