Chasing the Yeti - A Mountain Bike Movie Review

Flying into the fifth most dangerous airport in the world sounds doesn’t sound like the start of your average vacation, but then again, when the trip is organized by Darren Berrecloth there’s bound to be nothing average about it. Actually, it’s probably not going to be much of a vacation either – especially not if the plan is to ride around the kingdom of Bhutan in search of the abominable snowman, or Yeti. As far as recruitment speeches go, that plan would probably deter most normal people, but Casey Brown and Cam McCaul don’t fit that description and it didn’t take them long to pack their bags and join Darren in his latest quest for unridden terrain and big mountain lines.

“There’s a tangible sense of as soon as you get off the plane of peacefulness and your whole demeanor switches up because of your surroundings.” – Cam McCaul

Bhutan is located on the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas, which tells you everything you need to know about the topography awaiting our trio of intrepid adventurers and their small film crew.  As an official LDC or “Least Developed Country”, Bhutan comes up short in regards to many classic socio-economic yardsticks, but this country also invented the “Gross National Happiness” as a way to measure the well-being of its population and ranks among the least corrupt and most peaceful countries of Asia. In other words, Bhutan could teach many of the world’s more “advanced” regimes a thing or two about stuff that really matters, and if the Yeti would prove tough to track down, this adventure would still be rich in discoveries.

“As North Americans we’re so tied into our happiness coming from our bank account or from some social media, and that can be a really sad place for a lot of people. Having very little and leaving a more meaningful life can bring a lot more happiness.” – Casey Brown

Heading out on an itinerant adventure means camping in a new place every day, after having covered a bunch of kilometers and a bunch of vert on the bikes. With Bhutan being such a mountainous area, the trip basically started at 2800 meters (9000 feet) of elevation, and would only climb from there. Lack of oxygen and long days in the saddle means digging deep, and finding and surpassing your own limits quickly becomes a reality. Unless you’re one of the locals, in which case it’s just another day in the office…

Rubber boots, 50 kgs on his back and a smile on his face - a stark reminder that everything is always relative.

“Being so remote, you can only think of how long it’s going to be to have roads encroach on this beautiful wilderness and take away a way of life that has been that way for many years, and to see it in that way is truly special.” – Darren Berrecloth

Speaking of the locals, what with the Yeti? Bhutan lore is full of stories of these large, furry, man-like creatures, but not all of those stories have a happy ending for the snowmen which could explain why they remain resolutely out of sight these days. We won’t spoil the movie here but you probably haven’t read many headlines revealing irrefutable evidence of the Yeti’s existence so it won’t come as a surprise to learn that Darren, Casey, and Cam didn’t capture the Yeti on camera. What they did come back with was an amazing story and some pretty rad riding footage, as well as that inner peace that you find after cutting yourself off from your normal routine and environment for a few days (big ups to the film and production crew who captured it all beautifully). Don’t go expecting backflips and big whips in a place where mountain biking hardly existed to this day and the Gangkhar Puensum still holds the title as the highest unclimbed mountain in the world (at 7570 meters), but that was never really the point in the first place. Bhutan forbids mountaineering as the people here believe that the realm above 6000 meters is reserved for the spirit world, and they live their life deeply connected to the land that sustains them. That makes it easier to believe that the Yeti is still out there somewhere too, hiding just out of sight, and maybe such mysteries are one of the greatest treasures we have left. Something so valuable that it can’t be captured or owned, only experienced. For those of us who can’t make the trip in person, this movie offers a satisfying glimpse of something different, and a chance to travel off the beaten path - albeit virtually.

Chasing the Yeti is available now on iTunes and other digital media outlets.


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