Ski Movie Review – “A Life Ascending”

My wife and I sat down on the couch last night and watched this movie. By the time it was over my eyes were swollen nearly busting with tears. We each sat silently holding hands as the titles filtered away.
Over the years, many of the skiers I have guided in the Chugach have skied with Ruedi. I could hardly compare myself with Ruedi and his accomplishment, but the parallels as his story unfolds were far too many to ignore and too deep to get into on this review. When it was over I wanted to call Ruedi and tell him how much I respect (love?) him and his family and to apologize for many, including myself, who may have questioned or misinterpreted his actions in the 2003 incident that dominates the film. Throughout the film it becomes starkly clear how devastating the incident was on one of the greatest mountain guides of our times. It’s also clear that he is a man of purpose and resolve to capture and sustain the joy he finds traveling in the mountains one step at a time. His family would have it no other way.
The highlights, at least to me, were the opening segments of his daughters on the rock walls and how they gazed upon their dad doing the wall with awe and love. Only Dad’s know that look. The beautiful song one of them sings at the end is simply mesmerizing. What a beautiful voice she has! I too have two children slighly older, revealing one of the parallels. The movie is full of the human spirit that binds a mountain family in a remote and wonderful winter wonderland. The raven story is all the proof I needed that the mountains are truly a church, a place to worship and of true spirits.
Many get wrapped up in the world of Hollywood skiing, tricks of extreme and fancy camera angles shot from a helicopter to enhance angles beyond what they really are. It gets old. This movie was shot at the human level both literally and spiritually. If you love backcountry skiing this movie is for you. If you are backcountry skier who loves your family this movie is for you. If you have had tragedy in your life this movie is for you. This movie will have a profound impact on how you view the mountain world we all ski and cherish. Every time I ski for the remainder of this season it will be hard to do so without thinking of “A Life Ascending”.
Thank you Ruedi, your wonderful family and friends for sharing your private lives with me and Tabitha. We love each more because of this movie.
(to order the movie go HERE)
By Matt Kinney February 3, 2011