Chasing Water: This film by legendary photographer Peter McBride won best short mountain film at this year’s festival. It highlights the plight of the Colorado River on its journey through the American southwest. From source to sea, McBride follows the course of the most over-taxed resource in the country. He attempts to portray the changing face of the river and captures marvelous images from both the water and the air. Towards the end of the film, McBride finds himself in the once-lush delta of the river, which is now the garbage disposal of the Colorado. Mired in muck and trash, he makes his way to the dry riverbed and follows the trail to the Sea of Cortez. It is sad to see how the degradation of the river has turned this glorious waterway into an overused and under appreciated plumbing system.
Towers of Ennedi: The deserts of Chad hold epic climbing opportunities for those willing to make the treacherous journey across Africa. Veteran climber Mark Synnott and young guns Alex Honnold and James Pearson, travel through the harsh desert in search of the holy grail of rock climbing. The sandstone towers they discover are incredibly beautiful and present endless opportunities for first ascents in this far-gone corner of the world.
Cold: The mountains of Pakistan are home to some of the most formidable peaks known to man. Now add temperatures dipping into the -51 degree range, throw in some hurricane force wind and extreme avalanche hazard and you have this film’s plot all lined out. American alpinist Cory Richards takes you there on his winter ascent of 8,000 meter (26,000 ft) Gasherbaum II. As Richards and his team bare the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury, they find humor and friendship amongst their small crew. The utter suffering portrayed in the movie makes you shiver and it is amazing to see what humans can endure when they put their minds to it. Atop the great mountain, Richards becomes the first American to summit an 8,000 meter peak in winter.
To see the most adrenaline-pumping highlights of the festival, check out the Radical Reels Tour coming through the University of Utah on March 1. Call 801-581-7100 for tickets. The full Banff Festival happens in Alberta this year Oct. 27-Nov. 4. For more info on the festival, visit banffcentre.ca/mountainfestival.