The mother/daughter ski team of Tania and Martina Halik, who made history in their 2017 epic ski traverse of the Coast Mountains from Vancouver to Alaska, are the focus of a new documentary film appropriately titled “This Mountain Life.”
The Haliks’, who spent six months among the tallest mountain peaks in our province and braved the most impossible of conditions, are the main focus of the film, but there are several other characters along the way, including two nuns, artists, and some very interesting backcountry dwellers.
Bella Coola was one of the first “stops” in the Haliks’ journey, and they spent almost a week in in the community during the first week of March 2017 resting and refueling during what was the first one third of their trek.
The team charmed the local audience of a few dozen lucky folk who got the chance to hear their adventure tale firsthand at a potluck dinner before they hit the Capoose Summer Trail for the the second leg of their trip which was north to Terrace, B.C.
Martina, 30, and her mother, 61 year-old Tania, are a pretty unique combo. Working in the ski and avalanche industry has given the women the skills needed to attempt the trip, but outside of a couple five-day ski traverses this was their first traverse of such magnitude.
The Squamish to Bella Coola brought challenges most of us would shrink from in horror: heavy packs and an even heavier sled to drag, freezing cold ski boots every morning that took 40 minutes to put on, stoves that won’t work for four hours so you can’t cook anything, food drops that were lost resulting in extreme hunger, extreme fatigue and cold, avalanche terrain, isolation, and physical exertion to the breaking point every day.
All of this begs the obvious question: why?
Tania was born in the Czech Republic under communist rule. At two months pregnant she and her husband pulled off a daring escape from the country on foot, ending up in Switzerland before immigrating to B.C. two years later.
“If you don’t have dark you don’t know what is light,” Tania said. “When you suffer you feel joy just that much more intensely.”
“I don’t know if there’s any one answer,” Martina said. “I just feel like I come from a really privileged life; I have never suffered like my mom. I’ve never been hungry or had to go without food. I feel like when you really suffer you appreciate your life so much more. And I can’t think of a better person to do this with than my mom.”
Tania also shared that, as a paramedic, the breaks she gets in the wilderness allow her to connect more with her patients and be a more empathetic practitioner.
“When you are in nature you are using a completely different side of your brain,” she explained. “You slow down, things become about the moment, you aren’t worrying about things that don’t really matter.”
You can find out more information on the film and their adventure at www.mountainlifefilm.com