Banff Mountain Film festival this week!  Saw the following films:

Industrial Revolutions (UK) trials biking

La Dura Dura (USA) climbing

Smitten, Lucky Chance (AUSTRALIA) base jumping

Lacon de Catalonia Andreu Lacondeguy (NORWAY) biking

Wide Boyz (USA) climbing

Of Souls & Water- The Shapeshifter (USA) kayaking

Lily Shreds Trailside (USA) mountain biking

Where The Trail Ends (CANADA) mountain biking

All inspiring but by far the most Questy film has to be “Wide Boyz” about Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker  There is a distinctive genre of rock climbing called “offwidth” crack climbing.  Offwidth cracks are cracks that are too small to get your body into like a classic chimney style climb, but also they are too big to wedge a single hand into.  In other words, they are the worst of everything.  This film looks at two interesting climbers from the UK who become intrigued by offwidth cracks but the UK has pretty much zero of these.  Undaunted, the duo renovated their cramped cellar into a “junior questor training ground.”

Above is a typical apparatus.  Below is a close up of how he is holding himself up.   Nope, he’s not holding anything, gravity is held at bay through friction in a move called a fist stack!The camera pans the cramped cellar as you hear them screaming and grunting through their training while you see thousands of encouragement words scrawled on everything in red marker.  They built the structures from measurements of the infamous Century Crack, their ultimate goal.

After two years of training, the duo go to America for eight weeks and proceed to blow everyone’s mind by climbing every serious off-width crack there is.  The crowning glory is an unclimbable overhanging crack called the Century Crack.Above shows the Century Crack, an awkward slot in the roof of a massive overhang.  The 160 foot fissure in Utah remained unclimbed for good reason!  I found it hard to watch at times as they were contorted into the worst positions imaginable.  Below, Tom Randall nears the end of the incredibly lengthy  upside down portion and must make the difficult transition to the front of the overhang seen above right.The pair were successful and no longer can this nightmare of a route be called unclimbable.  This spot was only discovered in 2001, so technically it remained unclimbed for a miraculously short time.

What was inspiring to me about this film was the creativity of these guys.  I’m not a rock climber so I can barely appreciate just how difficult this feat was (to me it just seems impossible!)  What I most appreciate is how this feat was done by two guys from Sheffield England! Not exactly the centre of the rock climbing world.  But with a heap of creativity and even more determination they found a way to make that irrelevant.

Just being up close to this feat is riveting and some of the camera angles put you right in their faces.

Pete Whittaker hangs by the force of friction of his fist against the crack.  The roof slot allows the camera to look down and catch moments like this that shouldn’t be possible!

A great film that left me breathless.  It doesn’t make me want to take on anything ridiculous, but whenever I have difficulty finding the energy to get a run in, I only have to remind myself of these guys killing themselves in their cramped training cellar!

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2 Responses to Inspiration

  1. Inspiring by association, as well. I’ve only been able to come up with a few trailers and interviews online. Sadly, the library does not have a copy of their video. I assume it is still only in limited theatre release and we may never get a copy. Lucky you.

  2. fadedearth says:

    Watching that would be a great context for group coffee the next time you are in town.

    Secure a copy post-haste.

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