If you go

What: Ski the Himalayas 2

When: Thursday, Oct. 11, 8:00 p.m.

Where: Neptune Mountaineering, Boulder

More info: neptunemountaineering.com

S kiing in the Himalayas "doesn't have to be an epic sufferfest," according to skier and filmmaker Jon Miller.

He knows from first-hand experience.

Miller, who grew up in Boulder and now lives in Telluride, walked away unharmed after a Himalayan avalanche threatened to topple Miller and his crew of mountaineers in 2010.

Filmmaker Ben Clark, who was tied to Miller and the rest of the group while skiing down from a peak during the avalanche, chronicled the adventure in the film "Ski the Himalayas 2."

To Miller, the message of the film differs from other skiing or traveling flicks. He says it emphasizes the accessibility of high-altitude climbs to the average person by demonstrating how important safety measures can be.

"You can go to Nepal, you can go ski a mountain and you can do it safely," Miller said of the film.

The hour-long film will stop at Boulder's Neptune Mountaineering on Thursday for a free screening and Q&A session with Clark.


The film follows Clark, Miller and a group of mountaineers in the Annapurna region of Nepal. After arriving, miscommunication with local guides forced the group to climb a different peak than planned.

"I think we've all learned to expect the unexpected and just kind of go with the flow," said Erik Dalton, who was along for the trip -- and unknowingly foreshadowing the events to come within the first five minutes of the film.

The crew climbed 20,000-foot Thorong Peak and had begun skiing down when "the adventure really began" Clark said.

Clark and the group skied down attached to one another by rope, a somewhat unconventional decision that ended up saving their lives during the avalanche.

Skiing with a rope saved them from broken bones at the very least, Clark said, and possibly from death. Night had fallen, and there would have been no way to dig anyone out before unbearably low temperatures set in, Clark added.

"When you're going to be at extreme altitudes, and going to be a long way from help, you try to give yourself the best benefits you can to protect the team," Clark said.

Miller has had first-hand experience with the dangers of mountaineering, so the added safety precautions were a welcome decision. Miller watched his friend and climbing partner Jack Roberts fall 60 feet while ice climbing at Bridal Veil Falls outside of Telluride in January. Roberts, a nationally known climber, mountain guide and instructor from Boulder, died from injuries sustained during the fall.

"Anything we do in life is full of risk," Miller said about the dangers of mountaineering. "It's a matter of what's your acceptable risk. We have ways we try to help mitigate some of our risk, and the funny thing is, whenever we mitigate one risk we always change the equation for another risk."

Clark recently became a father, and said his eyes have been opened to the dangers of his sport. He's no longer willing to risk his life for the thrill of an adventure, he said, and now appreciates climbing slower, standard routes and taking extra safety measures.

He has taken up ultramarathon running, a sport that he described as a suitable replacement for mountaineering, at least for now.

"It's a good way to continue pushing myself, and finding another community out there," Clark said.

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.