Mountain presentation slated for Friday evening | AspenTimes.com

Mountain presentation slated for Friday evening

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen Institute and the Aspen International Mountain Foundation are hosting an event tied to the United Nation’s 2002 International Year of the Mountains.

The free event on Friday at 5:45 p.m. at Paepcke Auditorium will feature a slide presentation by Aspen mountain climber Neil Biedleman and a short preview of the film, “Everest ? Farther Than the Eye Can See.” The film explores blind climber Eric Weihenmayer’s journey to the summit of Mount Everest.

“I know Eric pretty well,” said Biedleman. “He?s an amazing guy. For the obvious reasons, climbing Everest and being blind, but also for the way he carries himself and his basic outlook on life. He’s very inspirational to me.”

And Weihenmayer has been inspirational to many others. He was on the cover of Time magazine last year and is currently in demand on the lecture circuit.

He will not be at the event on Friday night but does plan to show the full version of the movie in Aspen in February to benefit the Challenge Aspen organization.

“What we are showing is a 23-minute tease of the film,” said Michael Brown, who directed the movie and was on the expedition. “It gives you a sense of what the summit was like for Eric. It is very emotional and exciting.”

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Brown will be at the event to present the preview and answer questions.

For his part of the evening, Biedleman plans to talk about the importance of mountains to human cultures and then show a variety of images from his various treks into the high country.

“I’ll be exploring why we are drawn to the mountains,” he said. “Why is there something innate in us that we are drawn to the mountains? Why do they carry so much weight in our cultures and in our histories? I hope to offer some ideas.”

Also at the event, a broad range of local organizations will be recognized for their dedication to a sustainable mountain environment in the Aspen area. And one organization will be given an award of excellence.

Part of the effort of the U.N.’s International Year of the Mountains is to call attention to the role that mountains play in people’s lives, and how dependent on mountains people are for such things as fresh water.

The U.N. also hopes to point out that mountain tourism can be harmful.

“Experience has already shown that mountain tourism can have a range of damaging effects,” the U.N’s Web site says. “It can degrade and stress fragile mountain ecosystems, destroying the qualities that make these environments so alluring. Mountains are among the world’s most important repositories of biodiversity, yet construction, pollution and noise all threaten this precious asset.”

The Web site address for more information is http://www.mountains2002.org.

For more information on Friday’s presentation, contact Cristal Lee at The Aspen Institute at 544-7929 or Karinjo DeVore at the Aspen International Mountain Foundation at 925-1140.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]

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