If you’re like me and don’t have access to snowshoes, can’t tell the difference between ski bindings, and still have never swung an ice tool, winter can be a lonely and desolate time for the adventurer. While the powder enthusiasts run down the slopes, I’ve been getting myself ready and inspired for my own experiences by visiting the books that first excited me, the films that made me follow my heart, and the people whose adventures I had memorized from all those National Geographics so long ago. The fall and the winter is the time when all the big outdoor studios roll out their top films, shot all over the world, in a variety of situations, employing the top athletes to demonstrate their ability and allow the rest of us to dream and plan our ultimate challenge. Recently, through some friends via Twitter, I discovered some extraordinary films on ice that have only solidified the life choices that I’ve made, and just like the one that first inspired me to climb, these inspire me to think even bigger.
North Of the Sun (Nordfor Sola)
Norwegian’s Inge Wegge and Jørn Ranum craft a tale of two friends who leave everything behind to live a season high into the Arctic Circle on an isolated beach littered with debris, bottles, and forgotten items. It’s a surf film set in the cold desolate atmosphere of Northern Norway where the focus is on the ingenuity and cleverness of two young adventurers and a tale of finding how cold a human body can go while picking up the debris that they found washed on shore (which by the end of the film nears almost three tons and has to be taken away by helicopter). The delight of this film, other than the gorgeous scenery and the boys flanked silhouetted by the Northern Lights, is the inventiveness that they put into building their home, using only the materials that they find, a rusty saw, and some nails brought from home. There’s a bit where they make such a use of plastic water bottles that they find that I could do nothing but smile. There’s no dark moody scenes of tension despite the fact that the sun barely shines, but in it’s 46 minutes, North Of The Sun is a lighthearted and inspiring look at adventure away from big production values and the sake of taking on the task only because it’s there for the taking.
North Of The Sun is available for purchase or rental streaming through Vimeo
Xavier De La Rue is one of the worlds top and most prized snowboarders. He represented France twice in the Olympics, has a number of international medals to keep track of, and has ridden down some the world’s highest peaks as a member of the North Face Athlete team. Despite the recognition, he reaches a point where he doesn’t feel challenged anymore and business gets in the way of personal passion. So was launched the Mission Antarctic project, along with the young Lucas Debari, they set on an expedition to ride untouched lines in the Antarctic Fjords. The film which touches more on the expedition than the sport, chronicles the trip by sailboat through the treacherous Drake Passage before the ship, rightly named The Golden Fleece is surrounded by penguins and whales as it navigates the sea ice searching for bigger lines. One of the standout features of the film is the cinematography, shot partly via motorized paraglider, the making and the execution of the shots are an adventure within the film, and the final product, in tones of white blue and gray reveal the vastness of the landscape and the desolation and excitement of first descents.
Mission Antarctic is available for purchase or rent through iTunes.
Crossing The Ice
This short 45 minute film was a darling piece of the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival winning best film. The film follows two young Australians, James Castrission and Justin Jones as they attempt an Antarctic first, the first self powered journey to the South Pole and back again, dragging equipment and food over 1,140 kilometers by foot. It was first attempted by Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen which originally ended in tragic circumstances and as they are preparing to get started, they face unexpected competition from Norwegian Aleksander Gamme who is attempting the same feat solo. As the audience is expecting a fierce competition between the three men, the story that unfolds is one of friendship, mutual respect, humor, and working together under the most adverse of circumstances. Although Gamme is way above the experience of the Australians, he performs a gesture that rises far above athleticism and despite the eerie similarities, it deeply explores the human element behind expeditions. If this short clip of Aleksander Gamme makes you smile as he finds a food cache he had forgotten, then it’s definitely a film to see.
Crossing The Ice is available free on Youtube
Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure
Sometimes the most incredible stories are the ones that took place before GPS, before technological advances in outerwear and taking place in the Golden Age of Exploration, where an Antarctic expedition took the notice of the entire world. The story of Ernest Shackleton and his ship the Endurance is well documented in lore. His men, surviving for months on an Arctic island when they lose their ship, the journey of the James Caird, the lifeboat that Shackleton used to cross to South Georgia Island, the epic trek across the mountains in a single day, and the rescue where he, as promised, did not lose a single men. The film, originally made for IMAX and is narrated by Kevin Spacey, documents the brutal conditions that Shackleton and his men had to undertake, the incredible rescue effort, and then gets three of the world’s greatest climbers: Conrad Anker, Stephen Venebles and Reinhold Messner to undertake the same trek across South Georgia Island with modern equipment, a trek which tests even their mettle and every aspect of the skill to complete. In the end, the film earns the respect of completing such an incredible journey and crafting an amazing story in a time that can’t even be imagined. It’s a story of triumph and launches thoughts of repeating another incredible tale.
Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure Is Available on Youtube