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First Ascent Sponsors Mountainfilm Festival
Posted on June 17, 2009

It isn’t Cannes. Or Sundance. But for filmgoers who prefer high mountains to high glamour, and who value authentic alpine air more than acquired artistic airs, the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, CO is more than worth the effort. Launched in 1979 to celebrate climbing, mountaineering and environmental activism, Mountainfilm is inspiring, entertaining and challenging. And despite the world-class quality of its films and guest presenters, the festival’s relaxed, informal atmosphere remains true to its outdoor heritage.

That’s exactly why the 2009 Mountainfilm was sponsored by First Ascent. The new line of mountaineering gear from Eddie Bauer marks Bauer’s return to its own outdoor heritage. And the Memorial Day Weekend festival coincided with the climax of First Ascent’s 2-month expedition on Everest. The first climbing team reached the summit on May 19; the second team topped out on Saturday the 23rd-while the festival was airing some of its more than 60 films.

Those films ranged from the world premiere of Ken Burns’ newest series, The National Parks, to international shorts and children’s films to features in categories as diverse as food and sustainability, the environment, culture and adventure. Mountaineering offerings included Samsara, about a first ascent attempt in the Vindhya Mountains of India by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk; and also the historic Americans on Everest about the 1963 expedition led by Norman Dyhrenfurth. It was on this climb that Jim Whittaker became the first American to summit the world’s highest mountain, and Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld made the first ascent of the West Ridge.

Special guests included Anker, Chin and Ozturk, mountaineer and filmmaker David Brashears, and Whittaker. Jim gave a Saturday evening presentation recounting his decades of climbing high mountains. He also joined Dr. Peter Hackett, a world authority on high-altitude medicine and physiology, for a Monday “Breakfast Talk” about the advances made in cutting-edge mountaineering clothing and medicine over the past four decades.

This talk was another example of synergy between First Ascent and Mountainfilm. When Whittaker summited Everest in 1963, he was outfitted in down gear by Eddie Bauer. In 2008, Jim’s nephew, Peter Whittaker, was one of the mountain guides who developed the First Ascent gear line with Bauer; and it was Peter and Ed Viesturs of the First Ascent team who summited on May 19. Jim is now a consultant and spokesman for Eddie Bauer and First Ascent.

The festival concluded on Monday with the awards ceremony. Winning films included Samsara, (Charlie Fowler Award for the top mountaineering film), Sergio (Audience Award), and Surfing 50 States (Aspiring Filmmaker’s Award).

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Author: - Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

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