Fear. We’ve all felt it but how many of us have, you know, really felt it? The latter moments of Zabardast, a movie produced by Picture Organic Clothing in association with Almo Film and directed by Jérôme Tanon (The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding), has the kind of trouser-filling tension that will make you reassess your own experiences of fear… and also make you question why the hell people do this kind of stuff in the first place.
The film is a travel diary telling the story of a freeriding mountain expedition into the heart of the Karakoram range. Its set piece moment undoubtedly is the realisation of a vision to climb and then rip it down the vertical, shark fin-like, Biacherahi Central Tower (5,880m) – surely one of the most stunning mountains ever put to film.
The piece is pitched as a freeriding meets mountaineering story but, due to the sheer gnarliness of the terrain and the utter remoteness of the team – meaning there’s zero room for error, the resulting film becomes more about the journey than the shred. That’s not a criticism because, honestly, can’t stress it enough… even the POV climb shots going up Biacherahi had me quietly, and nervously, arse-trumpeting into my padded cinema seat.
As the crew, consisting of Helias Millerioux, Leo Taillefer, Pierre Frechou, Julian Nadiras, Jerome Tanon, Yannick Graziani, Thomas Delfino and Zak Mills, get deeper and deeper into Pakistan (a 150km loop of total autonomy where they pull sleds filled with food, tents, and solar panels) we see the highs and lows of such a trip portrayed with an honesty not always present in films like these. Yes, the scenery is epic but that epic-ness doesn’t change the fact that, even if you’re a total pro, riding this stuff is extremely scary.
“The most beautiful mountain I’ve ever seen on screen (or anywhere else for that matter)”
There’s no Billy Big Bollocks behaviour here. No shying away from the reality that even confident, extremely talented, riders get nervous sometimes. This, combined with how the people involved are shown to miss all those loved ones they’re cut off from, makes watching Zabardast somehow more relatable; more “Yes! That’s exactly how I’d respond.”
It’s not perfect by any means but as a big slice of raw adventure cinema, with the most beautiful mountain I’ve ever seen on screen (or anywhere else for that matter) as its pièce de résistance, I’d recommend you give this a watch.