When I was a kid, there was a phrase that my dad would repeat to us as a warning of the worst kind of person he saw in the world: The “woulda, shoulda, coulda guy”. And for the past nine days of the 2011 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, it was this that was stuck inside my head; there is no room to be that kind of person at this event.
“I woulda been a pro climber if I hadn’t hurt my knee.” Meet The Freedom Chair’s Josh Dueck, an adaptive skier who tackles the steepest and wildest mountains in the world.
“I shoulda gone to film school but I didn’t have the money.” Meet Leanne Allison, award-winning filmmaker and digital storyteller whose first Festival film, Being Caribou, was the product of a week’s worth of camera training and a good story.
“We coulda saved the forests, but no one was listening.” Meet the Sierra Club’s Caitlyn Vernon, whose book for young readers, Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest was a hit at the Festival.
In the wooden fishing boat that is the ‘Henriquez studio’ in The Banff Centre’s Leighton Artists’ Colony, Banff Centre Fleck Fellow Tim Cope is writing the book to accompany the film which follows his three-and-a-half year journey in the footsteps of Ghengis Khan. I finally catch a quiet moment with him and ask him how it was that a pretty average Aussie kid grew up to live this extraordinary dream. “When I was about 14 or 15 I read Tim Macartney-Snape’s book Everest From Sea to Summit,” he said. “Later I saw his video, and then, incredibly, I met the man himself. I got a signed copy of his book, and it was hugely inspirational. It made a huge impact on me.”
As I walk away from Tim’s studio, the 2011 Festival, and the extraordinary characters that I have met, I question: “Can I learn to ride a horse, kite-ski it across the Arctic, do the world’s first mounted BASE jump, and get a film about it into next year’s Festival?” Can, shall, will.
See you in 355 sleeps.