‘Running With The Belles’ Explores the Splendors of Colorado’s Four Pass Loop

While attempting an alpine ice climb of the Enclosure Couloir on the Grand Teton in August 2010, Michelle Smith suffered a harrowing fall resulting in a broken back and shattered right leg. As her partner stabilized her and called for helicopter rescue, she pulled out a camera to document a story that was not certain to end well. Thankfully it did, and as she recovered from surgery, she worked through emotional trauma by creating her first short film, and in the process, a new career was born. Though she still thrives on outdoors adventure, Michelle gets an even bigger rush from telling stories through filmmaking and editing.

After moving from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to Carbondale, Colo., in 2012, Michelle, an avid trail runner and new mom, was welcomed into the Maroon Belles trail running club, a community for runners of all ability levels in the Roaring Fork and Crystal River valleys. Michelle quickly forged lasting bonds with several of the other Belles, and during group runs on the spectacular trails that weave through the nearby Elk Mountains, she brought her camera to capture the moments the women were sharing on the trails.

Feeling inspired after just a few runs, the women decided to take on the legendary Four Pass Loop. One of the most famous mountain runs in North America, the “4PL” crests four 12,000-foot alpine passes over 27 miles. The run’s non-stop scenic splendor is matched by its grueling 8,000 feet of vertical ascent. For some of the women, Michelle included, this would be their longest, and toughest run ever.

Running With The Belles is the story of their experience.

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