logo

Buy the ticket, take the ride...

- Hunter S. Thompson


image

Reviews

Oct 18, 2018

European Outdoor Film Tour: Side-Splitting Hilarity

The 18th annual European Film Tour hits its stride, inspiring and cracking up thousands in 300 venues across 15 countries.

WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

For my first experience at a European Outdoor Film Tour event, I expected to see short documentary films about inspirational daredevils conquering fear itself and performing at the absolute peak of their sport. What I did not expect was the consistent comedy amidst the extreme in POV. Anyone standing outside the theater would think we were screened an advance release of Pineapple Express 2. Side-split and gut-busted, I returned home pleasantly surprised.

Order tickets here.

Now in it’s 18th year, the E.O.F.T presents a roundup of some of the most outstanding outdoors and adventure films of the year. The inclusion of an experienced host, who introduced each of the eight films over the course of three hours, generated a film festival atmosphere, as if I was attending the premiere of each film.

Launching in more than 300 venues across 15 countries, the EOFT promotes the spirit of adventure. There is no script, no actors and no CGI – only true stories of accomplishment and overcoming the odds.

Luxembourg Screening

With a packed house, the Luxembourg community showed its appreciation for the event. The Luxembourg screening took place at Rockhal, one of the top entertainment venues in the country. Situated in a former industrial site, with megalithic steel structures juxtaposed with futuristic architecture, Rockhal feels like some off-world planet in the Blade Runner franchise. However, the screening room itself did not quite live up to a cinema experience due to its smaller screen, uncomfortable chairs and painfully long concession lines. I’d vote to move the screening to Kinepolis movie theatre next year.

Rockhal, an industrial business and entertainment park in Luxembourg

The EOFT is a family-friendly event with mostly G-rated inspirational content. The only distressing scenes of the entire event were a relatively minor injury and the emotional story of Tom Belz’s struggle with cancer before attempting to summit Kilimanjaro.

The Lineup

From mountain biking in the Arctic Circle, to roller-skiing the length of North America, to world-record paragliding in Pakistan, the film compilation spanned the globe.

North of Nightfall

North of Nightfall started the show. A group of elite mountain bikers travel to Axel Heiberg Island, Canada’s seventh largest island that lies north of the Arctic Circle, in search of bottomless descents.

A to B Rollerski

A to B Rollerski stood out as my favorite. From the flamboyant 80’s fashion to Raimonds Dombrovskis’ bold personality, this is the one I’ll be re-watching every year on a creaky, scratched-up DVD. Raimonds Dombrovskis repeats the longest training run of his biathlon career, which covered 6,700 kilometers from the northern tip of Canada down to the Mexican boder, on rollerskis. As an added bonus, the director traveled to the event to answer questions and speak about the film in person.

Raimonds Dombrovskis rollerskis across North America to train to represent Latvia in the Olympics in biathlon.

Mbuzi Dume – Strong Goat

Perhaps the most inspiring film of the day was Mbuzi Dume – Strong Goat. The film follows Tom Belz’s journey to summit Kilimanjaro one-legged, as Tom’s left leg was amputated when he was just eight years old. Very skillfully and nimbly, and with exceptional grit, Tom uses crutches to traverse a variety of mountainous terrains.

Cancer survivor Tom Belz sets his sights on Kilimanjaro.

8000+

What stunt could be more ambitious or risky than paragliding among the Karakorum mountains in Pakistan for three weeks, alone? Antoine Girard defly maneuvers the upwinds with the aim to set a new altitude record in paragliding above the 8,000 meter mark.

Antoine Girard paraglides through the Karakorum mountains in Pakistan.

Viacruxis

After a 30 minute intermission, the show continued with Viacruxis, a hilarious stop-motion animated film depicting a mountaineering duo wordlessly toiling towards the summit through thick fog, falling rocks and butting egos.

This stop-motion animated film is the only unreal action of the tour.

The Frenchy

It’s impossible not to be charmed and won over by The Frenchy. 82 year old Jacques Houot is still an adamant multi-sport racer who has escaped death more times than you can count on two hands.

82 year old Jacques Houot’s stays young and fit by competing in downhill bike and ski competitions.

The A.O.

The lineup of films was presented as a crescendo leading up to the climactic climbing documentary of Adam Ondra (cue the debate between Adam and Alex Honnold here). Adam devotes himself completely, body and mind to accomplishing the first 9c difficulty level climb. We get a behind the scenes look at the non-traditional methods Adam experiments with to solve such a grueling problem. This film featured some of the most unintentionally funny scenes out of the evening’s lineup, with Adam mentally visualizing the route while groaning on the floor.

