A Climbing Road Movie
'Odyssey' is a road movie that celebrates the best of British trad climbing.
From the bold Northumberland sandstone to the raging sea cliffs of Gogarth, four World-class climbers (James Pearson, Hazel Findlay, Hansjorg Auer and Caroline Ciavaldini) embark on a road-trip to attempt some of the most fierce and inspiring routes in the UK.
Cinematic filmmaking, cutting edge traditional climbing and a 7.5 ton converted truck ...
The Odyssey begins!
Worldwide Online Premiere until 20th November, 23:59 GMT
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The latest film from Hot Aches is a celebration of trad climbing. It is produced by Paul Diffley who is clearly at a high-point in his film-making career. Directed by Dom Bush, the 1 hour 5 minutes film races by as climbers James Pearson, Hazel Findlay, Hansjörg Auer (Austria) and Caroline Ciavaldini (France) drive the film with great action and narratives.
The film is based on a road trip with a big yellow truck, their 'magic bus', as they travel between a wide variety of rock types starting in Northumberland then Gogarth, Tremadog, Welsh Slate, Nesscliffe, Pembroke and finishing in the Lakes. The film is made all the more relevant by having an equal mix of sexes and the two continentals providing a great perspective on trad, especially Caroline, as she was almost exclusively a sports climber before this visit to the UK.
Whilst climbing Comes the Dervish E3, Caroline explains, "I am a pure limestone sports climber ... Sometimes people think that sports climbers just have to go to England, stop, and do all the hard trad ... But I never started climbing for risk, that is not part of the game. I just do not understand the concept of risking your life for non essential things." At the end of the trip in Pembroke she is a convert and leads The Jackals E8 then admitting: "A week of trad climbing and I am going nuts ... bad no ... I am getting English."
The filming is exceptional, never intrusive, yet close and personal enough to get the feel of the effort needed to climb difficult and dangerous routes. It is hard shooting on-sight ascents because of the unpredictable nature of the action but the camera team of Matt Pycroft, Matt Sharman, Dom Bush and Paul Diffley should be applauded for portraying the climbing at its most exciting and dramatic. The views and close ups of the crag-scapes really add to the atmosphere and is typified by the beautiful section at Nesscliffe where Hazel climbs Tombola E7 and James on-sights My Piano E8 and A thousand setting suns' E9
"The film's greatest strength is that it lets the climbers do the talking."
The film's greatest strength is that it lets the climbers do the talking. Never dramatic or overstated, rather, they explain their ethics in an honest and revealing way that gives the viewer an understanding of why many of the present generation revere trad so much.
Classic hard routes like Ron Fawcett's, 32 year old Strawberries E7 are put in context as it receives only it's third on-sight from Hans who commented "Just an incredible line, its amazing, and to do it in 1980 is really cool. They had the spirit to find such a line and not to bolt it ... and just do it with gear." The filming of his ascent is a joy to watch and the reaction of Hans after his ascent epitomised why we all climb.
Hazel, full of cool and confidence, strolls up an on-sight of The Cad E6 at Gogarth ... and then said "If there were four bolts in The Cad I wouldn't have climbed it because it would have been too easy" and earlier she reveals "I've taught myself to take quite big falls."
James sums up the film for me, "I think what we have in the UK which is special is a stubborn refusal to conform and a massive pride for the history. We live in a small country and we don't have so much rock and we continue to use this approach and these ethics right the way through the grade spectrum all the way into the harder grades, to a few routes that are certain death. The fact that we stubbornly insist on sticking with this mentality I think is cool and is the thing that makes the UK special. We definitely should not put bolts in over here ... its cool just the way it is."
Paul Diffley has made three outstanding films, The Long Hope, Wide Boyz and the Odyssey in just over a year ... Respect!
Review by Brian Hall of www.Steepedge.com climbing films to download.
'Odyssey' is directed by filmmaker Dom Bush, this is the first film he has directed for Hot Aches Productions.