If you watch Grit Flick with an intelligent mind it deconstructs gritstone climbing. This is an important climbing film, it lays bare the preparation and practice that enabled some climbers to climb short technical difficult routes and then label them with hyper-inflated grades. These super 'hypothetical' grades, in the odd case, meant money and financial security or at the very least headlines in the climbing media, free gear and a reputation.
The myth surrounding gritstone climbing reached a pinnacle with the globally influential film Hard Grit; it was hard and very dangerous and only practised by a few talented god-like climbers. This has now changed, we have moved on.
John tries to persuade Ryan not to undersell himself as regards the grade and alternates between suggesting an inflated E grade and no grade at all. Ryan isn't interested; he's not there to promote himself, but to climb.
Now, especially with demolition of the grit myth by Team America and the young Japanese climber, Toru Nakajima, talented climbers in the UK, - and there are lots of capable climbers in the UK- can just get on with enjoying hard grit for what it is: a short, intense and unique British climbing experience that, if you know what you are doing, whilst it can be frightening, is usually quite safe if you use bouldering mats, spotters, rehearsed moves, and have knowledge of the gear (most do). For the talented few some of the rehearsed test pieces of yesterday also go without practice from the ground up.
Grit Flick showcases with four headline acts and six supporting acts, and documents through these examples where hard gritstone climbing is at the moment, almost hype and grade free. Alastair Lee has put together ten well crafted climbing stories, running time 85 minutes, with his trademark rhythmic editing and impeccable musical tastes, with no commentary; the climbers and the climbing speak for themselves.
We see Ryan Pasquill, who just like his dad Hank is supremely talented and understated, climb what John Dunne describes in his typical hyperbole as the hardest route on grit, nay the World. The chat between John and Ryan, after Ryan has climbed Gerty Bertwick, the wall left of New Statesman at Ilkley is priceless. John tries to persuade Ryan not to undersell himself as regards the grade and alternates between suggesting an inflated E grade and no grade at all. Ryan isn't interested; he's not there to promote himself, but to climb.
Burnley's Jordan Buys, another great talent, climbs Widdop Wall and French Duke at Earl Crag. Jordan is another innocent without an agenda, an everyday climber untainted by commercialism. The process is witnessed, nothing is hidden: we watch the all important experience and emotion.
Last year Lucy Creamer decided to give this hard grit malarkey a go and after doing the 'safe' Jannus we witness her journey climbing the far more serious Slab and Crack at Curbar. This is one of the strongest stories as we listen to Lucy contemplate what she is about to do; there's a great deal of soul searching here.
The talented Ben Bransby, Adam Long, James McHaffie, Jack Geldard and Pete Whittaker are all featured, again the hype is non-existent and what we get is pure climbing joy; success and failure, onsight, ground up and headpoint. All these climbers have an attitude, a refreshing one.
The music? Always a personal preference, but Lee has nailed it for me, especially wth Josh Ritter and Chris Brooke.....and I bet, like me you'll laugh out loud at some of the over dramatic and ironic flourishes that accompany some of the 'tense' moments. Almost slapstick at times.
At £12.99 this DVD represents great value for money. I like the format of short stories that you can dip into, and to be honest some of the supporting acts were as good as the headline acts. There's lots of climbing, entertaining and illuminating dialogue, some great funny bits and I'd be surprised if you will be disappointed with Lee's latest masterpiece. Whilst it won't be as influential as Hard Grit, and isn't as dramatic, it is a worthy successor and illustrates the progression climbers have made on god's own rock.
- Interested in climbing DVDs? Check out this recent UKC News Item: Climbing DVD's - A Price War?