Frozen Mind

Feeling a bit out of place, the showrunners screened one more film after The A.O. that was by far the least engaging of the day with cliched narration. Victor de le Rue and Pierre Hourticq navigate narrow crevasses – skiing down with their shovels – in Charmonix.

Snowboard dangerous chutes in Charmonix.

Read Next on The Outdoor Journal: Aqua Negra Film Review: An Introspective Spearfishing Adventure

All in all, the event was highly entertaining and I look forward to making the EOFT an annual tradition.

To learn more about the European Outdoor Film Tour, click here. And order tickets, click here.

EOFT Facebook

EOFT Youtube

Images: European Outdoor Film Tour

Continue Reading

image

Travel

Jan 15, 2019

Not Your Father’s Ski Trip: Jackson Hole, WY

Inspired by images of her dad’s Jackson Hole college ski trip, the author heads north to tour the Tetons and tack a few pictures to the family scrapbook.

image

WRITTEN BY

Kela Fetters

The author’s father launching a cliff at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort cerca 1987

This film shot of my father going big on a set of ridiculously thin, twin-tipped K2s cerca 1987 instilled in me a deep gratitude for today’s fat freeride sticks and a sense of duty to keep the family’s cliff-hucking legacy alive. Scrapbook open on his lap, my dad extolled the terrain of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which he visited “back in the good ol’ days” at Colorado State University. He described a steep wonderland besotted with cliffs that beg for reckoning. After the past several seasons of wimpy Colorado snow totals whilst Jackson churned out foot-deep day after foot-deep day, I was enthused by the resort’s inclusion on my 2018-2019 Ikon Pass. With my own graduation looming in May, I figured the time was right for some Teton escapades. Like father, like daughter.

Car outfitted with a socioeconomically oxymoronic stash of ramen and expensive ski gear, I punched seven hours northward and arrived the night after a vicious storm cycle spat 20 inches of fresh flakes onto the mountains. The next day popped bluebird and my posse navigated the foreign slopes via trial, error, and the inexhaustible freneticism of college kids on vacation. We nabbed fresh tracks on Headwall and Casper Bowl, giggled down pillows on the Crags, and pinballed around the Hobacks. A ride up in the iconic Jackson Hole tram revealed a closed Corbet’s Couloir, ostensibly requiring another wave of coverage before its seasonal unveiling. I was forced to settle for a waffle at Corbet’s Cabin instead of matching my dad’s drop into the legendary chute. With the blood of my father and powder-fueled adrenaline surging through my veins, I willed myself over the most tantalizing cliffs on offer in Rendezvous Bowl.

The iconic Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram, cerca 1987
Corbet’s Couloir: a timeless classic
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, cerca 1987

In the words of the great Cyndi Lauper: Oh daddy dear, you know you’re still number one, but girls, they wanna have fun.

It’s part and parcel of parenthood to agitate over the safety and well-being of one’s children. I’ve subsumed backcountry skiing into my hobbiesnew territory for this family’s lineage. On my nascent out-of-bounds outings, my father, a textbook concerned parent, grumbled about avalanches, terrain traps, and my insurmountable naïvity. Several seasons of diligent education, one avy bag, and countless snow pits later, I’ve earned his reluctant acceptance, if not enthusiasm, for my backcountry pursuits.  In the words of the great Cyndi Lauper: Oh daddy dear, you know you’re still number one, but girls, they wanna have fun.

Finding deep snow on Headwall
Pillows aplenty on the Crags

After two days of charging in-bounds, my psyche longed for the solitude of the skintrack. Teton Pass, Grand Teton National Park, and the resort sidecountry make the area a veritable playground for backcountry enthusiasts. It’s a family affair in Jackson; a fraternal ethos is evident in the fact that 97% of the nearly 4 million acres of Teton County are federally owned or state managed. Locals are quick to mark their territory on Teton Pass with the exclamatory hieroglyphs of first tracks, but the terrain is ample enough to find virgin snow. After giving the snowpack several days to stabilize post-squall, we found wiggle room on north-facing aspects along the Mail Cabin Creek drainage. Our final line of Day 1 was the Do-Its, a bifurcated powder track that converges and meanders twelve hundred feet back down to the road. At the hill’s zenith, minute snowflakes collapsed into liquid and rolled from our hardshells. We stood atop a wind-plumped knoll and observed the gnarl of peaks, foregrounded by Mount Taylor and Mount Glory, tumbling into a horizon of exposed rock and liquescent white. The unperturbed flank below screamed for human contact. I was all too happy to oblige the siren’s call with a quick tuck into the void. My skis made that sanctified first contact with the snow below. A crescendo of polestrokes invoked a maelstrom of flakes to drown the world in white. Hips squiggling, mind locked to the minutia, dopamine and adrenaline flooding the nervous system, and a raven on high with a vantage point a ski cinematographer would kill for. Then I burned through the mountain’s vertical; the dance with gravity ended in an expository wave of white smoke. I looked back and the sublime evidence was a single, undulating track across the otherwise unblemished face.

