Courtesy Sender Films
Climbers scaling big walls in Morocco, a blind man kayaking, naked skiing — yep, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has come to Boulder again.
(No wonder the film festival, which runs Tuesday and Wednesday at the Boulder Theater, is sold out.)
Two films featuring local Boulder adventurers and filmmakers will be shown over the course of the two-night screening. Although the Banff Mountain Film Festival profiles all types of adventures, the films featuring people from Boulder are climbing films.
A segment from “Spice Girl,” a collaboration between New York-based Big Up Productions and Boulder’s Sender Films, will play Tuesday night. Nick Rosen, co-founder of Sender Films, said he is excited to have another film in the Banff Mountain Film Festival.
“It’s been a good relationship,” Rosen said. “We’ve won a whole slew of awards over the past 10 years,” Rosen said. (Another Sender film, “High Tension,” about Ueli Steck’s altercation with sherpas on the flanks of Mount Everest, won Best Film in the Mountain Culture Category this year, but it won’t be shown at the screening.)
“Spice Girl” follows Hazel Findlay as she climbs gritstone in the United Kingdom, then follows Hazel and Boulder climber Emily Harrington to Morocco, where the women climb a difficult, sketchy 2,600-foot climb called Babel in a 24 hour push.
Rosen said Sender had been following Findlay’s adventures for several years before teaming up with her to shoot “Spice Girl.”
“Hazel was pushing the limits of dangerous rock climbing more than any other female we’ve ever seen,” he said. “She’s a total badass… Then we hear her and Emily Harrington are going to Morocco.”
“Babel was Hazel’s idea,” Harrington said. “My climbing career has been in a transitional period. I wanted to do more big-wall climbing, more adventure climbing … I come from a more sport climbing background.”
While the route goes entirely on bolts, it is hard to call it just a sport climb. Some pitches only have four bolts in 200 feet of climbing.
“I wouldn’t say Babel was unreasonably dangerous,” Harrington said. “I wasn’t as used to it as Hazel. It was an added mental challenge.”
Despite feeling that the danger was reasonable, Harrington acknowledged the seriousness of the climb.
“We were way out there. If something happened, that would have been a big deal.”
They weren’t completely alone, though: The film crew was there. “We had to fix the entire route with static lines the week before,” Harrington said
In the end, they didn’t send, or complete the route without the aid of gear, Harrington doesn’t seem to mind.
“It was an adventure,” she said. “Even though we didn’t free it, we got the top. A lot of successes came out of that… Waking up in the morning after the big day, we were so exhausted. Our skin hurt, everything hurt, but we were so happy. It was like the best feeling ever… It became less about sending and more about the overall experience.”
On Wednesday, another local climber and filmmaker’s work will be on the big screen at Banff. In “Sufferfest,” local climber-filmmaker Cedar Wright and noted soloist Alex Honnold link technical routes on every fourteener in California by bike. This film was shot primarily by Wright on a handheld camera, with some help from Samuel Croffley, a film student from San Francisco.
“Cedar is one of these who hung around us long enough to start picking up his own camera,” said Rosen of Sender films.
In the not so distant past, you needed a big film crew and lots of expensive equipment to make an adventure film, Wright said. “Modern technology allows you to make an adventure film on a point-and-shoot camera” said Wright. “The power is in our hands to create whatever we want and do it however we want.”
Wright said the idea started when he and Honnold were in Chile “talking about how it would be cool to do a lower-impact adventure.”
The duo biked more than 700 miles, free soloed technical routes on 15 peaks (up to 5.10), and hiked at least 100 miles in three weeks. “There were moments when I definitely hated biking,” Wright said. “At the end we were like ‘we’re never gonna do that again,’ then a couple months later we said, ‘well actually, that was pretty awesome.'”
They are currently planning another “Sufferfest” in the Four Corners area. This time they are going to see how many desert towers they can link by bike.
Contact Jake Kincaid at email@example.com.