Top 5: Best Climbing Movies

2018 is going to be a fantastic year for climbing movies, with The Dawn Wall and Free Solo – documentaries following two of the biggest names in rock climbing, both being released. Therefore, we offer our pick of the Top 5 Best Climbing Movies… we’d love to hear your recommendations!

5. Valley Uprising (2014)
A history of the Yosemite valley climbing scene. An in-depth look at the evolution of American rock-climbing, from the pioneers in the 1950s, the stonemasters of the 1970s and later the stone monkeys, right up to the trail-blazers leading climbing today. Well-made and an interesting look at the history of the most famous climbing spot in the world.

4. First Ascent (the series)
Terrifying, emotional exciting and crazy. Featuring the Alex Honnold classic Alone on the Wall, where he attempts to free solo Half Dome. This is followed by an emotional journey to Patagonia led by Stanley Leary. After this the climbing gets hard again as Chris Sharma tackles his latest project.

3. Reel Rock 10 (2015)
Really, you could put just about any Reel Rock here, and we didn’t want this just to be a list of Reel Rock’s, so we’ve picked 10. A great mix of entertaining features, such as the zany climbing competition Showdown at Horseshoe Hell and more serious efforts like Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold’s Fitz Traverse in A Line Across the Sky. The Fitz Traverse earned the duo the Piolet d’Or. Top this off with a tribute to rock climbing legend Dean Potter and it is a fantastic mix.

2. The Sufferfest 1 & 2 (2014)
Cedar Wright at his hilarious, gonzo best. Sufferfest 1 chronicles Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright as they attempt to climb all the 14,000ft peaks in California by technical climbing route. Back for Sufferfest 2, they attempt to climb 45 of the most iconic desert towers. In both movies, their mode of transport? Bicycle. A tremendous feat of endurance and a very entertaining story along the way.

1. Meru (2015)
Meru manages to tell an engaging, emotional story like no other climbing movie out there. It follows the attempt by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk to climb the Shark’s Fin route on the Meru Peak in the Himalayas. Aside from the mammoth task and the beautiful scenery, one of the most captivating aspects to it, is how it shows the fact that climbing – and life – don’t always go as planned.

The Ethics of Climbing

Anyone who has seen Valley Uprising, will know about the classic rivalry between Royal Robbins and Warren Harding. Two of the great figures in American climbing in the 1950s.

Royal Robbins is painted as the stoic, thoughtful philosopher-climber while Warren Harding is shown as a wild, drunken man barging his way up big walls. Both made impressive ascents.

A classic point of rivalry is Royal Robbins taking offense to Warren Harding’s siege-tactic climbing style: placing large numbers of bolts and fixed ropes to get through tough sections of climbing. The story goes, that Royal Robbins would climb Harding’s routes, chopping off the heads of the bolts. He saw it as defacing the rock – it wasn’t pure climbing.

In the Czech Republic, near the border with Germany there a style of climbing that has developed to be extremely sensitive to the natural landscape. Very few bolts are placed. Climbers are not allowed to place any sort of metal protection. Instead, knotted ropes are wedged into the rock. Climbers climb barefoot and chalk is not allowed.

Flip back to America, and the guys pushing the barriers of Modern climbing: guys like Tommy Caldwell, Chris Sharma, Alex Honnold all climb sport routes (on bolts), with shoes and chalk. They are also doing things people previously thought was impossible.

Such as Caldwell’s ascent of the Dawn Wall:

Sharma’s iconic climbing of Biographie:

and any number of Alex Honnold’s amazing free-solo’s (on routes he’d practice with bolts first):

There is no question that as climbing gets more and more popular, climbers need to be conscious about the marks we are leaving on the natural landscape. At the same time, however, we want to be pushing harder and climbing further than ever before. No one wants to fight progress.

 

Each generation of climbers have broken ground in their own ways. Whatever your personal ethics on climbing are, those breaking ground in the future will almost certainly do it by streamlining and reduction of lasting impact.

How to Start Climbing (Part 1)

Everyone knows climbing is totally badass. Climbers often describe the process the process of learning to climb as actually just remembering how much fun it is to climb things – we knew it as children.

