Take a Drink: every time a climber does
Take a Drink: whenever a shot or photograph leaves you breathless… or with vertigo
Take a Drink: for cultural (the 60s! the 70s!) montages
Take a Drink: whenever somebody pushes the envelope even further
Take a Drink: for the trappings of fame
Do a Shot: for Momma Harding. Damn, she’s awesome.
Do a Shot: for bolt chopping
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
This Wednesday, on their 19th day of climbing, Tommy Campbell and Kevin Jorgeson summitted the Dawn Wall of Yosemite’s imposing and iconic El Capitan. Oh, and they did it free climbing, aka using only the strength of their own hands and feet, with ropes only serving as a safety precaution. The 3,000 feet ascent in this manner was considered impossible by many, and perhaps the most difficult climb ever accomplished by not a few.
You don’t say…
Valley Uprising tells the story of their forbears, the Yosemite climbers who’ve paved the trail for them for 60 years, as well as the modern generation who carry that torch and have expanded those boundaries- pushing them in exhilarating and terrifying ways.
This documentary is on the surface a history of American rock climbing, particularly in the place where it all began, and which still reigns as the ultimate testing ground for greatness in the sport- Yosemite National Park. Its sheer granite walls, particularly the iconic Half Dome and the even more imposing El Capitan, have drawn thrill-seekers and visionaries for over half a century, and Valley Uprising interviews almost everyone who was anyone in that scene.
Directors Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen, and Josh Lowell set an energetic, always engaging pace, tracing the evolution of the movement from Royal Robbins and Warren Harding’s vertical trailblazing and imagination-capturing rivalry to Jim Bridwell’s mountain climbing clan The Stonemasters…
Who lived up to that name in a couple of ways.
… to the ways their legacy continues, from contemporary Lynn Hill’s incredible free climb of El Capitan’s nose to how it inspired the modern day Stone Monkeys to redefine the limits of their sport in ways unimaginable to its founders. Or me, for that matter…
The directors bring a fair dash of style to their telling of the tale as well, in particular the interesting, ingeniously editing technique they employ to enliven old photographs, giving them depth and movement. This, the interviews, and the bevy of source material really give life to these exceptional individuals, and the exceptional cinematography does the same for the extraordinary place that lies at the center of their universe.
Valley Uprising does get a bit broad and cutesy with its “cheeky” visual and a few cheesy photo effects. Many of these jokes still land on their feet, but others… land flat. That final FreeBase stunt was totally staged, too (but still pretty badass).
It’ll set your fro on fire… metaphorically speaking.
Valley Uprising may be a documentary, but it’ll steal your breath quicker than the Hamburglar in a Grade D beef factory. Stunning film about a group of stunning people in a location that is the very definition of the word.