A Tribute to the Outdoors

The Whitman Outdoor Program’s community-sponsored Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour garnered a huge turnout Tuesday night, with ticket lines wrapping around the building.

A tradition started 19 years ago, the Tour’s stop on campus has slowly but steadily amassed a large following among Whitties and Walla Walla community members. Audience numbers are estimated to have doubled from last year’s event, with Cordiner Hall left full to bursting and seating spilling into the balcony. Everyone was excited to be there.

Emceed by the funny and fully engaging self-proclaimed “Road Warrior of the tour” Paul Price, there was never a dull moment over the course of the evening. This year’s screening featured 10 of the 30 films, hand-picked by Lish Riley, the OP’s rental shop manager and the coordinator of the event. A diverse offering, we saw men flinging themselves through the air on skis, racing down raging rapids, balancing on the rotting frame of a train with a bike and sliding around frozen ice like a seal. The entire three hours was an adrenaline rush in your seat.

Of all the amazing films, there were three clear standouts. Grand Prize winner “Crossing the Ice,” a story of two young Aussies attempting to complete an on-foot journey from the outer regions of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again, was full of worry and laughter, but most of all it had an incredible amount of heart. “Honnold 3.0” focused on easygoing climber Alex Honnold as he free-climbed El Capitan, Half Dome and Mt. Watkins in a day. And “Gimp Monkeys” showed the incredible fortitude and friendship of the first all-disabled crew to climb the face of El Capitan. If you can get your hands on any of these short films, do so immediately.

“They are showcasing a really unique variety of the outdoor lifestyle in all types of different remote locations, some in the United States, some farther away,” Riley said of the Festival’s draw to Whitman students. “If you are at all into the outdoors, whether you’re like these people or you are just a weekend warrior, even if you just appreciate it from your couch, whatever level you are at it gives you the opportunity to step into this adventure and live vicariously through these amazing people. It’s fun to watch other people’s adventures. It’s inspiring.”

The film festival was started by the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, a place that highlights the achievements of nature lovers and outdoor extremists. Hundreds of short films are submitted to the Centre every year, and approximately 75 winners are selected over a two-week fall screening festival. Each film is unique and diverse, engaging and awe-inspiring. The sole unifying trait: a love and admiration for the outdoors. Of these masterpieces, 30 are chosen to be taken on tour. Every year the Banff Centre brings these amazing films around the globe to 32 countries and an estimated over 245,000 people at over 635 screenings. Whitman College is just one stop on the great road map, and how lucky we are.

“I think it’s kind of unique,” Riley added. “The Banff Centre visits a lot of big cities and more well-known outdoor locations, so I think it’s kind of special that it comes here to a more remote place. It’s a special opportunity for the college. “

Sponsored by the Whitman Outdoor Program, Graze, The Garden Vegan Cafe, The Bicycle Barn, Allegro Cyclery, Dusty’s Ski & Snowboard Shop and Ski Blue Wood, The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour comes to Whitman every spring semester, a free event for Whitman students. Coming up next for the Outdoor Program is the Back Country Film Festival on February 13. The screening will be held in Maxey Auditorium, tickets available at $5 or free for Whitman students.




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