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Guest speakers, films celebrate International Mountain Day

The fourth annual Life @ Altitude 4.0 happens Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at artsPlace in Canmore

BOW VALLEY – Between 60 and 80 per cent of all of Earth’s freshwater resources originate in mountain headwaters.

As much as 80 per cent of Canada’s mountain glaciers – the source of many of the country’s great Prairie, Pacific and northern rivers – could significantly diminish by the end of this century. Canada’s mountain regions are core not only to the country’s geography, but to the nation’s ecology, wildlife habitat, tourism industry and spiritual fabric. Like mountains around the world, they are experiencing great change through human activities, including the effects of Earth’s warming climate.

With all this in mind, International Mountain Day was launched by the United Nations in 2003, to be marked annually on Dec. 11.

In the Bow Valley, Life @ Altitude 4.0 celebrates International Mountain Day with guest speakers Ian Welsted, one of Canada’s most accomplished alpine climbers, and record-setting ski mountaineer and environmental advocate Greg Hill. The evening also includes the showing of four short mountain-themed films.

“It’s a great gathering for the mountain community to celebrate International Mountain Day and also raise funds for the Banff Canmore Community Foundation,” said Meghan Ward, co-founder of Crowfoot Media, which has partnered with the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival and artsPlace to host the event.

Highly accomplished with difficult ascents around the world, and yet famously humble – to those who’ve heard of him – Welsted is one of just two Canadians to be awarded the Piolets D’or for his and Raphael Slawinski’s first ascent of 7,040-metre K6 West in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains. The 2013 ascent led to them being named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. An avid reader who studied economics and philosophy at Ottawa and McGill universities, Welsted has also served on the Banff Mountain Book Competition jury.

Hill is best known for skiing two million self-propelled vertical feet in a calendar year, which he accomplished in 2010 over 266 days of ski touring. His appearance will include a showing of the 20-minute film Electric Greg, which follows his latest project – climbing 100 peaks without burning any fossil fuels. In effort to accomplish that he sold his snowmobile and traded his pick-up truck for an electric car.

“Welsted is one of Canada's most proficient and prolific climbers you maybe haven't heard of,” Ward said. “He's highly accomplished and very humble – a true ambassador of the sport of climbing. Hill combines his passion for mountain sports with his passion for mountain environments and drawing awareness to the impacts of our human decisions as they pertain to climate change. His cause is very timely, and the audience will feel inspired to do more in their everyday lives to be more sustainable. He's someone who really ‘walks the talk.’ ”

Also featured is Canmore filmmaker Leanne Allison’s film Chasing a Trace, an irresistible love story between a badass woman scientist and one of the most elusive wild animals on earth, wolverines.

The fourth annual Life @ Altitude 4.0 happens Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. For tickets visit