Australian adventurers/filmmakers James Castrission and Justin Jones cross Antarctica unassisted in the film Crossing the Ice

Australian adventurers/filmmakers James Castrission and Justin Jones cross Antarctica unassisted in the film Crossing the Ice

Banff is back with more beautiful, crazy adventure

Banff Mountain Film Festival Grand Prize winner Crossing the Ice part of Vernon Search and Rescue's 21st annual screening of Best of Banff.

As anyone who has ever been to the Banff Mountain Film Festival, or to any B.C. ski resort, can attest, Australians are crazy –– for adventure, that is.

Following in the tradition of John Muir, who made history by becoming the first person to walk across the continent of Australia without resupply or any external support (as seen in the 2004 Best Film on Mountain Environment at the Banff Festival), fellow Aussie adventurers James “Cas” Castrission and Justin “Jonesy” Jones dared to tackle their own perilous journey –– this time across a frozen land.

They traversed across Antarctica to the South Pole and back again, completely unassisted. Yes, crazy.

Their efforts have been captured in the film Crossing the Ice, the Grand Prize winner at this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival, which was held last weekend in the Albertan city.

It’s about to make its way to Vernon as part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, the 21st annual fundraiser for Vernon Search and Rescue.

The film will screen among others chosen by the Search and Rescue committee Monday at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

Vernon Search and Rescue volunteer and coordinator of this year’s Best of Banff, Nikki Sims attended the Banff festival on the weekend and was there when Jones picked up the big prize, as well as Best Film on Exploration and Adventure, and the People’s Choice at the awards ceremony. (Castrission was at home where he and his wife are expecting their first child.)

“I asked Jonesy ‘so I’ll ask you what everyone must be asking you… What next?,’” said Sims. “He gave me a big grin and said ‘something great, but waiting to hear about funding and licenses, but rest assured it will be fantastic!’ I laughed and said ‘you two are amazing and very inspirational,’ then he said ‘can you please tell my mom that!’”

Crossing the Ice features the two Australians dragging their food and shelter across 1,140 kilometres of barren ice, a journey that many have tried, and all have failed until now.

After arriving to tackle one of the last great Antarctic odysseys, the men discover an eerie similarity to Captain Scott’s race to the South Pole: There’s a Norwegian on the ice. He’s more experienced, he’s tackling the same record, and he has a head start.

To prepare for their journey, Jones and  Castrission trained for a month on Baffin Island and said there is “no cold like Baffin Island cold,” said Sims, adding “They really are just two regulars guys from Australia.”

Along with Crossing the Ice, the Best of Banff screening will feature this year’s winner for Best Film on Climbing, Reel Rock 7: Honnold 3.0

Directed and produced by Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen and Alex Lowther, the American film follows Alex Honnold, known as the boldest soloist of his generation, as he prepares both physically and mentally  for his biggest adventure yet – the Yosemite Triple.

A special edit of a South African film will also be part of the lineup.

5 Races, 5 Continents, directed by Dean Leslie, is a look into the joy, pain, transformation, and inspiration found in running mountain races around the world.

And audiences can expect even more adventure, with a new batch of films from the Banff festival. (Two other screenings return to the VPAC on Dec. 29 and 30.)

As in the past, the Banff world tour aids the non-profit, 60-strong volunteer Vernon Search and Rescue unit with acquisition of capital equipment, including ATVs, snow machines, boats, and trucks and for all-important training upgrades.

Tickets for Monday’s screening at 7 p.m. are $20, and are available at the Ticket Seller box office in the VPAC or call 250-549-7469, or order online at