Alan comes from Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia) and remembers being mesmerized by the peaks of the High Tatras on his very first visit. He started climbing at age 14 and was soon leading dubious rock routes using homemade climbing shoes, pitons and knitted ropes. Formanek was one of the pioneers of modern free climbing in Europe in the 1980s and is credited with free climbing many milestone multi-pitch rock routes in the area. He graduated with degrees in electrical engineering and comparative literature. He has been the director of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival since 1998 and the Mountains and City Festival in Bratislava, Slovakia since 2000.