On April 6, 2011, Roger Strong was skinning to one of his favorite backcountry runs on Washington’s Snoqualmie Pass with some friends when he triggered a violent avalanche. The slide tore through the couloir, leaving Strong and the other skiers badly injured. A year to the day after the tragedy, Strong — who spent three months in a wheelchair recovering — returns to ski the Slot Couloir and contemplate the fine balance between risk and passion. The film follows him as he reflects on his family, his love of the mountains and what he can learn from his mistakes.
Impeccable rock, one-of-a kind setting, good and trusted friends: the stuff of climbers’ dreams. Real life is rarely so straightforward, though, and this story of a climbing trip in Kyrgyzstan is haunted by the specter of an earlier one that had frightening and dire results. In 2000, John Dickey went on an expedition to Kyrgyzstan and was kidnapped by violent militants who held him and his partners at gunpoint for six days. They made a harrowing escape, but Dickey is still troubled by the memories of what they had to do to save their own lives. His return to Kyrgyzstan extols the meaning of friendship and the healing power of climbing adventures.
One spring day, the guys from Ebis Films ventured into the mountains of Japan for a shoot and couldn’t help but notice the surreal, silvery quality of the snow, which had been glossed over with a fine-film crust. It reminded them so much of a photo featured in Kuroi Spur (The Black Line), the 1965 book by pioneering skiing cinematographer Keizo Miura, that they made this three-minute vignette as a tribute. In it, snowflakes waft like fine metal shavings, snow dust floats over the crust like a specter and ski tracks look like graphite lines on a chrome-finished slope.
Jake Conner loves to mountain bike. Because of a spinal injury that left him paralyzed, he rides a specially designed hand cycle and tears up the local terrain in this short produced by the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program.
Andreas Fransson is an extreme skier who has garnered attention for dicey first ascents in a half-dozen countries and a horrific accident that nearly killed him. On the outside, he’s an amazing skier who isn’t afraid to confront massive danger, and a deeper look reveals an inward-gazing individual whose musings about life on the edge are thoughtful and eloquent. “Could you get the thrill of your life and feel truly alive if you knew they were perfectly safe?” he asks. “Would your consciousness be completely in the moment if you didn’t know this was serious business? Would it be a game worth playing at all if the outcome was certain?” Tempting Fear — a documentary by Mike Douglas, who directed The Freedom Chair (Mountainfilm 2012) — follows Fransson as he navigates ice- and cliff-strewn slopes of Denali and Chamonix, ponders mortality and digs into what motivates him.
Just a few years ago, Alex Honnold was just another girlfriendless climber living in his van and roaming the Yosemite Valley. But he began putting up routes with increasing audacity and remarkable composure and then pulled off a couple of insanely bold free solo feats on Moonlight Buttress and Half Dome, shocking the climbing world and drawing media attention and public intrigue in equal measure. He was vaulted into the spotlight — appearing on the cover of National Geographic and featured in “60 Minutes,” The New York Times and even commercials. His gift: tremendous strength, steely focus and incredible mental control. Honnold 3.0 is a portrait of an intensely private person who must balance his ambitions with self-preservation under a new set of expectations. From highball boulder first ascents to 5.13 free solos to speed records on The Nose, Honnold wrestles with this as he prepares for his biggest adventure yet: The Yosemite Triple, an attempt to climb Mt. Watkins, El Cap and Half Dome in just one day, 95 percent of it without a rope.