The Unscripted Adventure

by Lauren on February 1, 2013


I’m making a movie.

After years of planning travel adventures, writing about them, and photographing coffee plantations in Costa Rica, mountain goats in the Alps, and dusty trails in America’s Southwest… it’s time to show you.

I mean, really show you, what adventure travel means to me.


Identifying a partner to work with was difficult. I spoke with many highly qualified and talented filmmakers, but wasn’t feeling that the fit was right.

Ben seemed all wrong, too. I had ideas, I had a script outlined. But Ben doesn’t work with a script.

Then one day I woke up and realized that much of my travel is unscripted. I hadn’t planned on meeting an inspiring Buddhist monk while shopping in Thailand, or being given a beautiful blown-glass shell by an artisan in Venice. These things weren’t part of my itinerary. Instead, they happened while I wandered.

The organic and most authentic moments in travel are unscripted.


The movie, or short film, will be documentary in style. In other words, interview bits will be integrated with action shots, such as my swinging an axe into a wall of ice as I climb my way up.

Yes, a wall of ice.

Responding to Ben’s interest in finding creative arc, I suggested we try ice climbing. So that’s what we did this past weekend, cameras and three layers of clothing in tow.


We enlisted the talented guys of Synnott Mountain Guides in Jackson, NH for our day of adventure. Dustin Cormier showed me the ropes with energy and positivity to spare.

Ben was accompanied by Jim Surette, a gifted climber and seasoned adventure photographer in his own right.



The morning was spent on Frankenstein, a popular training ground for novice climbers. Swinging two ice axes at a time required coordination and stamina.

“Keep your heels down,” Dustin instructed as I planted first one crampon, then the other, into the ice. Not doing so could make for unstable, or even lost footing.

The morning passed at a relaxed pace, with stops to adjust camera angles. Ben would shoot from below, or Jim would grab the camera and shoot from above.

After a filling lunch we traveled to the North End of Cathedral ledge, another great place to hone one’s skills for longer climbs (pitches).


The route above was our starting point. I found this far easier than Frankenstein since many people had climbed it before I did. More worn spots in which I could plant my feet, and sink my axes.

Ahead of me would climb Dustin, setting screws in the ice, clipping in a carabiner, then tying into it with the climbing rope. In roped climbing, these security measures are crucial to a drama-free experience.


Though I shivered my way through a chilly morning, learning a new sport was invigorating. While several weeks went into planning this shoot, the feelings I had were new and unexpected: a sense of accomplishment in reaching the top of a pitch, the sweetness of success at climbing quietly and efficiently.

The beauty of the unexpected.

I certainly didn’t think I would see fall’s leaves frozen in time, on display in front of us.



I can’t tell you what the short film will ultimately look like. But I hope you will be inspired to travel somewhere new, or live the adventure you’ve always dreamed about.

You don’t know who you may meet when your plane lands overseas, or what awaits you when you travel with your family to a island you’ve never visited.

All you know is that your life may change in a big way, when you dare to live a little unscripted.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn February 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Hi Lauren! I love your website and reading about all your travels. Hope you are well. Jenn SanClements


Lauren Schaad February 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hi Jenn! It’s great to hear from you and I really hope you’re well. Thanks so much for your sweet note, and know that I appreciate every time someone checks out the site.

Sending you all my best, Lauren


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