The true story behind ‘Infinite Storm’
(Credit: Netflix)

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The true story behind ‘Infinite Storm’

Survival stories, especially those rooted in true events, possess an uncanny ability to grip audiences on a visceral level. There’s a constant reminder that what unfolds before our eyes isn’t merely a scripted story but a testament to the extraordinary feats achieved by ordinary individuals. One such survival story, starring Naomi Watts, is storming the Netflix charts currently.

Infinite Storm is riding high on the waves of success, securing the ninth spot on Netflix’s top ten list of films in the UK. But what makes this survival drama starring Watts stand out amidst the vast sea of content? It’s the chilling truth that the harrowing tale depicted on screen happened in reality.

Directed by Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska, known for her adeptness in capturing raw human experiences, and penned by Joshua Rollins, Infinite Storm delves into the remarkable ordeal of Pam Bales, who not only survived an icy mountain storm but also rescued another on her way.

The film revolves around Pam Bales, a seasoned hiker and mountaineer, who finds herself trapped in a treacherous snowstorm during a solo trek through the New Hampshire wilderness. As nature unleashes its fury upon her, Pam confronts the brutal realities of survival with unyielding determination. She stumbled upon a stranded man in a stroke of fate and set on their journey to safety before the storm unleashed its full fury.

Who is Pam Bales?

Pam Bales is a nurse and seasoned mountaineer from New Hampshire who often ventures on solo hikes. Because of the nature of her work, Bales was unaware of the movie star who was about to portray her on the big screen. 

She told Screenrant, “I’ve got to admit that I don’t go to the movies much because of what I do. I’d heard her name – sorry, Naomi, I had to look you up. But my kids knew of her name, so they said, ‘Mom, you couldn’t have a [better] person.’ I totally agree.”

The true story behind Infinite Storm

In 2010, Bales encountered unexpected extreme weather while descending the Jewell Trail. Despite her preparedness, the plummeting temperatures and fierce winds posed a grave challenge. On her return journey, she stumbled upon an unconscious man, whom she named John, near the Great Gulf. After providing aid and warmth, they descended together through the storm. It wasn’t until afterwards that Bales learned that John wasn’t unprepared for the weather because of inexperience. He had intended to end his life.

After undergoing a lengthy recovery process, Bales resumed her normal life. Months later, the president of her Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team received an anonymous letter from the man she had rescued, who preferred to remain unidentified. In the letter, he expressed gratitude to Bales and the organisation for their pivotal role in his life.

As per Collider, detailing the events of that fateful day, he wrote, “The entire time she treated me with compassion, authority, confidence, and the impression that I mattered.”

Ty Gagne wrote about Bales’ story in his 2019 Reader’s Digest article, ‘High Places: Footprints in the Snow Lead to an Emotional Rescue’. The disaster drama Infinite Storm is based on this very article that was adapted for the big screen by Josh Rollins.