When asked why he wanted to climb Mt Everest, British Mountaineer George Mallory is famously quoted as saying, “Because it is there”. But his less publicised full response is something we can all relate to: “What we get from adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”
Yet these days, our desire for acknowledgement often outweighs our desire to go on an adventure for its own sake. And although we know social media is just a series of highlight reels, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if we don’t have life-changing experiences, captured in Insta-worthy photos, we’re not doing adventure right.
But, in adventure, as in life, things aren’t always perfect. Sometimes the weather is rubbish or we run out of puff. Even the best of us get scared and injured. Luckily, these challenges enable us to see what we’re really made of and encourage us to find joy in each moment.
Given that “doing it for the ‘gram” has become so influential, it’s refreshing to see truth trending in women’s adventure films; capturing the reality of outdoor life, warts and all. It’s not all about flawless physiques and impeccable styling. The films that win hearts are those that embrace rawness and authenticity rather than being super smooth, scripted productions.
Here are some of our favourite new short films about the joys and challenges that come with being an adventurous woman. You can watch all of them in the upcoming 2019 Gutsy Girls Adventure Film Tour.
Australian film, Run India, features Samantha Gash and is as raw as they come. Sam is an endurance athlete, lawyer, Survivor contestant, and motivational speaker. Despite all this, she is remarkably relatable, thanks largely to her honesty. Sam’s willingness to put herself out there in Run India leaves a lasting impression.
Having achieved her goal of becoming the first woman and youngest person at the time to complete the Four Desert Grandslam, four 250 kilometre desert ultramarathons in a single year, she didn’t want to stop running – but she did want to run with more of a purpose. So she teamed up with World Vision to run across India, shining a light on the plight of Indian girls and their quest for gender equality. For 77 days, she ran through heat, crowds, and dust. She dodged cars, buses, bikes, cows, and the odd camel. Running 3253 kilometres across bustling India is an achievement in itself and to have captured the journey on tape only adds to that. The end result is impressive, given that the film was shot on the run by a single film-maker, Steve Young, with no backtracks or reshoots. Dishing up inspiration in spades, Run India is a brutally honest account of the ups and downs of Sam’s trip – bowel movements and all.
If you like your inspiration served up with a healthy dose of laughter, Scottish film Divided will tick all your boxes. Divided follows cyclists Lee Craigie and Rickie Cotter on the Tour Divide, a 4417 kilometre self-supported mountain bike race from Canada to the Mexican border. This heart-warming film was largely shot on iPhones, from bicycles: proof that a great story always trumps a slick production. With the women cycling 190 kilometres a day, Divided explores the places we reach emotionally when we push our bodies to their physical limits.
The Paige Alms Story
Paige Alms knows a thing or two about pushing her limits. She’s one of only a handful of female big wave surfers worldwide, but her board isn’t plastered with big name sponsors. Women have only just begun to see pay parity when it comes to surf competition prize money, so Paige has worked in construction, floor sanding, and hospitality over the past 10 years to fund her passion for riding the world’s most ferocious waves. The Paige Alms Story showcases this single-minded passion.
Paige dropped out of the surf competition circuit because she didn’t feel she had the opportunity to be judged on her best surfing. She began to focus on the huge waves that most inspired her and, along with pioneers like Keala Kennelly, she’s carved out a place for women on the big wave scene simply by showing up. Her drive shines through on waves like Jaws, where the paddle out is so intimidating that most surfers are put off. Her addiction to these monstrous waves, and her love of the surf sisterhood, come straight from the heart and onto the screen in The Paige Alms Story
Supportive fellow adventurers and unquenchable enthusiasm have paved Mel Stamell’s path in adventure. The 35-year-old has tried it all, from kayaking to caving, mountain biking to skiing. But the Canberra local has had to overcome some pretty unique obstacles and is passionate about pushing boundaries. You see, Mel has a rare form of dwarfism, and a lot of outdoor gear doesn’t suit her. Always up for a challenge, and armed with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, she’s built a lot of her own equipment including a fibreglass kayak. Her aptly named film, Mel, showcases both her skill and her spirit.
With stories as personal as these, huge camera rigs and extensive editing aren’t necessary. These films (and more) will feature in the 2019 Gutsy Girls Adventure Film Tour. This unique program won’t leave you asking “Why?” Rather, you’ll walk out thinking “Why not?!”