Friday, April 24, 2015

Climbing Scenes in Non-Climbing Movies

High budget narrative climbing movies are a genre in and of themselves. There are not very many of them out there and those that do exist tend to be filled with plot holes and ludicrous situations. But what about non-climbing movies that include elements of climbing?

Mountaineering, rock climbing and ice climbing are generally seen as extreme or eccentric things by filmmakers. The result of this is that they only use climbing for three things.

First and foremost, they use climbing to emphasize a character's bravery or uniqueness. You can see this in the following two clips.

In Mission Impossible II, Tom Cruise does things on desert towers that are completely impossible. This is a perfect example of climbing used for character development to show how "extreme" someone might be. There's a moment in this clip that is supposed to result in a laugh. They make a comment about Tom Cruise being on holiday. The joke of course is the question, who would ever go rock climbing for a vacation?

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Captain James T. Kirk free solos the Nose on El Cap, badly. By the time this film came out we didn't need a lot of character development for Captain Kirk. Instead, this is -- perhaps unintentionally -- designed to reinforce the character's cocky arrogance.

Bob Gaines, AAI Guide Jason Martin's co-author for Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual, was Captain Kirk's double for the climbing scenes.

The second use of climbing by filmmakers is simply to show something that is "different." They'll use it more for its novelty than for any other reason. Movies that do this include Axe, The Descent, and Wrong Turn. It's weird that most films that come up on a quick search are horror films...

The third use is when a character is forced to climb. This is an incredibly common thing in film. Movies that have scenes like this include North by Northwest, The Princess Bride, The Good Son, and Deliverance.

Though they're not all available, there are tons of movies with climbing scenes in them. Check out the female mountain guide hero of Alien vs. Predator or Keanu Reeves as a Himalayan climber in The Day the Earth Stood Still. I'm sure there are dozens and dozens more out there that I haven't thought of. I'd be curious to know what they are.

What other non-climbing movies with climbing scenes can you think of?

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/23/15


--An Olympia woman died skiing at Washington's White Pass Ski Area Saturday after striking a tree. Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said an autopsy for the victim, Cathy L. Carlson, 60, showed she died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest. The death was ruled an accident. To read more, click here.

--Fellow Smith Rock climbers came to the aid of a climber who fell 30 to 40 feet due to an apparent gear failure on Saturday, officials said. Redmond Fire & Rescue medics were called to Smith Rock State Park around 12:10 p.m. on the report of an injured climber, said Battalion Chief Chris Simmons. They learned a man was climbing the "Combination Rocks" route when he fell 30 to 40 feet, Simmons said. His name was not released due to federal privacy rules involving patient confidentiality. To read more, click here.

The roof to the right of The Calling appears to have collapsed.
Photo from Marc Bourdon's Squamish Select

--There was a massive rock fall event on the North Walls of the Stawamus Chief on Sunday morning at approximately 11:50am. No injuries or fatalities were reported, but many fully grown trees are gone. The bottom of the Angels Crest was dusted, and The Calling, a popular hard route, is almost certainly seriously damaged. To read more, click here.

--Another new line has been added to Colfax Peak, a satellite peak of Mt. Baker. Ford's Theater is approximately 500-feet long and clocks in at AI 4+. To read more, click here.

--In the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. Forest Service is set to open more than 80,000 acres for potential geothermal power development. Companies would then be able to apply for permits to build power plants that would harness the heat beneath the surface to spin turbines and generate electricity. All of this would be taking place in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington state. To read more, click here.

--There will be a work party at Mt. Rainier National Park on Saturday, April 25th. To read more, click here.


--The Inyo National Forest is planning to open recreation facilities on the White Mountain and Mt. Whitney Ranger Districts in the upcoming weeks. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--AAI Guide Doug Foust was featured in Explore Magazine this week, after taking some journalists climbing. To read the article, click here.

--It took more than a year, but crews at Joshua Tree National Park, aided by professional conservators from the University of New Mexico, have largely "erased" graffiti scratched into the Barker Dam, a historic site inside the California park. The year-and-a-half partnership culminated with a weeklong project from March 22- 29, where architectural conservators from the University of New Mexico volunteered their skills to effectively mitigate the visual impacts of scratched graffiti from the entire surface of the dam. To read more, click here.


Peggy McKinley on the dash of the AAI Alaska Van.

--The AAI van left on Tuesday for Alaska. The departure of the van from Bellingham is a special time every year as it denotes the start of the Alaska climbing and guiding season. This year the van didn't just carry tons of Alaska and Denali climbing gear up, but also a special passenger. Peggy McKinley is a girl scout doll that will make the drive to Alaska and then will make her way up Denali with Team 1. They depart on May 3. To read more about, Peggy, click here.

