The Mendenhall Glacier in southeast Alaska offers an otherworldly landscape — fields of crumpled ice, massive hunks of blue, glassy caves and all manner of frozen water. It’s beautiful, but it’s also ephemeral: The glacier is in a state of retreat. Climber Alan Gordon has been exploring the glacier for years, watching as old features melt away and new ones are revealed, and now he’s determined to document its stunning but fleeting scenery before it disappears forever. Blue Obsession, a film about his mission, offers a short and gorgeous portrait of a landscape in flux.
The Freedom Chair
Josh Dueck was a passionate free-skier who found himself coaching world-class athletes, such as TJ Schiller and Justin Dorey, at a young age. But one day, he misjudged his speed as he approached a jump, and what could have been a harmless mistake, brought inextricable, life-altering consequences. When he crashed, his spinal cord was severed, leaving him paralyzed. Instead of giving up on skiing, however, Dueck refocused his passion into sit-skiing, and the experience allowed him to jump-start a new career and find a new way to do what he loves the best: ski. The Freedom Chair traces the path from Dueck’s injury to his return to the hill, where he wins silver and gold at the Olympics and X Games and still gets out with friends to charge big terrain — all thanks to his freedom chair.
Into Thick Air
The Seven Summits are a legendary accomplishment for alpinists. So how did a motley crew of Midwesterners achieve them — and over a weekend, no less? They redefined the summits, making them the highest points of seven Midwestern U.S. states. These men don’t need climbing rope or crampons — a passenger van and a designated driver is the key to them bagging their goal. Directed by David Story and featuring his identical twin brother, Telluride local Rob Story, Into Thick Air chronicles a group of adventurers who live up to the moniker that the legendary Yvon Chouinard once applied to himself and his brethren: Conquerors of the Useless.
Telluride’s own Felt Soul Media teamed up with Nick Waggoner and Yuki Mayazaki of Sweetgrass Productions to track a wild unicorn in Hokkaido, Japan. But all they found was delicious ramen — and deep, sweet snow.
“Higher, harder, stronger, lighter. Need less, do more. Pull, kick, shatter.” This is the mantra of Steve House as he contemplates and then free solos a prodigious wall of ice in this incisive and lyrically filmed short. Hailed by mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner as “the best high-altitude climber in the world,” House is known for his minimalist approach, using as little gear as possible, a style that he says yields the richest results. After a near-fatal climbing accident in 2010, House adjusted his priorities to focus less on his own climbing goals and more on his roles as husband, mentor, writer and advocate for mountain environments. It is this more developed character that shines through in Shattered — but the ice climbing is no less impressive.
All.I.Can JP Auclair Street Segment
JP Auclair teams up with Sherpas Cinema in this short, mind-blowing segment from the 2011 Powder Magazine Movie of the Year All.I.Can to tame the mean streets of British Columbia on skis. You might have seen this footage on your computer, but check it out on the big screen.
Racing the End
Bike racing in Los Angeles, California? No way. There are too many cars. This may be the illest road race on the planet. Legality is questionable and trying to hold the wheel of the fixie in front might mean a pre-dawn, clandestine and completely certifiable victory. There is no way those dog tags are leaving L.A.
Erik Boomer, featured as a presenter in the 2012 festival for his circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island with Jon Turk, is the star of this short film by Forge Motion Pictures. Why does he wander? What is he seeking? Traveling by foot, skis and kayak, Boomer moves through the world and his life in a way few others do. This film is the first episode of a five-part series titled Of Souls and Water.
Photo: Mike Leeds Photography
Remember the guy on the slackline who nearly stole the spotlight from Madonna during her Super Bowl Halftime Show? That was Andy Lewis, a.k.a. Sketchy Andy. Professional slackliner, base jumper, highliner and all-around crazy desert monkey, Sketchy Andy is a study of the fine line between pioneering athlete and fearless maniac. He took the activity of slacklining — long the mellow pastime of climbers hanging out at camp — and morphed it into a trick-studded, danger-laden, full-fledged sport. Be it throwing backflips on the line, pulling in the record for longest highline or going free solo — sans clothes — he constantly pushes the sport to new extremes. But sometimes, he edges a little too close to danger.