Squamish Mountain Festival ready to rock with climbers Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright

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As the ninth annual Squamish Mountain Festival approaches, Justin Sweeny says the climbing-focused event has managed to maintain its “grassroots feel”.

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However, Sweeny, one of the organizers of this year’s fest, told the Georgia Straight that future editions will aim to broaden their scope and attract a “global” audience.

Sweeny is the North American sports marketing coordinator for Arc’teryx Equipment, the North Vancouver-based outdoor gear manufacturer that presents the fest.

“It’s essentially a grassroots gathering to celebrate climbing, bouldering, and mountain culture,” Sweeny said by phone from Squamish. “It gives us an opportunity to highlight Squamish itself and the culture surrounding it through clinics, speakers, competitions, international adventure films, volunteer trail maintenance days, and then, of course, there’s no event without a good party.”

Running from July 16 to 20, this year’s fest will have “lots going on”, according to Sweeny.

The weekend trade fair is expected to bring 600 to 1,000 people to Squamish Junction Park. Sweeny called the fair a “big opportunity” to check out new products and talk to representatives from leading brands in the climbing space. The exhibitors will include Black Diamond, MEC, Petzl, and Scarpa.

In terms of the competitions, the dyno will be the biggest. Sweeny noted that competitors have broken world records at past fests.

“It’s kind of like a single jump movement,” Sweeny explained. “So from two handholds, you basically leap as high as you can to catch a reasonably big hold that’s high up on the wall. As the competition progresses, that hold that they jump to increases in distance from where they’re jumping from.”

The Eagle Eye Theatre will host the five-day mountain film festival.

On July 19, Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright, who Sweeny called “superstars” in the climbing world, will present The Sufferfest and participate in a Q&A session. According to the fest’s website, the film documents their “ambitious human-powered adventure to summit all of California’s 14,000 foot peaks via technical climbing routes, with no ropes”.

Other films to be screened include The Last Great Climb, High Tension, The Karsts of China, Distilled, and Assault on El Capitan.

While the trade fair is free, Sweeny said tickets for each film night cost $18. Clinics, which include a full day of instruction from a local guide, range from $70 to $90.

Some of the proceeds from the fest will go to the Climbers’ Access Society of British Columbia and the Squamish Access Society.

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