For Ruedi Beglinger and his family mountain culture is a way of life. Even after the tragic deaths of 7 friends and clients during an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies this climber and backcountry ski guide reconciles his love of high alpine snowfields with extreme caution and great respect for the inherent danger that surrounds him. A Life Ascending is a film directed Stephen Grynberg that illustrates the emotional heights and depths of an existence that offers incredible reward delicately balanced with great risk.
In the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia Beglinger operates a remote ski lodge and guiding service with his wife and two young daughters. Sweeping vast landscapes of fresh untracked powder draw visitors from across Canada and around the world. This idyllic setting for the most avid adventurer is the backdrop to an intimate look into the lives of people who have devoted themselves utterly to creating a home where they pursue their passions. But in this region prone to the sudden cascade of rushing snow Beglinger is profoundly aware of how quickly a day spent skiing can go horribly wrong. The film offers some insight to the bitter torment a guide endures after surviving an avalanche that claimed the lives of others.
“I turned into my biggest enemy you can ever imagine,” Beglinger says in the film. “You hate yourself, you think you screwed up…you question yourself. Wow, maybe guiding isn’t for me.”
Winner of the 2010 Best in Mountain Culture prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival this glimpse into the psychological strain that sometimes accompanies life in a alpine wilderness is tempered with breathtaking cinematography. The sheer scale of beauty justifies the notion that to be in the presence of these majestic summits is worth the consequence. Viewers of A Life Ascending won’t have to set aside their romantic ambitions to become a backcountry ski guide. In fact they’ll come to realize just Beglinger does that there is peace and happiness to be found on the climb toward our highest aspirations.
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