Day 256 – Banff Mountain Film Festival

We’re very excited that this festival of outdoor films is coming to Sedona, if only for two nights. We usually see it at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC, where it runs for a week.

It’s a lineup of 8 different films – ranging in length from 3 minutes to nearly an hour.

The evening starts with a 3-minute film about a group of people who are standing, squatting and doing tricks on a surfboard that is tethered to a slackline. If that doesn’t make sense, it’s because it’s a crazy idea. We notice that they’re all jumping off and deploying parachutes. They’re in a 2,000-foot gorge so essentially they’re base-jumping off a surfboard tethered to a slackline. Wild.

The next film is about a Sherpa guide who was gone up Everest 21 times. We’re thrilled by the scenery, even if the film turns out to be more about Apa Sherpa’s attempts to increase educational access in his small village than about his hiking experiences. It’s a nice movie but it doesn’t begin to compare to our favorite Banff movie of all time about two guys who climbed to the top of Everest and then paraglided off it. When they opened the gliders, the wind was so strong that they didn’t so much take off as pop straight up.

There’s an intermission and we’re told there’s to be a raffle drawing. The ticket-taker took our entire ticket so we don’t know how this is going to work. We ask a volunteer who tells us we should have written our name on the back of the ticket. We would have, if we had been told to do so, I tell him before Walt hustles me away.

When they come up to the stage to hold the raffle, we see that there is a box of tickets and there is a box of paper printouts – could it be that we might be entered? Actually, Walt and I won’t be entered at all. Since Lauren bought our Sedona Film Fest tickets as a gift, we used her account (but not her credit card) to buy these tickets. I noticed when I downloaded the confirmation page that it had her name listed as the ticket holder. I tell Walt that they might call Lauren’s name and explain why.

So they raffle off a bag of Clif bars, which we could have used; some Kicking Horse coffee and a travel mug, which I always could use; a Yeti gift certificate that we’re OK not winning; a discount ticket only good in Lake Louise, where the real Banff Mountain Film Festival is held. We’re also OK with not winning that.

Next up is a $50 gift certificate for Mountain House freeze-dried meals, which is what we take on our overnight hikes and definitely would use. The name called is: Lauren Wise.

Now the emcee had said that in order to help facilitate delivery of the prize, the winner should shout “vortex” so the winner can be located in the audience. The word “vortex” was chosen by the emcee after the Banff Mountain Film Festival representative asked him to give a word that’s indicative of Sedona for winners to shout out. Most people are, let’s say, not giving it their best effort. Me, I’m a rule follower and I shout “vortex” in a very loud voice. Walt later tells me I was the best “vortex-shouter” in the place.

Anyone following this blog devotedly (Jean) might remember that Walt won a raffle at the bonsai festival in Asheville last fall and we’re now proud owners of a bonsai pot (it’s in our storage pod). He’s always been lucky. Me, not so much when it comes to these types of events. I am certain that the reason we won tonight is because the ticket was in Lauren’s name: that’s Walt’s lucky DNA at work.

So the films continue. There’s a short about a woman in Alaska who’s been a Denali guide and now is a private pilot into Denali; another short about a woman who is a mountain biker and an artist so her drawings are included in the film; a short film about a crazy guy skiing what looks like a glacier half pipe; a film about a young British man who, in his quest to bicycle around the world, is now biking the Yukon in winter.

We also see a fabulous film about three people who are first hiking then kite-skiing across the top of Greenland, then hiking under ice bridges in what they had hoped would be a kayak-able river before, finally, kayaking this crazy river over waterfalls into the ocean. Their trip was insane and even one of the participants said if someone had described it to him beforehand he would have said “no way.”

The last film is my favorite of the evening because it’s done with so much humor. It’s primarily about a one-armed climber and her quest to climb a 5.12a (a type of climb that’s so hard there’s books and websites and all sorts of “how to train” information out there). Maureen Beck repeatedly states that she doesn’t want to be a good one-armed climber or a good female climber; she just wants to be a good climber. Along the way, she and her climbing buddies – most of whom are missing a leg – ridicule able-bodied people who find them “inspiring.” It’s just so refreshing in a pc world.

Leaving the theater, we realize there’s a bit of a jam just before the door: they are giving out packages of Mountain House meals. Walt and I each get a “biscuits and gravy” and I am laughing to myself because I don’t need to turn to see the grin on his face. Walt loves biscuits and gravy and we’ve been planning an overnight hike before we leave Sedona. I know what we’ll be eating for breakfast.

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