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The 2008 Squamish Mountain Festival Recap

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Festival Wrap Up

Click here to view a photo gallery from the 2008 Squamish Mountain Festival

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What an event!!! Everything aligned for the 2nd annual Squamish Mountain Festival. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, bluebird and nary a cloud. Our speakers and films were unique and both inspiring and entertaining to the participants who came from near and far to enjoy the Squamish Climbing vibe.

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Opening night on Wednesday July 16th featured local west coast films like “Cliff Notes”, a North Van grass roots movie about crazy kids hucking from the cliff tops in North Vancouver’s Lynn Creek Gorges in the hot summer months. Bryan Smiths film, featuring Matt Maddaloni and his creative methods for fall protection on a Squamish bouldering test piece called “Young Blood” was second up. Matt sets up a big trapeze like net at the base of this climb to catch his potential falls on this taxing short climb. After the film Matt came up to present with an inspirational talk on fitting it all in, with his famed link ups in both Squamish on the Chief and in the Bugaboos in the interior of BC. This portrayed Matt’s exploits, which are part marathon in nature and part expedition climbing, in his efforts to link several long routes together in a day. Sonnie Trotter was up next with a very funny travelogue and depiction of the dirt bag climber lifestyle. His travels all over North America, Asia, and Northern Africa were shown through this funny and inspiring multimedia show.

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The Steep Shot Photo Comp on Thursday July 17th was a highlight. There was not a place left in the Howe Sound Inn / Brew Pub to stand or sit! The crowd was eager to see this event which featured five world class pro climbing photographers profile their best climbing work, in the form of a short slide show. Cash prizes were at stake and one photographer got to be crowned the Steep Shot Champion. It must have been a really tough call to choose a winner amongst them. The caliber of work was incredibly high and all five displayed very different and individual approaches to climbing photography. From Andrew Qunerner’s dramatic and personal look at the alpine realm, to Jia’s humorous outlook (did you know you can BBQ on the Chief, Hibachi n’all!). No one person’s work stood out above anyone else’s and all around me, as the judges went out to deliberate, I could hear the audience excitedly discussing and justifying their favorite over their buddies choice. I’m glad I didn’t have to be the Simon Cowell of that panel! In the end the judges awarded Keith Ladinski with top honours and second and third prizes went to Andrew Querner and Jia Condon respectively. Thanks to all the photographers; Jordan Wright, Andrew Querner, Jia Condon, Boone Speed, and Keith Ladzinski for an incredible show!

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Squamish climbing areas require a lot of trail maintenance. The effects of rain over long winters wear things out, and thanks to the Squamish Access Society and Climbers Access Society of British Columbia for rounding up the people, tools and gumption to get the trails up to snuff! Apres trail maintenance took us back to the Eagle Eye Theatre to see a great combination of quirky and funny films ( ‘Across the Atlas” , Timmy O’Neil’s satirical narration of adventures in Morocco, is a must see and has become my favourite movie of the festival so far), interspersed with two speakers, Ed Cooper and Cedar Wright, talking about their respective experiences.

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Ed Cooper’s, nonchalant story telling of climbing in the early 60’s both in Squamish and Washington, was eye opening! It was hard to comprehend the ascents he was doing, sometimes with not much, if any equipment at all, thank goodness there was a blacksmith in Squamish at the time! The talk was accompanied by many of his amazing photographs, spanning a life time of climbing and changes to both the environment and the sport.

“At the time (1961) there was only about half a dozen or so people who could technically climb in Squamish, we came from Vancouver and Seattle, and on any one weekend there would be one maybe two parties out on the rock… but we knew it would grow.”

” title=”Cedar Wright Presenting”>

Juxtaposed with Ed’s laid back attitude was the much more energetic and animated storytelling of Cedar Wright and his recent first ascents in Alaska and Pakistan.

What most found interesting after listening to both, was that although the equipment has changed, a lot and for the better, the determination, dedication and let’s admit it, slight insanity needed, to make these first ascents, is still exactly the same!

” title=”Clinics Getting Started”>

As the rooster crowed on Saturday am, the trade fair was set up and climbers and clinic participants alike showed up for the plethora of clinics or the Prana Yoga session. The Adventure Centre was the main hub of activity for the weekend as people begin to show up early in the morning to sign up for the clinic of their choice. One of the great things about this event is that the clinics aren’t just aimed at people who can already put their harness on the right way round. There is something here for climbers of every level.

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Beginner to advanced, top roping to rescue or aid climbing, there was something for everyone! If that felt like too much activity there was still plenty to see walking around the trade fair and if you wanted to escape the midday heat, the Adventure Centre was showing a few short films over the lunchtime period. “Swedish Meatballs” caught my eye! (no really, I do want to learn about the Swedish bouldering scene)! Back at the Eagle Eye Theatre for the two Micas… I mean Majka Burhardt and Micah Dash. Micah Dash started, profiling fear filled adventures all over the world. Was a fun show spilling the beans with some haunting tales on climbing some of these big wall undertakings. Majka B. then graced the packed room with her insightful portrayal of here trips to Ethiopia. This show was very special for it was part adventure, but more culture, geography, and politics. Was a fantastic look at this remarkable and mysterious land.

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Squamish is famous for its whip ups and the defiant “Tight & Bright” Party brought the spandex out of the closet. It was a great turn out for Saturday night’s festival party at the Adventure Centre, where we got to kick it old school with an 80’s inspired theme. Headbands, tube socks, tights and even the odd dress and tutu were dragged from the back of the wardrobe and onto the dance floor. The Brew Pub provided the bevies while three different DJ’s spearheaded by DJ Sheila, mixed the music to get things gruvin.

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Sundays Dyno Comp was a crowd favorite. The adventure centre was packed to witness the anti gravity huckers lunge for world record vert. A competition wall was provided by Flashed, built to the exact specification of the World Cup Wall. It wasn’t as good a turn out in the woman’s category as last year but two gals battled it out and eventually Lauren Lee was able to Dyno to a height of 1.95m, and Audrey Sniezek took second place. The men’s competition was a tight battle to the end when Steve Townsend leapt with style for a competition winning Dyno of 2.6m. Jeremy Smith and Gabriel Mock took second and third places respectively.

The finale on Sunday night brought Dave Macleod, all the way from Scotland to show Squamilians the inner workings of a grit stone junkie’s central nervous system. Famed for his ascents profiled in popular films like “E11” and “Committed”, Dave talked about his latest forays and solo ascents in Europe. Palms were sweaty from the footage and fear you get from seeing Dave calmly mantra up some of the hardest climbs do-able.

Thanks so much to all who made this such a great event. Our speakers, the great volunteers and our sponsors; Presenting Sponsor ARC’TERYX and key partner the Mountain Equipment Co-op. Special thanks for Vanessa Ho who was MEC’s gift to the event. Vanessa organized all the volunteers and made the fest run seamlessly! Also thanks to Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Prana, Five Ten, Gore-Tex, Flashed, Climbing Magazine, Gripped Magazine, KVOS TV, Mountain Life Magazine, The Squamish Chief Newspaper, Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Company, Maxim Ropes, Flashed, and Valhalla Pure.

Very special mentions go out to Ivan Hughes (festival director), Tyrone Brett (Squamish Access Society), Shelia Cassels( Queen of the Socials), and John Irvine and Laura Fergusson (ARCTERYX Equipment) for putting the whole thing together. Was a fest to remember. See you all next year!

Visit: for more information and for details on next years event.

Click here to view a photo gallery from the 2008 Squamish Mountain Festival