The Banff Mountain Film Festival had an abundance of great films this year. For three nights, attendees were entertained with climbing, BASE jumping, paragliding, skiing, snowboarding, wildlife, kayaking, mountain biking and several other films that portrayed the beauty, adventures and wonders of the outdoors. Kingsbury Hall saw a full house each night. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival.
The Gimp Monkeys was a motivating and inspirational film of three men with different disabilities that make the first attempted all-disabled ascent on Yosemite’s monstrous El Capitan via the Zodiac route on the southeast face. It’s difficult enough to attempt El Capitan with all of your limbs, but with one missing limb it provides even more of a challenge. Despite the struggles and trials, these guys pushed through, not letting their disability keep them from accomplishing a great feat. “The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time.” Well said Pete Davis.
What happens when you put a few young, eager and adventurous men together with one of them “leading” on a snowmobile adventure? Wild Bill’s Run is what happens. Wild Bill Cooper took a group of guys on a crazy adventure hoping to make it from Minnesota to Moscow on snowmobiles. The venture took place back in 1972. What was the best part of the film? The story was told by the band of misfits that joined on this journey 30 some odd years later. It was absolutely priceless hearing of their experience and how incredibly stupid they thought the idea was several days after they had already started. To this day no one knows whatever happened to Wild Bill Cooper after the insane expedition.
What do fresh deep powder and Taiko drums have in common? Unicorn Sashimi is the answer. This film depicted the incredible powder in Hokkaido, Japan with Nick Waggoner and Yuki Mayazaki tearing it up on skis and a snowboard with nothing but the traditional Taiko drums to accompany as background music. These two were literally head deep in powder gliding gracefully and had me wanting to pay my relatives a visit in Japan to partake of the white swirling goodness.
Petzl Rock Trip China brought climbers from across the globe together to an enchanting remarkable spot in China that offers no fewer than 250 pitches on limestone walls or a rather large arch would be more accurate. The arch was extremely awe-inspiring and added another destination on my “places to climb” list.
Ernest was a short film that was hard not to fall in love with as it followed the wise knowledge of one of the last of the vanishing breed of mountain men, Ernest Wilkinson. This sweet old man who had to be reminded that he was actually 92-years-old and not 86, shares a valuable tool when it comes to survival. His sage advice is simple, and if it came down to it, he’s one person that you’d want around if your survival depended on it.
Danny MacAskill shows off his street trials prowess in Industrial Revolutions. His bike stunts are completely incredible and it almost seems like his bike tires have glue on them with some of the tricks he pulls off. MacAskill should definitely stick to his bike over slacklining as portrayed in the film short. This was one that had you wanting more after it ended.
Ndizotheka – It is Possible definitely made many in the South African country Malawi think that anything is possible. For a South African man who had dreams to be a pilot but didn’t know if it would ever happen with extremely limited funds and helping to take care of his family along with a Canadian paraglider pilot, neither one of them knew how life changing their journey would be. The determination, struggles and realizations are all very moving in this film, and it brought more than hope to the kids and people of Malawi. It made them truly believe in their dreams.
The Denali Experiment challenged freeride skier Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and big-mountain snowboarder Lucas Debari as they stepped out of their element with the ambitious goal of descending Mount Denali. The major challenge was getting to the top first without a helicopter to fly them there. They team up with professional climbers and ski mountaineers that include Conrad Anker, Hilaree O’Neill, Ingrid Backstrom, Jim Zellers, Emilio Previtali, and Giulia Monego. This expedition proves to be one of the hardest for Sage and Lucas, and they both grow an even deeper respect for the sport of mountaineering. Director, professional climber, mountaineer, skier and photographer Jimmy Chin does a fantastic job depicting a sense of who Sage and Lucas are aside from their spectacular skiing and snowboarding.
There were so many great films featured in the Banff Mountain Film Festival. It’s hard to imagine having to narrow it down to just a few films from hundreds of entries to show on the world tour. Find out if the Banff Mountain World Tour Film Festival will be in your town. It’ll definitely be worth your time.
Check out the Banff Mountain World Film Tour Web site for a listing of locations and what films will be featured in your town.
If you enjoyed this article, please click on Subscribe at the top of the page to receive E-mail notifications for future articles by this author. Also join my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter.