The Winter Olympics and especially the Winter X Games have exploded in popularity over the last decade. Ergo, documentaries about skiing and other wintry outdoors pursuits are nothing new; witness First Descent, a gorgeously photographed snowboarding solicitation. Few, however, attempt to connect past and present quite like Intrepid Descent, a superb cinematic morsel that plays as both homage to a notable mountain range and the individuals who dared, and continue to dare, test themselves on its treacherous slopes. Directed by Erik Osterholm and Zander Hartung and clocking in at around half an hour, this short film form rather deftly blends cathartic thrills with steadying analysis, tacking somewhere between suspense and straightly informational. Hardcore skiers and those who prefer the lodge can each find some reward in it, therefore.
Intrepid Descent captures the classic wilderness experience of skiing Tuckerman Ravine, the legendary birthplace of back-woods country skiing. Nestled just below the summit of Mount Washington, the tallest peak in New England, the Ravine, with its near-vertical slopes of rock, ice and snow, has seen triumph and tragedy since the early 1920s, and is home to some of the United States’ most consistently extreme weather. Owing to this, it today remains a mecca for extreme skiers and adventurers (you know, the Mountain Dew crowd) from all over the world. Intrepid Descent is built around talking-head interviews with expert skiers and the like, which are interwoven with rare photos and other footage to reveal Tuckerman’s rich history, where the classic man-against-nature story has been repeated for generations. To drive home the Tuckerman experience, the filmmakers chart the daunting climb to the top of the Ravine and then up over the lip on an exhilarating, heart-stopping descent.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Intrepid Descent comes to DVD presented in 1.77:1 widescreen, with an English language stereo audio track. Bonus features consist of a photo gallery, director’s notes, biographies and a short featurette which throws a spotlight on the New England Ski Museum. To stock up for winter and purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B+ (Movie) C+ (Disc)