Mountainfilm Reading List: Who Are Your Favorites?

As attendees of Mountainfilm in Telluride know, the festival is not just about film. It also celebrates artists and authors, and we usually hand over the main stage to someone with a knack for words on paper. Some recent literary luminaries from that stage include Terry Tempest Williams, John Valliant and Pico Iyer.

With the holidays on tap, we put a call out to list of some of the best Mountainfilm books. We were inspired by our friends at Banff, who presented a panel called The Best Mountain Book Ever Written at their 2012 festival. Banff’s programming mission hews more closely to alpinism, so their choices reflect that focus, while Mountainfilm in Telluride’s interests are broader.

Of course,that only makes this assignment that much more foolhardy. As it was, one judge in Banff said that their task was “a utopian and elusive project,” while another — Bernadette MacDonald, an author herself (and a guest/judge at our 2012 festival) argued that “it is irresponsible for us to do this.”

Fewer Climate Change Skeptics

On November 13, 2012, The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication reported that 88 percent of Americans now say they support action on climate change, even if it imposes economic costs. This is a huge change of heart for the American public compared to just a few years ago.

Why the sudden change? According to an article in Psychology Today, “Why America Changed Its Mind on Global Warming”: “People's perceptions of global warming shifted markedly, because the issue came to affect them intimately and locally. In the process, climate change ceased to be cerebral, wonky, and scientific — and became up close and personal.”

Holiday Shopping Outside the Box (Stores)

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales in 2012 will amount to $586.1 billion with online shoppers responsible for spending about half of that sum. We don’t have a statistic to translate those credit card transactions into mouse clicks, but suffice it to say ethernet hubs across the nation will be buzzing for the next four weeks.

We’ve discussed the problems with buying stuff before, but this time of year tends to drive consumerism. So as long as it’s shopping season, here are a few recommendations to guide your holiday purchases:

1.     If the people on your list don’t really need a new scarf or book, check out Charity Navigator and donate in their name to a cause they might like. The website works to guide intelligent giving and offers a thorough education of and vetting for many of the big charities in the world.

Charlie Fowler: Keeping a Memory Alive

Charlie Fowler perished in an avalanche in China in 2006, along with his climbing partner Christine Boskoff. He was a world-class mountaineer and climber, and some of his most noteworthy ascents were with no rope. Rock and Ice lists his accomplishments in detail. Here’s a short sampling:

He soloed David Breashears’ technical Eldo Scarefest Perilous Journey (5.11d X), the Loose Flakes Route (5.10) on the 1,500-foot walls of the Black Canyon, and the 1,800-meter Direct North Face of the Eiger. Fowler’s more conventional climbing resume is mind-blowing — 8,000-meter peaks like Everest without oxygen (and without actually using an ice axe), 5.13 rock, hard bouldering, A4 big walls and myriad first ascents: free, aid, ice and alpine.

Superstorm Sandy: The Week After

Mountainfilm in Telluride festival director David Holbrooke splits his time between Telluride, Colorado and Brooklyn, New York. What follows is his post Sandy dispatch from Brooklyn.

It’s been a little more than a week since Superstorm Sandy walloped the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area, and it’s now snowing outside as I write. Suffering from cabin fever, I headed out earlier this evening into our neighborhood. It feels like February and walking past still-closed subway stations, a mid-winter sensation of cold air hit my face, reminding me of ski season.

Halting Species Extinction: The Price Tag

In 2010, Mountainfilm in Telluride examined the issue of extinction for our Moving Mountains Symposium. The list of endangered creatures has been growing for generations, a crisis E.O. Wilson and other scientists say is caused by human destruction to natural habitats.

World governments have committed to try to halt the extinction of species and safeguard important biodiversity sites for nature by 2020, but this promise hasn’t seen much serious number crunching. Until now.

A recent study, published in Science, sets the price at $80 billion per year — the sum of $4 billion annually and another $76 billion to protect and manage key habitats.

Wilderness Crunch: Northern States Feel it Most

We love the outdoors at Mountainfilm in Telluride, but a new study, “Outdoor Recreation in the Northern United States," shows that America's growing population and increasing interest in the outdoors is straining state and federal recreation areas, particularly in the northern states. The research, commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service, looks at 20 states in the north — extending from Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland — and concludes that while the area’s population growth was less than the rest of the country, there will still be a conflict for land and water resources, especially when it comes to outdoor activities.

In this northern region, approximately 90 to 94 million people age 16 and older engage in outdoor recreation that ranges from hunting and fishing to orienteering, kayaking and mountain biking. The most popular activities are pretty tame: walking for pleasure, family gatherings outdoors, viewing/ photographing natural scenery, visiting outdoor nature centers,gardening or landscaping, and picnicking.

Wolf Hunting Season: A Vicious Cycle?

This fall marked the opening of wolf hunting season in five states: Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana. Listening to the controversy between ranchers and conservation groups over the species can leave a person enraged, numb or simply wondering why we can’t all live in harmony on this massive chunk of land.

The gray wolf, which was hunted to near extinction until the 1930s and 1940s, has mostly rebounded, thanks to Federal and state endangered species acts. Its numbers now run around 5,000 in the lower 48 and a little over 11,000 in Alaska (where, as Mother Jone’s reports, they’ve never been protected).

A recent NPR story about wolf hunting discusses how the wolf population in Montana has grown dramatically, even with hunting. This year, wildlife officials there have abandoned the statewide kill limit and almost doubled the length of the season.

It’s All about the Bike: A Dispatch from Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil is a recent addition to Mountainfilm on Tour. Under Tour Director Henry Lystad, the world tour’s calendar and reach is expanding. He recently sent Mountainfilm in Telluride festival director David Holbrooke to Brazil for the second year of Mountainfilm in Sao Paulo. Here’s Holbrooke’s dispatch:

Emancipation's Anniversary: More People are Enslaved Today

On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. One hundred fifty years later — as attendees at Mountainfilm in Telluride know —there are actually more people enslaved than during the Civil War.

Author and abolitionist Ben Skinner first educated festival audiences on the issue of modern-day slavery when he spoke about his book, A Crime So Monstrous, at Mountainfilm 2008. The issue attracted mainstream media after a 2009 episode of “Law and Order”called Chattel (which was inspired by Mountainfilm) and an episode of “Larry King Live.”