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Review: Reel Rock Tour 2015

Written by Fiona

October 26 2015

The Reel Rock Tour 2015 is going around the world just now and I headed along to a showing in Edinburgh on Friday. There are a few places in England that you can catch the rest of the tour, as well as plenty across Europe and America.

The Reel Rock Tour features films about climbing. I usually find that when I attend one of these film tours, such as the European Outdoor Film Tour (coming to Scotland next month), I have seen at least one of the films before. But not this time.

There were five fresh-to-my-eyes films to watch and I enjoyed them all. The format is five short films. On Friday we saw:

High and Mighty about high ball bouldering and climber Jimmy Webb’s bid to overcome his fear of heights and climb some seriously tricky routes on big boulders. It was exciting to watch this film although at points I wondered why you would put yourself at such a high risk of falling while soloing massive boulders. Anyway, that’s what some climbers do!

High ball sees Jimmy Webbing attempting a huge boulder climb. Pic credit: Beau Kahler

High ball sees Jimmy Webbing attempting a huge boulder climb. Pic credit: Beau Kahler

I enjoyed finding out more about this niche-style climbing pursuit and trying to fathom what on earth it’s all about!

Dawn Wall Exclusive was a film/trailer offering a first look at the epic climb of Dawn Wall, Yosemite, by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. Most people will recall the huge story that was broadcast worldwide earlier this year. The film shown at the Reel Rock Tour was a trailer for a major feature movie to be shown soon.

If you want to feel scared by simply sitting in your seat and watching a climb then this is it. I don’t like heights and, at times, I had to look away while the film revealed the massively huge and daunting wall that these two top climbers were scaling.

Dawn Wall. Pic credit: Brett Lowell of Big UP Productions.

Dawn Wall. Pic credit: Brett Lowell of Big UP Productions.

I also wondered at the obsession of the climbers as they tried to link together an 8ft gap between routes. I won’t tell you more but it entailed months of leaping across the outside wall of a shed in the back yard of one of the climbers!

Showdown at Horseshoe Hell is a film about a quite bizarre competition. The aim is to climb as many routes in one wild west climbing area in 24 hours. It is like ultramarathon-meets-climbing madness. In addition, many climbers enter into the bonkers spirit and climb in fancy dress.

Horseshoe Hell. Pic credit: Josh Beecher.

Horseshoe Hell. Pic credit: Josh Beecher.

This time Horseshoe Hell focuses on a competition between one of the world’s best solo climbers, Alex Honnold, and a pair of relatively unknown yet keen climbers. Who wins? This is a fun film and has the audience laughing at many points.

A Line Across the Sky is about Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold’s attempt to climb the epic and very gnarly Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonia. The cinematography was breath-taking and the climbing looked very hard and very tiring.

This is the first time that we see Honnold admitting that he is scared and utterly exhausted by climbing. He is not an experienced Alpine climber and the traverse really tested him.

The film also reveals how a bond grows between the two men as they spend days together in extreme conditions. Sharing a sleeping bag is all part of the necessary lightening of their climbing load!

Alex Honnold on the Fitz Roy Traverse . Pic credit: Austin Siadak

Alex Honnold on the Fitz Roy Traverse . Pic credit: Austin Siadak

A Dean Potter Tribute film. Dean died earlier this year while base jumping. The short film relives some of the amazing memories of Dean’s short but high-on-excitement life. It’s a poignant tribute.

More details: Reel Rock Tour.

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