Grit, Fear & Tension from Chamonix to AK

I love documentary footage in ski films. There is nothing that fascinates me more than footage of the banal yet intricate preparations involved with expeditions into the wild: nights spent pouring over maps; days spent chasing down tents as they blow across windswept glaciers; the long, slow trudges up ridges to get the right angles at the right time with the right light for a shot finally blown all to hell because you’ve forgotten spare batteries. I love that shit, and I wish ski films would feature more of it. The master of this kind of narrative tension was—and still remains—the one and only Greg Stump. Despite the underwhelming appearance of Legend of Aahhh’s at Sundance in 2009, he is still the man for laying it down some ~25 odd years ago with this scene in Blizzard of AAhhh’s:

If you don’t get how Stump’s narrative tells you only what you need to know, setting the tension and the mystery of the Chamonix, with incredible set-piece footage and superb timing with music, then I can only hypothesize that decades of narrativeless ski-pr0n ADD editing have rotted your brain. He gives you the lines, the names, the mountains. He positions his ski characters within them. He delivers on the goods, brings up one narrative, but then leads to a twist: we’re going to see something unplanned. I still haven’t seen a ski filmmaker match this basic level of storytelling. Then after the intro, he gets into the gnar. This is the lesson: first the set-up. Then the pay-off.

Anyway. The above footage is courtesy of DPS, and it’s awesome just because it is what it is: a few guys in a tent, doing the things you do that you have to do to get the shots, enjoying being in the great outdoor wilds of AK, raw and unfiltered.

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