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Video: East Side Story

Mountain guides Lel Tone and Brennan Lagasse venture deep into their favorite zone—the east side of the Sierra Nevada range.

Lel Tone

Lel Tone

This is the story of two seasoned backcountry skiers, mountain guides Lel Tone and Brennan Lagasse who have traveled the world and experienced some of the harshest and wildest snow-covered places. But here, these two Lake Tahoe-based skiers venture deep into their own backyard—the vast and rugged east side of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains to learn about the land and love the way they live.

Brennan Lagasse

Brennan Lagasse

This film, called East Side Story, follows veteran ski guides Tone—an Alaskan heli-ski guide and avalanche instructor—and Lagasse—an educator who guides human-powered ski trips all over the world—on an exploratory weekend backcountry ski trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada, a jagged, desolate range that starts at the desert floor and spikes dramatically to the highest peak in the Lower 48, including a spine of snow-slathered mountains that top out above 14,000 feet.

Watch as Tone and Lagasse prepare and pack for their spring outing, find a stunning place to camp at the base of the mountains, and rise before dawn to ski their objectives. Listen in as they communicate with each other to make critical decisions regarding route choices, snowpack analysis, and where to find the best snow conditions. By nightfall, the two friends return to camp, cook a simple meal over the camp stove, share thoughts about their day and their lives, and gaze at the stars as they reflect on what it all means.

These days, hope can feel hard to come by. Between a global pandemic, racial injustice, political unrest, and climate change, it’s not easy to feel like things are all right in the world. But when you’re out there, climbing mountains or staring at an inky sky full of stars or connecting with another human in a remote place, you can’t help but feel like wonder and hope are still possible.

Tone and Lagasse love the mountains—you can see it in the meticulous way they move, in the joyful way they appreciate the quiet moments in the backcountry, and in the respectful way they approach the snowpack and other mountain conditions. They are truly at home in these rugged landscapes, but they also understand that if you want to protect these wild places, first you need to learn about them and then you need to love them.

This journey into the iconic Eastern Sierra will inspire, educate, and entertain. It follows two experienced skiers on a humble mission to ski some big lines but with a broader understanding that their adventure is our adventure, too. Their purpose is larger than their own. Because they are taking us on a quest to a storied place we need to know, a legendary mountain range we too will then strive to love and protect.


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