New documentary captures Aspen’s Marolt twins ‘Beyond Skiing Everest’
IF YOU GO
What: ‘Beyond Skiing Everest’ film screening
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Friday, doors open at 6:15 p.m., film at 7 p.m.
Cost: $25, with free beverages
Proceeds: Benefit for Jimmie Heuga Legacy Foundation for MS
Tickets at: www.aspenshowtix.com
Mike Marolt never intended being a videographer on the high-altitude climbing and skiing expeditions he’s gone on with his twin brother, Steve, and other friends.
But when a cameraman had to back out of a 2000 expedition to Shisha Pangma, Mike was selected by default because he was an accomplished still photographer.
“They stuck a video camera in my hands,” he said.
He’s never taken a still image since and he’s taken countless hours of video footage.
Nearly a decade of shooting on expeditions above 8,000 meters yielded footage of skiing from the summit of Shisha Pangma in 2000 and from high elevations on Cho Oyu and Mount Everest.
That footage was incorporated into the 2009 documentary “Skiing Everest,” which Mike promoted at film festivals and special showings around the country to raise awareness and funds for the Jimmie Heuga Legacy Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.
Over the past decade, the Marolts have adjusted their goals to climbing and skiing peaks in the winter in the Himalaya. Mike estimated only 80 expeditions have been launched in the wintertime at the high elevations of the Himalaya over the past 30 to 40 years because of the extreme cold, down to minus-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s super cold and it’s super different,” Mike said from the comfort of his Aspen accounting office recently.
The brothers and their companions have taken to “flash” climbing, covering a lot of vertical feet up to the summit and down in one quick push from a lower camp.
Despite some hassles and inconveniences, Mike has continued to carry a video camera — capturing footage from six of their roughly 24 high-altitude expeditions between 2009 and 2017, both in the Himalaya and during training in the rarified air of the Andes.
“I always joke with people that I’m an accountant who happens to climb the highest peaks in the world and take a camera,” Marolt said.
The task has gotten easier. When he had a camera thrust upon him in 2000, it was a Sony that weighed about 15 pounds with the battery. Now, the Sony equivalent of a GoPro that he uses only weighs a few ounces.
Some of the footage he has taken over the years ended up in a new film, “Beyond Skiing Everest,” which came together after Marolt met Steve Bellamy, a filmmaker and owner of the Ski Channel.
“I saw a film of his and it just blew me away. It was the best ski film I’d ever seen,” Marolt said. “He is such a good storyteller.”
Bellamy, the producer and director, saw the footage through a different lens than Mike and pieced together a story of the Marolts’ pursuit of winter Himalaya trips and the progression of their climbing career over 40 years. He added interviews with the Marolts and climbing partners such as Jim Giles. While serving as a retrospective on their later career, the film also documents their induction earlier this year into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame for their unique mountaineering.
“Beyond Skiing Everest” will be shown at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House on Friday night. Marolt plans to take the film out on the road. All profits will again go to the Jimmie Heuga Legacy Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.
“My goal is to raise $300,000,” Marolt said.
There will be an open bar at the screening as well as a Q&A session after the film. There will be an after-party at the Cripple Creek Backcountry store in Aspen.
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