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A Life Ascending

When mountain guide Ruedi Beglinger faced an avalanche that claimed the lives of seven of his guests, his world was turned upside down. Award-winning documentarian Steven Grynberg takes a look at his life and family in this feature-length film.
posted: 08/24/2010
a life ascending main
by Sally Francklyn

On January 20, 2003, a class three avalanche claimed the life of seven skiers and snowboarders. Six others, including their guide Ruedi Beglinger, survived. After an onslaught of media battering, Ruedi and his family surprisingly agreed to allow filmmaker Steven Grynberg to spend the winter with them to create a feature-length documentary. The result, A Life Ascending, follows Ruedi, his family, and their clients through a season at SME. As the family processes the tragedy they’ve experienced, their love for each other and their respect for the mountains around them is quite evident.

Ruedi Beglinger is one of the most renowned ski mountaineering guides on the planet. Growing up in the Swiss Alps, he explored his passion for climbing and mountaineering, and became an Internationally Certified Mountain Guide at the young age of 22. In 1980, Beglinger moved to the Selkirks in British Columbia to begin his career as a heli-ski guide.

In 1985, he applied for a permit to gain exclusive access to terrain three times the size of Whistler-Blackcomb. Consistent and reliable snowpack allowed Ruedi to build a helicopter-accessed lodge and start a business as a guide— Selkirk Mountain Experience (SME) was born. With the help of a staff, Ruedi’s wife and kids keep the operation running all winter long, while guests spend their days touring deep in the Selkirks with Ruedi. His lifetime of experience and an intuition regarding snow are known worldwide, and skiers come from around the globe to ski with him.

Ruedi’s life’s work is dedicated to the power and soul of the Selkirks, and although shaken by the avalanche, he and his family soldier on. The film, which has seen multiple awards and is touring the film fest circuit, will speak to anyone who understands the power of snow, loss, and love.

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