This short film by Ben Sturgulewski gives a glimpse of life through the eyes of Henry “The Snowflake,” an eccentric, joyful and nature-loving Swiss skier who is as unique and beautiful as his namesake. “I know that I’m a crazy idiot, you know. But I’m sorry, I feel happy like I am,” he says. It’s a sentiment that can benefit all of us.
As a shy kid, Mark Engler’s escape was the outdoors. Hunting and fishing every day was his dream and, over the years, he became an expert fly fisherman and guide. Although the fly-fishing master has spent almost five decades fishing the Rio Grande Valley, the splashing struggle of a sharp-toothed northern pike on Engler’s line still gives him the shakes. But as Engler’s young roommate and mentee Les Vance learns, Engler’s outdoor lifestyle comes at a price: The fishing obsession has cost him three wives. Then again, as Vance says, turning out like the legendary Engler wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
The Warmth of Winter
Seeking to escape the raging storms outside, a trio of adventurers find a mysterious door set into a snowy mountainside. Inside, they discover a roaring fire, an immaculately dressed bartender and vinyl spinning on a record player. This DPS Cinematic short film recalls the pleasures of winter over a cocktail that warms the insides and loosens the storytelling tongue. The tales revolve, naturally, around dream-like ski lines, sunny days, epic crashes and courage in the mountains.
Perched on a precarious notch in a jagged ridgeline at 13,100 feet in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Kroger’s Canteen is an aid station along the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. Staffed by a crew of seven, all veterans of the 100-mile ultramarathon, the station doles out supplies to hungry and thirsty runners — as well as a traditional shot of tequila for those embarking on the extraordinary race, which loops from Silverton through southwest Colorado’s Ouray, Lake City and Telluride. Aid station captain Roch Horton and his volunteers haul the station’s supplies in on their backs each year, but despite the rigorous work, manning the station is such an honor that there’s a wait list. This short film documents the power of human perseverance and the great rewards that can be reaped from helping others achieve their dreams.
The Adventure Dispatch — Steve Fassbinder
He’s no Instagram star or sponsored athlete, but longtime Durango resident Steve Fassbinder — aka Doom — is a true explorer. Using fat bikes, climbing gear and inflatable packrafts to access and link up remote destinations, Fassbinder sets out deep into the desert country of the Four Corners, experiencing places few of us will ever see and pioneering a new way of travel. This short film follows Fassbinder and a friend on an adventure that combines tower climbing, narrows biking, canyon camping and rafting with the emptiness of landscapes that are too far off the beaten path for most people.
When the Mountains Were Wild
Wanting to get away from the crowds, lifts and hullabaloo of Central Europe, five freeriders from Innsbruck, Austria, travel through the Balkans to the Albanian Alps. A sparsely populated region, known as the Valbona Valley, serves as their homebase as they skin, hike, snowshoe and billy goat around the area in search of lines seldom skied.
Ultra-long-distance bikepacker Lael Wilcox has spent six months of each year pedaling around the world and drinking in the bounty of travel from the special vantagepoint of her bike seat. “It’s kind of like a feral existence,” she says. In 2015, she started racing in bikepacking events. That year, she shattered the women’s course record by two days in her first-ever attempt of the epic 2,745-mile, self-supported Tour Divide — a mountain bike race that traces the Continental Divide from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Following that win, she attempts to break the women’s record for the 800-mile Arizona Trail, a recently designated National Scenic Trail. Fast Forward follows Wilcox as she pushes her limits in the Arizona desert.
Locked In: First Descent of the Beriman Gorge
Locked In: First Descent of the Beriman Gorge brings us to Papua New Guinea, a country seldom traveled, and into the Beriman Gorge, a river even less traveled. Led by Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic (whose film Kadoma screened at Mountainfilm 2011), a team of four professional kayakers quest down this daunting river, which features a link-up of gorges so deep and narrow that you can’t see the bottom from a helicopter. What the kayakers encounter are class five rapids, 40-foot waterfalls, slippery bushwhacking, “lethal caves” and one of the most arduous expeditions of their lives. Through rope work, paddle work, team work and sheer determination, they dare to attempt a first descent and plunge into a world of unknowns.
Joe Lahout has been outfitting skiers of the Northeast since the very beginning — when a lift ticket at Cannon Mountain cost only 25 cents. Born in 1922 in an apartment above Lahout’s Country Clothing and Ski Shop in Littleton, New Hampshire, Lahout still runs America’s oldest ski shop, which is crammed full of vintage leather ski boots and U.S. Ski Team memorabilia. Joe Lahout is the story of an old-timer who still believes in skiing’s simple roots: speed, freedom and the great outdoors.