Reel Rock 8 2013 presented to a sold out crowd at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah last night, October 2, 2013, at the 8:30 showing. The highly anticipated films this year did not disappoint and as always, left the crowd wanting more and some planning their next big climbing trip.
The Sensei brought Yuji Hirayama and Daniel Woods, an unlikely pair, together to take on an unfinished project that Yuji was working on in Borneo at the spectacular summit of Mount Kinabalu, and establish a new project that Woods would attack. Yuji was quite impressed with Daniel Woods’ stamina and determination at a bouldering competition held in Japan and invited Woods to join him on his journey back to Mount Kinabalu. It was very entertaining to watch seasoned veteran climber Hirayama observe the anxious Daniel-San during this venture. Hirayama was Woods’ “Mr. Miyagi” teaching Daniel-San to just be patient and wait for the right moment to come while climbing a new and extremely difficult route. Mount Kinabalu is an incredible peak and provided its challenges to the two climbers. And let’s just say that Daniel Woods probably now knows the difference of the direction the drill needs to go when placing bolts.
Spice Girl gave us a peek into the climbing life of UK climber Hazel Findlay. At age 24, this young gal is climbing the super hard and super sketchy cliffs at home and was the first woman to climb the British grade of E9. She followed in the footsteps of her father, Steve, who started her out climbing when she was 6-years-old. Her father said of Hazel in her younger years (in so many words), “Hazel had these fat cute cheeks, and when she smiled, you could practically see the smile when looking at her from the back of her head, because her cheeks stuck out so far.” She teams up with Emily Harrington to climb the big walls of Taghia Gorge, Morocco where it seriously tests both of these accomplished female climbers and their skills. Findlay definitely has some intense focus while climbing the multi-pitch with none of the pitches rated under at least a 5.12a. Her fortitude is admirable especially when the holds broke away several times while Findlay was leading a pitch. We’ll surely be hearing and seeing more of Hazel Findlay and her mad climbing skills.
A teaser clip of The Stonemasters was shown and gave us a taste of the counterculture climbing scene in Yosemite over the past 50 years. Yosemite wasn’t always welcoming to climbers especially when most were considered “freeloaders” and potheads. Hearing the stories of veteran climbers and their experiences with Yosemite was very enlightening and quite hilarious. It definitely paid off for several of the climbers when one of their girlfriends worked part-time at a dispatch and overheard information on a plane that crashed, and it was carrying none other than the favorite drug, marijuana. A word to the wise (or not so wise): Marijuana mixed with jet fuel may give you an extra kick you weren’t expecting.
The final film of the night, High Tension: Ueli Steck and the Clash on Everest, shed a little more light on the dreadful day that had Ueli Steck, Simone Moro and Jon Griffith fearing for their lives. The story spread like wildfire among the media when Steck and Moro, two of the strongest alpinists, and photographer/climber Jon Griffith, were attacked by a group of Sherpas at Camp 2 on Mount Everest after an incident that occurred on the mountain. Numerous alleged accusations were being made against the climbers and the Sherpas without the knowledge of the actual facts of what occurred that day. Some footage of the heated situation was captured, and it certainly depicted the extreme tension and stand-off that happened. Ueli Steck mentioned that mountaineer Melissa Arnot saved his life. After watching the film, Steck seems to be pretty accurate in that statement. It was a sketchy situation that many had varying opinions about and were quick to throw out blame, but nonetheless, it shouldn’t have warranted the response and such threatening circumstances that it did.
If you have a chance to catch Reel Rock 8 in your town, make sure you do. For listings of a showing near you, visit www.reelrocktour.com.