"Spirit of the Peaks", courtesy graphic

The weekend of Jan. 27-29, Carbondale-based adventure film nonprofit 5Point will host a weekend getaway and screening at Beyul Retreat. This event will include food, outdoor activities and a screening of skier Connor Ryan’s award-winning film, “Spirit of the Peaks”.

5Point was founded on five guiding principles for positive change and environmental responsibility: respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance. Since 2007, 5Point has hosted its annual flagship festival in Carbondale, gathering outdoor enthusiasts together with inspiring films, art and performances.

5Point has partnered with Beyul in the past for their flagship festival, but this event marks the first time that Beyul has hosted a 5Point event at its backcountry lodge. Beyul is located up the Fryingpan River, about six miles past Ruedi Reservoir. Made up of 15 cabins and seven rooms in its main lodge, the business resides in the historic Diamond J Ranch and often hosts weddings, retreats, live music and other custom events.

For this weekend, all meals — prepared with environmentally conscious ingredients — will be included in the cost of attending and prepared by professional chefs. Fun activities at Beyul in the winter include snowshoeing, cross country and backcountry skiing, cowboy curling and yoga. However, the highlight of the weekend is the film screening, followed by an intimate fireside Q&A with Ryan, the film’s co-director and main star.

Skier and filmmaker Connor Ryan will be attending 5Point Film’s Beyul retreat to answer questions about his award winning film, “Spirit of the Peaks”. Courtesy photo

Ryan is a professional skier and filmmaker, as well as a proud Hunkpapa Lakota. He considers his skiing a form of prayer, allowing him to connect with the sacred land where he lives. However, Ryan understands well the difficulty reconciling skiing as a sport and industry with spiritual reverence for the mountains. As he says in the opening of the feature film, “There’s a spirit to each of these peaks.”

Produced in partnership with REI Co-op Studios and co-directed by fellow outdoor filmmaker Tim Kressin, “Spirit of the Peaks” is a 41-minute documentary exploring skiing, displacement of the Ute people and preserving a gradually disappearing snowpack.

Ski resorts pepper the center of ancestral Ute territory, and although skiers are often quick to identify with modern ski towns and mountains, the land harbors a long history of dispossession. This film aims to restore a semblance of balance by highlighting Ute history and knowledge.

“All skiers who appreciate the land should work to center, affirm and acknowledge the Ute people in how we love the mountains and move within them,” states Ryan. Fundamentally reshaping the mountains through construction and snowscaping — shifting them into a financial asset — disrupts the intimate, sacred connection between Ute peoples and their traditional homeland.

Through interacting with indigenous peoples of the American West — many of them fellow skiers — and a recollection of their history, “Spirit of the Peaks” elevates the mountains as more than just terrain for recreation.

“It’s hard to imagine a film that’s more aligned with our mission,” praised Luis Yllanes, 5Point’s executive director. “The importance of being better stewards of the Ute territory we live and recreate in, and treating the land with the respect it deserves, should resonate with our community. These lessons apply to young and old and can be used as a compass to continue to do better.”

Beyond its inspirational message, the film is also recognized for its visual beauty, winning 5Point’s “Best Cinematography” award in 2022. Retreat attendees are in for a fun and unique opportunity to improve their relationships with the land.

According to Yllanes, “It’s inspiring to watch — you learn so much and then you want to get off the couch and do something.”

Rooms in Beyul’s main guest lodge, as well as individual cabins, are available online for booking. Those curious about attending can find more information at www.beyulretreat.com

For those unable to attend, “Spirit of the Peaks” is free to watch online on YouTube.