I've heard that no matter what day of the year it is snowing somewhere on this big beautiful orb. I'm not sure that's really true but it keeps me upbeat, more so in summer when snow is a dream than in mid-November when it's 54 degrees and I'm getting antsy.
A few weeks ago I joined a hearty band of skiers and big mountain skiing lovers at the Spectrum Theater in Albany for a one day showing of The Edge of Never. The film being the raison d'etre of the book by the same name and as engrossing a tale on the big screen as it was in print - you can buy the Edge of Never book or a DVD of the movie.
Filmed on location in Chamonix, France, a true land of eternal glaciated snow and the mecca of ski mountaineering. This is a different big mountain skiing movie from what you are probably used to - no long screaming Alasakan Chugach powder runs here, no tonsil wagging ski porn - this is Chamonix, rugged, earn your turns, kill you in a second, prove yourself every minute skiing.
The crux of the story is that Glen Plake convinces the filmmaker Bill Kerig to take fifteen year old Kye Petersen, the son of late big mountain legend Trevor Petersen, to ski the extreme couloir above Chamonix that claimed his dad's life.
Kerig films as the best ski mountaineers in the world gather, take Kye under their tutelage and introduce him to the steep, icy, powdery, slushy conditions you find above Chamoix. You don't like snow conditions up there wait ten minutes or ski down 20 feet and they will most likely change. Expect nothing but ice and crud snow, pray for a little soft and pray harder it stays on the mountain.
Plake, Mike Hattrup, top Chamonix guide Stephane "Fan Fan" Dan, and legendary extreme skier Anselme Baud plan out a progressive ski mountaineering learning curve to get Kye ready to ski the Exit Couloir. Of course, nature has a lot to say about the best laid plans around Chamonix and Mont Blanc and threatening weather forces a go day way sooner than planned.
While a chilling lone eagle soars above Kye releases a tin of his dad's ashes into the wind and, yes, surrounded by his mentors, all friends of his dad, the boy skis the Exit Couloir. This circle of ski mountaineers, in a baptism of fire, embraces the son of a lost friend. It brought me to think of Peter, Paul and Mary's The Great Mandala:
Take your place on The Great Mandala
As it moves through your brief moment of time.
Win or lose now you must choose now
And if you lose you're only losing your life.
i don't meant to wax poetic, or maybe I do - I'm not even going to tell you what happens to one of the mentors skiing the day after Kye's success - but you should see this serious ski movie about ski life that you can't outgrow. Plake, like you never seen him - beneath that mohawk is a serious, thoughtful, caring man. The same is true with Hattrup and Baud - who is a short time removed from seeing his son killed on the mountain.
Take the message - live the life the mountains give you and hold close that circle of friends.
Photo Mont Blanc Massif Copyright Mike Doyle