Winter alpinism. What is it, who is it for, and what drives people to do it? In a nutshell, these are the questions that the film Nevia, a new film courtesy of The North Face, finds itself answering. The film shines a spotlight on Sam Anthamatten, a man who has spent his epic life travelling the world and achieving the kind of incredible feats in mountaineering and snow sports that can really knock you for six (especially when you see them played out on a big screen).
Over the years, Sam has worked alongside a number of significant names in the world of adventure. These names include his brother Simon, and world-renowned freestyle skiers like Markus Eder and Jérémie Heitz. As the film shows, winter alpinism isn’t really a solo pursuit. It’s about working with people, and reaching your goals with a good support unit working alongside you.
Many people, it’s fair to say, owe at least some of their success to Sam’s levels of patience, dedication, and all-round supportive vibes. He’s a good dude, a team player, and knows far more about the right approach to take in mountainous terrain than almost anyone else on the planet. In other words, he’s 100% the guy you want in your corner when you’re taking on a wintertime mission in the high places.
Nevia gives us, the viewers, a chance to hang out with Sam and understand more about what his yet-to-be-lived dreams are. From ice climbing right on through to paragliding and skiing, the film showcases a heady mix of winter alpinism activities in a beautiful part of Switzerland. Sam’s hometown becomes the launchpad for him to actualise his dream line, and dedicate time to his chosen mission. It’s adventure on the doorstep, adventure incredibly close to one man’s home; for many it’s the stuff dreams are made of.
One thing the film does particularly well is explore the trust and partnerships required to reach the upper echelons of exploration. So often, we’re shown the rider nailing his part but not the vital work going on behind the scenes in the mountains. Nevia addresses the balance slightly, and it’s nice to get a realistic sense of the human network hidden just beneath the surface of iconic moments. The film also reminds us that goals are often defined by weather windows and conditions so specific that they can take years to make happen. Alpinism, in its ultimate form, is a unique process that Sam knows well.
We recently chatted to Sam about his Alaskan backcountry mission with Jérôme Tanon (for the film Free Rider). You can read more about how that chat went, and about that particular project, in Issue 3 of the Mpora magazine (which you can buy now on Surfdome).