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The Gearboat Chronicles

Frostbite Film Festival

Topless carpenters were a hot commodity Friday night for the Frostbite Film Festival fundraiser, a family-friendly frolic focused on furthering future functions for our local ski patrol at Ferguson Ridge, the community ice skating rink in Enterprise and the county’s Nordic Club.

Dinner was a banquet of tri-tip so good it was more like quad-tip, with roasted tubers, crispy greens infused with vinnaigreatness, golden-brown rolls squirting a wheaty bouquet of rapture and piles of brownies that caused scuffles once the serving platters began to run low. I had to throw my fork down several times, unable to take in one more morsel until my taste buds had finished passing out awards for the last bite.

The silent auction table was not going to blow away, so weighted down was it with works by local artists and cool outdoor gear.

Our river guide/rancher friend Craig Nichols was running the not-so silent auction, and he did wonders with parting people from their funds without them minding a bit. What you see there is a pictorial image of Craig finding a new home for this year’s ski chair, which, incidentally, was built by Winding Waters’ CEO and chair sculptor Paul Arentsen.

But back to those shirtless carpenters. They volunteered a half-day’s worth of construction expertise, and the bidding was fierce. Jeff Irish brought two-hundred and some-odd dollars. Mr. Fergi himself Charlie Kissinger, also Jeff’s boss, rose and announced he’d gladly pay that sum to see an employee of his do half a day’s work. Rusty Hogue also brought in a tidy two hundred dollar-ish sum. Then Brian Oliver started showing off by doing more pushups than most people can, and he brought over three-hundred bucks, my sources say.

I should know the exact figures, because I was there — but I admit: I was distracted. I was talking to folks in the back of the room I hadn’t seen for a good long while. Good folks. And they were out in force to have a good time supporting their ski hill, their skating rink and the cross-country trails they head to for having good times.

The Winding Waters ‘Sledding Zone’ adventure classic was part of the film lineup. You can see it here on the Gearboat page if you haven’t already, posted a few weeks ago.

There was a short feature made by local young skier gals, and a very cool segment from ‘Skiing In the Shadow of Genghis Khan,’ with homemade skis, using a rudder stick instead of poles.
‘White Crossing’ was the main attraction of the night, filmed almost fifty years ago during a trek on skis from the head of Wallowa Lake, up and over the mountains to Cornucupia. Harold Klages narrated the silent film Friday night, and Paul recorded the audio to dub onto DVD. It has the best footage of a snowcave collapsing I’ve ever seen. I’ll post links if and when the finished product hits this internet contraption I keep hearing about.

Craig the auctioneer had a talk with his cows and let them know he’s going to be away for a bit this summer, running Hells Canyon with Winding Waters River Expeditions. And while I do take it personally if someone jumps ship from my raft, I’ll allow it on a limited basis just so you can experience running a rapid with this Nichols guy. When the water gets exciting I hear he will sometimes slip into auctioneer-speak, and it sounds something like this:

“Next item is a Class-IV rapid, folks, and she’s a beauty . . . Granite Rapid by name and the jewel of the Snake River, with a wall of water in the Green Room you just don’t find on most rivers — let’s start the rowing at fifty feet from the giant drop, do I hear fifty, fifty…a little more to the right, to the right, to the right, now twenty-five feet, twenty…ten…hold on and here we go….” Then he slams his oar handles down to get the blades out of the water, a lot like an auctioneer gavel coming down and the raft slips over the lip, sold to a raft full of lucky bidders, going on a ride you just can’t put a price on.