The Lightest Tread Episode 4: Connor Ryan.

Native knowledge, nature and our responsibility to both.

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Four our fourth episode Paul chats to Connor Ryan about his award winning ski film, Spirit of the Peaks. Connor shares his personal journey reconnecting with his cultural background and how that process as helped offer a new perspective and peace of mind while spending time in the mountains. Paul and Connor discuss the responsibilities of outdoor brands to the places in which they operate, and the knowledge and histories of the people who traditionally inhabited those places. 

A proud Lakota and passionate skier and storyteller, Connor Ryan was born and raised at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Territory. He considers these landscapes among his biggest inspirations and closest relatives. The peaks and trails led him to find deeper relationships with himself and nature while providing a cherished space for reconnecting with Lakota culture. As a professional skier and avid trail runner he uses his athletic endeavors and filmmaking to find common ground and stoke passion for action throughout the outdoor industry. With his voice and praxis Connor has been able to help Native communities be better represented in skiing and the outdoors and guided organizations and brands into needed roles in environmental and social justice. As an Indigenous storyteller grounded in a contemporary community of adventure and advocacy he is able to speak to common threads that bond people to place regardless of their background. 

Connor wears a Performance Thin footbed in his ski boots.

Watch Connor's movie Spirit of the Peaks.


00:00 Intro 

01:46 Greetings and chit chat about snow 

03:30 The internal conflict behind Spirit of the Peaks 

13:30 Backcountry skiing reconnecting us with our place in nature 

20:00 A lynx with its AST 1 training and the indigenous world view 

23:13 The Lakota vision quest and deprivation 

30:30 What's sacred is that which is essential to life 

34:13 The outdoor industry must reconcile with its responsibilities 

41:30 The myth of the wilderness 

45:00 The value of indigenous history and knowledge 

54:00 Balancing innovation and recreation with conservation