The Squamish Mountain Festival is a celebration of climbing culture and community and is intended for enthusiasts of all abilities. There will be clinics, films, demonstrations, presentations and competitions. Squamish is a world-renowned spot for climbers seeking to test their skills and explore routes but the festival will appeal to armchairs athletes also with its international adventure films and guest speakers.
Organized by outdoor clothing manufacturer Arc'teryx, a company that began life over 20 years ago making climbing harnesses in its founder's basement, the Event is now in its 8th year with a history of bringing in the top climbers from the past and present to inspire and excite adrenaline-fuelled audiences.
Craig de Martino, an accomplished climber who has experienced a horrific fall and serious personal challenges in its aftermath, believes that climbing is hardwired into him. "If I don't climb, I feel like I'm not doing what I was made to do." With a first ascent of El Cap in Yosemite on a team of all disabled climbers under his belt, he thinks that although other may perceive what he does as scary, for him it's quite the opposite.
"The higher the better! I love that airy feeling you get on a wall, with the birds flying past and just air round."
With any luck, DeMartino will meet climbing visionary Wayne Merry, part of the climbing team credited with the first ascent of the Nose of El Cap in 1958, a time when it was considered un-climbable. Merry will present a slideshow on how he and partner Wayne Harding made it to the top in 12 days, using rudimentary gear and without energy bars or fleece. Merry carried his water in a large paint-thinner can "and it tasted like hell." That's adventure.
But there are also lower elevation aspects to climbing. Mina Leslie-Wujastyk hails from the U.K., a rising star in the world of bouldering who feels that she would be lost without the sport. "It gives me focus, inspiration, motivation and, of course, great happiness. I have met my closest friends, seen amazing places and had my most moving experiences through climbing." Leslie-Wujastyk will be bringing her love for the simplicity of bouldering with her when she presents at this year's festival.
Films are another aspect that make the Squamish event unique and truly do embrace the community as a whole. Corey Rich's film Deep North tells the story of a first ascent in Alaska's Arrigetch Peaks, where the filmmaker, videographer and four climbers document their expedition for the Discovery Channel.
Organizer Ivan Hughes sums it up this way. "Climbing is about adventure, the outdoors and community. Climbing allows you to live an adventure at whatever level you're comfortable with, it gets you outside in the fresh air in some of the most stunning situations that you would never find yourself in otherwise. The community is supportive and climbers really want to help others take up the sport."