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

Garbage truck and van collide on 6 Ave.

No serious injuries in mid-day collision

One in custody after dramatic Abbotsford vehicle theft ends with rollover in Chilliwack

Prolific offender Michael Joseph Hasell facing numerous charges

Five calls on local highways, mountains for Hope rescue squad

Injured hikers, injured motorists and one casualty has Hope SAR team busy

Lower Mainland cools down as heat wave lifts

Environment Canada predicts temperatures in the mid to low 20s

Fraser Health launches new drug-use support team to curb overdoses

Nearly 200 people have been killed by illicit drug overdoses in the region so far in 2018

Stolen sunshade puts damper on Lower Mainland woman’s pet-relief effort

Broken umbrella taken from White Rock lawn ‘within 10 minutes’

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Teen killed by train remembered for his love

Friends and family share stories of young Crescent Beach train victim

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Most Read