VIMFF Review: The Climbing show

The Vancouver International Mountain Festival (VIMFF) has been a regular fixture on UBC’s campus in the two decades following its founding. The festival aims to bring in the best films of their kind and premier them at venues across the entire city. Usually, a ski night is held every year in association with the Varsity Outdoor club. This year however, the VOC and VIMFF came together to try and start a new UBC tradition by starting the UBC climbing show.

The event was held in a similar way to the ski night. Held at the Frederic Wood Theatre just off the Rose Garden, a number of films are shown ranging from different aspects and types of mountain climbing.

The first film, directed by Jonathan Doyle, was a short six-minute UK film called the Pomish Invasion: The Candlestick. This chronicled the experience of several climbers as they tackled the famous and difficult Totem Pole stack in Cape Hauy, Tasmania. The level of production quality was not the highest and most filming was done on small action cameras like a GoPro. Except that didn’t matter because of the shear amazement the viewer is left in as they watch the climbers dodge seemingly deadly waves and climb 110 metre tall vertical rock.

The next film was another short expose on one climb. At just eight minutes in length, Otavio Lima’s “Now” was a truly spectacular film that blended dramatic cinematic effects without taking away too much from the core of the film, which was to show one climber’s prolonged battle with the Pedra da Divisa, one of the highest and most difficult climbs in all of Brazil.

Keeping in with the trend of ultra short films, the third piece shown was only ten minutes in length and entitled “The Junfrau Marathon”. Directed by Jochen Schmoll, the VIMFF premiere of this German film also acted as the world premier. It shows two world class climbers as they attempt to successfully climb to the peak of the 4,156 metre tall Junfrau mountain in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland in just one day only.

The final film shown for the night was “Mirror Wall”, directed by Matt Pycroft. The British film details the journey of a group of climbers as they make there way up the Mirror Wall, a steep 1,200 metre tall wall in the Polar Mountains of Greenland. The difficulty of the climb forces the climbers to take just under a month to reach the summit, meaning that they must slowly make progress and sleep in vertical tents hanging off the cliff face.

Apart from films shown at VIMFF climbing night, there was also a detailed presentation by former UBC and VOC member Glenn Woodsworth. He recounted how he and fellow UBC alum and VOC member Dick Culbert ventured around the entire province, sometimes being the first to climb certain peaks in British Columbia.

They spent much of the summers of the first half of 1960’s travelling the province, usually with grants from the provincial government to go and explore remote places and mountains. Woodworth came prepared with a large collection of journals and pictures from their adventures. This was one of the main highlights of the night as Wordsworth did give a truly amazing presentation. Culbert was originally meant to join him but was unable to due to illness.

Overall the night opened the eyes of many into the world of mountain climbing, both in and around British Columbia, but also all over the world. It was a great debut for the event and many are most certainly looking forward to its return next year.