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Reel Rock Film Tour rocks climbers’ lifestyle

Alison Rodriguez
Staff Writer

Rock Climbing is more than just a recreational activity – it is a highly competitive sport and a lifestyle. On Saturday at Pomona College the Outdoor Education Center hosted the Eighth Annual Reel Rock Film Festival to promote this adventurous activity.

Founded in 2006, by filmmakers Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer, the Reel Rock Film Tour brings the best climbing and adventure films to audiences throughout the world. When in California, the tour is hosted at the California Institute of Technology, but this year it came to Pomona.

“The films are geared towards climbers and mountaineers; these people are the best of the best,” said Pomona student and member of the OEC Sydney Rupe. “It’s cool and intimidating at the same time.”

“These films are really interesting,” climber Daniel Morales from Redlands said. “My buddies and I usually go to Banff to climb, so this was next on my list.”

The first film was called “Sensei,” which starred professional climbers Yuji Hirayama and Daniel Woods. Hirayama was the more experienced climber, having won two Lead World Cups, which are internationally recognized as competitive climbing achievements. But Woods was the young and passionate climber, willing to do anything. Together they teamed up to climb their dream projects, learning from each other, growing as climbers and as people.

The next film they showed, “Stonemasters,” had the crowd roaring with laughter. It focused on climbers from the 1960s and 1970s and the culture back in that time.

The climbers were roaming in the forest and found a crashed plane. Inside of it there were tons of cannabis. The climbers took all of it, and went from sleeping on the ground to sleeping in posh mansions, eating at five star restaurants and driving expensive vehicles.

All the while, the authorities never knew they had discovered this drug repository until they had already sold it all.

The final film, “High Tension,” focused on three climbers, Ueli Steck, Simone Moro and Jonathan Griffith. Their goal was to climb Mt. Everest without the aid of the guides on the mountain. Unfortunately, they got a bit more than they bargained for.

An elite Sherpa team, the locals of the mountain who are in charge of the maintenance, were setting fixed ropes for the dozens of commercial clients when the climbers accidentally crossed them. The Sherpas became enraged.

The Sherpas viciously attacked Steck and Moro and were able to come to an understanding, but not before the Sherpas threw rocks at them and tried beating them to death.

The movie addressed issues in the climbing world. Mt. Everest has become so westernized that it is now basically a giant tourist trap – climbers cannot go off on their own, and everyone has to climb the same set of ropes. There is a line of people trudging up the face of the mountain to reach the summit – now anyone can do it. It has lost its exclusiveness.

“We’re just trying to get people excited about the outdoors,” Rupe said.

Reel Rock will travel to Switzerland, Brazil, Serbia, New Zealand and Turkey for the remainder of its tour.

Alison Rodriguez can be reached at

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