Thunder Bay has the largest Finnish community outside Finland. It was founded on the once robust logging industry. Rick Mercer visited Thunder Bay in February, 2009, eager to explore two of its enduring traditions – hearty food and the “sauna,” a Finnish-style steam bath. After breakfast, the early Finns felled trees, but today’s outdoor athletes sled, ski, or climb ice and then head to the sauna. If this was a way to laugh at winter, Rick Mercer just had to check it out, and five climbers from the Alpine Club of Canada’s Thunder Bay section were asked to help. The challenge was finding a climbing site that was interesting but not crazy, which had a short approach for humping heavy camera gear, good lighting, shelter from the wind and safe camera positions. Mercer and his crew of three didn’t want too many details about technique and ropework to bolster his confidence in the set-up. All of that was going to be dealt with on-camera in real time, with Nick, the section chairman, at Mercer’s side, playing Yoda. Mercer climbed well. He said the climbers made him feel pretty confident and once the camera was rolling, he quickly found his groove and did what he does best – make people laugh – at him, and at ourselves for getting too serious about what we do. He asked who in their right mind would drive by a frozen waterfall and say, “hey, let’s climb up there!”


Related