Finding the Fine Line 

Rocky Mountain Sherpas and Canadian Avalanche Foundation team up to present a youthful new avalanche education film

click to enlarge Sure Slides Dave Mossop shoots a scene for the Rocky Mountain Sherpas' latest film. Photo by Malcolm Sangster
  • Sure Slides Dave Mossop shoots a scene for the Rocky Mountain Sherpas' latest film. Photo by Malcolm Sangster

What: The Fine Line world premiere

When: Thursday, Sept. 25, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Admission: $8

At one point or another, we’ve all been forced to sit through agonizing safety films for work or school. They’re not usually the most fascinating flicks — they often feature stodgy narrators, cheesy dialogue, and bad music — but the Rocky Mountain Sherpas are looking to change all that with The Fine Line: A 16 mm Avalanche Education Film.

Now, before you roll your eyes and suppress a yawn, be forewarned, The Fine Line isn’t anything like that fire safety video you had to watch during Home Ec class.

Malcolm Sangster and Dave Mossop are cofounders of the Rocky Mountain Sherpas, a group of skiers, snowboarders, photographers and filmmakers dedicated to promoting the beauty and freedom of big mountain sports. Founded in Alberta in 1997, the Sherpas are now based out of Squamish. But over the years, bouncing from one resort town to another — Revelstoke, Whistler, and Golden — Sangster and Mossop have seen lots of slides claim lives.

During high school, they lost four friends to avalanches, and in 2003, they were also on the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir school backcountry daytrip when a huge natural slide buried 17 people, killing seven.

“Since then, we’ve seen this happen again and again, and we’ve always been like, ‘we gotta make a video that’s cool and going to speak to the youth and be educational at the same time,’” Sangster said.

The project didn’t become a reality until last summer, when they teamed up with the Canadian Avalanche Foundation (CAF).

Avalanche safety isn’t typically thought of as being particularly wild, or even interesting, for that matter. But Sangster and Mossop have managed to include a bit of “ski porn” — shots of big name riders pulling sick tricks in beautiful places — to sex things up a bit.

“There are a lot of old people in the industry that think you shouldn’t even teach kids about these things — it’s kind of like teaching kids about sex and drugs, or something,” Sangster said with a laugh.

Now, it seems the CAF is taking a forward-thinking approach to avalanche safety, opting to use ski films as a medium for their message to youth.

The timing for the film couldn’t be better — with 16 avalanche fatalities in Canada last season alone, slides are definitely a hot topic for skiers and snowboarders alike.

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