Does the thought of a hard earned and wind lashed summit squeeze your heart like the memory of a distant lover? If so, you’re a mountaineer.
Combine skis with your mountain passion, and you might find many modern ski movies to be slightly lacking. Sure, they entertain — like a circus. Yet the heart of the matter, the climb, is frequently obviated by aviation fuel. More, gravity makes for good video so long as you’re succumbing to its pull. If you’re fighting gravity, as in skinning up a peak or cramponing a couloir, you’d better have someone filming with a tuned aesthetic sense who understands what they’re seeing through the lens, otherwise it’ll be boring.
Greg Hill’s short film, “Unbearable Lightness of Skiing,” is not boring. Instead, if you’re indeed a mountaineer, you’ll find youself pulled into the well crafted and compelling story of Greg’s quest for mountain experience.
It’s not a quest everyone understands, and Greg’s voice over makes that clear when he introduces the movie as if trying to explain the WHY of ski mountaineering to someone outside the craft. He goes on to narrate most of the flick in story teller fashion. Refreshing, to hear a simple sweet story coming from the protagonist, supported by a mellow music, punctuated by sounds from the actual day.
Following is not really a trailer, but is close enough. The final product is more polished and includes a triad of tours that includes the first descent of the Comstock Couloir in Canada’s Selkirk Mountains, covered in similar fashion as below.
Greg’s title is a pun on the well known book and subsequent movie “Unbearable Lightness of Being,” which explores the concept of “once is nonce,” meaning what happened once might never have happened at all. And thus, if you’re nihilistic, life is insignificant and unbearably light. Or, if you take the opposite approach of feeling that each life is special and we’re here to enjoy a bountiful gift, “once is nonce” could mean that something like a possibly once-in-a-lifetime ski descent is indeed significant — a gift to be appreciated, shared and celebrated — thus unbearably light because it shines so bright with promise, joy, and love.
Greg’s take is obviously the latter.
“The Unbearable Lightness of Skiing” made the finals of the Banff Film Festival and has been selected for the Banff World Tour. WildSnow six thumbs up.
To get a DVD, contact Greg through his blog. Perhaps yours will be titled in the man’s own handwriting like ours is. Nice addition to your movie collection.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.