There’s a phrase that’s often used to promote action movies: “heart-stopping.” It’s a pretty dramatic description that’s usually slapped on fictional stories with lots of shoot-‘em-up scenes and a bunch of crazy car chases. Sure, a lot of those movies are exciting to watch, but deep down, you know it’s all make-believe. They rarely live up to the hype.
But this weekend you can go check out some new films that are actual documentaries of real-life adventures the promoters have labeled as “heart-stopping” and that truly go above and beyond what you might expect from that kind of description. Judging from the trailer for them, I can say that these films start at that point and move on to truly terrifying in some places and I’m not talking about monsters, ghosts, demons or serial killers here. These are three mountain climbing movies that take things to a totally new level, in more ways that you can image.
This weekend, Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13, the Colorado Mountain Club will be presenting the Reel Rock 17 film screening at the American Mountaineering Center. It features three new films highlighting the year’s biggest climbing & adventure stories. The first one, “Burning the Flame,” showcases a wild expedition on Nameless Tower in Pakistan. Then the second one, “DNA,” presents a new cutting-edge route in a massive limestone cave in France and the final film, “Resistance Climbing,” portrays a journey to Palestine’s West Bank to explore the power of climbing to change lives. Each of them has amazing cinematography and they all present people overcoming sets of vastly different circumstances.
OK, now I’ve seen the trailer and if you are an outdoor adventure kind of person, or someone who likes to experience different places and cultures, you are probably going to love these films. But, if you are afraid of heights, squeamish about bombs going off and think that people risking their lives just for a little adventure is totally insane, then this might not be the evening entertainment you are looking for. The climbing is extreme, the cameras put you right in the middle of the action, sometimes looking down 1,000 feet, the climbers do slip and fall occasionally (they are roped in so it’s not a tragedy) and the one in Palestine shows what the people there have to endure in a sometimes hostile political environment just to be able to climb the local mountains.
There will also be a meet and greet with Tim Bruns, a Colorado local who’s featured in the film Resistance Climbing, on both Friday and Saturday night. Tim has spent many years living in Palestine and supporting the climbing community there. He is the Co-Founder of Wadi Climbing, the first climbing gym in Palestine, and the author of the Climbing Palestine guidebook. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado and will be leading a Q&A during the intermission.
The Reel Rock 17 show includes the screening of all three films on each night. They are all about an hour long. Admission price is $15 for CMC members and $20 for non-members. Showtime is 6 p.m. both nights.
There also will be a drawing for prizes during the intermissions and a grand prize raffle for a week-long condo rental in Winter Park. You’ll need to buy raffle tickets for that one, and they run $6 for one or $10 for two.
For more information about Reel Rock 17, buy tickets and check out that awesome trailer I mentioned. Just go to cmc.org/events/reel-rock-17. It’s sponsored by Northface, Black Diamond and Yeti. The American Mountaineering Center is located at 710 10th St. here in Golden.
Now I’ll be perfectly honest here. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I actually do any rock climbing myself. I also don’t go surfing, gliding off mountains with a wing suit or paraglider and I used to be a pretty average hiker and mountain biker. But I do really love watching these amazing people accomplish things that I can only do in my imagination. It may not inspire me to try hanging off some ledge by my fingertips, but it does make me feel like overcoming any of the mundane hurdles in my life is a lot easier than what these folks have accomplished. And that’s all the inspiration I need right now.
John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multimedia production. He can be reached at email@example.com.