Ski mountaineering’s best loved mystic drops a compelling biopic. Kudos to sponsor Salomon and film maker Bjarne Salen for getting out on the edge with “Dreamline,” a ski film — sort of. Ever since Ptor began publishing his writing, decades ago now, we’ve all known he has some fairly unique philosophical views that could best be classified as “new age.” (Though I’m sure Ptor would not like me to classify.) In any case, he’s got a life philosophy he’s been able to script for a retrospective flick. You’ll want to see this, and take my word, it is not ski porn.
In a somewhat rambling voice-over, Ptor describes his feelings about dreams being a doorway to parallel universes (and of course that dreams should be the guides to life). The film attempts to thread these metaphysical concepts along with foundational stuff like how ski touring gets us back to the primal purity we lose if we lead coddled citified lifestyles.
Along the way, Ptor encounters all too human challenges such as an emotional breakdown (after his and Troy Jungen’s famed 1995 first descent of Mount Robson’s north face) that results in him moving to the tropics to live in a hammock on the beach, fighting off scorpions. I got a smile out of this. While he’d gone native, did he still have the gear to film the burning of his return ticket and manage to save the footie? Or was it simulated? I’m afraid to ask.
Ptor’s jungle phase lasts three months. As happens with many of us, the death of a friend in the mountains jogs his psyche. He has an a-ha moment and realized his destiny is as a ski mountaineer. Since then, he’s traveled the world looking for the most inspirational and perfect ski descents, sometimes with material success and sometimes not. But always with more fodder for his apparently insatiable philosophical appetite.
Yet along with his calling as a mountain mystic, Ptor also has a beautiful family in France. Plenty of content with his wife and children are a wonderful addition to a film that could have been way too self-involved (it teeters on the edge of that abyss, for sure). Speaking of the balance between dangerous mountaineering and being a father, Ptor’s wife speaks what’s somewhat of a cliche, but is so true when she describes Ptor as a bird that “sometimes needs to fly.”
The upshot is a return to Pakistan for another attempt at the unclimbed and unskied Gashot Peak. Ptor’s partner Greg Hill gets caught in a large, scary avalanche and comes through with a leg injury along with subsequent heli evac. Ptor remains to ponder an attempt. He eventually climbs to near the summit and skis a beautiful world-class face. The flick closes with more mystical ideas about dreams — some of which got me thinking about quantum physics and spirituality.
But the real closing line of the flick, (spoken by Ptor some minutes before the end) is him wondering outloud “why I’m such a crazy bastard to run around and piss in strange places.” Ptor’s sense of humor and humble outlook come through when he says that, and it made the whole film for me. After all, when you are a conquistador of the useless you’d better be able to laugh at yourself.
In all, nicely done and a good balance for all the fun but pretty much mindless ski filmography you are about to be bombarded with this fall.