Video: The Denali Experiment Full Length Movie

November 21, 2011

Last June skier Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and snowboarder Lucas Debari made an attempt to climb and ride 20,320-foot Denali in Alaska — the highest peak in North America. With the help of professional climbers and ski mountaineers from The North Face athlete team, including Hilaree O'Neill, Conrad Anker, Ingrid Backstrom, Jim Zellers, Emilio Previtali and Giulia Monego, the two athletes stepped out of their comfort zones and attempted one of the biggest ski-mountaineering challenges out there.

"I don't know how to describe it," Sage Cattabriga-Alosa says as he's climbing above 14,000 feet. "I feel weird, on the edge."

"This is the highest I've ever been in my life," Lucas Debari says.

Ingrid Backstrom offers some perspective, "I've been to Baffin Island, the Arctic three times, I've been to the Antarctic ... I think this might be the coldest!"

Hilaree O'Neill chimes in, "You know, it's good for everybody to suffer a little bit."

After 10 days of climbing, the team summited on June 16, 2011. Everyone in the party skied from the top and it's at that point when the tables turn and Sage and Lucas lead the way down.

The trip was captured by Camp 4 Collective, a group of visual artists, filmmakers, photographers, athletes and editors.

"I just watched it again last night and laughed when I realized how little ski footage is in the movie." Director Jimmy Chin said in an email. "I guess it is the antithesis of the modern ski porn flick. Lots of rock star skiers and not much skiing! Ha! We got some decent footage, but I wanted to focus on a narrative. There are plenty of films showing Sage and Lucas ripping. It was a tough piece to put together with so many different characters, and, of course, trying to film when you are carrying all your camera equipment, have no access to power on top of climbing and skiing Denali is a bit challenging as well. The story was intended to really highlight Sage and Lucas' story, where they are from, what this climb was going to be for them. At the end of the day, I hope the piece gives people a sense of who those two characters are besides being rock star skiers/snowboarders."

Certainly a different type of ski film, but skiing Denali is a different type of skiing altogether. Watch and see what it takes to ride one of the biggest mountains out there.

— Sam Petri

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