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It's a wonderful 'Life Ascending'

Article Published: Mar. 24, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
It's a wonderful 'Life Ascending'

Mountain guide Ruedi Beglinger leads a trek across Canada's Selkirk Mountains in 'A Life Ascending.' Photo courtesy of The Banff Centre

For expert mountain guide Ruedi Beglinger, the only direction is up.
And it's contagious.

"A Life Ascending" is simply an uplifting documentary, beautifully filmed and poignantly told.

From director Stephen Grynberg ("Love from Ground Zero"), "A Life Ascending" is more than worthy of its acclaim and award-winning position in this year's Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, coming to Appalachian State University April 1-2.

The feature-length documentary took Banff's Best Film on Mountain Culture and People's Choice awards, and for good reason.

It's the story of humanity's enduring spirit to continue onwards and upwards, no matter what obstacles have fallen or are yet to fall.

"Ascending" chronicles the life of Beglinger, a native of the Swiss Alps who relocated to a remote glacier in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. There, in his custom-built chalet - only accessible by helicopter, skis and persistence - he resides with wife Nicoline and daughters Florina and Charlotte.

Beglinger feels he belongs in the mountains, sharing in their energy and hoping to share it with others. Like so, he works as a mountain guide, leading guests through treacherous terrain to practically unfathomable summits. And then they ski down.

For Beglinger, it's not a matter of if he'll have an accident, but rather when. His family has come to accept this, especially after the Jan. 20, 2003 avalanche that claimed the lives of seven guests under Beglinger's guidance, one of them a close friend and coworker.

As Beglinger points out, however, six were saved - a fact he refuses to overlook, finding good in the bad and, for lack of a better word, ascending above a nightmare he'll never forget.

Grynberg paints an intimate portrait of the Beglingers, depicting an otherwise ordinary family living in an extraordinary place. The filmmakers effectively capture the candid conversations and daily routines that are anything but routine for most people.

Nicoline, for instance, cherishes time spent marching uphill for hours on end with their children, who never offer a complaint, but rather share their thoughts and ask their parents questions.

And as Beglinger notes, the mountains themselves are characters. Natural splendor at its purest, the Selkirk Mountains reveal their grandeur in gloriously wide shots, literally dwarfing their human trekkers in comparison.

These scenes are hypnotic, only interrupted by Beglinger and company's graceful descent on skis, cutting first tracks in the pristine mountainscape.

But then again, it's not about the descent.

"A Life Ascending" will be featured Saturday, April 2, at the Banff tour's stop at ASU's Farthing Auditorium.

Tickets, which sell out fast, cost $7 for students and $9 for general public and are available at the Farthing box office, located on Rivers Street, and Footsloggers (139 S. Depot St.) in downtown Boone. For more information, visit and

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