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

Croatia loses in World Cup final, Victoria fans still jubilant

“We’re just a small little country, we only have 4.5 million people, and look how far we’ve come.”

Park ambassador pilot going well at Mount Doug

Dog poop bags, litter and cigarette butts among ongoing park issues

Jacklin Road reopens

The section of road has been closed for five months

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson set to hit Rock the Shores stage

Other acts include Bahamas, Allen Stone and Bedouin Soundclash

VIDEO: Unique canvas for local artist

Haren Vakil brings joy and smiles to homeowners and passersby

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to sponsor a refugee, global refugee situation only worsening

‘U.S. is no longer a safe place for refugees,’ says local MP

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

LOCAL FLAVOUR: South Island expecting a bumper berry crop

It’s berry time in Saanich. My raspberries are getting plump and ripe… Continue reading

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Most Read