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Tales of mountain culture

WSSF event shares a range of backcountry stories



The World Ski and Snowboard Festival is packed with intense competition on the slopes and screens with big money up for grabs.

Sure it's exciting, but sometimes it's nice to slide back from the edge of your seat and take in a relaxing evening of, say, story telling. Enter the Mountain Multiplicity Show, one of the newest additions to the festival's long list of events this year.

"This is not a competition," says Todd Lawson, a presenter at the event and one of the producers of the show. "It's pure entertainment... What Multiplicity is, basically, is a celebration of diversity. It's an eclectic mix of people presenting their unique experience in the mountains."

The multimedia evening — last year called the Mountain Culture Variety Show — will feature slideshows, film and plain old story telling by seven presenters with different mountain experiences.

"Last year people loved it," says Jayson Faulkner, with the Spearhead Huts Project, for which the event raises funds. "They said they didn't know what to expect. Everyone who came out said, 'Wow, that was great. That was super entertaining. It was informative and an experience they could really relate to."

This year, locals like Chili Thom will talk about how the landscapes of B.C. have inspired his art while Ace Mackay-Smith will share her story of growing up as a ski bum. Climber Kelly Dyer will offer up comedy and Francois De Ruydts will screen his film on canyoneering called Down the Line, while Nicholas Teichrob is slated to talk about standup paddling in Haida Gwaii and how it connects to protecting the Great Bear Rainforest from proposed tankers.

The headliner: Charlie Russell, who has lived with, photographed and studied all kinds of bears for the last 50 years. "He's definitely got some unique experiences this kind of crowd is going to eat up," Lawson says.

For his part, Lawson will read journal entries jotted down during an adventure with his wife motorcycling from Whistler to Chile. "I'm going to talk about five random days that were the most hardcore in terms of physical and mental challenge, which is when we rode in high altitude in the Andes," he says. "We kept very detailed journals throughout the whole trip."

The show will also include a DIY Ski and Snowboard Panel with board and ski makers from the Sea to Sky corridor sharing their start-up stories and answering questions about their experiences. A silent auction will run throughout.

Conceived as a fundraiser for the Spearhead Huts Project — which seeks to build a series of backcountry huts so people can enjoy the outdoors year-round in the Spearhead Range — organizers, including Mountain Life Magazine this year, pitched their idea to the festival in hopes that they could "capitalize on the energy that's going to be in town and the people who will be here to check out something cool and different," Lawson says. "This kind of stuff really resonates with this community, especially. I'm hoping a lot of people from out of town will come because it will definitely give the a unique perspective on the lives of people who live the mountain lifestyle."

The event takes place April 14 at the Whistler Conference Centre at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the Whistler Activity Centre.

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