—01. Directed by Fred Padula, 1978.
I recently stumbled upon this film and was so intrigued I had to find out more. In turn, I came across an in-depth feature on the Alpinist magazine website and promptly ordered the DVD. Originally filmed in 1968, it languished in post production hangups for a decade before being edited into El Capitan by Fred Padula. Despite winning the Grand Prize at the 1979 Banff Film Festival, it virtually disappeared until 2012 when Padula initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund its restoration. Shot by the renowned climber and photographer Glen Denny, it is not your average high-octane paean to the now popular adventure sport, but more a documentary clothed in the guise of a languidly moving and visually arresting art film. It is absolutely remarkable to see guys tying ropes around their waists in preparation to ascend the Nose route on El Cap, and hopping into sleeping bags on minuscule ledges – sometimes even forgetting to clip in. Ultimately, the film seems to distill exactly what an outsider activity it was to participate in the nascent years of big wall climbing at its Mecca: Yosemite Valley.