Thursday, January 25, 2007

Banff Mountain Films a success!

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stopped in Huntsville for two nights this year. Thanks again to all the nice people at the Algonquin Theatre for helping make the event go smoothly.

If you missed the shows in Huntsville or would like to see if the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is playing in your area, check the World Tour schedule here.

As Charla (our road warrior from Banff) mentioned, the hardy individuals criss-crossing the continent showing films are keeping their own blog. Check it out for great stories of life on the road and some behind-the-scenes stories!

If you'd you'd like to to find out more about any of the films and the people behind the camera, or perhaps purchase the longer version of some of the action films we showed, I've included links to the filmaker's sites.

Here is the list of the films we showed each night, in alphabetical order:

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour Film Menu

Huntsville, Tuesday, Jan. 23

Anomaly (custom edit)
USA, 2006, 16 minutes, Directed by Todd Jones
ANOMALY n. (a·nom·a·ly) 1. Deviation or departure from the normal or common order, form, or rule 2. One that is peculiar, irregular, abnormal, or difficult to classify. Hard to define, never easy to apply. Yet, this has come to embody a year of extraordinary feats, tribulation and continued progression within the Ski & Snowboard arena. Anomaly, TGR's newest 16mm and HD ski and snowboard release, showcases the freakish and abnormal abilities of today's top athletes as they push the boundary of what is humanly possible.

Special Jury Award
Canada, 2006, 26 minutes, Directed & Produced by Will Gadd
Will Gadd and Ben Firth are two top Canadian ice climbers. They thought climbing "awesome" bergs would be a lot of fun, so the Aweberg trip was born. The bergs looked great, but the reality was somewhat different. Note that the sounds of the picks in the film are much quieter than in real life!

Kids Who Rip (Custom Edit)
USA, 2005, 12 minutes, Produced by Rod Parmenter
Kids Who Rip highlights amazing young athletes in the action sports community. This special edit for the Banff Mountain Film Festival features remarkable kids who love to ski, snowboard, skateboard and surf.

Patagonia – A Travel to the End of the World
Norway, 2006, 40 minutes, Director/Producer: Vebjørn Hagen / TV 2 AS
Attempting the first unsupported traverse of the Southern Patagonia Icecap, Børge Ousland and Thomas Ulrich start from the small village of Tortel in August 2003. After three days of paddling into the Patagonian fjords with two kayaks each, they reach the bottom of the Jorge Montt Glacier; from here they carry their equipment up and start skiing across the ice cap. This film is most of all about the spirit of adventure. Few expeditions have had to master so many different skills to reach their goal.

Roam (Custom Edit)
Canada, 2006, 18 minutes, Directed & Produced by Darcy Wittenburg, Jamie Houssian
Roam is a mountain-bike film that follows the travels of the world’s top riders as they explore new places to ride, and visit some of the notorious meccas of mountain biking such as, Moab, UT and Whistler, BC.

The Simplicity Factor
Canada, 2006, 7 minutes, Directed & produced by Nathan Cando
The Simplicity Factor is a segment from The Top 20 Classic Boulder Problems of North America. Featuring an all-female cast of athletes, it looks at bouldering's overall appeal while showcasing ascents of several famous boulder problems.

The Thrill Seekers (Extreme Film School)
UK, 2005, 3 minutes, Directed by Roland Arnison, George Arnison
One of the 12 productions from the Kendal Mountain Film Festival Extreme Film School "48-hour Film Marathon". Two brothers try their hand at mountain biking, climbing and another extreme sport on a camping weekend with hilarious results.

Huntsville, Wednesday, Jan. 24

People’s Choice Award & Special Jury Mention
Canada, 2006, 56 minutes, Directed and Produced by Olivier Higgins & Mélanie Carrier
In 2005, Olivier Higgins and Mélanie Carrier went on their first cycling expedition - 8000 kilometers across Asia. In six months they pedaled from Mongolia to Calcutta, India, traveling through Xinjiang, the Taklimakan Desert, the high Tibetan plateau and the jungle of Nepal. Why? Not only to discover the world, but also to discover themselves.

The Best of Jo
Canada, 2006, 3 minutes, Directed & Produced by Logan Carlstrom
"The Best of Jo" is a stop-action Lego film about a coffee-addicted guy named Jo. He is eager to try all the mountain sports available to him, such as climbing, skiing and fishing.

Conversing with Aotearoa/New Zealand
USA, 2006, 15 minutes, Directed and Produced by Corrie Francis
In an age of technological integration and urban life, people turn to the natural world for a wilderness experience. What draws us to the remote corners of land and sea when we realize something in our lives is missing? In this animated documentary, New Zealanders attempt to fathom their deep, personal connection with their land.

