Adventure

DESCENT OF NAHANNI IN PACKRAFT

The Nahanni River flows in the Northwest Territories of Canada 600 km west of Yellowknife. At Virginia Falls, the Nahanni plunges 90 meters - twice the height of Niagara Falls. It then sinks into 4 large Canyons populated with rapids, each with the most terrifying names, witnesses of the multiple attempts at ascent by gold diggers and other trappers. It was not until the end of the sixties, when man set foot on the moon, that a French team succeeded in completely descending the Nahanni for the first time. This descent is reported in a book by Pierre-Louis Mallen, published by Flammarion in 1968: Victoire sur la Nahanni. The Nahanni was also made famous in France by Roger Frison-Roche's last book published by Arthaud in 1969: Nahanni, the valley without men.

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LOTUS FLOWER CLIMBING

The Nahanni River flows in the Northwest Territories of Canada 600 km west of Yellowknife. At Virginia Falls, the Nahanni plunges 90 meters - twice the height of Niagara Falls. It then sinks into 4 large Canyons populated with rapids, each with the most terrifying names, witnesses of the multiple attempts at ascent by gold diggers and other trappers. It was not until the end of the sixties, when man set foot on the moon, that a French team succeeded in completely descending the Nahanni for the first time. This descent is reported in a book by Pierre-Louis Mallen, published by Flammarion in 1968: Victoire sur la Nahanni. The Nahanni was also made famous in France by Roger Frison-Roche's last book published by Arthaud in 1969: Nahanni, the valley without men.

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DIRECTOR'S INTENTIONS

Why do I want to make this movie?

I have been accompanying adventurers in the great outdoors for many years. In particular, I had co-organized and participated in Arthur's adventure in Aslaska, recounted in the film “ The Power of Dreams ”.

The expedition whose adventures I would like to tell is the most ambitious that I have set up: a month of total autonomy in the depths of northern Canada to descend the Nahanni, one of the wildest rivers there is and climb a mythical wall with 4 other less experienced adventurers.

Sportingly, scenically and humanly, it was very strong. But this experience resonates in a very special way for me. Going down the Nahanni was a homecoming. It was when I was 15 I devoured “Nahanni”, Roger Frison Roche's latest book and “Victoire sur la Nahanni”, the story of the first descent. These books literally propelled me into Adventure. The years go by and of course there will be other expeditions, but this one will also remain especially that of my last big climb, my last “big wall”. I had the chance to live this moment with companions of the rope who could understand this moving handover.

It is also my first film as a director. Here opens a whole new chapter to continue this passion to transmit which is mine.

Why do I go on expeditions with younger people so often?

First of all, I like the silence and the rhythm imposed by the great outdoors. Then I like climbing, packraft, Nordic or alpine ski touring, walking etc. It is every year more difficult to find people of my age to accompany me. So I solved the problem by leaving with younger people who also really challenge me.

 

 

What is my added value in these expeditions and what do I find there?

We live in an increasingly virtual world where everything is going faster and faster. I am convinced that adventure sports can be an antidote. By inventing an adventure, we can take back the reins of our lives, but on condition that certain rules are respected.

My greatest joy is helping the youngest to overcome the disconnection between friends or the sporting challenges they set themselves, to open up to the silence and the rhythm of the step, the paddle or the sliding of the ski. in these large spaces. This is where they discover their own music, which they really are. This is where the masks fall and a new, exciting relationship with others can begin.

At the same time, what I like more than anything is the transmission: empowering these young adventurers in the management of the risks that these adventures require. Rather than buying an “all inclusive” prefabricated adventure including photos to post on Facebook, I push them to invent their own adventure and try to help them set it to music themselves.

What was the biggest challenge of this expedition to Canada for me?

This is the biggest expedition I have ever organized. Already just that, it's exciting. With one month of complete autonomy, the organization had to be impeccable at all levels: gear, food, logistics but also technical preparation of the participants.

But above all I had to manage to integrate myself into a group of 4 adventurers much younger than me, for whom many things were new. I didn't want to be their guide but I wanted to experience something strong together with them while sharing my experience and what made sense to me.

