Climber and filmmaker Renan Ozturk makes the pilgrimage to the toothy and harsh landscape of Alaska’s Ruth Glacier every year. This time around, he and fellow climber Alex Honnold have their sights set on a beautiful route up Mount Dickey. But the weather is horrendous. So instead, they end up sitting in tents talking about their feelings. What unfolds is not your typical climbing film, but rather a touching examination into life’s big questions.
Go to a typical climbing gym and you’re not likely to see many people of color. But Brothers of Climbing co-founder Mikhail Martin says if young black people never see someone who looks like them, they will think a rock wall is no place for them. His organization aims to change that. With a mission of boosting minorities’ involvement in outdoor activities, the group’s positive energy is increasing diversity and challenging stereotypes in the climbing world.
“I don’t want to be good for a girl, I don’t want to be good for just having one hand, I just want to be good, period.” That’s climber Maureen Beck. Born without her lower left arm, Beck scales overhanging boulders, takes whippers off of 5.12s and wins competitions. But she’s not here to be a role model, shrugging off the clichéd coverage of disabled athletes. “We don’t climb to be special, we don’t climb to win some silly awards. We climb because we love climbing just like everybody else.” Fueled by that love, Beck tackles an ambitious goal. What unfolds is a lesson in pure grit.
In the world of climbing, the 5.15 grade is a rarefied realm reserved for only the strongest and most precise sport climbers. Most never achieve it, legends like Alex Honnold won’t go near it and for women, it’s long been out of reach. Until now. Meet Margo Hayes. This petite former-gymnast surprised the world in 2017 when she tackled Spain’s La Rambla — a brutal 5.15 that features giant moves, tiny crimpers and a small chance of success — and sent it, shattering the glass ceiling. Instead of resting on her laurels though, this driven climber immediately set her sights on an even bigger objective.
World-renowned climber Chris Sharma has a passion for dangling by his fingertips off limestone cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea. Deep water soloing on the Spanish island of Mallorca has seen Sharma through the death of his mother, a marriage and the birth of his daughter. But it can be dangerous: an errant wave could knock him from his perch or he could miss a handhold 60 feet above the waves. In Above the Sea, Sharma tests his limits attempting a first ascent of an impossible-seeming, orange-and-white-striped, overhanging wall, a route he names for his daughter, Alasha.
Steph Davis is a BASE jumper, aerialist and one of climbing’s most iconic female athletes. With first ascents from Patagonia to Colorado, she’s set the bar for what female climbers can do. And mostly, she’s thrived on the freedom of climbing and jumping. But those passions have also brought great loss; her husband and partner Mario Richard died during a flight with her in the Italian Dolomites in 2013. Choices follows Davis’ path from suburban law student to globe-trotting climber, revealing the motivation that keeps her scrambling up rock and taking leaps.