The 2012 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival will kick off tomorrow. While the festival has become a prestigious global showcase for the greatest creative minds in outdoor adventure, we’re proud to announce that the featured lineup opens with a film honouring Banff local, the great historian of Canadian mountaineering and skiing, Chic Scott.
In the opening film at the festival, The Gift, mountaineer and photojournalist Andrew Querner has created a moving discussion on the fragility and importance of history and community. Chic’s perspective as a historian of mountain sport is powerful, and Andrew’s experience as a mountaineer and photographer helps to convey the rich history of mountain sport.
We’re especially excited to see Chic featured in a film. In 2009, Chic completed Deep Powder and Steep Rock, the Life of Mountain Guide Hans Gmoser. The book is the biography of Hans Gmoser, who passed away in 2006. Hans was the founder, and to this day remains the spiritual leader, of Canadian Mountain Holidays.
The Gift was filmed at the Alpine Club of Canada’s Wheeler Hut, BC in January of 2012. Near Rogers Pass, just east of Revelstoke in the heart of Canada’s snowiest mountains, the hut is a fitting place to meditate on the culture and community of mountaineering.
With flickering of firelight in the hut reflecting in his eyes, Chic explains his passion for history, “Mountain climbing is an interesting sport because if you ask the man in the street, ‘Who are the great climbers?’ and then you ask the hard core climbers, ‘Who are the great climbers?‘ you’ll get two totally different answers; whereas, if you ask the man in the street and the professional hockey players, ‘Who are the great hockey players of all time?’, you would get the same answer.”
He further explains his motivations for writing the history of his sport: “Everybody knows the guys and gals who get up Everest, but the climbers out there who have practiced their passion for decades, the best of them are largely unknown.”
Chic was a member of the first Great Divide Ski Traverse in 1967, the epic traverse from Banff to Jasper along the icefields and glaciers that cover the continental divide as it winds through the Canadian Rockies. The traverse was completed with wool and cotton clothing and a cotton tent, the best equipment available at the time, but some things haven’t changed since then. Chic’s musings on “mountain time” still ring true. How, after being in the mountains, the worries of life tend to lose importance and life happens in the present, not in the future and not in the past. “You have a simple purpose. Life becomes simple in the mountains.”
Decades later, motivated by a French book on world mountaineering that short-changed Canada by only dedicating one paragraph to his mountainous country, Chic embarked on the biggest project in his career. “Canada probably has more mountains than any nation on Earth, and yet (in that book) there’s one paragraph on Canada. So, I wanted to set the record right.”
The result, Pushing the Limits, The Story of Canadian Mountaineering, took Chic six years of full-time work during which he conducted 95 interviews with leading mountaineers across Canada and completed one of the most comprehensive and artistic histories of mountain sport ever written.
Chic concludes The Gift with an unusual and insightful perspective on history:
“People don’t realize that yesterday is history. History is right behind us."