For my companions, the packraft on the Nahanni was above all a means of transport to access the Lotus Flower. For me it was much more. From the start, I felt that my biggest challenge would be to help them overcome their legitimate quest for a summit to enter this Nahanni with its rapids, its long moments of flatness and this interior music that it can make us. discover. For me, the success of the expedition depended on this challenge. On the one hand, during the month of autonomy in these large spaces, there were only two or three days of climbing and that's a month long. On the other hand, the two objectives had to meet and enrich each other, otherwise we would find ourselves quite alone together.

 

What was the most difficult for me?

Yes, of course, physically, I hit my limits because it was huge sportingly speaking, but it was especially psychically that it was the hardest.

When you are the most experienced and you therefore anticipate more than the others what could go wrong, you have to explain everything a little at the beginning and impose certain rituals: how to set up the camp, to use the gas stoves, to cook, tidy up the camp before going to sleep, taking into account bears, requiring the wearing of life jackets and helmets even on the flat, drying the waterproof bags to prevent mold, etc. You have to pay a little attention to everything and you intervene a little on everything all the time. In short, even if you pay attention to the way to do it, you are often quickly perceived as a little "boring" by others.

Usually I play this role for the first two days, and then I let the rituals set in, see them change. I am not a guide and I do not want to take everything on my shoulders, it is against my philosophy of adventure. I try to be just a catalyst to facilitate autonomy in the management of the risks inherent in all adventures and ultimately… in life.

The problem is that often, and it was the case here, there is a backlash. When the reaction sets, the catalyst is ejected a little from the reaction. On the one hand, by appropriating the rituals, we tend to want to demean the one who introduced them. On the other hand, the catalyst which is no longer essential at the start of the reaction feels a little useless and uncomfortable. He must invent a new role in the group. In a way, it's healthy, but here the first two days on the river had also been the most difficult technically and psychologically to manage. I was exhausted and I had a little trouble going through this passage which is all in all quite classic. But everyone was tired and reacting as best they could. It was all understandable. We talked about it and it was a highlight. But mesmerized by the top, the rest of the team didn't immediately get what I was talking about, although we managed to deal with it well. It took me a while to get back into the group but we got there. It was a wonderful expedition for all and it really brought us together.

How does the age difference complicate things?

It's a very curious situation because I'm older than their father. At first it creates discomfort but it never lasts long. Very quickly everyone lets go and tells questionable jokes without making a difference. It is the magic of the experiment.

The problem here was that I was the only “old man” and that on the 550 km of river there were a lot of big dishes where discussions are the main pastime. And there the young people, they talk, they talk… I tried to listen and join in their conversation, but very quickly, I had to admit that in fact, I did not understand much. 'they said. They were talking about Youtube video clips, series, cult films like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings with a multitude of details the complexity of which I was far from imagining.

I tried to launch a few topics but they gave me the same look of incomprehension that I did in the face of their discussions. In short, yes more than the physical, with age, it is also the cultural difference that creates a gap. But it is also the richness of this kind of expedition that bridging these gaps. From this point of view this expedition was a success and that is what I would also like to tell you in this film.

Dominique Snyers

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Team intentions

Why and how?

It all started by hearing from Simon who was in Canada in December. He came to me with the plan to climb the Lotus Flower Tower in a park in Canada. I didn't think much at the time and told him I was up for it. I realized what I was getting myself into in the weeks that followed. Little by little, the scale of the expedition was revealed. It continued to grow until June. Discovery after discovery, I really realized that what I was about to do was, compared to everything I had done before, an elephant.

I had periods of doubt as to my ability to complete this expedition without risking my life. The possibility of injuring oneself during this one would have been catastrophic for me for the continuation of my work. Being independent physiotherapist I would have found myself without income. But I made the decision to go ahead and do it. One of my best decisions when looking back. Joachim

What were your fears?

Beyond the physical risks and what that would have entailed, my main fears were about living at five in the middle of a draw for a month. I only knew Simon and Antoine before starting the preparations. I pledged to spend a month “confined” with four people and was afraid of what that might involve.

