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The inside story of how a gripping Mount Washington rescue became a movie

“I had no idea that was going to happen,” the writer said. “I don’t have an agent.”

CONCORD, N.H. — Ty Gagne is not one of those people driven by a burning ambition to make it in Hollywood. 

In his day job, he is an executive in risk management, and it's accurate to say that screenwriters and studio executives have not been hounding him through the years to see if he's got any great ideas for a movie.

Gagne is also a writer, though, and a few years ago, he wrote an article that appeared in "Appalachia," a journal published by the Appalachian Mountain Club. 

It was a gripping account of how Pam Bales, a volunteer with the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team, saved the life of a young man she encountered while hiking on Mount Washington on an October day with blinding snow, 60 mph winds, and temperatures in the 20s. It became the basis of the new movie "Infinite Storm" starring Naomi Watts.

Having his article turned into a Hollywood movie is one of the twists in life that Gagne never saw coming. 

"I had no idea that was going to happen," he said. "I don't have an agent. I don't market. I don't seek these types of things."

What gives Gagne's story its power is that it is not simply an adventure tale — not that there's anything wrong with adventure tales — but a tale of human frailty and strength, compassion and caring, one that does not end when the two hikers make it off the mountain. 

"At some point in our lives," Gagne wrote, "Each of us has found ourselves walking with a sense of helplessness along a ridgeline and through a personal storm." 

Such was the case with the man whose life nearly came to an end on Mount Washington.

Those who want to learn what happened on that October day should watch 207's interview with Gagne. 

It's an extraordinary story, and once people have heard it, they'll understand why Hollywood wanted to tell it.

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