Peaks of interest

Charlottesville might well be known as the town of a thousand festivals. Whether it’s books, brews, or movies, it seems like every month there’s some sort of extravaganza back for an encore. Our town’s varied population, the tourist-friendly Downtown Mall, and our mania for all things celebratory make Charlottesville the perfect spot for annual shindigs. If the anticipation of fighting your way through the beer lines of summer is haunting you, or perhaps the Fourth Annual Cross-Dressing and Chutney Festival lacks appeal, an event coming next week might be just what you need.
    You don’t have to be a mountaineer yourself to get a high from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, featuring the world’s best mountain films and videos. For 26 years this festival has been celebrating the spirit of exhilaration and adventure people find climbing mountains. Each November, the world’s best films on mountain themes draw an international audience to the town of Banff, Canada. From its grassroots beginnings in 1976, the festival now attracts audiences of more than 8,300, with over 250 films submitted from 27 countries.
    Following the festival, the best films go on a world tour: this year Charlottesville audiences will see a first descent of the Orange River in South Africa, a trek to the remote Mustang province of Nepal, a film tribute to world-class climber and explorer Alex Lowe, skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Baker— the world’s snowiest place— as well as a first ascent of Alpamayo, a thin blade of ice in the Peruvian Andes. Finally, there’s a short, humorous glance at adventurer and multi-talented athlete Will Gadd.
Maybe you think this sort of extreme sporting isn’t your passion, but you might find that the adrenaline rush from these movies can spark high-adventure dreams in even the most devout couch potato.
Although most of the movies are previously unreleased, films with outdoor themes have been making waves in commercial circles recently. Everest comes to mind, a bone-chilling depiction of humans not just braving and battling the elements, but displaying acts of heroism other sports don’t often require.
    All proceeds from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour benefit Madison House, the student volunteer program at UVA.

Showtime is Tuesday, March 26, at 7pm in the auditorium at the Albemarle County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults and are on sale now at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, Barracks Road Shopping Center, and at Madison House, 170 Rugby Road.

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