We look forward to introducing you to our brand new two-hour program at one of our more than 350 shows. Travel with us back to the eighties, to the dizzying heights of the Karakoram, and to Axel Heiberg Island beyond the Arctic Circle! In this edition, you’ll find information about the program’s films and our partners. We hope you enjoy the read! Your E.O.F.T. Team
WHAT IS THE E.O.F.T.?
The European Outdoor Film Tour (E.O.F.T.) is the largest film festival for outdoor sports and adventure films and has been touring Europe for 18 years. The kick-off takes place every year in October. With over 350 events in 15 European countries, the E.O.F.T. is the largest film event in the European outdoor community. Under the motto ‘This is real’, the two-hour program shows real adventures – no script, no actors, no special effects. Now E.O.F.T. is expanding around the world. In Australia and New Zealand, E.O.F.T. is presented by Adventure Film Tours – we toured the films for the first time outside of Europe last year, and in 2018/19 we are expanding to even more locations including across Asia.
For tour dates visit www.eoftausnz.com
Silence—The Story of Adam Ondra and the World’s First 5.15d
INSIDE THE MIND OF ADAM ONDRA
He has been climbing for as long as he can remember. He strives for complete physical control over every individual muscle while maintaining a mental big-picture perspective. His climbing successes are based on a sophisticated training system that encompasses both the body and the mind. Welcome to the world of Adam Ondra. The exceptional Czech talent Adam Ondra (25) has established a new level of difficulty in climbing. For five years, he worked on ‘Project Hard’ in a cave in Flatanger, Norway. On 3 September 2017, he completed the entire route and gave it the name ‘Silence’. It is the first route in the world to be rated 9c. Silence has yet to be repeated.
It was the afternoon of 3 September 2017 when climbing history was written in a cave near Flatanger in Norway. A quiet ‘click’, then a restrained cry of relief. He did it. Did he really? Yes, finally. Adam Ondra lets go, the full weight of his body absorbed by the rope. He can hardly believe it. Did he really just climb the first 9c, the most difficult route in the world? For a long time, he believed it could be possible, and he worked long and hard to make it possible. Yet this extraordinary achievement suddenly seems so surreal… The memory of this moment is still very much alive in Adam Ondra—most prominently, the decisive moves right before the last bolt. ‘It was a very difficult moment for me to get my head around—another kneebar, rest again, time to think again… in these two minutes it was very difficult for me to keep a cool head. Somehow, I was able to calm down and finish the route.’
Time to Think Again
It’s disconcerting when your own thoughts become your biggest enemy. It’s not the burning calves, not the tortured fingertips. No, it’s the quiet voice in your head that cheers you on, slows you down, and keeps silent—all at the same time and just at the time when you’re hanging upside down like a bat on a sheer rock face and about to climb the route of your life. ‘Climbing requires a wide range of skills,’ says Ondra. ‘And what’s going on in your head plays a very important role.’ He is less interested in getting into the much-lauded ‘winning mentality’ than in using all facets of his mind perfectly for climbing—his intellect to find creative solutions for the nearly impossible movement sequences and his intuition to implement these movements as effectively as possible. With this combination, the mind is invincible—and not just when climbing.
Conscious vs. Subconscious
We do not consciously perceive most of what we experience. According to neuroscientists, we are conscious of only about five percent of our cognitive activity, which means that most of our decisions, emotions, and actions depend on the 95 percent of brain activity that goes beyond our conscious awareness. This is an incredibly large amount of sensory input that slips past our waking mind into the brain, and we don’t even notice. It’s actually a good thing that our brain works like this. If not, we’d have no chance of mastering our daily lives. Or climbing a 9c.
‘Rational decisions simply take too long.’ Ondra recognized this while working through the route on Silence and drew his conclusions from that experience: ‘I think everyone can understand that. The more experience you have in doing certain things, the more automated they are and the more unconscious they become. I’ve been climbing all my life. I have accumulated so much experience that I can simply switch off my brain and trust that my intuition will make the movements for me and also make the right decisions.
