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Pushing the limits


I looked around and there was nowhere left to go," explains a female Sherpa after summiting Mount Everest.

But as The Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival demonstrates, there are plenty of places left to go and plenty of intrepid explorers, all celebrated in nine films coming to town on March 7.

Sponsored by the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute the Best of Banff is "not a money maker but more of a fun event to get people excited about being in the outdoors," according to organizer Matt Chmielarczyk.

The tales of adventure are exciting and often astonishing. The gut wrenching Balance of Risk, for example, follows Englishman Jamie Andrew who returns to climbing after having both hands and feet amputated. Andrew ascends a rock face using his ungloved leg and arm stumps.

Not quite so excruciating but just as amazing is Ouray Ice which follows the travails of competitors in the 2004 mixed rock and ice climbing competition on the other side of the Rockies.

In the adrenaline-pumping category, Sinners and Collective pays homage to powder skiers and mountain bikers who fearlessly careen through forests and over heart-stopping jumps. In Psicobloc, climbers take fear of crash landings to a new level, scaling limestone cliffs on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, and using the sea to cushion their falls.

Reveling in the wonder of human endurance, Daughters of Everest follows the first Sherpa women to summit Mount Everest. It is an inspiring story of succeeding against the elements and beyond gender limits.

To round out the collection, Trans Andes documents a team paragliding across the Andes, much to the bemused amazement of doubting locals.

-- Wayne Young

The Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival

March 7 at 7 p.m.

Palmer High School Auditorium, 301 N. Nevada Ave.

Tickets $10 from Mountain Chalet, 226 N. Tejon St.

Call 633-0732 or go to for more info.

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