40th Anniversary Retrospective: From the Vault Program
There’s no easy way to say goodbye to your best friend. Especially if that best friend stuck by your side during the darkest time in your life — licking your feet, shadowing your footsteps and going insane with joy every time he saw you. This short film by Ben Knight, Ben Moon and Skip Armstrong celebrates the human-dog bond and illuminates the incredible resilience we can conjure with the help of our friends.
The Black Binder
Southwestern Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison — a designated National Park — has some of the hardest free climbing routes in the United States. Known affectionately as “The Black,” many of the routes on the pegmatite walls are long and rated with an “X” to denote that a fall on these climbs presents risk of serious injury or death.
Black Diamond ambassador Josh Wharton has been climbing The Black since the 1980s, before an official guidebook to the area was available. Instead, he scaled nearly 100 lines and detailed them in a black binder, expanded over the years using National Park Service topographic maps, beta from friends and hand-drawn route maps from climbing mentors who had cut their teeth on the devilish canyon walls. In 2014, Wharton became the second person to ever lead every pitch of the Hallucinogen Wall in one day, successfully completing an elusive 5.13b route.
This short film captures the humor, determination and passion it takes to dedicate oneself to a project for so long and the simple joy of accomplishing the seemingly impossible.
Meru, a formidably jagged peak in India (also called the Shark's Fin), has been tempting — and foiling — climbers for decades.
In 2007, the trio of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk were turned back a few hundred feet from the summit, an effort chronicled in Samsara (Mountainfilm 2008). The three men decided to try it again in 2011, even after a series of mishaps, including a serious head injury to Ozturk and a scary avalanche slide for Chin.
Given these issues, the decision to make a second attempt was controversial within the climbing community and inside the men’s families. Anker was healthy and motivated, but his wife, Jenni Lowe-Anker (the widow of the alpinist Alex Lowe who was climbing with Anker on Shishapangma in 1999 when he died), had understandable concerns. These back stories add texture, depth, vulnerability and conflict to a film that would be plenty compelling even if it were focused solely on this once-impossible ascent.