Filmfest panel looks at modern-era climbing |

Filmfest panel looks at modern-era climbing

Tim Mutrie

The impacts of technology, media and corporate sponsorship on climbing and mountaineering will be the subject of an Aspen Film Festival panel Saturday at 4:15 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House.

The six-person panel of climbing legends and relative newcomers – Michael Kennedy, Kara Kline, Edgar Boyles, Bob Craig, Michael Brown and Will Gadd – is expected to present diverse perspectives on the topic.

“Mountaineering used to be this dirtbag sport to quote one of the panelists,” explained Aspen Filmfest executive director Laura Thielen. “And now it’s an elite sport. It’s in magazine and TV ads, and it has become this `sexy’ sport.

“The panel will look at filmmaking, media, technology and corporate sponsorship, things that have become so much a part of the sport in the last decade, and how they’re impacting the sport,” Thielen continued.

The panel, which will include a question-and-answer period, will follow the screening of “Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine,” a British Broadcasting Corporation-produced documentary about the much-publicized 1999 expedition.

Expedition member and former Aspen resident Tap Richards was in earshot of climber Conrad Anker when he shouted that he had discovered the long-lost body of George Leigh Mallory at 27,000 feet on the slopes of Everest.

Panelist Michael Kennedy of Carbondale first traveled to the Himalaya in 1978. Last spring he attempted Annapurna along with renowned American climber Ed Viesturs, Veikka Gustafsson of Finland and Aspen native Neal Beidleman, but dangerous avalanche conditions prevented the party from making a summit bid. In between, Kennedy has juggled duties as editor and publisher of Climbing Magazine with forays to the Himalaya that yielded several notable first ascents. Kennedy is also president of The Access Fund, a Boulder-based nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping climbing areas open and conserving the climbing environment.

Panelist Bob Craig led an unsuccessful expedition to K2 the same year Hillary and Norgay became the first men to climb Everest, in 1953. The former Aspen resident – who went on to climb in Russia and become the president of the American Alpine Club, among other accomplishments – was one of the first high-altitude mountaineers to come out of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Kara Kline, a former producer for the Aspen filmmaking company American Adventure Productions; Edgar Boyles, an Aspen adventure cinematographer; Michael Brown, a Colorado-based adventure filmmaker who summited Everest this past spring as part of a film crew; and Canadian Will Gadd, an up-and-coming climber, kayaker and paraglider, round out the panelists.

“We really wanted to get a broad view – the old, for lack of a better word, and the new,” Thielen said of the panel. “It should be a provocative look at how [technology and media] are changing what used to be a pretty solitary sport.”

Tickets for the “Lost on Everest” screening and the panel discussion to follow should be available at the Wheeler box office before the 4:15 p.m. show time. Interested parties are urged to arrive early to get tickets.

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