When ski mountaineer Kip Garre says he and a crew of skiers and filmmakers didn’t do anything spectacularly difficult when they skied in Antarctica to film a segment for Warren Miller’s latest winter sports film, “Wintervention,” you might think the high altitudes of the extreme location affected his brain.

Granted, his “Wintervention” trip wasn’t his first time skiing on the continent, and skiing in extreme locations is not new for the New Hampshire native. But, come on. We’re talking about Antarctica here, with 55-degree inclines and having to hike up thousands of feet of terrain covered in snow and ice.

It was precisely because of the very dangerous conditions that the crew took it “easy.” You can see what Garre means by “easy” when “Wintervention” is screened Friday at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium.

“The objective,” said the self-professed ski bum, “was to get as much good ski stuff as possible, but to have as much fun as possible. (But) in Antarctica, safety is a priority.”

Safety is a priority because even a “simple” injury becomes a dangerous and complicated situation in a place so remote.

Colin Witherill, a 29-year-old Cumberland native, was on the Antarctica trip with Garre, working as a filming assistant to cinematographer Tom Day. He said a skier who was not part of the film’s crew fell down a crevasse and broke a leg. It took 48 hours to get the injured skier off the mountain and transported out of the area to a hospital.

Witherill, who skied on Nordic teams for Greely High School and Colby College, runs his own business, Broadreach Images, out of Boulder, Colo. He specializes in filming extreme locations, and “Wintervention” is just one of the films he has worked on for Miller.

Witherill laughed when he heard of Garre’s “easy” description of the skiing on the Antarctica trip. “They’d be really steep, like 55 degrees,” he said of the slopes. “For Kip, that’s a pretty fair walk in the park, but for the average skier, it gets your stomach rising.”

While the filmmakers on “Wintervention” and other Miller winter sports films may not need the same skiing expertise as the athletes they are filming, they have to be competent skiers and able to endure skiing and climbing with 60-plus pounds of film equipment.

Both Garre and Witherill stressed that conveying the thrill of extreme skiing isn’t the only function of “Wintervention.” The film is also about showcasing amazing locations.

“Antarctica is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to,” said Witherill. “It’s almost otherworldly. When you’re hiking, you usually have your head down, (but) once in a while, I’d look around, and it was jaw-dropping.”

“The skiing (you see in the film) is pretty cool,” Garre said, “but it’s combined with this wildlife and stunning terrain.”

“Wintervention,” which showcases locations such as the Arctic and Argentina and is narrated by skiing icon Johnny Moseley, will have two screenings Friday at Merrill Auditorium. Warren Miller products are available to those purchasing 12 or more tickets.

Staff Writer Stephanie Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

[email protected]


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