I feel compelled to share with you my latest documentary short film in the series I’ve been commissioned to create for Russell Investments. This particular piece is about planning–a topic that bridges my client to the rest of the world’s day to day endeavors–but it might as well be about inspiration. That’s the primary reason I want to share it here… Not for the commercial message, but because Helen Thayer is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met.
She began climbing mountains in New Zealand with Sir Edmund Hillary (first man to summit Everest) at age 9. She solo walked to the north pole at age 50. She has walked thousands of miles across numerous deserts, most notably the Gobi Desert in China, when she was 60 . She has walked across Antarctica. She has lived with wolves in the Yukon for a year. She was a national champion in track & field and luge. She has represented 3 countries in international competition. It came up rather casually that she’s summitted Mt. Rainier more than 20 times. And she most recently celebrated her 70th birthday by kayaking the Amazon River. Oh, and she’s really coming into her own now as a National Geographic photographer. She’s 72 now and she’s showing no signs of any real slowing down.
You’ll see a few shots in the video of her snowshoeing along a snow-capped ridge. I’m buzzing over her shooting out of the helicopter. Immediately following the shots you see, a storm blew in and we had to land and pluck her from the ridge. I’ll never forget this brief moment… we set the chopper down atop the peak…”We gotta get out of here,” I belted under the roar of the rotors. I explained that we were in an emergency situation an that we needed to get out of there immediately. She gave me a wink, and asked if I could leave her up there and come pick her up in a few days time after she’d had some time to look around a bit more. She said to me, as serious as a heart attack, “I’ve got plenty of food and water and I quite like it up here…” I’ll never forget it.