Notes from All Over:

Medics responded to reports of a rock climber who fell at Hamilton Pool in Texas on Monday afternoon. According to Austin-Travis County EMS, a man in his 20s broke his leg after falling approximately 20 feet around 5:30 p.m. Monday. To read more, click here.

--A dearth of snow elsewhere was beneficial for Big Sky Resort this ski season. The ski area located south of Bozeman tallied more than 440,000 skier visits with record-breaking visitation for the month of February this season. Lodging stays were up 7 percent over last winter. The resort closed its mountain to skiers and snowboarders after last weekend. To read more, click here.

--Chris Sharma is going to be in a Point Break remake. As this was discussed in the AAI office it became very clear who the millenials were and who the Gen Xers were. None of the millenials had seen the original film.

#PeggyMcKinley Drives to Alaska

So some of you may be aware from previous posts that a small doll made by Bellingham Girl Scouts making her way up to Alaska this week. Peggy McKinley is going to climb Denali with AAI Team 1, lead by AAI Gudie Paul Rosser.

Peggy had some adventures on her trip up.

As Peggy passed Hope, BC, the driving team sent back
this photo and a text stating that Peggy has lost hope...

After "losing hope," she apparently regained it by bungie jumping...


We can't wait to see what the guides put Peggy through next!

--Jason D. Martin

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Follow the Adventures of #PeggyMcKinley

We have sent a very special team member to Alaska with our Talkeetna team. Peggy McKinley left with the AAI van full of Denali gear yesterday afternoon.

Peggy is a girl scout. She was made by girl scout troop 44373 in Bellingham and will travel with her cookies from Bellingham to Talkeetna, AK by van. Then from there by plane to Kahiltna Base Camp on Denali. And then she will continue up to the top of the highest point in North America.

The participants on the trip will partake in the famous girl scout cookies while climbing the mountain.

Peggy is mounted on the dashboard of the AAI Van.

Peggy is a very happy girl scout and you can follow her adventures here on this blog and on other social media with the hashtag: #PeggyMcKinley.

The AAI van left Bellingham yesterday at approximately 1:30pm. It is a four day drive from Washington state to Talkeetna, Alaska. Hopefully, Peggy won't get too bored...

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bigfoot Sightings

With many programs based in the Pacific Northwest, we occasionally get questions about the elusive Sasquatch, or Bigfoot. The first and most common question is, "do you believe in bigfoot?"

The near universal answer amongst the guide staff is, no. Most of us don't believe that there is a big hairy apeman in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

The second question is often, "have you ever seen Bigfoot?"

Most guides would say no to this question. But that answer would be a lie. In the Pacific Northwest Bigfoot is everywhere. And contrary to popular belief, he -- or she -- isn't that hard to photograph.

A Native American female Sasquatch mask.
This Native American mask is often used in ceremonies.

This image of Bigfoot is in a mural in Larabee State Park, just outside of Bellingham. 

We all knew that Bigfoot was a snowboarder. 
This piece of chainsaw art is near Index at a coffee shop on the way up to Stevens Pass Ski Area.

Bigfoot lives in a lot of small towns throughout the Pacific Northwest.
This photo was taken in Marblemount, WA.

 Bigfoot is very popular at Seatac Airport. 
I think that this blurry image is of the mythical monster at a cafe.

 More Bigfoot junk at the airport.

And they even have Bigfoot t-shirts there. 

Yep. In the Pacific Northwest, we see Bigfoot all the time!

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Appalachian Trail in Five Minutes

Thru-Hiker Kevin Gallagher hiked the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail in six months. Numerous people complete the entire trail every years. But Gallagher did something a little bit different on his trip.

Every day of his trip, Gallagher took twenty-four slides of iconic portions of the trail. He recently put these slides together into a film, which condenses the entire journey into a single five minute segment. He titled the film, "The Green Tunnel."

Following is the product of his adventure:

To learn more about Gallagher and his work, click here.

--Jason D. Martin

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you STOKED!!!

Prior to even leaving, locals suggested they should not attempt their journey.  They were coming to the end of the brief summer, and the fjords around Baffin Island were still choked with ice. But Paul McSorely, Tony Richardson, Joshua Lavigne and Crosby Johnston were still drawn to unclimbed 1,300 m North Face of Beluga Spire.

No-handed climbing?  Sure, it may be a bit on the pointless side.  But as Johnny Dawes points out, some people feel that way about climbing in general.  But after you watch Johnny dance up this gritstone problem, you might think differently.  If nothing else, it will help improve your footwork!

Since winter decided to come back (or in some cases, arrive) last weekend here in the Cascades, I thought I'd throw in a ski vid for you this weekend. Here's a season edit from Sam Schwartz as he backflipped through the 2014 - 2015 winter.

Have a great weekend! - James