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Mountain Films Make Us Wild

February 23, 2016


Growing up in Ventura, I regularly saw colorful and faded posters on telephone poles on Telegraph Road advertising the latest showing of the latest surf films; we went to as many as we could get someone to drive us to. It was such a thrill to watch someone (usually guys) take off on these adventures and I am sure these films inspired me to head off into my own… although it has always been the mountains that called me and not so much the ocean even though the Pacific is in my backyard.

My family did some camping, but I started rock climbing and backpacking at 12 years old with Girl Scouts. By 13, when I hiked a short section and met two Pacific Crest Trail hikers, I knew I was going to hike the entire Pacific Trail one day which I did in my 20s after spending three summers teaching mountaineering in the Colorado Rockies.

In my 30s, I bought a VW van that I lived in on and off, and I spent more time traveling and camping and rock climbing than backpacking. During this time, I ticked off several of the classic climbs of North America including Castleton Spire in Utah, and Pingora, Wolfs Head, and The Grand Teton in Wyoming. Then I had a kid, and these days climbing doesn’t offer the same attraction it did. We spend more of our time on the slopes of Mammoth skiing or camping and soaking at hot springs or fishing and lying around in hammocks reading.

And we go see climbing films at Patagonia HQ and Real Cheap Sports and we attend mountain film festivals where we can watch other people do the crazy risks that we no longer feel comfortable or have the time or energy or physicality to do.

These films bring the spirit of the mountains back home inside our hearts.

Two of our favorite film festivals are making the rounds and coming our way soon: The Banff Mountain Film Festival and The Wild and Scenic Film Festival. We go almost every year and see all the films at both. Many times it’s worked out for us to go to see the Banff FF one night in Santa Barbara and then to see the other night in Bishop while we are on a ski trip to Mammoth; that’s our plan this year too.

Banff FF in Santa Barbara was held for years at UCSB’s Campbell Hall but lately it’s at the Arlington in downtown SB on State Street. Tickets there are pricey–$19 for adults– but it’s very cushy, and there’s a bar too. This year it is being held Tues. Feb 23 and 24 starting at 7:30pm, and it will likely sell out both nights.

In contrast, in Bishop the Banff FF is held at the Tri-County Fairgrounds usually the final weekend in March. On Easter weekend, March 25 and 26, people will bring their own pillows and blankets to make the hard folding chairs more comfortable, and their own cups for buying tea or coffee. (You’ll also see people bring their own flasks of water or hot or cold adult beverages!) Great Basin Bakery brings goodies like cookies and pie and coffee, and sometimes pulled pork. Local conservation groups showcase their efforts on the behalf of the environment. Everyone is really friendly, dressed casually, scruffy even in clothes that have seen plenty of mountain time, and we feel right at home. Doors open at 6pm so people can claim their seats and socialize; tickets cost $12 per person per night with different films screened on each night. Tickets are available at Eastside Sports and ICA in Bishop, the Booky Joint in Mammoth, and at the door on the night of the screening. I’m not sure if it would sell out as people could still stand in the back or lay on the ground in the front; the place does get really packed and the line for the bathroom is insane!


This year, as in years past, we’ll attend the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival March 5 and 6 at the Poinsettia Pavillion. Like in Bishop, local conservation groups table about their organizations to drum up volunteers, donations, and other forms of support. (For my students, this would be a great opportunity to meet activists who they can work with for their Problem-Solution-Action research papers). Local brewers offer tastes of their beers, wineries offer samples of their fare, plus popcorn, food, and other goodies are available. A fundraiser for the Conservancy, both nights always sell. out. These films highlight more environmental activism and beauty, with plenty of adventure thrown in. Learn more about the line-up of films here.


These films just might get you in the mood to do something for the planet! On Saturday, March 19, 2016 from 09:00 AM, join a tree planting party at the Big Rock Preserve in Oakview, CA. On the third Saturday of March, VHC staff and volunteers will continue planting trees at our Big Rock Preserve from 9 am-12 noon. This is the final Tree Planting Party of 2016  at the Big Rock Preserve. Once completed, volunteers will have planted more than 500 trees along the Ventura River Parkway! To get to Big Rock Preserve, take Highway 33 toward Ojai and exit at Casitas Vista Rd. Turn right, park underneath the highway overpass and walk to the bike path. Take a left at the bike path entrance and we will be set up a short way ahead – near the mural. Please wear pants, sturdy closed-toe shoes, sunscreen and bring a shovel and a friend! In the event of HEAVY RAIN, this event will be rescheduled! (show less)

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