Fitz Cahall and the creative souls at his production company Duct Tape Then Beer delivered a much welcomed Christmas card. Two weeks before the holiday climbers and other adventure media fans got a surprise film trailer so rich with joy and excitement it’s hard not to feel thankful for the opportunities we all have to indulge with unbridled enthusiasm even the most mundane tasks of the season -like stringing up Christmas lights.
The short film First Light came across my desk just as I settled into my day’s work. Moments earlier I had pressed send to deliver updates on a feature story for National Geographic Adventure. So it was initially received as the next in a long line of inspiring movies that I watch pretty much every day. The opening seconds contained the threads of a compelling story that I have come to expect from high caliber filmmakers like Cahall. But I had to chuckle when the tough talk of high altitude climbing suddenly shifted to the perils of rigging second story holiday decorations on a suburban house.
Mountaineers Jesse Huey and Hayden Kennedy hold true to the square-jawed intensity of an alpine adventure flick complete with a heart thumping action score playing in the background. As they clip strings of brightly colored Christmas lights like snapping carabineers into ice screws you can’t help but draw from the same well of emotion the feelings you get when watching a dicy series of moves over a thousand foot drop with nothing short of a painful death should they make even a simple mistake.
“It’s cold. It’s steep. It’s icy,” Huey says in the film. “There’s no margin for error.”
Likely less than 25 feet off the ground the danger is of course exaggerated. Conveyed with so much seriousness you have to smile or even laugh out loud. I for one found myself instantly and gratefully aware of how critical it is not to take even the dangerous lifestyle choices of adventure sports so seriously that it’s impossible to enjoy them. As we agonize over the complex challenges of training, recovering from an injury or figuring out how to fund that next trip it’s important to take a minute to remember that what we do in life is supposed to be fun. The gift of this film is to remind us that there is adventure to found in everything.
The Joy Trip Project is made possible thanks to the generous support of MAKO Surgical Corporation.