It’s minus 24 degrees Celsius and I am in the parking lot of Johnston Canyon giving a safety talk on how to keep your fingers and toes from freezing, yet I am not even sure I can keep my own advice!
As a Mountain Guide and Director of Operations at Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, I often am amazed by the situations I end up in. We were an eclectic group on that particular morning. Sixteen of us all working on a Redbull Media production entitled ‘Celebs Go Extreme’. Looking around the parking lot I was in awe of the talent gathered to support the show. Canada’s renowned adventurer Will Gadd was front and centre as Redbull’s sponsored athlete and ice climbing coach. His student for the week was first time ice climber Jessica Schwarz, a famous German film star and television personality.
The bundled up crew from Germany consisted of a director, producer and cameraman. Our Canadian camera crew was videographer Glen Crawford and Pat Morrow. Glen is a talented cameraman who has worked on may of the TV shows Yamnuska has been involved with over the years. However, in this community he is better known as the father of two Olympians, biathlete Rosanna Crawford and Canada’s Gold medalist Chandra Crawford. Pat Morrow is probably best known as the first person in the world to climb to the summit of the highest points on the seven continents. His books on adventure photography have inspired many. He is also an award winning film maker, his most recent film ‘A Life Ascending’ took three awards at the 2010 Banff Film Festival.
Our Yamnuska Mountain Adventures crew was responsible for the rigging and safety. Leading the safety crew was Barry Blanchard, arguably North America’s finest alpinist. As Barry would put it, this wasn’t his first barbeque! Barry has worked on many feature films over the years. He was on the safety crew and a stuntman for K2, Cliffhanger, Touch the Top of the World and was in charge of training the talent on Vertical Limit. Assisting Barry was talented ice climber and safety rigger, John Freeman.
Yamnuska is often called upon to provide safety and support for film and TV productions. We have put together safety crews for dozens of features, TV shows and commercials. It is a little known aspect of what we do. Over the years Yamnuska guides have provided rigging skills, safety coordination, climbing doubles, stunts and technical consulting and boot camp training for actors and crew.
Our five days on the shoot ended in front of the fireplace at the Georgetown Inn. Warm and filled with Fish and Chips and countless pints of beer. Everyone was happy we kept all of our fingers and toes. Jessica actually had fun climbing with Will and the Director had all the film that was needed for the show. Another success! And as for the working in minus 24 degrees… well it wasn’t so bad as the day after we wrapped, the mercury dropped to a balmy -35 degrees Celsius. In the mountains it’s all about the timing.
…please consider this: You’re obviously on your computer right now, which is a serious hazard to your life. Please consider turning off your computer and getting outside. Immediately. I don’t believe anybody ever died wishing for just one more day in front of the monitor. – Will Gadd