The spirit of adventure

Posted on April 12, 2013


life_is_either_a_daring_adventure_or_nothing__by_leetrr-d4pkmkyLast night six of us strolled along the banks of the river in the beautiful heart of Lyon. Six people, five nationalities, all chatting after a truly magical evening.  We’d been to the Banff Mountain Film Festival.  For anyone, not in the know, this is the biggest mountain festival in the world, a platform to celebrate adrenaline-packed action sports and the individuals who continually raise the bar by conquering absolutely extraordinary and exhilarating challenges. After the winners have been announced, the best films head off on a world tour hitting nearly 300 communities in 36 countries spanning all four corners.

Over the course of the evening, we watched perhaps 12 short films … the winning entries in each festival category. Some were hair-raising, some were downright terrifying, some were just verging on a little crazy … but all, were utterly inspiring. Utterly inspiring.

You see, whether based on the powder piste or lush green trails, whether in kayaks, on bikes, on skis, on wheels or on foot … every single entrant had identified their passion at the earliest age and had the courage and commitment to practice, practice, practice. They’d not been afraid of turning their backs on the norm and allowed their hearts to lead over their heads.

We talked after about which was our favourite and all were in agreement … a film about two guys, Cas and Jonesy … Aussie explorers and best mates, who at first glance look more like Bill & Ted-type characters.  They completed the first ever unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole  … and then back! Pulling loads that started at 160kg and temperatures as cold as -40 C, they battled frostbite, injury, whiteouts, crevasses, gear failure and slow starvation. During the 89 days it took them to ski 2,275 km, surviving in this highest, driest, windiest and coldest place on earth, they lost a combined 55kg of body weight. Their adventure has literally set a new global benchmark and raised a new precedent in polar exploration.

To throw a further spanner in the works, another explorer, Aleksandr Gamme, a Norwegian with a 30 year background of skiing, mountain adventure and Arctic Circle experience, was out there at the same time, trying also to complete the same challenge. He was ahead throughout the expedition duration but in an extraordinary display of camaraderie, he waited before the finish line to so they could complete their epic journey together.

And really, this is what adventure is all about. Not getting one up on others but working together, man against nature, to achieve the extraordinary.

Before the seed had been planted, Cas and Jonesy had never skied, never been in much snow and certainly had no conditioning of expeditions of this kind.  But they had a bond like brothers and an unquenchable lust to raise the bar and question, ‘why not?’ Their passion for adventure was unbreakable even in the face of adversity that most of us can’t even begin to imagine. And, I guess most importantly, they had an indestructible mental strength.

If you ever get a chance to check out this festival, if timing strikes perfectly when travelling the world, do so. If you have a spirit for adventure, you’ll love it. It just so happens I’m in Lyon during the one night showing here. Serendipitous? Hell yes, for more reasons than one …


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