During the long winter months, the Alpine Club of Canada's AO Wheeler Hut sits buried under the massive snowfalls of Rogers Pass in B.C.'s Glacier National Park.
Nestled in the bosom of old-growth cedar forest and steeped in history, Canmore photographer Andrew Querner decided the hut was the ideal setting for him to extend his storytelling passion into the art of filmmaking.
His subject, Chic Scott, has spent the last quarter-century recording the history of climbing and ski mountaineering in Canada, including stories set amidst the wild glaciated peaks of western Canada's Selkirk Mountains, home of Wheeler Hut. Author of nine books and an accomplished climber and backcountry skiing route pioneer, Scott is revered as the Canadian mountain community's most cherished storyteller and historian.
And that's exactly why Querner chose to profile Scott in his 12-minute film, The Gift.
"I was inspired to make this film because I thought that Chic's life story was quite interesting, to me anyway," Querner said. "He has by no means led a conventional life and at times one might even have called it a fringe existence. But what is truly inspiring to me is the conviction in his voice when I hear him speak about the arts — literature, music, film. Clearly, he holds these things close to his heart and when you speak with him, he always returns to them. As a believer in the arts, this had an effect on me. That, combined with his penchant for thoughtful story telling made him a natural subject for a film."
Set to a backdrop of fresh powder snow glistening in frosty winter sunlight and the enchanting piano melody of Bach's Goldberg Variations, Scott shares some opinions and reflects on the meaning of the stories he's devoted his life to recording and publishing.
"Canada probably has more mountains than almost any nation on earth," Scott says in his rich, distinctive baritone voice. "When I discovered the mountains, almost all the mountaineering history, the books, the adventure, climbing books were all about somewhere else — Europe or the Himalayas. There was very little on our own community. I suppose I've done my best to rectify that."
With The Gift, Querner has elegantly celebrated Scott's dedication and accomplishments with very much the same sense of care and commitment that Scott has always exhibited in his meticulous researching and eloquent writing. An accomplished still photographer for the past seven years, Querner has shown himself to be exceptionally adept at capturing the more sensitive and intensely emotional side of the mountaineering experience. With the advent of inexpensive, good-quality video cameras and viable platforms for sharing one's work via the Internet — The Gift can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/46244677 rich the idea for a film profiling Scott evolved organically.
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