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10 Things to Not Miss at the Banff Mountain Fest 2017

The 2017 Banff Mountain Film Festival will be taking place this week in Banff. For 10 things not to miss, see below.

1. Chris Bonington is perhaps the most celebrated climber of his time. He has made first ascents around the globe including as expedition leader of the South Face of Annapurna in 1970 and the South West Face of Everest in 1975, reaching the summit of Everest himself in 1985.

Now in his 80s, he is still active and climbing in the mountains. The UK alpinist appears in Banff on opening night of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival for the World Premiere of Bonington: Mountaineer. Following the film, Sir Chris joins writer and climber, Geoff Powter, in conversation. This event is sold out but you can catch the rerun on Monday, October 30 at the Lux cinema in downtown Banff.

2. Beyond Summits (Le Doigt de Dieu) is a film that explores the vast landscapes between philosophy, action into the vertical world where men and women travel, looking for what mountaineering is all about: self-discovery. Opening Weekend, Sunday,  October 29.

3.The Dirtbag Café with Will Stanhope: It really comes down to one simple thing: Will Stanhope loves granite. A climber since age eight, he is now one of Canada’s top climbers who spends most of his time in Squamish, British Columbia.

He has made many first ascents and has free-climbed big walls in Yosemite. In 2015 he completed the first free ascent of one of the world’s hardest alpine big walls with Matt Segal, the Tom Egan Memorial Route (5.14), Bugaboos, British Columbia. He will be appearing to talk about his exploits on Wednesday, November 1.

4. Bernadette McDonald will be presenting her latest book, Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka, on Friday, November 3 as part of the Banff Mountain Book Festival.

Her book chronicles the life of Polish climber Voytek Kurtyka, one of the greatest alpinists of all time, and includes one of his most significant feats that has subsequently been dubbed as the “climb of the century”, an unrepeated alpine-style ascent of the Shining Wall on the West Face of Gasherbrum IV.

McDonald just picked up the Banff Mountain Book Competition award for Mountain Literature for this book and is a finalist for the Phyllis and Don Munday Award (Grand Prize), which will be announced on Thursday, November 2.

5. Nico, Sean and the Coconut Connection: Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll have been in a few tight spots together over the years while climbing and making first ascents around the world. But they always seem to push the harsh realities of life on the big wall aside with the help of a few musical interludes and the occasional bout of nonsensical behavior.

They recently had some laughs on The Coconut Connection (5.12d), a challenging big wall route in Baffin Island. Festival audiences may remember their antics from the popular 2016 Festival film Dodo’s Delight. They will join us on stage for a handful of great stories and if we’re lucky, a special musical performance with a friend or two. Friday, November 3.

6. Psycho Vertical: Follow Britain’s unlikeliest hero-mountaineer and funny-man, Andy Kirkpatrick on an 18 day solo ascent of El Capitan, Yosemite. Psycho Vertical is a raw and intimate portrait of one of climbing’s most interesting figures. Inspired by the best-selling autobiography of the same name, the film explores themes of identity, fatherhood, and how our pasts shape us. Andy Kirkpatrick and director Jen Randall will be here to present the film on Friday, November 3.

7. Mothered by Mountains: When a punk rock singer from Kathmandu and a world class Sherpani get together to climb a peak in the Himalaya, they discover what being women in modern day Nepal can really mean. Also on Friday, November 3.

8. Bullock, Boswell, and the Bear – Two Scottish climbers on the cutting-edge of winter alpinism, an ice climbing trip to the Canadian Rockies, and an encounter with one very protective bear. Two years ago while descending Mount Wilson in the dark, Greg Boswell and Nick Bullock were attacked by a grizzly – managing to escape but not without injuries and an epic story to tell. Both climbers appear on Saturday, November 4 to share their experience.

9. Mayan Smith-Gobat is one of the most accomplished rock climbers today. She continually pushes limits on sport and traditional climbing as well as high alpine routes, and holds a female speed record on The Nose, El Capitan.

In 2016, together with Ines Papert, she climbed Riders on the Storm (5.13a, 38 pitches), in Patagonia and was the second woman to free Yosemite’s The Salathé Wall (5.13c). She will be presenting her story on Saturday, November 4.

10. Beyond the Border, the story of Ettore Castiglioni: A journey suspended between past and present, Beyond the Border tells the story of the remarkable mountaineer Ettore Castiglioni who abandoned his career as a lieutenant in the military to escort refugees and Jews safely from Italy to Switzerland during World War II. Directors Andrea Azzetti and Federico Massa will be in attendance for the screening on Saturday, November 4.

Bonus: Best of the Fest –If you can’t make anything else, this is probably your best bet. One of the most highly anticipated events at the Festival for both the audience and filmmakers —the international film jury announces the Banff Mountain Film Competition award winners and many of the winning films from this year’s Banff Mountain Film Competition are re-screened. November 5.

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