7 inspiring mountain documentaries for your new couch life

Meru. Photo: Netflix

Need some inspiration now you’ve set up home on the couch? Yeah, we see you, because we’re there too.

To inspire you to keep dreaming of the great outdoors and the mountains that are waiting for you to return with love and awe, we’ve curated a selection of films you can view from the comfort of that sofa.

These films all tell a story, are all based around snow, ski or adventure and will inspire and move you in a time when we need inspiration most.

Free Solo

We all know the ending, right? And yet, you will forget the outcome while on the edge of your seat watching this Academy winning documentary from Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and their team. It follows the story of climber, Alex Honnold, on his mission to “free solo” El Capitan sheer rock face in Yosemite. A true filmmaking masterpiece. You can rent or buy it on Amazon Prime.

Let it Ride, the Craig Kelly Story

This 90 minute film is available to watch free on Red Bull TV. If you snowboard, then you know who Craig Kelly is – the “godfather of free riding”. He died in an avalanche, aged 36 in 2003. Let it Ride was released in 2006 and tells the story of Kelly, a four time World Champion, three time US Open Champion, three time Baker Banked Slalom Champion and what many say “was the greatest snowboarder of all time.”

Meru

Follow Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin as they take on the impossible, the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru. This extremely technical climb in the Himalaya takes more than grit and perseverance, it takes extreme skill and team work. Did they conquer the fin? Watch this compelling, and at times terrifying, documentary to find out why it won the Sundance audience award. It’s available to buy or rent on YouTube.

The Will to Fly

Thanks to the magic of iTunes you can watch the inspiring story of Australia’s own five time Olympian, gold and bronze Olympic medalist Lydia Lassila. This lovely family friendly film focuses on aerial skier Lassila and her journey after gold at Vancouver, the birth of her first child, the first female aerialist to perform an acrobatic manoeuvre not done before, and her time on the world stage at the Sochi Olympics.

The Crash Reel

Kevin Pearce was Shaun White’s rival until Pearce experienced a life changing crash at Park City while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. A severe traumatic brain injury meant a long intensive rehabilitation. This film is more than a story of rehabilitation, it’s a story of family dynamic and resilience and will have you reaching for your helmet every time. It’s available to rent or buy on Youtube.

Mountain

Over 2000 hours of footage from 22 countries has been edited into a gem of a documentary scaling the world’s highest peaks all set to a score from the Australian Chamber Orchestra and narrated by Willem Dafoe. BAFTA nominated director, Jennifer Peedom, has outdone her cinematic self as she explores the world’s obsession with mountains. You can watch this masterpiece on Netflix

Finding the Line

If you missed the Australian tour, you can have a private and free screening in your lounge room on Red Bull TV. Australia’s own skiing Segal Sisters, Anna (Olympian) and Nat (Freeride World Tour), embark upon a journey to understand how fear manifests in both their lives and on the mountain. It’s a fun, inspiring hour documentary that all the family will enjoy. 

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.