Anson Fogel’s award-winning documentary short about the first winter ascent of the 8

Anson Fogel’s award-winning documentary short about the first winter ascent of the 8

More from the heights and depths of Banff

Banff Mountain Film Festival returns to Vernon with new and familiar faces, including two screenings of Josh Dueck's The Freedom Chair.

Imagine breathing in frozen air at 8,000 metres above the earth on one of the tallest peaks in the world.

That’s exactly what American climber Cory Richards along with climbing partners Simone Moro and Denis Urubko did when they made the successful winter ascent of Pakistan’s Gasherbrum II earlier this year.

The climbers’ sheer will as they tackle this force of nature has been captured in their documentary film, Cold, directed by Anson Fogel, which is this year’s winner of the grand prize as well as the best film on climbing at the Banff Mountain Film Festival held in November.

Locals will be able to be see Cold, along with many more adventure, cultural and outdoor sport films when the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour rolls back into Vernon, Wednesday and Thursday.

Both screenings will take place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, and not at Silver Star Mountain Resort as in past years.

Besides Cold, Vernon Search and Rescue, which hosted the first batch of Banff films to a sold-out crowd at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre in November, has an all-new lineup for next week’s two-day affair, with one exception.

“The two programs will each include Josh Dueck’s film The Freedom Chair, and Josh, Vernon’s own Paralympic medalist, will be with us on stage to do the prize draw,” said Suzie Sims, film coordinator with Search and Rescue.

For those who missed the November screening in Vernon, audience favourite, The Freedom Chair, which won the best film on mountain sports award at Banff, tells the story of how former Silver Star freestyle coach Dueck was paralyzed while testing a jump for the Canadian Junior Nationals at Silver Star in 2004.

Dueck overcame his situation trying out a sit-ski nine months later, and not long after,  he become a member of the Canadian Para-Alpine Team.

However, the film, written, directed and produced by legendary freeskier Mike Douglas,  goes beyond Dueck’s achievements as a world champion, Paralympic and X-Game medalist to his desire to hit some of the world’s best back-country terrain. And he does just that when he joins pro skier Mark Abma down powder-filled slopes at Chatter Creek near Golden.

Produced by Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, the World Tour features other award-winning films and audience favourites from more than 310 films entered in the annual festival.

“From these entries, approximately 35 are licensed for the world tour and offer a broad range of subject matter all, in some way, related to mountains: climbing, adventure-and-grit, culture, ice climbing, kayaking, humour, the environment… the list goes on,” said Sims.

In the past 20 years of hosting the Banff World Tour, Vernon Search and Rescue has used proceeds from the event to fund necessary equipment, update existing gear (radios, GPS units, dry-suits, climbing ropes, etc.), and for all-important training upgrades.

Besides The Freedom Chair, Wednesday’s Banff screening is tentatively showing The Man and the Mammoth; On Assignment: Jimmy Chin; On the Trail of Genghis Khan: The Last Frontier; Grand Libre au Grand Cap; Reel Rock: Sketchy Andy; This is My Winter; and C.A.R.C.A.

Cold and The Freedom Chair are scheduled to be shown Thursday along with Blue Obsession; Spoil, which won best film on mountain environment; Seasons: Fall; Hanuman Airlines; Towers of the Ennedi; and Treeverse.

Tickets for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, Wednesday and Thursday starting at 7 p.m., are $20 available at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.