It’s a bit like watching myself climb, and it’s only in this state of mind that I climb to my true limit.’ But trusting his instincts is only one aspect of Ondra’s formula for success. Before he can surrender to intuition, full concentration and countless repetitions are required. ‘Hard routes consist of many tiny details, and any of those details can be the reason you fail. I climb so close to my limit that I really have to pay attention to every single detail, because there is no margin for error. Especially not in a 9c.’ It were these details that forced him to look at his training on the route from a different angle.
A New Approach
‘At first, I tried it the conservative way. I’d been practicing the climbing moves over and over again, hoping that my body would get used to the movement and that at some point it would be easier for me. But I got to a point
where I couldn’t go on.’ The time he spent in Norway was simply not enough. Ondra had to find a solution to
continue training at home. That’s why he rebuilt the route in his climbing hall. But even that wasn’t enough. Fortunately, he had another wildcard to play: ‘Klaus Isele is a physiotherapist who helped me more than anyone else to climb this route. I thought that I would only go to a physiotherapist if I was in pain. Klaus analysed my strengths and weaknesses and suggested exercises that would help me with Silence. It started with stabilizing my shoulder and ended with my calves. They were the key element in the kneebars.’
Ondra knew that he would only be able to climb the route completely if he had the opportunity to rest in between, but, in the beginning, the resting positions were not ideal. Then, Klaus showed him exercises that enabled him to train his calf muscles so effectively that he was able to accomplish the kneebar manoeuvre, flexing his calves and completely relaxing the rest of his body. It was also Klaus Isele who suggested to him, in addition to climbing training, to visualize each and every movement and to do ‘dry runs’ lying on the ground. With this type of mental training, it is important to per ‘If you want to be on top of your game you have to train, not just physically but mentally as well.’
Adam Ondra forms every movement with focused intention and to specifically target each required muscle group, even though you’re not really climbing. ‘I tried to be as precise as possible,’ recalls Ondra. ‘And that actually helped me to be fast and precise on the route at the same time.’ Balancing speed and precision in climbing is an art. The faster you climb, the more difficult it is to perform the movements cleanly. Over the years, Ondra has found his own way. ‘I climb very quickly and I don’t think my feet are exactly precise, but they’re precise enough. Other people may climb slower and more carefully.
My climbing style is sometimes pretty powerful and brutal, but I believe that for me and for my own body, this is the most efficient way. I always try to be efficient and make as few mistakes as possible, and that’s how I enjoy climbing the most.’
BROAD PEAK: 8000+
The French paraglider Antoine Girard wants to get high. Over 8000 metres to be exact. Whether his dream of flying is in the realm of human possibility, nobody knows. But if he manages to fly over Broad Peak (8051m) in the Karakoram, he will definitely set a world record. An adventure in extremely thin air.
RECORD FLIGHT IN THE KARAKORAM
With his paraglider and tent, Antoine Girard explores the Karakoram in a self-sufficient bivouac. In addition to the K2 (8611m), the second highest mountain in the world, there are six other eight-thousand-metre peaks in the region. On his four-week expedition, Girard took 35 kilos of gear with him. During that time, he lost seven kilos, the same amount that his paraglider weighs.
‘Numbers are just numbers,’ responds Antoine Girard when asked about his world record. In his para- glider, the Frenchman soared over Broad Peak (8157m), higher than anyone ever before. But to Girard, the numbers are not important. ‘Breaking records is not my objective. I do these projects primarily to get to know myself.’
Numbers do, however, play a very important role in Girard’s professional life; the 39-year-old is a computer science professor at the University of Grenoble. He works only part-time so he can pursue his dreams—and flying is at the top of his list. After several failed attempts to climb Broad Peak on foot, Girard wants a rematch— this time, by air. To be on top of the world, to get a birds-eye view of the world from over 8000 metres, and to fly over the highest peaks in the world—that is his goal. That’s why he makes it a point to train by paragliding in adverse weather conditions. Only those who have enough experience, who have mastered the equipment and are total experts, can venture to the icy heights of the Karakoram. It took him over a year to plan the expedition, but Girard likes to plan. ‘I’m actually very organized. I plan everything.’ But before the expedition even starts, it seems to be running off course.
