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Rock climbing film event in Nevada City to support recreational access

Daniel Woody navigates the crux of a climb as part of the flim entitled "The Sensei".
Photo Courtesy of Reel Rock 8 |

Know & Go

What: Reel Rock 8 Film Festival and After-party

When: 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20

Where: Miners Foundry, 325 Spring St., Nevada City

Cost: $12

The world’s foremost rock climbing-oriented traveling film festival lands in Nevada City tonight as the eighth installation of Reel Rock is slated to begin at Miners Foundry at 6 p.m.

Reel Rock 8 will feature three short documentary films aimed at providing insight into the burgeoning world of rock climbing. The film series, founded in 2006, has brought viewers unique insight into some of the best athletes in the world, including Alex Honnold, Chris Sharma, Conrad Anker, Lisa Rands, Adam Ondra, Lynn Hill, Tommy Caldwell and more.

This year, the festival will take a slightly divergent approach, delving into the politics of the mountaineering world as sparked by a recent incident near the summit of Mt. Everest, planet Earth’s highest mountain (29,029 feet above sea level).



“High Tension” recounts the events of April 27, when Ueli Steck, one of the foremost mountaineers in the world, and his climbing partners were involved in a violent confrontation with Sherpas — an ethnic group based in eastern Nepal, native to the Himalayas, that often serve as guides for Everest climbing expeditions.

Steck has indicated in the many interviews he has given since that he feels lucky to have escaped the confrontation alive, as punches (and rocks) were thrown and murderous threats were exchanged. The violent episode has prompted a wellspring of media attention and much hand-wringing in the outdoor recreation community, as the incident highlights how the relentless push to conquer the world’s greatest summits and most aggressive lines can sometimes come at the expense of politeness and decency.




It further episodes how climbing Mt. Everest has become an industry and while the monolithic Himalayan colossus still evokes images of nature as an unconquerable domain, in reality, Camp 2, located below the summit, is as crowded as an amusement park on a summer holiday.

By the end of the 2010 climbing season, 5,104 ascents of the mountain had been accomplished by 3,142 individuals, with 77 percent of the ascents accomplished since 2000, according to 8000ers.com.

“High Tension” presents documentary footage and explores the many ramifications of the episode and the multivalent perspectives of those involved, said Jaime Bogardy, Reel Rock tour director.

“It’s a really unique film for us,” she said. “The feedback on the film has been amazing.”

Reel Rock 8 will also serve up the more traditional fare, including a short film entitled “The Sensei,” about 43-year-old climbing legend Yuji Hirayama and his attempt to climb Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia with up-and-coming American climber Daniel Woods.

“Spice Girl” is about Hazel Findlay, a young British woman who recently became the first woman to climb a line graded at E9 (which means it is both extremely arduous and dangerous). The film centers on her effort to tackle some big walls in the Taghia Gorge, Morocco.

Finally, the tour will provide viewers with a glimpse of a full-length feature about the sex, drugs and the rock-and-roll culture surrounding climbing in Yosemite National Park in the late 1970s, when the sport was still in its infancy.

Tickets are $12 and proceeds will go to Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento.

The nonprofit is the region’s primary rock climbing advocacy organization and was instrumental in providing climbing access in the Auburn Rock Quarry, one of the closest places to rock climb for western Nevada County residents, said Mike Davis, who is helping organize the event.

“Next year, it sounds like the quarry will be fully open to climbing,” Davis said. “That is really good news for us.”

The event starts promptly at 6 p.m., with the film beginning at 7 p.m., with an after-party replete with live music and libations slated to last until about midnight, Davis said.

The South Yuba Club and Mountain Recreation are sponsors of the event.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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