Radical Reels

Radical Reels: A Banff Mountain Film Festival Tradition

My second evening at the Banff Mountain Film Festival was at the coveted Radical Reels, “an annual highlight, and a Banff tradition” of extreme sport films, explains the film festival program. They screened thirteen movies on Tuesday night and while I didn’t love them all, the program was like the weather in Alberta: if you don’t like a movie, wait five minutes and a new one will come!

Nonetheless, it was a super fun and very entertaining evening, starting with Josh Dueck, Sochi Paralympic gold medalist and the MC for the night, sponsors’ cool prizes, the announcement of the local Mountain Idol, a super fun flash mob, and the public vote for the best movie. Apparently, my taste followed the audience and we all chose Sufferfest 2 as the best movie of the night.

David Lama Presents Cerro Torre at the Banff Mountain Film Festival

Reinhold Messner called Maestri’s bolting rampage “the Murder of the Impossible”. But, the controversy doesn’t end there. In 2009, young Austrian climber, David Lama, set forth to free climb the mountain, and a Red Bull Media House film team accompanied him to document what would be a historic ascent. Encumbered by heaps of controversy over Lama’s abilities and the film crew’s actions, it took two additional attempts for Lama to free climb the mountain. This is the subject of Cerro Torre: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell.

Review – The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains, by Barry Blanchard

Few climbers’ memoirs have been as highly anticipated as The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains, by Barry Blanchard. This fact is a testament to Blanchard’s reputation, his impressive climbing resume, and his well-known talent for storytelling.

The Calling is a memoir that reads like a conversation over beers around the campfire, deep into the night. It offers the reader intimacy, captivating stories, and a unique chance to get the know the man described as Canada’s best alpinist. Blanchard is a solid writer, and while he is already known for his poetic, descriptive prose, it shines in his first, full-length book.

Read the rest of the review and enter to win a copy and tickets to see Blanchard live in Banff!

Review: Granite Gear Rongbuk 28

I’ll admit my gear closet is full of little backpacks, all under 30 litres, all purchased with the hopes that they were “the one” when it came to outdoor excursions. But so far nothing has fit the bill – one is too flimsy for long days out in the mountains, the other doesn’t have side pockets for storage, another fits only a hydration pack, and so on. I was giving up all hope of having an all-purpose day pack that could also handle a more technical climb in the mountains, until the Rongbuk 28 from Granite Gear came along.

Despite some personal fit issues, the Rongbuk 28 ($134.95 USD) is a smart daypack with well-thought-out features.

Review – The Vast Unknown: America’s First Ascent of Everest, by Broughton Coburn

I’ll admit that when I first picked up this book, I wondered, “why should I care about another Everest expedition?” It sounds harsh, but amidst all the Everest hoopla in the past few years – news of speed ascents, controversies, line-ups on the mountain – I’ve become a bit numb around the edges to additional stories from the world’s highest peak, even if they are from the past.

But in The Vast Unknown: America’s First Ascent of Everest, author Broughton Coburn breathes new life into the history of this famous mountain.