Vail Symposium kicks off summer with adventure film program |

Vail Symposium kicks off summer with adventure film program

Betty Ann Woodland
High Altitude Society
Emmy award-winner Michael Brown and the Vail Symposium’s Program and Marketing Director John O’Neill prep to present the first Unlimited Adventure Series program on Tuesday at The Antlers at Vail.
Betty Ann Woodland | Special to the Daily |

Maybe the moose calf that made it’s way into the Antlers at Vail lobby thought it could catch a glimpse of the Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure Series event held on Tuesday. Hopefully, all is well with the animal, although it missed a great show. Guests heard stirring tales of mountaineering in the Himalayas and around the world while viewing adventure films.

Rob Levine welcomed guests and thanked Antlers at Vail for hosting and the presenters and sponsors.

Vail Symposium’s program and marketing director John O’Neill introduced the evening’s speaker.

“Michael Brown is one of the industry’s most renowned pioneers of outdoor adventure filmmaking,” O’Neill said.

Runs in The Family

To which Brown replied, “The real pioneer is over here: my dad.”

It seems filmmaking runs in the family.

O’Neill continued by talking about Brown’s accomplishments. “He was the first to bring a high definition camera to the summit of Everest, summited peaks on all seven continents, won 40 film festival awards and has been described as the only man that can tell a funny joke at 26,000 feet,” O’Neill said.

Brown began by asking the question, “Have you ever thought of your life as a movie? You would condense your entire life into 120 minutes. What would you include? Highlights? Bad times?”

He talked about storytelling and referred to the master of weaving a tale, Joseph Campbell, who wrote “Hero’s Journey” and “The Power of Myth.” Brown has spent 15 years climbing in the Himalayas questioning himself and looking for answers. “I am still not sure that I have succeeded,” Brown said.

Something that he is sure of is: “The great stories celebrate the human spirit,” he said.

Guests were treated to short films made by participants in the Adventure Film School who spent the weekend chasing after GoPro athletes during the GoPro Mountain Games this past weekend. The films featured climber Angie Payne, DockDogs, backcountry skiing, extreme stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.

For more information on programs and events go to http://www.vail and

Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local that covers social events, fundraisers for nonprofits and soirees of all kinds. She can be reached at

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