First Ascent: Didier Vs. The Cobra (Custom Edit)
USA, 2006, 25 minutes, Directed by Peter Mortimer
The elegant, granite Cobra crack in Squamish, British Columbia is perhaps the hardest crack climb in the world and the Swiss climber Didier Berthod is among the world’s best crack climbers. Far from the spotlight, Didier spends months in his epic quest to snag the first ascent.

First Ascent: Thailand (Custom Edit)
USA, 2006, 8 minutes, Directed by Peter Mortimer
Steep towers of untouched rock jutting out of the ocean. And the best part is, with only the sea below you, there’s no rope. Thailand is a dream come true for David Lama, perhaps the best on-site climber in the world, and purportedly the future of the sport. Amidst the exotic beauty of the Andaman Coast, Lama and friends take 60-footers into the drink, and bring deep water soloing to a new level.

Ride of the Mergansers
USA, 2004, 11 minutes, Directed & produced by Steve Furman/ Furman Technologies
The hooded merganser is a rare and reclusive duck found only in North America. Every spring, in the Great Lakes region, the wary hen lays and incubates her eggs in a nest high in the trees. Just 24 hours after hatching, the tiny ducklings must make the perilous leap to the ground below. Ride of the Mergansers brings this hidden drama to the screen.

Yes to the No
Canada, 2006, 10 minutes, Directed by David Mossop
A look into the sport of noboarding, which is snowboarding without the use of bindings. The sport of snowboarding was essentially started by skateboarders and surfers looking for a winter alternative to the two summer sports. Now that snowboarding has reached its peak, there is only one way to change the way snowboarding is done, and that is to take the bindings off the board and really surf the mountain.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Winter is here, really...

After an additional 10 cm of snowfall yesterday and the coldest night of the season predicted this evening (-26 C with wind chill of -34! Brrrr), I think it is safe to say that we are getting firmly back on the winter track.

Speaking of tracks, our friends at the West Gate just phoned in with this good news: the Fen Lake Ski Trail is groomed and track set. It's looking good for cross-country skiing in Algonquin Park! The cold conditions tonight will set up the tracks nicely and the trails should be in great shape this weekend. More snow and more seasonal temperatures are in the forecast for later this week. The park's day hiking trails should be in fine condition for snowshoeing as well.

If you are heading up north without skis or snowshoes, drop in to our Oxtongue Lake store and check out the great selection we have for sale and for rent!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Woo Hoo Hoooooo! We have snow!

Purple wax conditions in Algonquin Park: fresh wet snow at -1 C

I took this picture late yesterday afternoon but couldn't post it due to the HEAVY SNOW. In downtown Oxtongue Lake, our only option for high-speed connection to the Internet is via satellite. On very rare occasions, weather causes interference. In this case, we're not complaining.

More snow is on the way today, in fact there is a snowsquall warning for Huntsville and areas west of there:

Drive carefully today!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Woo Hoo! Snow in the forecast...

I won't believe it till I see it but this is encouraging:

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Green is the new white...

The number one topic on everybody's mind this winter is the wacky weather. If you live in eastern North America, I don't have to tell you about it. Normal winter activities are being postponed due to strangely mild temperatures and little or no snow. Any business depending on winter tourism is feeling the pinch, especially ski area operators.

Fortunately, a good number of people seem to have found some positive attributes to the situation: they point out such cost-saving features as the lower cost of heating, no need for snow removal, safer driving conditions and the like. Others glumly mutter about climate change or plan ski trips to the west, where there appears to be almost more snow than they can deal with.

My suggestion? Take advantage of the unusual weather. Revel in it - get outside, go hiking, biking or whatever land-based activity you prefer. Work on your garden. Play golf, even. Please don't think you should canoeing - the water is still deadly cold and, this area anyway, lakes are frozen. Satisfy the camping bug by going on a backpacking trip in Algonquin Park. Be prepared for sudden shifts in the weather.

Speaking of frozen lakes, ice conditions are very unpredictible - stay off lakes and rivers! A visitor at one of the local resorts went skiing on Oxtongue Lake a couple days ago and fell through the ice. Fortunately he ended up in shallow water, hauled himself out and was warmed up by some local fellows visiting their hunt camp. He was lucky.

Meanwhile, do a snow dance, and hope that winter returns. Or be proactive - make an offering to the snow gods! On New Year's Eve, my wife and I hosted a fun party at our house with a small group of friends. Despite the damp mild weather I got an enormous bonfire going and in a moment of inspiration, decided to sacrifice an old pair of downhill skis to Ullr. This is a time-honoured tradition in ski country and I hope it works. When it came time for fireworks, we even became more creative. The BBQ lighter I was using to ignite the various incendiary devices ran out of gas, so another member of the inspired group picked up one of the red-hot binding heelpieces (now separated from the skis) with a pitchfork and we used that to light the fireworks.

Who says we don't know how to have fun in the north country!