Mountains High, Rivers Wide

The 37th Banff Film Fest Comes to Santa Barbara

<em>Crossing the Ice</em>

Since 1976, the Canadian town of Banff, Alberta, has hosted its Mountain Film Festival, which offers some of the finest in outdoor adventure viewing. It’s a lovely event for those who can travel to the high-meadow, mountain hamlet. Fortunately for those who can’t make the journey to the Canadian Rockies, the festival also goes on the road, popping up in cities all over the United States — including Santa Barbara. Sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures, the Banff Mountain Film Fest is part of the Winter Festival, a two-week kickoff of Arts & Lectures’ first-ever fundraising campaign. The following are brief descriptions of some of the films that will be screening.

Crossing the Ice: Describing themselves as the equivalent of the Jamaican bobsled team, Austrailians James Castrissian (Cas) and Justin Jones (Jonsey) were the first to attempt to traverse from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. But first they have to learn to ski. Facing brutal weather, unimaginable discomfort — puss-y toes, infected chaffing in their nether regions, constipation, and starvation — and hundreds of miles of walking over dodgy ice packs, the two give a harrowing, inspiring, and sometimes humorous account of their travails. Crossing the Ice won the trophy for Best Film on Exploration and Adventure, the People’s Choice Award, and the Grand Prize at Banff.

Gimp Monkeys:Most folks wouldn’t conceive of scaling Yosemite’s El Capitan fully able, let alone missing a limb. But for disabled climbers Craig DeMartino (who lost his leg after a 100-foot fall), Pete Davis (who was born with no arm just below the elbow), and Jarem Frye (who lost a leg to bone cancer at age 14) it was a no-brainer. The three friends set out to make the first all-disabled ascent of El Cap, and with tenacity and determination the trio achieved their goal. “We are climbers first, disabled second,” said DeMartino. Too true.

Lily Shreds Trailside: This short film is a smile-inducing peek at a dog named Lily who follows her mountain-biking owner around a dirt track in the desert. She leaps over jumps, maneuvers masterfully around curves, stays out of the way of the tires, and keeps pace with the bikers. The film is shot from many angles — using GoPros and stationary cameras — giving an excellent dog’s-eye view of the fun.

Honnold 3.0: Some people simply have skills greater than the rest of their fellow humans. Alex Honnold is one such person. A free-climber, Honnold appears to stick like Spiderman to the massive rock faces he scales. Already a legend in the climbing world, Honnold’s latest project makes him near god-like: climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan, Half Dome, and Mt. Watkins in 24 hours — solo without ropes. Despite Honnold’s calm demeanor, watching him hang 1,000 feet above the ground is a nail-biter.

Last of the Great Unknown: The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World for good reason. Its rim-top views are eye-popping. But that is just the beginning of the Canyon’s marvels. Throughout the mile-deep fissure is a tangle of unexplored slot canyons and tributaries that contain rare geographical and geological beauty. Outdoorsmen Rich Rudow and Todd Martin take viewers through the mysteries and unseen majesty of slots of the Grand Canyon.


UCSB Arts & Lectures presents the Banff Mountain Film Festival Wednesday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m., and Thursday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre (1317 State St.) For more information and film schedules, call (805) 893-35353 or visit


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