It’s always fun when the filmmakers behind a project have lived lives at least as engaging as the subjects they are filming. It should be no surprise that this happens a lot in the world of outdoor adventure. And in particular with Nathan Ward and Sam Bricker, co-founders of Grit & Thistle Film Company, whose small but growing pantheon of short films includes “Ernest,” “Sandrider,” and “High Speed,” and the upcoming “Rider and the Wolf” about mountain biking legend Mike Rust.

But wait. For once we’re talking about the guys on the other side of the camera. Both are Colorado natives. Both grew up far enough outside city life that the mountains and every sport therein became the playground – and training grounds – for some pretty epic adventures of their own.

For his part, Nathan Ward wasn’t even looking at filmmaking as a career. He studied finance and political science at University of Chicago and seemed headed for a lifetime of number crunching, when from the 32nd floor of an office in Hong Kong, his gaze kept wandering towards a familiar sight. Mountains. There were mountains on the horizon. Doing what mountains do best. Beckoning… Continue Reading →

Xpedition.TV take off

Challenge Awards, an origin story.

Somewhere on the road between Telluride and Los Angeles (which is to say the road between pure inspiration and the crude mechanics of pulling it off) I had a vision:

What if we found a way for today’s explorers to be rewarded? A way to showcase the bravery and innovation that keeps our world vital?

What if that “high” we feel on the open road, or high-speeding down some mountain, or crossing some ocean, or in the eyes of some magnificent, nearly-extinct being – what if THAT could be brought home and reignited for others?

Wouldn’t that inspire a little bigger vision of why we’re all here? A little less rigidity? A little less pursuit of the almighty dollar? Wouldn’t we all be just a little more forgiving, a little more curious? With bigger hearts or more willingness to just pitch in and help for the sake of… helping?

Ric Gibbs with climber & filmmaker Cory Richards in Telluride, May 2013.

Ric Gibbs with climber & filmmaker Cory Richards in Telluride, May 2013.

Xpedition.TV was born out of these questions. But at one year old, we take our first concrete steps towards an answer. Towards awarding a few people… for being explorers.

Today, with the help of one sponsor (Goal Zero, who took a chance) and a lot of help from the outdoor community – THREE filmmakers will receive some pretty awesome solar gear to help them shoot their next adventure films.

And SEVEN more adventure filmmakers will receive some much deserved commendation and an invitation to work on future projects. Continue Reading →

XpeditionTV Film Awards


“Some jobs just turn out harder than you expected.” This was the sentiment echoed by all three of our judges, over the weeks we have screened and re-screened these awesome shorts.

Not only were there a ton of great films to choose from – and thank you ALL who participated – but there was huge variety within each category, making choices even harder. Truthfully, they could have all competed under the “Most Inspiring” banner, because they were! And it was humbling to see that much talent unspool.

goal-zero-logoMany thanks to our sponsor, Goal Zero for furnishing the best of all awards for an adventure filmmaker… highly portable power!

But, decisions can’t be postponed any longer so…

HERE ARE THE PRIZES:   Continue Reading →


Adventure Film Competition Update

By any measure we can think of, our first filmmaker challenge has been a big success, eclipsing all expectations.


Our first sponsor, Goal Zero, stepped up when almost nobody had ever heard of us. And truthfully, their solar gear is a perfect fit for adventure filmmakers. Honestly, I’m wondering how people ever stayed charged up before these guys came along?


Adventure filmmakers also stepped up in a BIG way. Nearly sixty films are competing in 3 categories, with entries jumping every border. From here in Los Angeles, all the way to Chile & Patagonia. Hawaii, New Zealand, Oz. China, India, Nepal, Turkey – all over Africa. If you have any doubt the adventure community is global, spend a minute surveying our 3 new video galleries: Most Inspiring Adventures, Most Innovative Adventures and Most Surprising Adventures. This is where you’ll find all contenders. Continue Reading →

Ray Zahab, courtesy

Ray Zahab, courtesy

I got a phone call from Ray Zahab yesterday. He was at the airport, getting ready to board a plane for Asia and a 2,300km run across the most Gobi Desert. “Expedition Gobi” is just the latest, ambitious expedition from Ray, who has already run the Sahara at its widest point (some 7,500 km) back in 2007. And the arctic. And served as expedition leader for youth expeditions to Africa and the Andes.

