Hard Snow film fest returning to Aspen to raise funds for Nepal | AspenTimes.com

Hard Snow film fest returning to Aspen to raise funds for Nepal

Staff report

Steve Marolt skiing the high country in Ecuador. The adventure is part of the Mike Marolt film, 'Natural Progression' that will be shown at the Hard Snow film fest in Aspen.

Since Mother Nature isn't cooperating, maybe the return of the Hard Snow film festival to Aspen will help skiers and snowboarders get fired up for ski season.

That's the intent anyway of organizer Tom Winter and backers Mike and Steve Marolt.

"It's a very low-key opportunity for people to come together," Mike Marolt said. They can drink a beer, watch some interesting ski-mountaineering films and connect with friends prior to hitting the slopes, he said.

Hard Snow will mix short films with feature presentations Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Limelight Hotel. The doors open at 7 each evening. The cost is $5 per night at the door.

This is the second year of Hard Snow. It was started last year as a fundraiser for the Aspen Alpine Club's Nepal Relief Fund. Aspen Alpine Club is a nonprofit founded by the Marolts to provide assistance to victims of the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Highlights of this year's festival include "Hike," a film by Martin Stoni and featuring athletes Mitch Toelderer, Bibi Pekarek, McFly, Flo Edenberger and Lorraine Huber. "It's a compelling look at finding adventure in your own backyard and the joy of being in the mountains with friends," said a statement from the organizers.

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Also showing at the festival will be "Wild Scotland," a quirky short featuring a solo ski-mountaineering adventure in Scotland. This Scottish experience is juxtaposed with the insane powder skiing of Japan, showcased in the film "The Warmth of Winter."

Mike Marolt will show a roughly 10-year-old film of his, "Natural Progression," which features Aspen skiers moving from the Elk Mountains in Aspen's backyard to Mount Everest and numerous peaks in between.

The event sponsors are 8K Peak Technologies, Fischer Skis and the Limelight Hotel.

While the cost to attend is just $5 per night, it can have a big impact, Marolt said. Last year's film festival and other fundraising efforts helped the Aspen Alpine Club raise funds to send $125,000 of solar-powered battery chargers to Nepal.

The battery chargers have become staples of the Marolts and other ski mountaineers on lengthy expeditions. Aspen Alpine Club acquired the units at favorable rates from a manufacturer called Aspect Solar. Between 150 and 200 have been sent to Nepal so far, according to Steve Marolt.

"The logistics of getting them into the country have been tough," he said.

The solar-powered chargers have been sent with climbers headed over on expeditions and tour groups. They work with the Marolts' connections in the country to get them directly into the hands of villagers.

That method avoids large government tariffs, red tape and the risk they will end up on the black market, Marolt said.

Aspect Solar was recently acquired by a larger Canadian company, which has indicated it will continue providing the units after a period of adjustment, according to the Marolts.

It was vital to get the chargers into Nepal last year during the earthquake recovery, Mike Marolt said. Now it's important to get them into the country as an enhancement to daily living. The Marolts and their supporters believe using the battery chargers to provide electricity in Nepal is a good model for helping residents of other impoverished areas of the world.

Steve Marolt said it's been tougher to engage people to help with the Nepal relief effort as time passes since the devastating earthquake. It's been out of sight, out of mind for many people.

"Just because the earthquake and subsequent devastation isn't in the headlines anymore doesn't mean that the need isn't there," said Mike Marolt, who has climbed and skied extensively in the country. "It will take a long time for Nepal to fully recover, and that's why an ongoing effort to help is so important."

scondon@aspentimes.com

IF YOU GO

What: Hard Snow ski mountaineering film fest

When: Thursday through Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Limelight Hotel

Cost: $5 per night at the door