A climber tackles Bear Creek. (DM Productions)

Video: B.C. documentary features Okanagan ice climbing

First documentary for Penticton filmmaker captures elusive Okanagan ice climbing

Getting up at 2 a.m., strapping 60 pounds of camera gear on and trudging through thigh-high snow for miles in the Okanagan backcountry to find a giant chunk of ice to climb definitely isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time.

But for Penticton filmmaker Dave Mai not only is it a good time, it’s a great story.

“When you think about ice climbing, the Okanagan is definitely not the first place you think of. Usually you would want to go to the Rockies where there is a constant subzero temperature to keep the ice from melting and falling apart, but here in the Okanagan it changes quite a bit. It fluctuates from minus 1 C to plus 3 C, back and forth, and that is not conducive at all. To be an ice climber in the Okanagan you have to be very patient and determined to find it.”

That feeling of being part of something so elusive, propelled Mai to create a documentary film about the sport and those who partake in it in the Okanagan. This is the first documentary for the self-taught filmmaker. The 13-minute film called Ephemera debuts at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival next month.

“The name of the film is Ephemera, which means something that is significant that doesn’t last long, and that pretty much sums up ice climbing in the Okanagan. I wanted to use ice climbing as a medium to tell a story of how nature fluxes and how there is no endlessness to anything.”

Mai, an experienced rock climber, slipped into the sport of ice climbing rather by coincidence.

A friend needed a partner to go climbing one day last winter and the 29-year-old didn’t hesitate to join.

“I said, ‘I’ll come.’ We got out there and he pointed up to what looked like an icicle way up off Green Mountain Road,” he said with a laugh.

The pair hiked up to find a large ice formation and Mai got a quick lesson in ice climbing before they started up.

“I was scared for sure,” he said. “But, I think that’s a metaphor for life. There are things that scare us but those are the things worth doing.”

After just a few hours on the ice he knew he wanted to experience the feeling again and film it.

The next time he went he brought his camera equipment and started taking raw footage. At that point he wasn’t sure what he’d do with it.

Last winter was a cold one, which extended the ice climbing season in the Okanagan. He climbed and shot hours of stunning footage all over the Okanagan including Christie Falls in Kelowna, Bear Lake in West Kelowna, sites in the North Okanagan and Naramata Creek Falls.

“There’s this adventure involved in finding it. There’s this pretty small window you have to ice climb especially in the Okanagan. We do reconnaissance missions to scout potential climbing locations. Sometimes you go and you walk for hours and you get there and the conditions aren’t right and you can’t climb. You go home and think, ‘well, that was a nice hike,’” he said.

Mai said there’s only about a handful of ice climbers in the Okanagan that he knows about and that’s what makes the story more obscure.

“This definitely isn’t a place that people come to to go ice climbing. It’s that you’re here and it’s convenient for you to go here,” he said.

It wasn’t until long after the ice melted that Mai figured out what he wanted to do with the hundreds of hours of footage he collected.

He found and applied for a filmmaking grant offered by the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival and outdoor clothing company Arc’teryx.

Ephemera – Trailer from Dave Mai on Vimeo.

He received word in October he was the successful recipient of the $5,000 grant.

Through the fall and winter he’s worked diligently to put the film together with the help of some his creative contemporaries in the area.

The film features prose from world renowned poet Shane Koyczan and music composed by Sam Welsch.

Among stunning video work including aerial footage, Okanagan climbers express their love for the sport and explain challenges faced because of the climate in the Okanagan.

“Really when it comes down to it I think I made this film because I wanted to go ice climbing and I just happened to have a camera with me,” he said smiling. “A lot of time I’m out there in the mountains and looking at this beautiful scenery and this landscape I’m connecting with and I just wish some of my best friends were with me to share this moment with me and I guess I created this film so I could bring bak this experience back to share with everyone else.”

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival is an annual nine-day festival held in multiple venues including live presentations, films, photography and music. Films and photos are judged. The festival runs from Feb. 9 to 17.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com
.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

The ice formation in Christie Falls in Kelowna is more than 160 metres high. (DM Productions) The ice formation in Christie Falls in Kelowna is more than 160 metres high. (DM Productions)

Self-taught filmmaker Dave Mai shot hours of footage while ice climbing in the Okanagan during the winter of 2016. He used that footage to create his first documentary Ephemera, which will debut at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival next month. DM Productions

Dave Mai (DM Productions)

Just Posted

Regional district voters call for change

Election results in for RDKS, school board — recount ordered for Terrace Rural

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Election 2018: City votes are in

All incumbents re-elected, with two newcomers

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

VIDEO: Fire destroys historic small-town B.C. restaurant

Two people were injured as fire ripped through the Hedley restaurant around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday

B.C. town’s mayoral race a tie, come down to luck of the draw

Harry Gough led incumbent Cindy Fortin by one vote on election night Saturday

Outdoor retailer MEC vows to boost diversity after online complaint

Mountain Equipment Co-op was criticized for perpetuating a white-only picture of the outdoors

Trump vilifies caravan, says he’ll cut Central American aid

Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the Guatemala-Mexico border, about 5,000 Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border Sunday in southern Mexico.

Federal carbon tax rebates will exceed the cost for most people affected

Officials say 70 per cent of people in those provinces will get back more than they end up paying out as fuel costs rise to incorporate the carbon tax.

Rotating strike in Toronto will have ‘significant impact,’ says Canada Post

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities.

Cancelling Saudi Arabia arms deal would cost $1 billion: Trudeau

Canada has added its voice to global calls for answers, with Trudeau telling the CBC in an interview today that the Saudi government’s explanation of what happened lacks credibility.

Former B.C. sheriff caught in sex-related sting pleads guilty to lesser charge

Kevin Johnston will be sentenced on Nov. 6 for his role in communicating online with a person posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Most Read