Counting down the days to winter means different things for different alumni. For those who work in the private sector, year-end bonuses may be on the way. For others, the bonus is time with family over the holidays.
Nathan Crumpton ’08 — a backcountry snowboarder, budding Olympic skeleton-racer, and self-trained filmmaker — looks forward to winter, too. But for Crumpton, the bonus is fresh powder on the mountains and fresh ice on the skeleton track.
The mountains have been a part of Crumpton’s life since his family moved to Switzerland from Tanzania when he was 5. Although he started on skis, Crumpton transitioned to snowboarding during his high school years, and he learned the mechanics over thousands of hours of rigorous “trail and error,” as he describes it.
“Trail and error” is a recurring theme in Alpine Nirvana, a 12-minute compilation of Crumpton’s 2010-11 skiing and snowboarding footage taken around his new home ski area in the Rocky Mountains. (See video below.)
The video, shot mainly on backcountry runs, opens with more trail than error as Crumpton carves deep, fresh powder. But Crumpton also includes a terrifying and unapologetically honest fall, during which he traverses over 200 vertical feet on his back and loses both of his brand new skis.“[I’m] pretty lucky to have not broken any bones,” Crumpton said. “That one ... still gives me chills.”
It seems that skiing and snowboarding on near-vertical surfaces is not exhilarating enough for Crumpton, a devoted thrill-seeker. His new thrill comes from skeleton, and his experience in track and field (four years on Princeton’s varsity squad as a triple-jumper) makes him a natural.
Despite being new to skeleton, Crumpton qualified for the U.S. Olympic Development Team, and has plans to spend the coming winter hurling himself “headfirst down a serpentine ice chute at over 80 miles per hour,” he said.
When he’s not careening down mountains at breakneck speeds, Crumpton works as a freelance photographer, which, he jokes, is “nearly identical to being unemployed.” That leaves Crumpton ample time to enjoy the mountains and experiment with photography and filmmaking.
“I started doing video just for fun, although recently I’ve been getting more serious about it,” explained Crumpton, who approaches filmmaking with the same experimentalist trail-and-error mentality that guides his snowboarding and skiing. “[Alpine Nirvana] is a product of that experimentation.”
For a “just for fun” hobbyist, Crumpton has taken to video with remarkable zeal and shows promise as a filmmaker — after releasing Alpine Nirvana, Crumpton was offered a short-term position doing post-production for the feature film Missed Connections. The film, directed by Martin Snyder, was recently submitted to the Sundance Film Festival and is currently under review.
Nathan Crumpton ’08’s “Alpine Nirvana”
Gavin Schlissel ’13 is a molecular biology major from Moraga, Calif.