Weekend Warm-Up: Best of Banff

Usually in this space, we profile a short adventure film that is available for free online. This week, we’ll point instead to a couple of longer films and presentations that are available to buy for a few dollars each during the Banff Mountain Film Festival. These will only be online till late November 8, Mountain Time. Local restrictions may apply.

Lost at Sea

In 1996, Britain’s Peter Bird disappeared while trying to row across the Pacific Ocean from Russia to the U.S. Years later, his son Louis tries to come to terms with what drove his father to constantly abandon his family in pursuit of solo adventure.


Back in 2019, we covered the story of a group of indigenous Bolivian women who climbed Aconcagua wearing traditional garb. At the time, we regretted that the widespread news coverage of their accomplishment rarely singled out the women by name or presented them as individuals. This one hour and 20 minute film rectifies that, as we follow their struggles from home up to the summit of the highest mountain in South America.


Borge Ousland – North Pole Winter Expedition

Ousland presents on the classic journey that he undertook with Mike Horn across the Arctic Ocean. The feat topped our list of the best expeditions of 2019. The intimate talk gives a sense of how detail-oriented the great Norwegian is, and how the expedition pushed both veteran travelers to their limit.


Godspeed Los Polacos! is no longer available to stream from Banff, but UK readers will have a chance to stream this wonderful film when the Kendal Mountain Festival kicks off on November 19. It shows a group of enterprising university students, including longtime ExplorersWeb contributor Piotr Chmielinski, leaving their native Poland — still under Communist rule in 1981 — to kayak the deepest canyon in the world. They didn’t know how to kayak very well.


Finally, K2: The Impossible Descent, the full-length film about Andrzej Bargiel’s epic ski down K2 in 2019 is also no longer available at Banff, which is winding down, but can be streamed for free through Red Bull. That 75-degree slope on the Messner Traverse is must rank as quintuple black diamond.