Two Becomes One
Perhaps the most important number in this adventure is not Girard’s altitude record but the number one. When he sets off for Pakistan—equipped with his camera, his paraglider, and his big dream—half of the team is missing. His expedition partner cancelled just five days before the planned start. And just like that—two becomes one. This is no longer a team expedition, but a solo adventure on the edge of the impossible. ‘It was a difficult start.’ Girard recalls, ‘My biggest worry was loneliness. I wasn’t afraid for my life, but I knew that I was on my own, without a partner to
provide encouragement and make decisions with me.
The camera helped me cope with the loneliness.’ After the first flight, at about 4400 metres below Nanga Parbat (8126m), when Girard was held captive by rainy weather and stuck in his tent for days, he thought about giving up. Doubts began gnawing at the edges of his mind. Maybe this plan isn’t possible at all. Maybe you can’t do something like this on your own. Maybe there isn’t enough time to accomplish this dream. Maybe this damn rain will never stop. Waiting for better weather wore him down. Only in retrospect can Antoine Girard reflect positively on his days in the tent: ‘This time was very important for me because it allowed me to take a step back, to think about and more deeply understand why the project is so important to me. It gave me confidence. After that, I got totally into it and believed I could do it.’
Sun + Rock + Air = Buoyancy
Finally, the storm breaks and the clouds part to reveal a spectacular mountain panorama. Some of the world’s highest peaks appear in front of Antoine Girard— a canvas of stone, ice, and sky. The sun provides him with a mental boost, and more importantly, its rays heat the rock to quickly generate the thermal uplift needed for his paraglider to soar. The paraglider, including the 35 kilos of gear, is carried upwards by the warm rising air. The air around Girard becomes thinner, and with altitude, the air resistance also de-creases, allowing him to fly even faster. In order to make optimum use of the thermals, it’s not just sun that’s needed but also relative calm, a rare commodity amid
gigantic glaciers and windy eight-thousand-metre peaks. Girard has chosen a sport in which he is exposed to the most extreme forces of nature,but that’s exactly what makes paragliding so appealing to him. ‘That’s what makes paragliding so exciting— there are so many obstacles, and I’m always curious about how I will react in unplanned situations.’
Base Camp for One
When Girard lands his paraglider, it’s usually in places where no one has yet to set foot. He perches his tent in precarious positions on rugged mountainsides, lonely and peaceful at the same time—as opposed to the overcrowded, littered basecamps at the foot of the surrounding eight-thousand-metre peaks. ‘What really drives me is the feeling of freedom. It is one of life’s great privileges to find myself in such places, looking at the stars and the landscape around me. It’s at these moments when I’m the happiest person in the world.’ But even the happiest person in the world has to eat. On long flight days and involuntary break days, Girard loses a lot of weight. Seven kilos in a fortnight. Food rations are tight; if he does not fly, he only consumes 100-150 grams of food a day, much too little. ‘I used to dream at night about eating,’ Girard recalls.
‘I The altitude is also becoming more and more difficult for the Frenchman. His fingertips are cracked, a result of the cold, dry, and thin air. His respirator isn’t working properly anymore. Concentration is also becoming more challenging. In order to monitor his mental fitness and to calm down in tricky manoeuvres, the computer science professor gives himself mathematical tasks. ‘For example, 50 x 32. When it took me more than ten seconds to calculate the answer, I knew I had to land. If I solved it in less than that time, I could keep flying.’ When dawn breaks on the morning of 23 July 2016, nothing suggests that it would be Antoine Girard’s big day. The weather is mediocre at best, but the sun fights its way through the clouds and Girard fights his way into the sky. If you look at the GPS track of his flight on that day, it just meanders through the air. He ‘leaps’ from summit to summit in order maintain altitude. After five hours of uninterrupted flight time and a distance of almost 200 kilometres, he finally begins to ascend Broad Peak. Although his oxygen is giving out, he flies on and keeps working those math problems. First, he flies to a secondary summit, then at 3:00 pm local time, he finally floats over Broad Peak (8051m). At 8157 metres, a good 100 metres above the summit, a shout echoes through the icy air.
