Outdoor enthusiasts scrambled for seats in the packed house of the Eagle Eye Theatre Wednesday evening (Aug.12) to hear legendary mountain climbing, Peter Croft and up-and-coming legend Will Stanhope, speak of their most recent conquests.
Significant numbers were disappointed at not getting tickets for the Squamish Mountain Festival event, which also showcased six movies, a climbing photo exhibit by Rich Wheater, along with the talk by ace climbers.
"We had to turn out a lot of people. We could have filled up that theatre two times over," said Ivan Hughes, festival co-organizer.
Croft started off by remembering climbers such as John Bachar and Craig Luben who were killed within the last month in climbing accidents.
He then gave a quick snapshot of his own climbing career, which began in Squamish. Croft grew up on Vancouver Island and was thrilled to discover Squamish in the 1970s.
"I came here for climbing and I just felt I was the luckiest guy in the world. This is the best climbing area in all of Canada and it doesn't get any better than this," Croft said.
Whenever the weather was bad in Squamish, he said he would simply head down to California's Yosemite National Park.
In a slideshow full of dramatic, spectacular shots, Croft highlighted his successful attempts at climbing the Half Dome and Nose of El Cap in a single day. He remembered, wistfully, the inspiration he got from climbing together with Bachar on that day.
"John Bachar was a legend and for me he was the climbing god of the world, basically," he said.
Croft also recalled a funny anecdote about his reluctance to take Bachar's advice on taking a rest and eating for fear that he would gain weight.
"He was really stressing that I rest and eat as much as I can and I was like, 'Oh Jesus, it's John Bachar, so I guess I should do it.'"
In an instructive slideshow for mountain climbers, Croft talked about a tough 5.13 climb on the Incredible Hulk, a granite formation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, with his friend, Conrad Anker.
On Thursday, Aug. 13 at the Howe Sound Brew Pub, festival organizers will be presenting the Jim Baldwin Memorial Award to the past and present day recipients for recognition of climbs that represent boldness, innovation or significance to the history of Squamish climbing. A three-foot tall steel and wood trophy will be inscribed with the names of the winners and the routes completed.
Following Croft's presentation, 21-year-old Stanhope, with all his youthful exuberance, had the crowd in stitches right off the bat. His short but sweet presentation included a slideshow of goofy pictures with him training in the North Vancouver's The Edge climbing gym, followed by even funnier shots of his trip to Patagonia and the Bugaboos with friend Jason Kruk.
"Jokes aside, Patagonia is rad," he said, "and it's just awesome to climb these beautiful towers the splitters and towers, it's as good as it gets."
Stanhope and Kruk have a history that includes the local highlight of freeing the Cannibis Wall, a popular A3 on The Chief.
Stanhope also talked briefly about his climbing trip to Smith Rock State Park, Oregon, highlighting the ever-popular Monkey Face tower.
The Squamish Mountain Festival continues through to Sunday (Aug. 16) with more speakers, competitions, movies and celebrations.
Go to www.squamishmountainfestival.com for a full schedule and ticket information.