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UNB Rock & Ice Club hosting Banff Mountain Film Festival

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, presented by National Geographic and North Face, is being brought to Fredericton by the UNB Rock & Ice Club later this month.

According to the festival’s website, the film festival shares stories of remote journeys, ground-breaking expeditions and cutting-edge adventures told through the eyes of adventurers, authors, photographers and filmmakers from around the globe.

After the festival is held each fall in Banff, Alberta, the World Tour screens the films in 450 communities in 40 countries.

Dominic Caron, the UNB Rock & Ice Club’s vice-president external and treasurer, said the club started bringing the Festival World Tour to Fredericton in the 90s.

“It started off pretty small, on a small venue on campus, and then migrated to MacLaggan Hall, which seated around 300 people,” said Caron.

At first it was a one-night event, but over time it has evolved into a weekend-long one that takes place at The Playhouse, which seats over 700 people.

“I was part of the transition [four years ago], and now the Playhouse is sold-out every year,” he said.

Caron said that the festival, taking place on Jan. 26 and 27 has been sold out for a month.

“We barely marketed it; it’s mainly word of mouth,” he said. “People get very excited about it.”

The Club is given a list of films to select from, which they cater to their audience in New Brunswick, but they are still “hashing out the details with the tour host” to determine which films will be shown this year.

Caron is looking forward to the atmosphere the festival brings. “Everyone gets motivated to go outside after sitting for three hours in front of a screen and seeing all of these phenomenal humans pursue outdoor activities. And that’s the driving force behind any outdoor activity—it’s the motivation,” he said.

Caron has been climbing since 2005 and joined the UNB Rock & Ice Club when he moved to Fredericton from Sherbrooke, Quebec, in 2011.

“Climbing has taken over my life,” he said. “It was kind of natural and organic for me to join the club and get involved.”

The UNB Rock & Ice Club started in the mid-70s. A decade later, the club was given an on-campus location to build a climbing wall, which was eventually relocated to basement of the Lady Beaverbrook (LB) Gym.

“We’ve operated the LB Gym since the 90s, and it’s all through volunteers,” Caron said.

Now the club consists of 25 volunteers and about 150 members.

“But you don’t need to be a member to climb on the climbing wall. You can simply drop in any night,” Caron said, as there is a nominal fee of $5 that includes shoes and climbing gear.

“On busy nights we can have up to 60 people climbing at the same time,” he said.

“It’s not just me or the [five] executives that make the club work, it’s really the combination of all volunteers. That aspect is really great,” Caron said.

However, the LB Gym is scheduled to be decommissioned in autumn 2018.

Caron said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen to the club after that.  “A lot of it depends on what’s going on with the [breaking down of the Sir Max Aitken Pool.] I know the city is trying hard to keep the pool open, but as far as we know, the building is going to be torn down starting Sept. 1. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

On Jan. 27, the Club will also host a climbing competition during the day at the LB Gym, which  aligns with the series of climbing-related events happening around the Festival World Tour in Fredericton.

Photos by Rock & Ice Club and Fredericton Playhouse

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