The Banff Centre is hosting its 44th book and film festival this week and it’s expected to attract 21,000 people from around the globe.
The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival originally began as a single day of screening films now spans nine days and showcases 100 films from 19 different countries, including 20 world premieres.
But it’s not just climbers with callused grips and snow seekers tucking into the crowded theaters on campus. Mountain culture and the daring pursuits of adventurers pushing the limits and breaking barriers has piqued the interest of even those who have never left the shop-covered street of Banff Avenue.
“We just hope people are inspired by the stories they hear,” said festival director Joanna Croston. “There are always these great stories of humanity and overcoming obstacles and challenges.
“That’s our primary goal: to inspire people.”
There is no lack of inspiration, but it’s not just explorers trying to do the impossible this year. Concern for the very environments they adore is woven into many of the narratives.
In his latest film called “Electric Greg,” world record-setting mountaineer Greg Hill attempts to climb, ski and run 100 peaks without the use of fossil fuels.
He trades his diesel truck in for an electric car and opts to do more adventures around home.
“I know electric cars are not perfect, there’s a lot of controversy around the batteries… but it’s not about perfection, it’s about progression — we have to do something.” Hill said.
Some of the world’s best climbers, skiers and riders will be in attendance. There will also be a sit down with mountaineering greats like Canmore’s Sharon Wood — the first women from Canada to summit Mount Everest — and Reinhold Messner, who is listed nine times in the Guinness Book of World Records, including for being the first man to summit Mount Everest solo.
It’s very different today than when Wood was there in 1986.
“I think Everest has changed from a climber’s mountain to a trophy hunter’s mountain,” said Wood, whose new memoir Rising is being featured at the festival.
“I would be mistaken to fault anyone from climbing the mountain, but I would ask them to ask themselves this: ‘Am I climbing the mountain to see the world, or am I climbing the mountain for the world to see me?'”
That subject is just one of the many topics sure to come up as these great mountain movers sit down with each other in front of a larger audience.
The festival wraps up Sunday.