Squamish residents are no strangers to gruelling physical feats.
You don't get called the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada for nothing.
But chances are the average Squamolean hasn't tested the limits of their physical capabilities the way world-class climbers Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright have, stars of the adventure documentary, The Sufferfest, playing at the Squamish Mountain Festival this weekend.
"Just to be fair, we didn't really suffer," says Honnold. "Basically we were on a really rad vacation."
Honnold, regarded as one of the world's top free solo climbers, probably has a different perspective on what makes a vacation "rad" than most. He joined friend and fellow climber Wright on a mission to summit all 15 of California's 14,000-foo- (4,270 metre) high peaks, which they reached by bicycle despite neither ever having done a bike tour before. The result was an exhausting three-week expedition filled with hilarious mishaps fuelled by the pair's unrelenting sarcasm.
Thankfully for us, they caught it all on tape.
"We were in Chile and started talking about doing a lower-impact adventure. We'd been talking a lot about alternative energy and looking at our own high-impact way of living as adventure athletes. So we decided to do a bike tour," Wright explains.
Using only a small handheld camera and virtually no crew to speak of, the two friends set off on their self-funded adventure without knowing what the footage would lead to. Soon enough, however, Wright realized he had something worth sharing.
"When it was all said and done, I felt like I had something kind of special, and that was when I started working hard on the edit and making something really entertaining," he says. "It was basically a comedy of errors."
For Honnold, seeing the lighter side of things is simply a means to endure some of the taxing expeditions he's embarked on.
"Every trip I go on we're having a good time and laughing," he says. "What's the point of going out and doing these trips if you're not enjoying it?"
The hardest moment for Honnold on the tour was the day they hit White Mountain, which, at 4,344 metres is California's third highest peak.
But for the longtime friends, getting to share this experience together made it that much easier — even if there was a little friendly competition at times.
"There was a lot of camaraderie, but sometimes on the bike — Alex was ahead of me for the most part — when I got ahead of him, I know it pissed him off pretty bad," Wright says.
The first trip was such a success that they embarked on a second Sufferfest this spring, except with a bigger budget and an actual crew. While the film is currently in post-production, Wright said attendees to their Squamish Mountain Festival screening can expect a sneak peek of their latest (mis)adventure, which saw them travel by bike to the Four Corners region of Southwestern U.S. to summit 45 desert towers.
So what's in store for Sufferfest 3? Perhaps a trip to the Great White North.
"I'm starting to cook up some ideas. Maybe even something up in Canada would be cool," Wright says. "I've always wanted to sea kayak. I've never done that before and I figure that'd be a good way to suffer."
Wherever their next laborious journey takes them, one thing's for sure: It'll make you appreciate your couch.
Sufferfest plays at the Eagle Eye Theatre Saturday, July 19 at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Honnold and Wright.
The Squamish Mountain Festival, which runs until July 20, celebrates climbing, bouldering and mountain culture.
Visit www.squamishmountainfestival.com for the full schedule.
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