Big mountain skiing has pushed the boundaries of the sport of skiing in incredible and risky ways. Skiers are often delivered to the tip of a mountain or the edge of a precipice via helicopter, and then they ski down near-vertical slopes. Huge jumps are par for the course, and skiers are always at risk of massive crashes or being overtaken by an avalanche.
The gnarlier the line, the bigger the adrenaline payoff, and despite many tragic casualties in the big mountain skiing community, many athletes are still chasing bigger and better lines all over the world. In this list of documentaries, we’ll take a look at some of the greatest skiers and most epic big mountain ski lines in the world.
These films are all free to stream on YouTube and are sure to get you stoked for ski season!
1. Few Words
This hour-long documentary by Quiksilver highlights the life of Candide Thovex, one of the best and most accomplished skiers in the world. Candide began skiing when he was a young child and quickly entered the world of competitive skiing, which soon led to Olympic hopes.
Candide has enjoyed a long and fruitful skiing career across many aspects of the sport, including freestyle as well as big mountain in more recent years.
The French skier is not only amazing at his sport, but he also enjoys film making: both starring in films and creating them himself. His passion for both of these pursuits comes together flawlessly in this beautifully filmed documentary.
There are some jaw-dropping shots of his tricks and his big wall antics; Candide seems to spend more time flipping and flying through the air than actually contacting the snow in some of his runs.
2. Frozen Mind
Pro snowboarder Victor de Le Rue and mountain guide/skier Pierre Hourticq take on the extreme slopes of the Mont Blanc Massif in Chamonix, France. This Red Bull documentary captures not only the extreme riding of this duo but also the friendship and unique journeys of these two incredible athletes.
Watching these guys navigate slopes that are well beyond 45 degrees, huge sheets of ice, and massive drop-offs will give you a shot of adrenaline without you ever leaving the couch. The production of this documentary is absolutely stellar and is the perfect balance of backstory and incredible ski and snowboard footage.
3. Warren Miller’s High Ground
This 90-minute film brings us along on a heli-skiing adventure to Alaska where some of the best skiers in the world take on new slopes. It also covers several other events and locations that are pushing the boundaries of skiing, like a 5-mile competition that involves being towed behind a snowmobile at nearly 90 miles per hour.
For an incredible mix of big wall skiing, partying, and general winter fun, this is your documentary.
Guido Perrini, a hilariously self-described “aged git with a camera” has been shooting the extreme sport of freeriding for 20 years, and this documentary is the culmination of his work to date. The film brings to light the danger and extreme risk of the sport, but it also highlights the positive aspects of it that keep athletes pushing the limits of skiing even after tragedies.
Professional riders discuss the heartbreakingly frequent losses of their friends and peers on the mountains and what it is that drives them to continue freeriding despite the high mortality rate. This film takes a more serious look at the sport as a whole and it’s an incredibly poignant memorial to the athletes who have been lost to the mountains as well.
This film follows a group of skiers who trek deep into the Karakoram range in Pakistan. Over five weeks, the crew hauls all of their own gear on sleds over glaciers to reach some of the most incredible lines in the world. Despite being inexperienced mountaineers, the crew successfully ice climbs with their skis on their backs to reach their goal starting point, and insane freeriding ensues.
The point-of-view footage is vertigo-inducing but provides an amazing first-hand look at the lines. Combining ice climbing, mountaineering, cross country skiing, and freeriding, this documentary is an epic adventure from start to finish.
6. The Sky Piercer
Freeskiers Sam Smoothly, Xavier De Le Rue, Nadine Wallner, and Fraser McDougall take on the slopes of Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. This mountain is frequently fraught with extreme wind and snowfall as well as dense cloud cover that can seriously impede visibility.
Access to the mountain is limited, forcing the skiers to use a “classic kiwi bush-bash approach,” mountaineering gear, glider planes to scope the slopes, and helicopters. Their efforts are worth it in the end as they ski some absolutely killer lines down Mount Cook.
7. This Is Home
The Faction Collective team of skiers show off their favorite lines on their home turf, across the United States and Europe. From backyard tricks to big mountain skiing, this documentary has it all. Some incredibly beautiful spots are highlighted by these skiers and captured impeccably by this documentary.
8. Storm Troopers: A No Fly Zone Expedition in Alaska
In this documentary, a team of freeskiers is dropped off on a glacier in Alaska, and then trek with all of their gear over to the Storm Troopers summit to ride a magnificent line. Their goal slope is in a no-fly zone, which is why they must slog such a distance to their starting point instead of being dropped off by a helicopter.
Hilarity ensues as they attempt to ski with massive loads on sleds and backpacks. Weather delays their attempt so they build a massive igloo and wait for perfect conditions.
When the guys finally do get to ski the line, it appears almost straight vertical, but they somehow make it to the bottom in one piece. All their toil and gear-hauling pays off in the end with bluebird conditions and crisp runs.
This film by Matchstick Productions pokes fun at the industry of skiing (including themselves), with each featured skier claiming to be “the dopest” or “the best skier on the mountain.” As jokey as it may be, there are still some insane shots of big mountain skiing by some incredible athletes, whether or not they are the absolute best in the world. This film is packed with hilarity, epic skiing, and sick shots.
This film features Mickael Bimboes and William Cochet as they crush some huge walls. The film isn’t narrated, but it contains some stunning footage of both competitive skiing and big mountain skiing. It combines helmet cam footage with drone and helicopter footage to give you the feeling that you are right there skiing the line with these guys.
11. Like a Lion
This documentary chronicles the life of legendary but somewhat controversial skier Tanner Hall. It documents his rise to fame, his tragic injury, and his amazing recovery and subsequent return to skiing. Rather than focusing on gnarly footage of big mountain skiing, this is primarily a biopic of Tanner’s life, but it’s an interesting look into the background of the sport and its premier athletes.
12. The Way I See It
This is another Matchstick Productions film, this time featuring Bobby Brown, Mark Abma, and Eric Hjorleifson. The feature-length documentary takes us around the globe in a search for what drives the most elite skiers in the world and what makes the sport so special and so addicting.
Beautiful filmography, an ethereal soundtrack, and some epic skiing make this documentary one that you really can’t miss. It hits all the best slopes, including some in Japan, British Columbia, Alaska, Colorado, California, and so many more.
Up Next In Skiing:
Cat is originally from Seattle, WA but has traveled around the US and Canada full-time in a self-converted school bus with her boyfriend Aaron since April of 2018. She enjoys rock climbing, paddleboarding, hiking, and generally being outdoors!