Why does a man do such things? For an idea. And the inspiration this idea brings to the world. Ray’s idea is quite simple: most the things we tell ourselves are impossible, are in fact, quite possible. A simple, revolutionary idea. And I don’t use that word often. But how else do you describe someone’s dauntless commitment to proving that we are wrong about our limitations. And wrong to limit ourselves.

Ray’s organization is called “Impossible2Possible” (i2P) And he’s the first one to point out, “this is not about running. This is about human spirit. This is about that desire in all of us to achieve something in our lives, but also… to want to make a difference in the lives of others.” Continue Reading →

from "This is Africa" by Benjamin Dowie

Adventure Film Competition UPDATE!

Friends, Filmmakers, Explorers!
We are STOKED and grateful to witness the extraordinary short films rolling in for our first filmmaker challenge award on Xpedition.TV.

The quality of submissions is beyond our best hopes and many are truly outstanding. Beautifully photographed, passionate, and deeply personal stories – it’s humbling to see the kinds of adventures people are embarking upon. And the kinds of challenges being taken up.

When we founded Xpedition.TV, barely 12 months ago, I guess I knew real world adventures could eclipse anything Hollywood could make up, but to see the proof arrive each day in our email… all I can say is, wow. It’s good to be alive!

Treat yourself to Benjamin Dowie’s mesmerizing look at Uganda & Tanzania which is both beautiful and haunting. Watch “This is Africa.”   Continue Reading →

Big day everyone! Xpedition.TV kicks off our very first challenge award with this short film competition for adventurer filmmakers!

“Emerging Talent Filmmakers Challenge”

Submissions DUE by July 15, 2013 so enter as soon as possible!
(See full competition rules & details).

The short film competition is being sponsor by GOAL ZERO, a Utah based tech company who makes solar rechargeable power supplies for outdoor adventurers. They’re putting up a state-of-the-art Sherpa 50 for each of three film categories. Thank you, GZ!

The Categories

  1. Most Inspiring 
  2. Most Innovative or Creative
  3. Most Surprising or Unusual

If you’re an outdoor sport / adventure filmmaker, this is for you! Just watch this challenge video, subscribe to our youtube channel, and follow submission guidelines here.

MountainFilm. Believe it or not, the best film festival you’ll probably ever go to takes place in the small Colorado town of Telluride each May. Memorial Day weekend (May 24-17 this year). I can say “best” because after 20 years in the film industry, I am a festival snob. Checking my t-shirt collection, it appears I’ve been a Sundance veteran since 1996. For other comparisons, throw in New York, Tribeca, Chicago, SXSW, plus one in France I won’t mention because no one really goes there to see movies.

But they DO make the trek to southwest Colorado every year, especially outdoor enthusiasts, who know how stunning this place is. Considering how remote the town is, just getting here is a testimony that things must be worth it. They are. Here’s why… Continue Reading →

Fitz and Becca Cahall of Duct Tape Then Beer Prods
I’ve been looking forward to writing about Fitz Cahall, because I have been reading and watching and listening to his adventure stories for months. They’re fantastic. In fact, in the world of adventure journalism, Fitz stands pretty tall.

If you don’t already know them, Fitz Cahall and his wife Becca Cahall run a Seattle based production company called Duct Tape Then Beer. Among their impressive output is a bi-weekly podcast called, The Dirtbag Diaries. (Dirtbag being a term of affection here, as in: avid, passionate climbers, unswayed by such niceties as warm beds, hot showers, steady salaries, or any other distractions that might spoil the purity of a life devoted to rock and the great outdoors).

Fitz Cahall photo courtesy

Fitz Cahall photo courtesy

The podcast roams far beyond rock climbing stories, daring to plumb the meaning of obsession, serendipity, even life itself on more than one occasion.

I am not a rock climber, but I am a journalist. I’m also a professional filmmaker and storyteller, so it’s refreshing when I find someone else who is so committed to their work that it fills my tank too.

What I love about Fitz Cahall can be summed up in one word: Continue Reading →

Expedition Denali will be the first team of African American climbers to ever attempt to summit the tallest peak in America. Does this matter?

CONFESSION: when my friend James Edward Mills first wrote about “The Adventure Gap” between whites and African Americans a few months ago, I cringed a bit. A first glance, the article seemed to point out an utterly self-imposed obstacle. No one was barring American blacks from American National Parks, as far as I knew. If people aren’t participating in outdoor adventure, it’s because they choose not to participate. Just like overweight white guys like me who don’t get out like we used to. The mountains are there. It’s our own damn choice to climb them or not.

I said this was a confession, right? Continue Reading →