New Climbing Films to Watch on Streaming Platforms Article

It's been a blockbusting few years for climbing and mountaineering films, from BAFTA longlists to Oscar wins. This formerly niche genre now attracts big budgets from major production houses and distribution deals on global streaming platforms to create award-winning documentaries, animations and reality TV series (watch this space...).

Far from the daredevil tropes peddled in the likes of Cliffhanger and Vertical Limit, adventure documentaries and fictional productions are slowly shedding the extreme sports big-talk and bombast and digging deeper into the human stories within each discipline.

Here's a list of the latest releases currently available to watch on streaming platforms with subscription services. Some films require additional payment (Amazon Prime) via rental or purchase options.

Note: Amazon Prime Video in particular boasts an impressive back catalogue of older climbing, mountaineering and adventure films, including Meru and Touching the Void, which is worth exploring in addition to these more recent releases. There is a also a good selection of high-mountain dramas on Netflix including Everest, Jurek and Kilimanjaro: Going for Broke.

14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible - Netflix

Recently longlisted for a BAFTA, 14 Peaks follows Nepali climber Nirmal 'Nimsdai' Purja on his quest to complete the world's fourteen 8,000 metre peaks in just just over six months. It's an adrenaline-filled recap of Nims' incredible feat, but also a moving account of his backstory and personal motivations.

The Wall: Climb for Gold - Amazon Prime, rent or buy

This documentary follows the journey of four female Sport Climbing Olympians along their route to the Tokyo 2020 Games. Team GB's Shauna Coxsey, US star Brooke Raboutou, Japan's Silver medallist Miho Nonaka and Gold medallist Janja Garnbret of Slovenia are known for their podiums and phenomenal performances, but behind every athlete is a story of struggle. An emotional rollercoaster and an inspirational film, especially for young female climbers.

The Summit of the Gods - Netflix

A hidden gem. Summit of the Gods is a French animation based on a Japanese manga series set in Tokyo and Nepal. The main character, a journalist named Makoto Fukamachi, gets involved in a frantic search for an elite mountaineer named Habu Joji, who he believes is in possession of Mallory's historic camera. Overall, it's a very accurate depiction and exploration of mountaineering and obsession with stunning animation. 

The Rescue - Disney+

OK, not technically a climbing film, but for climbers who've dabbled in speleology - or even for those to whom cave diving is totally anathema, since the footage is so gripping - The Rescue by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin is a compelling account of the 16-day ordeal endured and ultimately survived by the boys, with never-before-seen footage and realistic reenactments.

The Climb - Netflix

The Climb (French: L'ascension) is a 2017 French adventure comedy film directed by Ludovic Bernard which tells the real-life story of Nadir Dendoune, the first French-Algerian to climb Everest. A heartwarming and funny underdog tale with likeable characters and lots of laughs.

The Last Mountain: The Tom Ballard Story - BBC iPlayer

This BBC 2 documentary tells the story of British climber Tom Ballard, who disappeared on Nanga Parbat in February 2019 aged 30. Tom was the son of the late and highly accomplished mountaineer Alison Hargreaves, who died while descending from the summit of K2 in 1995 aged 33. Snapshots of Tom and his sister Kate Ballard's childhood spent in the mountains are interwoven with footage of the last climbs of both Alison and Tom, and Kate's pilgrimages to visit their final resting places, 25 years apart. The result is a moving exploration of passion, obsession and grief.

Tom Ballard ice climbing.  © BBC
Tom Ballard ice climbing.

In cinemas now...

On the big screen at the moment and (hopefully) soon to appear online, two major releases: The Alpinist, profiling the late Canadian prodigy Marc André Leclerc, and Torn, an exploration of the Lowe-Anker family's grief and recovery following the death of US mountaineer Alex Lowe in 1999 (UKC review coming soon) which is streaming from 4 February on Disney+.

Torn - Disney+ (4 Feb onwards)

The Modern Classics

A few older and now legendary films worth a (re)watch...

Free Solo - Disney+, Amazon Prime, rent or buy

If you haven't seen Free Solo yet, you must have been living under a rock. You may also have missed the fact that in 2017, Alex Honnold free soloed Freerider on El Capitan using "nothing but his hands and feet." The film by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin won nearly every adventure film award going and scooped something called an Oscar in 2019. Knowing the fact that Honnold doesn't fall to his death doesn't make it any easier to watch, whether you're climber or not. An interesting exploration of risk, relationships and love. 

The Dawn Wall - Netflix, Amazon Prime, rent or buy

Another multi-award-winning Yosemite-centred documentary about the historic first ascent of The Dawn Wall by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson in January 2015. The film delves into Tommy's dramatic backstory and how their 19-day climb captured the attention and imagination of people around the world, including Barack Obama

Valley Uprising - Red Bull TV (site or app), Amazon Prime 

One of the first big budget, feature length rock climbing documentaries by award-winning adventure filmmakers, Sender Films, from 2014. Valley Uprising chronicles Yosemite's rock climbing revolution and showcases the mavericks and misfits that lived, climbed and rebelled among the Valley's granite walls. 

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20 Jan

Valley Uprising is on red bull tv (site or app) for free, and Free Solo is on Disney plus.

Thanks, struggled to pin them down to all the different places. Some have been released then removed as well!

20 Jan

The Summit of the Gods on Netflix is worth checking out. Animated, French, and fiction, so it won't be to everyone's tastes

20 Jan

WoGu was on youtube then disappeared but it's back now

20 Jan

Dirtbag- the legend of Fred Becky on Amazon is good too

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