Lunch with Bill Kerig author and film maker of The Edge of Never

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on September 15, 2009 12:28 pm

What a time in the life of Bill Kerig!  As I spoke to him he was crossing into Colorado in a 1978 Airstream Coach that he had picked up in Los Angeles last Thursday. 

“It’s mostly restored, I found it on Ebay.  We’re gonna name it. The guy who referbished it, he did a custom door, padded leather interior on the door and it says ‘Air Patti’.  Maybe were rolling in Air Pattipat.”

His entire family is with him on the sojourn to Vail, Colorado for the premiere of his film The Edge of Never.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) night at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek sees the culmination of a long road for The Edge of Never up onto the big screen.

“Twenty-five years ago I was bartender and projectionest in a ski movie bar called The Slope in Vail.   We would show Dick Barrymore films, Warren Miller, Roger Brown, and all the great old films.  One day we got in this brand new film that came in this new package called video cassette, and it was the Maltese Flamingo.  I saw that and it just blew me away, such freedom and passion and spirit in the film and it’s kind of odd and circular, 25 years later I’m rolling into vail to show edge of never.  I hope it’s infused with the same passion.”

(interview continued below video)


I’ve seen a screener of the film.  Kerig explains both the book and movie in the clip above, so I won’t summarize here.  I’ll simply give it two ski poles way up!  Moving and passionate, it’s a wonderful coming-to-grips and coming-of-age story.  One of the most powerful themes in the film is that of tribe, the skiing family.  Kerig expalins:

“When you go skiing, whatever your ability, if you’re pushing your limits, you take complete responsiblity for those moments in your life.  That’s my favorite part about skiers and the ski tribe.  These are people not blaming someone else, looking for someone else to do it for them.  People who go to the mountains, they’re completely alive in the moments they’re in the mountains.  Do you have the courage to embrace every moment and take full responisbility for your life?  Skiers are characterized by being alive in their life.  You can’t not be when you’re skiing something dangerous, you’re up in the mountains, you’re alive, it’s real time.  You don’t have to be a skier to share those qualities, but that’s the thing I find most endearing about the ski tribe.  They’re not sleepwalking through life.  You drop in, you make a choice, follow your line to wherever it takes you.”

“The paradox of skiing is in order to take control, you have to move towards your fear.  You’re on a steep slop, what are you afraid of?  You’re afraid of falling and tumbling down.  But, if you lean back into the hill, you lose your edge and you fall and tumble down.  But if you lean forward into the abyss, lean forward to the thing you’re most afraid of, and fully commit, you have complete controll.  And it’s a paradox that seeps into your mindset in life.  You reach down the fall line, square your shoulders, turn your hips, you go straight towards the thing that scares you the most.  It’s a great metaphor for life.  Things that don’t scare, don’t teach us anything.  That’s where the best lessons are.”

In the four years since the 2005 trip to Chamonix, Kye Petersen has become a star in his own right.  He’s a TGR vet at the ripe old age of 19.  Kerig summarizes where Kye is today.

“He’s an incredibly accomplished ski mountaineer for his age.  He’s really doing some demanding stuff.  And obviously a great, great skier.  He’s really come into his own in terms of he wants to take charge.  He doesn’t want to be in someone else’s story anymore.  From here on out, he’s telling his own story.  Very driven ski mountaineer, really passionate young man drawn to the mountains for the right reason.”

In Chamonix, both Glen Plake and Mike Hattrup are there with Kye on his descent of Exit Couloir, where Kye’s dad Trevor Petersen was killed in an avalanche in 1996.  It’s a Blizzard of Aahhhs reunion with Kye playing Scot Schmidt’s role.

“I set up this Blizzard of Aahhhs reunion as a fall back plan, not thinking that Kye would be able to ski the run (Exit Couloir).  And I had Greg Stump there, who was my roommate at Chamonix.  There was a whole Blizzard of Aahhhs thing going on.  And Blizzard really changed the course of ski film making, if not the ski world itself.  I don’t know if my film is going to have any impact like that.  They certainly had a good and positive vibe on Blizzard, and I felt that we did too.  Having those guys together was certainly special for me because I was inspired by Stumpy’s work 25 years ago.”

Folks who’ve read the Edge of Never will be happy to hear Kerig has moved three blocks away from his “meth boy” neighbor.  Kerig’s father now resides in his old digs, but meth boy has moved away. Thankfully.  Look for Kerig and Air Patti on tour with his film The Edge of Never.


Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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