Reel Rock 13

Renny Acheson, Staff Reporter

On Thursday, Jan. 24, Whitman Events Board and the climbing club partnered to host “Reel Rock 13.” In its 13th annual edition, “Reel Rock 13″ features four films centered around climbing.

Since its original creation in 2006 by filmmakers Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer, the compilation has steadily gained traction in both climbing and mainstream spheres. The project has gained sponsorship from outdoor brand The North Face, and features famous athletes among the likes of climber Alex Honnold and mountaineer Cedar Wright.

This year’s “Reel Rock” films featured “Age of Ondra,” following young Czech climber Adam Ondra’s attempts to flash, a term for climb on the first try, some of the hardest routes in the world. The second film, “Valley of the Moon,” focuses on Eliav Nissan and Elad Omer’s undertaking to set a 1,800 foot route in Wadi Rum, a small village in Jordan. Subsequently, “Up to Speed,” documents the rise of the sub-division of climbing known as speed climbing, which garnered attention when it was included in the 2020 Olympics. The final film in the collection, “Queen Maud Land,” follows the expedition of six world-class American climbers and mountaineers as they embark on multiple first ascents in Antarctica.

Combining humorous moments with instances of fierce intensity, the films attracted a community with one trait in common: an interest in those who are pushing athletic boundaries.

For many members of the community, “Reel Rock” movies serves as a source of inspiration.

Woody Walters ‘22 said, “I like climbing, and it’s fun watching professionals at the top of the field do what I do, just much better.”  

Budget manager of the Climbing Club, Emery Hansell ‘21, remarked on the event, “It’s meant to encapsulate everybody, including people beyond the climbing community and get them interested in the sport and give them insight into what the sport is like.”

In the past, “Reel Rock” has featured films centered on similar action sports such as slacklining and base jumping. “Reel Rock” consistently aims to comment on the culture of the climbing and outdoor sports community, historically including films on climbers in the disabled community, overcoming cultural boundaries and explorations of what it means to be a climber.

On the films, Hansell said, “They do a really good job of finding elements of pushing the boundaries in new ways to keep it interesting and fresh for old climbers in addition to people who have never seen it before.”

After receiving support from WEB, the film festival will most likely make its return in 2020. Nick Rapp ‘20 spoke to the event’s accessibility:

“I think since it’s offered to students for free it was a cool chance for everyone to come together and watch something.”

For those who have been climbing their entire lives or those who have never climbed before but are interested in the sport, “Reel Rock” provides a great blend of humor, grit and accomplishment for a wide range of the Walla Walla community.