But the atmosphere was good and even the discomfort related to the age difference with Dom quickly dissipated. During the first four days, Dom passed on his knowledge to us in all the practical aspects of life “into the wild”. Day after day we started again the little routines of setting up camp and preparing dinner that he had instilled in us. After a week, I felt more comfortable and took ownership of these tips. I even started to create myself. I was then independent and I will keep this experience for my future projects. Joachim

The film project

During the first meeting at Dom, he told us about his plan to film the adventure and make it an amateur film. He then asks us to help him in this realization by filming ourselves on site. I was afraid that by doing that we would not really take advantage of the present moment, that we would project ourselves into the future after experience. I was afraid that this would prevent me from fully enjoying this dive into deep nature by connecting with civilization.

I was never really the one to take the photos on a hike, but I quickly got a taste for it. The fact that everyone is filming in turn quickly made us forget the objective and the natural came back at a gallop.

One or two months after the expedition, Dom announced to us that the amateur film project was transformed into a semi pro film with all the investments that this would entail for him who carried this film. I was surprised and happy that our story could appeal to this point. From my point of view we were only five amateurs (even if Dom has 30 years of experience) very far from anything I have always seen in documentaries that I love to watch about the mountain and its climbers.

Now I am motivated to help make this film as much as I can. And that goes through the promotion of it. Because I really believe that this story will be able to touch young people of my age and the youngest. Inspire them to accept the proposal of this friend who suggests a project you would not even have dared to dream of. Joachim

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

How did it look to you?

At first, it was Simon who suggested this project to me in March 2016. At first, puzzled, it didn't take me long before I decided to accompany him in this experiment. I know Simon and Joachim very well, there are only Dom and Mathias who were almost unknown to me. It didn't pose a problem for me thanks to the preparation weekends we did together and got to know each other. Antoine

What were your fears?

I am mainly an indoor climber, which I have been practicing since my teenage years. Not having climbed much in cliffs, this rock of 800 meters climbing on cams was to be my 5th cliff outing. It was my only "fear", however, the level of the route was more than affordable so that did not put me off for long. I was not at all worried about everything else (packrafting, approach steps…) I was in good physical shape and I was never really “limited”. Antoine

What were you looking for?

What touched me the most was the isolation and the fact of being out of all civilization for a whole month, of doing everything in the most complete autonomy from the first to the last day. From a young age, I go to the mountains every year. After my medical studies, I aspire to go abroad to the Swiss or French Alps, it would be my dream to be able to settle in a place where the outdoors is more possible than in Belgium (Nordic, alpine skiing, hiking, mountaineering, climbing…). Suddenly, this expedition really spoke to me and motivates me in this momentum to go abroad. Antoine

Now where do you stand?

I don't claim to have “changed” after this experience, it was really incredible but you have to keep your feet on the ground and tell yourself that this is neither the first and certainly not the last. Every day is enough its trouble, even apart from these expeditions, there is a way to create new projects every day. I consider this story as a start, it reassures me and I tell myself that with determination and daring we can really achieve great things with our friends. Antoine

Partners

Cap Expé

This expedition would not have been possible without the multiple resources of the Cap Expé community.

Cap Expé is a community of adventurers who help each other in setting up expeditions. The community is organized around the site www.capexpe.org where the lover of large natural spaces in search of adventure can be inspired by the story of past adventures and ask for advice and / or advice. 'logistical assistance (sharing of materials, etc.). Upon return, he or she shares his or her experience with the community on the site.

Cap Expé also organized Arthur's adventure in Alaska as recounted in the film " The Power of Dreams" .

 

The Belgian Alpine Club

The Club Alpin Belge (CAB), a French-speaking climbing, mountaineering and hiking federation, is a sports federation whose purpose is to develop and promote the practice of climbing and mountain sports. The CAB supports the making of this film, recounting the adventures of some of its members. He intends to use “Le Passeur de la Nahanni” among other things to promote the discovery of the great outdoors and encourage the transition from indoor climbing to one in a natural environment.

 

Triangle7

Triangle7, based in Brussels, is an audiovisual production and services company, a team passionate about image and sound: TV and cinema fiction, documentaries, corporate and institutional films. triangle7.com

 

Marco rosano

Marco Rosano allows us to use extracts from his Stabat Mater.

He is currently working on a new project: the composition of a Requiem whose first movement, already finalized, is simply magnificent (see link below).

Feel free to support him with us on https://www.patreon.com/marcorosano

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