The crew darts off to Japan for the first travel trip of the movie, and joining Travis are Norwegian prodigy Mikkel Bang, whose style and fluidity mirror the vast terrain that Japan has to offer and longtime friend and Northwest icon Mark Landvik, whose proficiency in powder made his choice for this journey an absolute no-brainer. I found this section the most interesting because Travis and his crew are usually associated for out-of-this world riding that—while amazing to witness and mind-blowing on its own—is considered unrelatable to achieve by many viewers of his movies. This trip, however, denoted more fun than fucked up. Plowing through perfectly pristine powder and darting through euphoric tree runs highlighted the freestyle aspect of this section, as Rice, Lando and Mikkel took to the trunks of trees to tap, bonk, plant and redirect off of. It seemed like a session that anyone could have (given the right conditions) at their home resort. It was three friends walking into the woods and simply playing around. At the end of this part, however, per Travis’s modus operandi, he seeks out an AK-esque zone and things start to get real heavy. I’ll admit: As someone who has worked at SNOWBOARDER Magazine for a decade now, there aren’t very many places that I’m not aware of, but the lines that Rice, Lando and Mikkel sniffed out in Japan surprised me. The whole section was fun, funny, heavy and light all at the same time, capped off with a nighttime powder shoot that’ll get anyone—regardless of if they ride or not—stoked on shredding.
Many of us cling to ideas that we’ve come up with. We love them. We think we’ve arrived at certain truths but there’s so much in our world that’s unknown.
Next, the crew darts north to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. This section holds the most surprises of any segment in the film, but I’m not about to give that away. What I’m willing to give away, however, is the fact that Travis, Eric Jackson and Mark Landvik hop in what looks to be a 1950s-era Soviet military helicopter and explore every single nook and cranny of the surrounding ranges on Kamchatka. Their accommodations in Kamchatka are meager, a simple hut built in an endless frozen tundra save for a venting volcano just miles from the cabin. At night, they sit around the hut as E-Jack strums a guitar by the fire. During the day, however, they loaded up in the bird and battle some undesirable snow conditions, as most every face is wind scoured. However, Travis forges ahead, with E-Jack in tow only to emerge as defeated as this crew can get. However, weather rolls in and the three of them start scheming, looking at forecasts and mountain ranges near and far. They also portray exactly what “down days” look like. Waiting, waiting and more waiting, with a hint of losing your mind. It’s funny and light, but in reality, a down day or two is sometimes appreciated, but after that, it can be torture when you’re in the middle of nowhere, and these guys waited it out for close to a month, capping the trip off with a top secret mission that you have to watch the film to get the whole story, but trust me—it’s crazy. Kamchatka is without a doubt the most adventurous section of The Fourth Phase as the journeyman in me was piqued and though they got relatively shut down, it looked like a trip that was as frustrating as it was fun, and sometimes, that’s what snowboard adventures can be, and that’s why I loved this section of the film so much.
When things don’t come together, I’m so compelled to figure out how it does work, I dig deeper to find the truth.
The cast of 'The Fourth Phase'.