That Sherpa just jumped off Mount Everest, or how to learn to love BANFF despite the lines

From the film Obe and Ashima: Nine-year-old Ashima Shiraishi is tearing up the climbing world and making it look easy.

Right. So. These two Sherpas climbed to the top of Mount Everest, assembled a paraglider AT THE SUMMIT, then jumped off, flying 25 miles to Namche Bazaar in 45 minutes. That’s about 30,000 feet to about 10,000.

Of the seven adventure films we caught in Portsmouth as part of the BANFF Mountain Film series on Wednesday, this one jumped out. Why? First, because we were there. We trekked that distance from Namche Bazaar to the foot of Mt. Everest and back. Even downhill, on the way home, it took us two days.

But second, because I wished I had a paraglider as I waited to use the bathroom at intermission. Look, if you’ve gotten this far into the reading, you know that BANFF is awesome. It’s pointless to review these amazing films. Which would you pick? The one with the nine-year-old rock climber? The one about the kayaker who paddles the Nile and is eaten by an crocodile? The one with the slack-line hippy who tightropes over 1,000 foot canyons without a safety line? Or maybe the one about the skiier who loses use of his legs but goes on to become a sit-ski Olympic champion? Who cares! Every one of these films makes the stuff we do here in the Whites literally a walk in the park.

Here’s a trailer for Hanuman Airlines, the flying Sherpas: Hanuman Airlines

From the film Hanuman Airlines: Sherpas Sano Babu and Lapka piloting their paraglider off Mt. Everest. Photo courtesy APPI.

The way BANFF works, there are different films at each of the venues. So, if you decide to go down to Mass. next week to catch the festival, it’s going to be a different block of films than what was in Portsmouth. Don’t let that deter you. Here’s a link to the festival home page. If you have a chance to go, no matter where it is and what films are showing, you won’t be disappointed: BANFF

So, instead let’s consider the event itself. BANFF takes a lot of grief over the commercial aspect of the travelling festival. The festival-goer is inundated with videos, pamphlets, books, drawings and ads from adventure outfitters. In Portsmouth, the concession area was packed with reps from NEMO, Deuter, Polartec and a bunch of others we’d never heard of, including a coffee maker.

In fact, the grand prize, a brand spanking new kayak, created some nervous laughter from the audience since the drawing came five minutes after the aforementioned film about the kayaker who was eaten by an crocodile. (Note to self: do not kayak in the Nile.)

While we understand and respect the feelings of some sports adventure fans who feel their passion is too saturated by commercialism, we love being surrounded by this retail frenzy. And it was nice to see some local gear companies, like NEMO, getting in on the action. We’ve owned a NEMO expedition tent for years – its gone from the Whites to the Grand Canyon to the Badlands – and I can attest to how wonderful this Nashua-based outfit is. Plus, we came away with free coffee!

And kudos to the Portsmouth Music Hall for opening their doors year after year to this event. That said, a fair degree of patience is needed to navigate through this festival. A sold-out festival, combined with covering every extra square foot with vendors, made for one tight performing space. How bad was it? The line to the mens room was as long as the line to the womens room.

A spectacular renovation a couple of years ago that created what we can only describe as Art Nouveau meets Capt. Nemo has polished the theater to a glorious degree. But you wouldn’t know from attending the festival, just too many people and too much chaos. We’d recommend going back for a smaller show just to enjoy the atmosphere of the theater. Next year, we plan on arriving much earlier then 15 minutes before.

After the show, while wolfing down some magnificent Gilley’s Diner burgers, we dreamed out loud about the adventures we just saw and the adventures that festival has now inspired us to take. Paragliding anyone?

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3 Responses to That Sherpa just jumped off Mount Everest, or how to learn to love BANFF despite the lines

  1. I’ve never been to a BANFF film festival. Now it’s on my must-do list. Sounds like a grand time.

  2. Pingback: We’ll be live from the Banff Film Festival today! « The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie

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