This week the European Outdoor Film Tour came to the Europahalle, Trier before continuing on its Germany-centered journey through Europe. You can probably guess the theme from the name, but I’d consider adding the word “extreme” to the title. A dozen climbing, jumping, kite-surfing on skis, kayak-towing, mountain-biking adventurers gave the clad in Jack Wolfskin (German North Face) nature enthusiasts a real spectacle.
What inspired me most about the explorers was their pursuit of “Gipfelglück”. In this context of intense (often mountainous) expeditions, I infer “peak happiness” as referring to their feeling once they’ve reached the summit. But maybe it just alludes to their overall perception of bliss as they pursue their journeys.
By sharing their quest for fresh air and freedom through film, the thrill seekers made me consider several things. Whether they were dragging their kayaks 1000km over iced-over Greenland or lugging their mountain bikes up the highest ridges in Canada, the common denominator of the explorers was their reliance on each other. Each film featured a “team” of often two or three companions without whose mutual trust, their expeditions wouldn’t have been possible. One particularly beautiful moment features climber Steph Davis speaking about the necessity of “the nest”, i.e. a comfortable place to come back to after a several month long expedition.
The wanderers aren’t in it for the end result, they’re there for the journey and this is echoed in the fact that several of the stories aren’t conventionally successful. Steph Davis, a world-class climber, left law school to live in her van and purse climbing. Her film explores how she gained and lost sponsorship, her passion for climbing and how, after the death of her husband, climbing became air. Similarly, alpinists Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger attempt to scale the Kangchenjunga peaks, a feat which the audience is left to assume wasn’t completed.
As well as an insight into personal lives, the short films stirred up reflections on nature and our relationship with the outdoors. One film follows two English guys through the Ecuadorian rainforest, where they felled a tree to hack into a dugout canoe before paddling down the Shiripuno river. In awe of how a befriended family survives in the jungle, the boys give an authentic glimpse into a world that many of us can hardly imagine let alone hope to see. Whilst they find the jungle a “hostile, impenetrable and suffocating” place, the family embraces it through having mastered skills that have been passed down the generations.
All in all, the films were a painstaking reminder to appreciate each other, value our world and become more in touch with it. We don’t need to base jump off a cliff to understand this, but maybe incorporate their sense of adventure, their passion and their support of one another into our lives.