With the Christmas holidays on the horizon, our days are often filled with preparation, celebration and catching up with family and friends. Add in the winter months and it’s no surprise that for many, getting outdoors can be difficult over the festive period.
However, those long dark nights give us a great opportunity to curl up in front of the fire, open a bottle of wine and put on a DVD to get us fired up and inspired for the spring months.
I love watching climbing and mountaineering films, even ones which go to places and do things which I have absolutely no intention of doing myself. Instead, what those films do is ignite the adventurous spark inside me – and that’s what gets me motivated to plan my own slice of fun.
It was back in 2000 at the Kendal Mountain Festival when I first realised how much I love watching films about outdoor adventures and how much I love adventure film festivals. The Llanberris Mountain Film Festival (LLAMFF) became a regular date in my calendar and, more recently, the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (SHAFF)
So with that in mind, here are some of my favourite climbing/mountaineering DVDs:
1. Blood Sweat and Bagels (Slackjaw Film)
I laughed long and hard through this film as it charted the attempts of climbers Neil Bentley and Richard Heap to free climb Salathe Wall in Yosemite.
Full of northern grit and humour, it was a great way to see the ups and downs of spending 5 days on a wall of rock.
2. Lisa Rands – The Hit List
When I first started watching bouldering DVDs, they were packed full of guys sending gnarly hard problems but there was very little out there featuring women. The Hit List was the first one I saw and it’s a belter.
Featuring Lisa Rands tackling boulder problems in the USA, I loved the fact that it profiled a woman climbing at the highest level (she completed the first V11 by an American woman) and the determination behind such achievements.
Truly inspiring, I’d have loved to see her speak at the 2016 Women’s Climbing Symposium.
3. Upside Down Wales, George Smith
This film won the LLAMFF “Best Film” award in 2008 and had me crying with laughter. It follows George Smith climbing in his upside down world, but his quirky sense of humour is what really shines through.
I originally started writing out quotes which have stuck with me over the years of watching this film…but to be honest, it just doesn’t come through in writing, you really have to watch it.
If you want to see some climbing and have a laugh at the same time, check this one out!
4. When Hell Freezes Over – Andy Kirkpatrick
I could have picked any of the Andy Kirkpatrick DVDs we own – they’re packed full of mountaineering stories and the suffering experienced, but have so many laughs that they are just pure entertainment.
If you want a taste of being trapped on a summit in hurricane winds, coming close to hypothermia and life on expedition – all wrapped up with fabulous storytelling – give this a go.
5. All Mixed Up (Hot Aches Productions)
It turned out to be a good purchase and I loved following Fiona Murray’s story of a winter season in the Canadian Rockies. In the film, she tackles some of the steepest and toughest routes in the country.
This is one of those DVDs which makes me want to get out there and get strong!
6. The Asgard Project (Posing Productions)
It features climber Leo Houlding leading an expedition to make a first free ascent on the north tower of Mt Asgard (Baffin Island in the Arctic). A skydive into base camp kicks off the high adrenaline activities, but the team then have lots of challenges to overcome before the end.
This was a fabulous film and it’s worth checking out others by Posing Productions.
7. Odyssey (Hot Aches Productions)
Featuring James Pearson, Hazel Findlay, Hansjorg Auer and Caroline Ciavaldini, this film follows the four climbers on a trad climbing road trip around the UK – covering venues in Northumberland, Gogarth, Pembroke and the Lake District.
I loved the fact that the film profiled women climbing at high levels. It was interesting to watch Caroline Ciavaldini making the transition from sport climbing into trad climbing and I was was gobsmacked at the massive falls taken by Hazel Findlay!
8. Push It (Light Shed Pictures)
Filmed in 2012, “Push It” follows Jen Randall (Creative Director of Light Shed Pictures) and Jackie Sequeira preparing for their first big wall in Yosemite. As part of these preparations, there are segments in the film featuring Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, Natalie Berry and Vicki Mayes.
I found this film to be inspiring, honest and quirky. The climbers are described as “average” (although I disagree) and my take from the film is to just have a go and have an adventure.
I was so entertained by “Push It” that my only complaint is that it’s not long enough.
Climbing DVDs have come a long way over the years and Light Shed Pictures have some great female focused films. Another one to check is “Operation Moffat” inspired by the climbing legend Gwen Moffat.
Happy viewing 🙂