Cloud inversion over the Teton Valley from the top of Mt. Glory
Top of Mt. Glory

My final day in Jackson came courtesy of Exum Mountain Guides, an 80-year-old Teton-based guiding service that offers instruction and adventure on rope and skis in North America, the Alps, Andes, and Himalayas. The service traces their lineage to local legends of the 1930s like Glenn Exum, Paul Petzoldt, and Barry Corbet. They’re the granddaddy of Jackson guiding services and the resident experts on Grand Teton National Park. Despite the government shut-down and limited National Park operations, dedicated employees were plowing the entrance road and ensuring access to some of the Tetons best snow staches. My guide for the day was Brendan O’neill, who informed me of the birth of his daughter Jessie three weeks prior as we puttered to the Taggart Lake Trailhead.

If newborn Jessie was taxing this new dad’s sleep and energy reserves, his athletic, assiduous pace on the skintrack suggested otherwise. I asked Brendan about fatherhood, hoping to glean some insight into my own dad’s relationship with raising a daughter. He hopes to have Jessie on skis the second she can walk; he would be thrilled if she took to alpine or nordic racing, but amenable if she chose not to compete; he is excited to show her the world beyond the boundaries of a ski resort. As we muscled up towards Amphitheater Lake, I mused that twenty years from now, Jessie might look at pictures of her dad guiding in far-flung locales and make plans to fill and transcend those footsteps. I wonder if Brendan knows how much she will look up to him and his accomplishments.

Exum Guide and new father Brendan O’neill

  Even the evergreens projected patriarchy: the tallest trees nucleated their sapling broods with paternal solemnity, each molecule of powder glistening in the shaggy green branches. We broke through the forest onto snow-covered Amphitheater Lake, a cirque bounded by the bald, mangled granite of Teewinot to the north and Disappointment Peak to the west. On a snack pitstop, we watched another party of skiers lay down tracks in Spoon Couloir, a steep, enticing chute on Disappointment Peak’s lower haunch. Brendan seemed to sense my desire to get after a big alpine line and suggested we bootpack the Spoon must have been his newly acquired parental mind-reading superpower. After crossing the lake, we cut a haphazard zig-zag to the top of the Spoon’s apron and transitioned to the bootpack. 500 feet of vertical boot-punching propelled us up the gut and bookended the nearly 5,000 feet of vertical notched from trailhead to objective. From our humble perch on Disappointment’s flank, an electric blue sky slumbered atop a soupy mass of clouds, hallmark of a Teton Valley temperature inversion. Backgrounded by this topsy-turvy atmosphere, I skied down the hard-packed snow of the spoon’s handle into its apron of softer powder.

The Spoon Couloir visible on looker’s left of lower Disappointment Peak (center)
Bootpacking up the Spoon

Grand Teton, senior pinnacle of its range, poised with patriarchal authority over Middle Teton, Mt. Owen, and all the rest

To redeem the remainder of our hard-earned vertical, Brendan led us through a mellow glade percolated with unrumpled pillows aplenty. Matching his cuts through the pines was reminiscent of a childhood spent following my dad around the resort as I learned to trust my edges and my body. As I ripped skins back in the parking lot, giddy with alpine energy, I turned to gaze up at the Grand Teton, senior pinnacle of its range, poised with patriarchal authority over Middle Teton, Mt. Owen, and all the rest. I owe this unforgettable trip to Jackson Hole to my father for choosing to raise and inspire (and generously fund) a skier.

Thanks to Exum Mountain Guides for making this trip possible.

loadContinue readingLess Reading

Recent Articles



Climbing for a Cause: Returning to Kilimanjaro for Elephant Conservation

Sarah Kingdom returns to Kilimanjaro, not for the first time, but now with a team that are fighting for Elephants in Africa, that are under serious threat.

The Outdoor Journal’s Biggest Stories of 2018.

From harassment within the climbing industry to deaths and environmental degradation in India. Furthering conversation on deep-rooted problems within the wider outdoor community, to Outdoor Moms, and explaining an unexplained tragedy.

Youth v. USA: Carbon Capitalism on Trial

As a nation's leaders shrink from imminent global catastrophe, its youth rise to the challenge. In the US, a lawsuit against the federal government could galvanize climate change policy.