‘Up there, I had to concentrate so hard on surviving that I could only allow myself a brief cry of joy,’ Girard recalls. What Girard learned during his record-breaking flight, he immediately incorporated into future plans. ‘Because my oxygen device didn’t work on Broad Peak, I now know that I can do it without it. I can save this weight on my next expedition.’ While this may be evidence that Girard is actually somewhat concerned with numbers (i.e., the weight of his gear) in the end, it is about getting to know himself and, on his own, finding the confidence and courage within
to reach new heights.
A TO B ROLLERSKI
For most of us, rollerskiing would not be the most obvious choice of sport equipment for crossing the North American continent from north to south. For biathlete Raimonds Dombrovskis, it was the perfect thing to do in the summer of 1988, and it was the longest training run of his career.
Every day, Raimonds updated the number of kilometres he covered on the side door of his VW Bulli. He wasn’t out to set a speed record, and there were no coaches or sponsors who expected a certain level of performance from him. In fact, he and his team were self-sufficient and rather short of cash throughout the entire trip. They kept their heads above water by selling sponsored sunglasses and T-shirts.
Although a 6759-kilometre journey is more a matter of endurance than speed, incredibly high speeds were inevitable on Raimonds’ long downhill runs. On the 1988 trip, after his wheels had been comfortably broken-in, he was able to reach speeds of up to 120 km/h! In 2014, his top speed was just 70 km/h— and even that felt dangerous!
In winter, one of the keys to success in cross-country skiing is choosing the right wax; for training in summer, it’s the right wheels. The wheels Raimonds Dombrovskis used weren’t on the market for long, but they made it possible to complete the trip that consisted of mostly unpaved roads. Unlike in 1988, off-road rollerskis now have brakes. This would have made many some descents 30 years ago much more relaxed.
Today, it’s (almost) unimaginable, but there was a time when it was possible to find your way to your destination without GPS and Google Maps. Before the Internet and smartphones, route planning was,
for the most part, still based on map reading. And thank God, there weren’t too many junctions on the North American highways.
When people asked him why he was going on this journey, Raimonds would always say, ‘When I left, I had no reason. But now I have 100.’ In addition to discovering the captivating landscape of the American West, he became aware of new sides of himself. For the documentary, he repeated the journey again in 2014. ‘Why’ is an actual place, by the way; it’s located on Arizona State Highway 85, not far from the Mexican border.
When his girlfriend’s father bought a video camera in 1988 and suggested that Raimonds document his crazy adventure, nobody knew that the material would be on the shelf for almost 30 years before it would actually be made into a film. After two directors had already dropped the project, Arnis Aspers (lower picture, middle), who had known Raimonds since childhood, finally took the matter into his own hands and put his friend’s story on the big screen.
MBUZI DUME – STRONG GOAT
‘Mbuzi Dume’ is Swahili and means ‘strong goat’. It’s the nickname given to Tom Belz on his Kilimanjaro climb by his African mountain guide. The difference is that this ‘strong goat’ has climbed the mountain not on four but on three legs; more precisely—on one leg and two crutches. Tom’s left leg was amputated when he was just eight years old, and since then, he has perfected his technique on crutches. Nevertheless, until recently, he wouldn’t have dreamed of travelling to Kilimanjaro and experiencing a sunrise at an altitude of 5895 metres, and he certainly would not have imagined that he’d be sharing this adventure with Dr. Klaus Siegler, the man who saved his life 23 years ago. For both men, climbing Kilimanjaro symbolises the challenges in life that everyone must surmount.
