The 2017 Mountain & Adventure Film Festival (MAFF 2017) wrapped today after an amazing three days of activities, athlete presentations, live music, and of course…films! What made MAFF 2017 so special for me was that it was hosted in my hometown mountains, at the Mt. Baldy Notch. I attended yesterday, and got a chance to meet some of my favorite athletes and hear them talk about their awe inspiring tales of adventure.
(I only had time to attend on Saturday afternoon, which means I missed a lot of awesome events on Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning. Make sure to check out the schedule of events to see a full list of activities.)
Before attending any of the sessions, I walked around the vendor village to learn about some of my favorite outdoor brands and companies. Right behind the vendor village was a large rock climbing wall. World class athletes like Sasha DiGiulian, Jess Moran, Heidi Wirtz, and Adrian Ballinger gave instructional talks throughout the day to share their knowledge of the sport.
My favorite part of the vendor village, and maybe my favorite part of the entire day, was getting a chance to chat with Adrian Ballinger, who was at MAFF 2017 to speak, but also to represent his company, Alpenglow Expeditions. For those of you unfamiliar with Adrian, his resume and list of accomplishments is longer than this post will allow for. Most recently though, Adrian was in the news for summiting Mt. Everest without the aid of supplemental oxygen. I had a lot of fun following his experience on Everest, and got the chance to talk with him about using social media while embarking on outdoor adventures that could be life threatening. One of my favorite anecdotes was his recounting of the slow internet connection at Everest Base Camp. Uploading each Snapchat story and Instagram post was an endurance event on it’s own, as it took multiple attempts to get each one online. This segued nicely into his athlete presentation later in the evening titled “Everest No Filter”.
Make sure to give Adrian a follow over on Instragram at @adrianballinger
After walking through the vendor village and checking out the rock climbing wall, I made my way down to the wellness, yoga, and slacklining area. Just like the scheduled presentations and events at the rock climbing wall, there was an entire lineup of equally compelling events on this part of the mountain. All of the yoga and pilates events took place in a makeshift tent studio, and just outside the tent was a spider web of slacklines.
I don’t know as much about yoga and pilates as I would like, but I sure had a lot of fun photographing and watching the moves of these yoga practitioners. When I arrived, the instructor was teaching the session attendees how to do a move where they would lay on their backs and support a suspended partner with their hands and feet.
After enjoying the acrobatics and contortions of the yoga session, I made my way over to the Mt. Baldy Notch restaurant where the athletes were giving their presentations. The DJ booth was set up just outside The Notch on the restaurant patio. Given how brutally hot our summer has been, it was nice to be up at 7800ft to enjoy the cooler air of high elevation.
The first athlete presentation I attended was from Brette Harrington, titled “Patagonia and Beyond”. Brette has completed some pretty amazing climbs throughout California, BC, and Patagonia . You can see more on her MAFF profile.
You can keep up with Brette’s life outdoors on Instagram at @bretteharrington
After hearing Brette talk about here adventures in Patagonia, the world famous Sasha DiGiulian took the stage. Sasha has been climbing since she was 6 years old, and has won virtually every competition there is to win. She is a three time national champion and is the undefeated panAmerican Champion from 2004 to the present day! Sasha is also a very accomplished outdoor climber, completing the hardest sport climb ever accomplished by a female. She has also completed many First Ascents and Female First Ascents all over the world. If that’s not enough, Sasha just graduated from Columbia and is involved with a number of different movements and organizations.
After being inspired by Sasha DiGiulian, it was time to hear the accounts of the amazing rock climber, BASE jumper, and wingsuit flyer, Steph Davis. Before hearing Steph’s presentation, I actually got a chance to chat with her outside during the break between her’s and Sasha’s session. Of course I asked her about her Instagram famous doggo 🙂
Steph Davis is amongst the world’s most famous climbers and adventurers. She is the first woman to ever free solo a 5.11 climb, she’s the first woman to summit all of the peaks in Patagonia’s Fitzroy Range range, and the second woman to free climb El Capitan in a day. I’m gong to leave here resume there, as the list of feats and accomplishments just goes on and on.
After hearing Steph speak, Adrain Ballinger presented, as I mentioned earlier in this post. It was a lot of fun hearing all of these athletes present, but I also really enjoyed meeting other content creators in the community. Out on the patio of The Notch, I got a chance to talk with Jim Dobson, travel writer for Forbes Magazine, and fellow photographer Ryan Coursey. Ryan taught a long exposure photography session later in the evening.
After a full Saturday at MAFF 2017, I had to head home and unfortunately missed some events this Sunday morning that would have been a lot of fun. Still, getting to attend these athlete sessions, walk around the vendor village, and enjoy a day on my favorite mountain is something I won’t soon forget. I’m looking forward to future iterations of the Mountain & Adventure Film Festival, and hope to see some familiar faces with new stories come next year.