Banff returns to Vernon with some great adventures

Local Search and Rescue volunteer gets a sneak peek at Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Nikki Sims

Nikki Sims

For anyone who has caught the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, either at its home base in the Rocky Mountain city or on the Best of Banff tour that travels the globe, there are certain things to expect.

There is likely to be a film about someone in a “wing suit” flying from some incredulous mountain peak, climbers from either sex escalating said peak, kayakers taking a plunge down what could be best classified as a waterfall, and some daring skiers finding the perfect line off the side of a cliff.

There is also the humour, drama and humanity that often goes along with those who seek out extreme adventure or pilgrimage in some of the world’s most unobtainable terrain.

That was the case at this year’s festival, which took place the first weekend in November, and is sure to be the case when the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stops in Vernon Monday at the Performing Arts Centre.

Produced by Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, the 22nd annual screening of the Best of Banff, hosted by Vernon Search and Rescue, is sure to cause hearts to pulse and imaginations to soar, said Nikki Sims, Vernon SAR’s Banff film coordinator, who once again attended this year’s festival in the Alberta city.

“The Banff Film Festival was great this year. I got to meet Tim Cope (creator of) On The Trail of Genghis Khan – a film shown two years ago, and yes, he still has dog Tigon. Tim wrote a book of his journey, which won grand prize at Banff,” said Sims. “I also met and chatted with Justin Jones of Cas and Jonesy fame as well as the amazing and, oh so humble, Alexander Gamme (immortalized in last year’s Banff grand prize film winner, Crossing the Ice.)

“Alex spent every morning doing Zumba at Banff.”

As in past screenings, organizers expect to fill the theatre and will present two shows to bring audiences the best of Banff.

Besides Monday, another audience-pleasing menu of adventure-based films – climbing, skiing, kayaking, environmental subjects, last of the great wild places — takes place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Dec. 29.

“We are almost sold out for our November show, (however,) tickets for the Dec. 29th show will be on sale the day after the November show. All the films will be different for the December show,” said Sims.

Besides the inspiring films, the event is a way for locals to support the non-profit, volunteer search and rescue unit with much needed equipment and training.

“Vernon SAR covers an area of 7,500 square kilometres that is widely known as a tourist destination with an array of outdoor pursuits,” said Sims. “With approximately 60 volunteers, we attend an average of 45 calls each year. All members are trained in basic search and rescue techniques, with many advancing into specialized rescue disciplines such as swift water, flat ice, rope, avalanche, and tracking.”

Beyond the specific role of search and rescue, the Vernon unit also assists the RCMP, B.C. Ambulance Service, Coroner’s Office, B.C. Forest Service, and the office of the fire commissioner in various tasks from evidence searches and body recoveries to traffic control and evacuation assistance.

“Our organization operates on a 100 per cent volunteer basis, with each member donating time and money towards this cause. As such, we are dependent on donations from the community for the acquisition of capital equipment, including ATVs, snowmobiles, boats, and trucks and for all-important ongoing training.”

Tickets for the Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour are available at the Ticket Seller, 549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. Screenings start at 7 p.m.