Alpine Club of Canada

ACC_Gazette_Winter2018_FINAL

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12 The Alpine Club of Canada Gazette Winter 2018 The Alpine Club of Canada — Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival's Oldest Partner By Chic Scott B anff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival, which takes place each year over a period of nine days in late October and early November, is the world's greatest celebration of Mountain Culture. Held at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, high on Tunnel Mountain overlooking the Bow Valley, the Festival showcases mountain books and films, and features some of the planet's greatest mountaineers and adventurers. The Alpine Club of Canada played a seminal roll in the creation of the Festival and has been a loyal supporter of the event for over 40 years. While the Banff Mountain Festival might now be the largest of its kind in the world, it was not the first. That honour goes to the Trento Festival of Mountaineering and Exploration Films which began in Italy in 1952. And the Banff Festival rose from humble begin‑ nings, with foundations laid by several forerunners. It was Hans Gmoser, known world wide as the father of the heli‑ski empire Canadian Mountain Holidays, who pioneered the idea of a visual celebration of the mountains and a gathering of the mountain community. Between 1957 and 1968, Hans created, then toured, ten films across North America. From late October until the end of February, he travelled the continent in his little Volkswagen, presenting his film at over 50 venues — major ones like Los Angeles, New York, Montreal and Toronto and small moun‑ tain towns like Nelson, Rossland, and Revelstoke. In Detroit Hans drew a crowd of 2,500 people! In the summer of 1973, while instruct‑ ing a rock climbing school in Leysin, Switzerland, with the great Scottish moun‑ taineer, Dougal Haston, I casually asked him if he would be interested in touring Canada. Three years earlier he had climbed the south face of Annapurna, one of the major peaks of the Nepalese Himalaya, on an expedition led by Chris Bonington. Presenting the film of the climb would be perfect for the laconic Haston. He said, "Why not?" So, I wrote to Pat Boswell in Banff who ran the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) at that time and Pat agreed. In February of 1974, Dougal crossed Canada with the film, each showing being organ‑ ized by the local section of the ACC. The shows were sold out from Montreal to Vancouver Island and it was obvious that there was a tremendous appetite in this country for films and slide presentations by the world's greatest climbers. The ACC was so pleased that they asked me to invite someone else for the following year. I had just read an article about an outstanding lecture given in England by an Austrian climber by the name of Kurt Diemberger. I tracked down his recently published autobiography, Summits and Secrets, and discovered a man with a stellar climbing career — first ascents of two 8,000 metre peaks, expeditions to the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and ascents of many of the great north faces in the Alps. I wrote to Kurt and he immediately accepted an invitation to tour Canada for the ACC in 1975. The next winter Kurt toured Canada and was a great success despite arriving in Toronto in the middle of a blizzard. I remember sitting backstage in Calgary with Kurt and Herb Kariel, the chairman The cover of the inaugural Banff Festival of Mountaineering Films programme.

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