Environmentalism is no longer a sacrifice – it is a challenge to do more, to be more creative, to have more imagination, to achieve greater solutions together as both individuals and communities. This is the underlying message of a new Extreme Skiing documentary of incredible visual proportions. The film, by Sherpas Cinema, was created as a two-year project “that fuses our passions for riding and exploring the mountains with our potential to help the environment,” (sherpascinema.com). The producers, a group of once high school friends who now share talent in film, skiing, and the grief of having lost four friends in an avalanche, demonstrate an unparalleled love for the mountains and passion to inspire environmentalism.
Infused with some of the most gorgeous and breathtaking cinematography I have ever seen, the film is a visual masterpiece (complemented with inspiring music) starring some of the world’s best extreme skiers and their motivations to see the snow-covered mountains they so love preserved for generations to come. The film emerged from 550 hours of raw footage, shot over two years in five countries.
“Every generation in history has had their own big problem to deal with, and this is ours,” (All.I.Can athlete).
Featuring messages of community, immersion in nature, and imagination, the film “strives to unite global mountain culture and bind us together as the leaders of a green revolution,” the Sherpas (sherpascinema.com). I personally loved the film’s opening: red-hot volcanic flow is cooled to black rock by ocean waters, springing life in the form of a single green plant sprout. Stunning time-lapse cinematography emphasizes the natural ebb and tide of the oceans, changes in Artic sea ice, and the ‘breathing’ of mountains alternatively covered in snow and green life with the changing seasons. Beautiful aerial shots contrast pristine mountain landscapes with views of skyscrapers and the life-blood of the cities we live in: interstates lit with passing vehicles, scurrying around in their busy ant lives against a backdrop of fossil fuel fumes.
All.I.Can extreme skiers don ‘ski skins’ and climb untouched mountain slopes in the Canadian Rockies, among Morocco’s desert peaks, and within a snowy Chile volcanic crater that erupted just a year after the project’s filming. Once at the top of a strenuous climb, the skiers remove their ‘skins’ or ice boot crampons and fly down powder-covered cliffs. These athletes liken the challenges that global warming poses on our generation to the challenges of extreme mountain skiing in the backcountry. “You don’t just ski a slope – you have to know precisely what is going on in that aspect, in that part of the world,” said film interviewee Auden Schendler, Vice President of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company. That is how you have to engage people too, argues Schendler, by fostering a better understanding of the problem and engagement at the local level.
Read blog posts on Climate, Energy, and Mountain Life by Schendler here.
The film offers chilling shots of garbage landfills in Morocco. “We are all connected in the same problem,” said one All.I.Can athlete, amid film shots of oil drilling, deforestation, and fossil fuel emissions.
“Climate has been called the perfect problem – you can’t see it, most people don’t understand it…’ said Schendler. “It’s too slow to be tangible to most people,” just as extreme mountain skiing lines are intangible to those of us who are not extreme winter athletes. But the most important thing to remember is that we should all engage in our world to the best of our own abilities. “We must be inspired to do all we can for the environment,” The Sherpas (sherpascinema.com).
“A lot of the comments I get revolve around people feeling badly, people feeling badly about the car they drive,” said Schendler in a film interview. But, he points out, “this isn’t about you. It’s about how we all become part of a bigger solution.” Film athlete and interviewee JP Auclair emphasizes that environmentalism is not about doing less, but about doing more. “If you try to be less and less, that is not progression,” said Auclair, among film visuals of wind energy technology. “You are not really moving forward, you are just basically slowing down. I don’t think it’s about doing less, I think it’s about being more creative, more active.”
Auclair’s stunning urban ‘street segment’, one of the film’s most popular segments, sends the message that “humans have a way of making the impossible possible.” Surrounded with gray skies, asphalt, and dirty, melting snow, Auclair makes his way down a ‘ski slope’ in the middle of an urban neighborhood. Cutting flips over roads, riding stair handrails, jumping clotheslines and riding asphalt on sparking skis, Auclair proves that we can both adapt to a warming world and serve as individual, creative environmentalists through our own life choices. Auclair himself is the founder of Alpine Initiatives, a project that engages the snow sports community in sustainable initiatives that connect people and planet.
“All of our passions have a footprint. The film is not about giving up your passion, it’s about sharing it and getting engaged through that,” film produce Malcolm Sangster told Lisa Richardson in an article about All.I.Can in SBC Skier magazine. The ski industry may be a great avenue to reach people with positive, creative solution messages. “The ski industry is small, but it is interesting, so it can drive change,” said Schendler in a film interview.
The Sherpas seek to inspire the mountain culture to come up with solutions for climate change, but not necessarily by hitting the nail right on the head. Rather, they seek to inspire environmentalism through their art.
The film is ‘carbon neutral’ to boot. All.I.Can purchased 56 tons of carbon dioxide offsets in order to neutralize carbon emissions from plane flights, vehicle traveling, and other energy usage demanded by the film’s production.
Check out All.I.Can on iTunes!
Image Credit: Sherpas Cinemas