Confession: I almost missed out on the Mountain Multiplicity Show at the WSSF. I was so focused on the “big competitions” that I nearly let this event slip by me.
In my defense, I didn’t really know what the event was about. The WSSF website describes it as a show with “presentations from some of the greatest storytellers in the Mountain Kingdom sharing their photos, words, multimedia, music… heck, we might even throw in some interpretive dance.” After reading that, I still wasn’t entirely sure what to expected, but I was intrigued at the prospect of interpretive dance, so I decided to attend.
Here’s my take on the Mountain Multiplicity Show: take some of our community’s most colourful and inspiring people—an in a town FULL of colourful and inspiring people, that’s saying something—and bring them together to tell their stories. Add in a few out-of-towners with stories that will knock the socks off even the most adventurous Whistler locals, and you’re good to go.
How is the winner determined? What’s the prize for first place? There is none! That’s the beauty of this event—it’s not a competition, it’s simply about brilliant people coming together and sharing a piece of who they are. No pressure, just love.
Hosted by Feet Banks and presented by Mountain Life Magazine and The Spearhead Huts Committee, the event had eight totally different but equally awesome “sets”. Here are some highlights from the show:
Charlie Russell – Living with the Bears
Charlie was the headliner of the event, and his set was akin to hearing your grandpa recount his epic life adventures—if your grandpa happened to build his own plane to fly him to the middle of nowhere, Russia, to live in the cabin he built to LIVE AMONGST THE BLACK BEARS AND GRIZZLY BEARS FOR 51 FLIPPING YEARS! I’m not sure if Charlie realizes that he was easily the gnarliest person in the room, which, if you saw the audience and performers, is saying a lot.
Charlie spoke about our misconceptions on bears, and shared his amazing images to show us how he earned the trust of the bears and coexisted peacefully with them for decades. He spoke about the bears the same way I speak about my Golden Retrievers. You know, just a few pictures of him chilling with Chico, Rosie and Biscuit. Yes, those are bears. BEARS!
Ace Mackay-Smith – Growing Up Ski Bum
One of the charms of this sweet mountain town is the way that grown adults have the zest for life and enthusiasm (and, sometimes, maturity) of small children. I occasionally look lovingly upon my fellow ski bums and wonder how their children—the children of children, in a way—will turn out.
After Ace’s presentation, I now have an idea of what it’s like to be raised in the world of ski bummery, and I have to say, it looks pretty awesome. Vagabond-style traveling, playing outside, getting into the sport and partying with your pants off—seems like a pretty epic childhood to me. Ace’s photos of ski bum life in the ‘60s and ‘70s were hilarious, and her infectious laugh as she told her stories just made it even better.
Chili Thom – Art from Adventure
Local artist Chili Thom took some pretty big themes, like environmental stewardship, the evolution of his art, the appreciation of nature and the creativity process, and somehow managed to weave them together into a seamless and perfectly inspiring presentation. There’s nothing I love more than to listen to someone speak about a topic they are passionate about, and that made listening to Chili’s presentation a real pleasure.
He encouraged us all to foster a deep appreciation of nature in ourselves, our family and our friends. The respect for nature and the desire to conserve it will follow naturally. Oh, and that little side effect of being inspired by nature to drive your creative side-- that part is pretty cool, too.
I could EASILY write pages on the other five presentations. For instance, Francois-Xavier De Ruydts, a photographer who presented his very first film, walked us through the relatively underground sport of canyoneering. I can’t think of a better place to attract outdoor-loving adventurous types than Whistler. Todd Lawson shared excerpts from his camera roll and travel journal about his journey dirt biking through the Andes with his wife. Now THAT is how a trip recap should be done—forget posting an album to your Facebook, this is way to properly tell a story! There was a panel of respected locals who have ventured into the world of custom skis and snowboards, a short comedy show from Kelly Dyer, a video teaser presented by Nick Teichrob for the upcoming release of “STAND”, a film showcasing the water, land, animals and people affected by the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline, and a silent auction with some killer prizes to benefit the Spearhead Huts.
I left the event feeling completely inspired. It feels awesome to be a part of a community of such awesome people who love playing and exploring as much as I do. THIS is what Whistler culture is all about!