One leg, two crutches. Tom Belz has been making his way in the world like this for 23 years. He contracted bone cancer as a child, and amputating his left leg was the only way to save his life. It’s obvious that Tom is missing one leg; it’s also easy to see that he does not let that hinder him in any way, as proven by his Kilimanjaro ascent in the summer of 2018 and his Swahili nickname— ‘Mbzui Dume’, which means ‘strong goat’.
“No problem!” Anyone who hears Jacques Houot’s life story will be surprised at how the 82-year-old has managed to reach this age. There were at least 23 times in his life when he could have met his end all too early. Somehow, he has always managed to land on his feet and keep going. Today, Jacques spends most of his time in the mountains near his home in Carbondale (Colorado). No mountain bike trail and no ski slope is safe from the likes of this native Frenchman. Jacques Houot loves life and he lets everyone know it.
In his guide for unconventional thinkers Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite, the British advertising icon Paul Arden tells the following anecdote: ‘A friend of mine was in trouble, so he asked his father for advice. He said, “Dad, I’m in trouble.” The father asked, “Are they going to kill you?” He said, “Oh no, no.”
His father said, “Son, you don’t have a problem.”‘ This clever insight comes from a person who probably didn’t escape the jaws of death anywhere near as often as Jacques ‘Frenchy’ Houot. And Houot would probably add, ‘Even if they did want to kill you, you’d still have no problem.’ He speaks from experience. By his own account, he has survived life-threatening events ’23, maybe 24′ times. Was it merely luck or did he somehow play a part? The eighty-two-year-old Frenchman lives by this simple motto: No problem! Adding parenthetically, What could go wrong? Throughout his long life, Houot has kept a detailed account of all that’s happened to him. Some incidents occurred decades ago. Shortly after his birth in 1935, little Jacques mastered his first challenge in this world. He was born a ‘blue baby’, named according to the infant’s blue complexion caused by a lack of oxygen.
Although the chances of survival in these cases were not good at the time, doctors were able to save him. From 1940–44, he was also fortunate; in contrast to many others of his generation, he survived the Second World War. And his first swimming attempt in 1945 could have ended badly; it was involuntary in nature and took place in winter, when the thin layer of ice covering the surface of a lake suddenly collapsed under him. In the mid-1970s, Jacques Houot immigrated to America. He lived in Colorado and Florida and was involved in a variety of activities. He did not have a career plan in the traditional sense; he was instead always seeking after the next challenge, not necessarily because of the promise of financial gain but because of the possibility that it would offer adventure and exciting experiences. And although he spent many years working in the jewelry business, the accumulation of worldly possessions has remained foreign to him to this day.
With his lifelong focus on the present, financial security has always been of little importance. Today, he lives on an extremely modest pension. During filming, he confided to director Michelle Smith, ‘If I were rich, I would already be dead. Money kills you!’ This may sound like a rather extreme assertion, but it is not surprising coming from Jacques Houot. There are situations in which money actually saves lives, but for him, quality of life greatly outweighs any material comforts or conveniences. Although it may only apply to a certain segment of his age group (and others), overweight and lethargy are widespread and inherent problems of prosperity. Jacques Houot prefers to stay active.
NORTH OF NIGHTFALL
Axel Heiberg Island is Canada’s seventh largest island and lies north of the Arctic Circle. In winter, it is cloaked in total darkness and completely blanketed by snow and ice. But when the sun rises again, the island flourishes, revealing its rocky landscape crisscrossed by mighty glaciers and offering the most spectacular mountain bike terrain. It’s no wonder Darren Berrecloth, Carson Storch, Cam Zink, and Tom van Steenbergen can’t resist the endless descents.
On Axel Heiberg Island, a long-held dream comes true for four mountain bikers. But even in this uninhabited desert, they witness the impact of civilization.
Before shooting began, the team had to figure out whether the area, which looked so perfect in photos, was actually suitable for MTB. A scouting trip to the far north revealed that there were lots of possibilities for riding lines, but not so much for building camp. It was a year before Cam Zink (left image), Darren Berrecloth, Carson Storch, and Tom van Steenbergen could begin their Arctic adventure.