The process of getting into climbing, however, can be quite daunting: complex gear, many different styles and dealing with heights and falls.

The truth is, today in most places climbing is extremely accessible and you can start with very little gear, knowledge and still be comfortable with your safety.

Really the best advice to start climbing is: just start.

First Things First: The Shoes

A pair of rock shoes are the only piece of gear you actually really need to climb. Just ask Alex Honnold.

Rock shoes are tight-fitting, thin shoe with a smooth rubber sole. Most climbing gyms insist you wear them. Most climbing gyms also usually offer shoe hire, meaning you don’t need to purchase a pair for yourself right away. However, the quality of gym shoes is usually pretty low and you will find climbing much easier if you buy your own.

Indoors Bouldering

A Bouldering Wall
A Bouldering Wall photo by Kumpei Shiraishi

Bouldering is a style of climbing done on low-height walls over a thick padded floor. As such, you do not need a rope or a harness. Bouldering climbs are usually shorter and stronger: they focus on an explosive use of power, as opposed to a long wall climb.

Bouldering can be an excellent way to get into climbing as you don’t need a partner, can spend more time on the wall during a climbing session, requires little gear and bouldering will force you to develop good technique from the start.

Google bouldering gyms in your area and just show up!

Getting on a Rope: Top-Roping

Toproping in a Gym.
Toproping in a Gym. Photo by Peter Stevens

Do you want to get higher? Top-roping is an easy way to learn larger climbs in a gym setting. For this you will need climbing shoes, a climbing harness and (most likely) a carabiner. Again, all these items can usually be hired from a climbing gym.

Top-roping requires a partner to belay you as you climb. Belaying is the process of taking up the slack so if the climber falls, they won’t fall far. The belayer is responsible for catching them. Most gyms introduce friction into the top-ropes, making belaying simple and quite safe. Gyms will usually run an induction session with you if it is your first time. You shouldn’t need to undertake any courses or have any knowledge, prior to going climbing for the first time.

If you don’t have another person to climb with check the gym notice boards, or ask about local facebook groups. Usually, there are many people looking for climbing partners. Also, more and more gyms are introducing auto-belay systems, where you can top-rope without a partner.

The holds and routes on bigger walls are “easier” than those you may find bouldering, but the endurance (mental and physical), and the act of climbing at height make bigger walls just as challenging: just in a different way.

Top-roping and bouldering will give you all the skills you need to have a solid foundation in climbing.

The Bouldering Shirt

Some say the bouldering shirt doesn’t exist – that boulderers are actually shirtless, but these people fail to see the nuances of fashion. So, in this post we examine the pros and cons of the bouldering shirt.

A sport climber rocking the bouldering shirt
A sport climber rocking the bouldering shirt (image by Paul Savala)

 

Pros:
-Ultra lightweight
-Get to show off your guns
-Unlimited Range of motion
-Really get in touch with nature

Cons:
-Body hair getting pinched by rope/biners
-Have to show off your scrawny arms
-Freezing in winter
-Sunburn in summer
-Get too in “touch” with nature – cuts and scrapes everywhere
-Nothing to rip off in manly display of celebrating sending
-Can’t show off your amazing fashion sense

Clearly, we can see cons have it. So, here at Clombing we say go for a shirt (big surprise there, hey?). What do you think?

 

Feature image by Clark Weber.

Why Climb?

We know climbing is rad. That’s pretty much reason enough for most of us. Sometimes it seems, however, that there is no real “point” to climbing. If you ever feel this way, at your lowest times, here we ask the question – Why Climb?

Well, listen to the following inspirational words from some famous dudes about why we climb:

Firstly, did you know, JFK’s famous speech about going to the moon, is actually about climbing? The Moon was just a metaphor for sending the gnar…


Yep. Think about it.

Next up, word from probably the most famous rock climber around right now, Alex Honnold…

Equally inspiring is fellow North Face dude, Cedar Wright’s take on the benefits of suffering…

And finally, a rad video from the guys at Cotswold…

Why do you Climb?