Echoes | Celeste Pomerantz Conquers her Mind in the Backcountry | Race Face

A look into the mind of an athlete during a mission to overcome the echoes of doubt.

The original idea for this project was to revisit and redo the intended route my partner and I had set out to do in the South Chilcotin's Provincial Park of August 2022 that had resulted in a broken frame, a dislocated elbow, and a helicopter rescue. The original message of the story was to discuss complacency in backcountry terrain regardless of what sport you’re doing and overcoming an injury by revisiting the location of the injury a year later.


It was a fine idea and all however there has been about a handful of projects done in the South Chilcotin's and thousands more about an athlete overcoming an injury by retracing their route that led them to said injury. 

Celeste getting airlifted out of the backcountry – August 2022

To top this off, July 2023 about two days before we were supposed to take off for this project, one of the most catastrophic forest fires began burning in the South Chilcotin's resulting in loss of many acres of land and ecosystems as well as the homes and livelihoods of multiple people who reside in the area. For obvious reasons, the idea was shelved, and the project pushed to a later date.

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During this period of uncertainty, I tried to brainstorm new ideas in the event we couldn’t make the project happen, I went through all the projects I’d done to date. There aren’t many, yet they have all followed a common theme: do something hard and have someone film it and tell the story about it. Funny thing about projects in sport is that they aren’t too different from an academic thesis or research paper. Each project strives to be unique in one way or another, to fill a gap in the content-sphere that nobody has ever seen before. This applies to new research – to fill a gap in knowledge.

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So, I wanted to do something similar with Echoes. Instead of just picking something hard and having a camera follow me around and tell the story about said hard thing, I decided to do something hard but have the focus of the story be entirely about something else. I chose to bring along William Biname to film and direct, and Joël Ducrot to photograph – partly because they’re amongst some of my favorite people on the planet, partly because they’re emotionally invested in the Chilcotin's incident, and partly because they’re exceptional riders and creatives.

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The ride we decided to tackle was close to Squamish, where I currently live. The up route, typically done on foot by hikers (and should stay that way). The descent, a relatively well-known zone that connects to this up track just south of Squamish and some of my favorite riding on the sea to sky. We camped halfway through the ascent right before the ‘crux’. What was previously believed to be a relatively chill ‘crux’, turned into bikes taken apart into three pieces, strapped onto backpacks and 4.5 hrs of scrambling and climbing on all fours above a couple of hundred meters of cliff face.

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Celeste trusting her instincts and learnings as she heads out into the mountains
Trusting your bike is also part of the game – the ERA cranks showed no signs of fatigue after being subjected to hundreds of miles and many adventures on Celeste’s Forbidden Druid
Trusting your bike is also part of the game – the ERA cranks showed no signs of fatigue after being subjected to hundreds of miles and many adventures on Celeste’s Forbidden Druid

However, this adventure isn’t what Echoes is about. It’s about the doubts, the anxieties, the good and the bad voices that play in the mind when going for trips like this. How big difficult things are so unbelievably addicting but also so painful. It’s a brief and vulnerable look into my mind and perhaps the minds of others who no matter the size of adventure or scary thing you do – may also experience these echoes of doubt.


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