As video footage is an important part of our content at UKClimbing.com we have been working on our own video hosting, a feature that has been partly implemented already (See a UKC video here: Toru Nakajima). This is a part of the site we are keen to develop further, so keep your eyes peeled.
Back in February we published a commentary on British climbing films that I really enjoyed: An eBlast from Andrew Bisharat. Andrew, if you're reading this, good work!
Part of what Andrew is saying is true, we seem to have a lot of climbing films out every year in the UK. But is this a bad thing? Or do we want really in-depth coverage of all the climbing happening on our rock encrusted island?
Climbing films are often released to coincide with the Kendal Mountain Film Festival in November, which has held its place as THE climbers' film event of the year. 2009 is no exception, with many of the films coming out between now and Kendal, so here is an over view of what the main film-makers have in store for the upcoming film season:
Alastair Lee / Posing Productions
The Grit Flick is out now (buy it here) and is a film (over 85 mins) of gritstone ascents from the last two years. Highlights include Ryan Pasquill climbing Gerty Berwick, Ben Bransby on his new highball at Rylstone and other gritstone desperates.
Alastair gave UKC a bit more info:
"With this DVD I feel I have delivered what climbers like to watch - climbing. Its all the moves all the way,more a Dosage style package than a proper 'film' like Stone Monkey or On Sight. It was great fun to make and I'm sure it'll be popular as most of the 10 short films are of very significant ascents on Grit."
Trailer: The Grit Flick
The Asgard Project was quite another story. Al and fellow camera man and top-bloke Ian Burton travelled to Baffin Island with Leo Houlding, Sean Leary, Carlos Suarez, Chris Reyburn and Jason Pickles and climbed Mt. Asgard.
The preparation for the climb involved some speed ascents on the towers of Riglos, Spain, and some hard-core granite climbing in Yosemite Valley, Califonia.
The film premiers at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival (19th to 22nd Nov) and will be on sale at around the same time.
Speaking about how the film is coming together Alastair said:
"The Asgard Project is undoubtedly my most spectacular and challenging production to date, working with somebody as ambitious and motivated as Leo has been an absolute pleasure, if a little scary at times, but I think we just about pulled it off."
Dave Brown & Lynwen Griffiths / Bamboo Chicken Productions
The Bamboo Chicken team have been working all hours on various projects including a film about Paul Pritchard, the top climber who was injured in an accident on the Totem Pole in Tasmania. This short film comes as part of their bigger project which is a film called Welsh Connections.
I asked Dave what Welsh Connections is all about and who is in it:
"Welsh Connections is a tour through all the different types of climbing in Wales with a wide cross section of both climbers and styles. We got lucky. It's been a fantastic year for climbing here."
Highlights include Pete Robins on Liquid Ambar (F8c or F8c+??) and Silk Cut (V14) as well as Pete Whittaker on The Quarryman (E8).
Dave enthused about another section of the film:
"Perhaps the longest running project of the year was Johnny Dawes' mega 7 pitch, mainly onsight ascent of 'The Bolton Wanderer', finally completed yesterday. Dawes back to his best? I think there's more to come, but E6 onsight first ascent is impressive climbing."
They have also got some Gogarth action: "We have exclusive footage of the Iron Man's (James McHaffie) knees visibly trembling; an onsight that he described as 'proper E7'", as well as some Pembroke climbing from Tim Emmett; " The second ascent of the immaculate Point Blank, E8, is followed by an adventure on something considerably harder...".
The DVD will be out in October.
Bamboo Chicken don't have a trailer out yet, in the meantime some of the Welsh climbing footage is shown in this show reel:
Paul Diffley / Hotaches Productions
Paul at Hotaches has been filming the visiting American climber Matt Segal on his UK road trip. As part of that trip, Paul filmed a section, currently called Slate Monkeys, in which Johnny Dawes, Matt Segal and Hazel Findlay all do battle with the now classic chimney-groove sport route Gin Palace - F7c (originally graded E5 6b by Craig Smith).
Other things coming from the Hotaches crew include a short film about James McHaffie climbing in Madagascar on the now infamous little-big wall route Tough Enough? on the Tsaranoro granite. Much of the camera work on this short film was done by yours truly, so it will clearly be a master piece!?
They also have a film about Kev Sheilds, the one handed climber.
Paul Diffley told me a little about this film:
"I've filmed Kev on several hard routes recently, I got some great footage of Kev climbing right at his physical and mental limited whilst soloing Jahu (E6 6a) in Glen Nevis. Kev's climbing ambition is to climb E7, however he said 'I really want to solo E7, otherwise it wouldn't really feel like I have ticked the grade'!"
So 2009 again sees a bumper crop of climbing films from the UK. I wonder what Andrew Bisharat will have to say about that?!