When it comes to extreme stories and adrenaline-fueled adventures, it’s not easy to impress a crowd of Whistler residents.
It’s even harder to impress the eight MULTIPLICITY speakers at last night’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival event – after all, these guys have paddled across oceans, climbed icebergs, and seen some of the world’s greatest sites.
Any yet even the speakers were blown away by each others’ incredible stories, shaking their heads with disbelief as each presenter casually told tales of Eastern European propaganda music videos, getting caught dangling off cliffs, and taking action in war torn countries.
The third annual Mountain Life MULTIPLICITY event was also the best attended to date, with 650 or so bodies filling the seats in the audience, eager to be entertained by a group of varied personalities. The speakers did not disappoint – this may have been the most consistently strong MULTIPLICITY lineup to date, with each story just as engaging as the last.
Kirby Brown kicked off the night, painting a picture of life in Afghanistan, a country where he helps build playgrounds with Playground Builders. Focusing on both the similarities and differences between life in Afghanistan and life in Canada, Kirby emphasized that ultimately, “We are all one people.”
Next up was all-around awesome mountain athlete, Suz Graham. Her topic of choice: fear. “Fear is what keeps me alive,” she said, as she told the story of a ski BASE adventure gone wrong. The moral of the story: “Stop being afraid of being afraid.”
Chris Winter followed, taking us through a video and photograph presentation shot by Leslie Kehmeier at Mattias Fredriksson of mountain biking adventures through Nepal and Iceland, respectively. The show was like watching the pages of a book come to life.
Tim Emmett took the stage next. He walked us through his three attempts to climb the frozen Helmcken Falls just as your typical person might talk about a day at work, and it dawned on me that these speakers just might not know how extraordinary they really are. Despite the magnitude of these adventures, the lessons learned are equally applicable to average, everyday life moments. Tim’s takeaway after his successful third climb: turn your can’ts into cans, be persistent, and go beyond what you think is possible.
After a brief intermission, local photographer David McColm presented the follow up to his stunning video, Whistler Deep Sky. “I love watching the universe unfold around me,” he said as he introduced the film, an idea that many other speakers affirmed in their own philosophical way. In David’s case, watching the universe unfold is a quite literal thing, as evidenced by the wild time lapses of the Milky Way and the mystical Northern Lights. The worldwide release of Whistler Deep Sky 2 is imminent – keep your eyes peeled.
Squamish-based filmmaker Darcy Turenne let us in on a well-kept secret: the adventures that go on while making a film are often wilder than the film itself. “What you see on screen is only a tiny reflection of reality,” she said as she told insane-yet-true story of her experience filming music videos for the Justin Bieber of the Republic of Georgia in an unsettling political climate (turns out those music videos were essentially propaganda films).
Up next, Julie Angus took the stage and was quick to point out the prevalent themes for the evening: passion, drive, and craziness. It took a mix of all three to fuel her self-propelled journey across the Atlantic with her husband. Hurricanes, 100-foot waves, and tenacious turtles were just a few of the obstacles encountered along the way.
Finally, keynote speaker Will Gadd took the stage. He kicked off by presenting a film that made audience members feel both incredibly lazy and incredibly motivated, offering gems like “We all try to be busy instead of being alive,” and “We waste time moving information instead of just moving.” Will told unfiltered tales of recent adventures, including climbing Niagara Falls, tackling Mount Robson, and paragliding the Canadian Rockies. His stories were honest, stating that he fails approximately 75% of the time, and sharing that he always carries a mental list of friends who have died on similar expeditions.
Based on the success of last night’s event, it’s safe to say that the WSSF is officially off to an awesome start. We’ll see you at the other events throughout the weekend, and back at MULTIPLICITY next year.