To the Limit

o the Limit is a gripping documentary that shows the adrenaline-spiked sport of speed rock climbing. German überclimbers Thomas and Alexander Huber attempt to break the speed record then of 2hr 48min scaling The Nose of Yosemite’s legendary El Capitan. The Nose is one of the original technical climbing routes up El Capitan. (Once considered impossible to climb, El Capitan is now the standard for big-wall climbing. The first ascent in 1957 took 45 days, with more than 3,400 feet [1,000 m] of climbing including huge pendulum swings across the face. The Nose Route is often called the most famous rock climbing route in North America, and in good fall weather can have anywhere between three and ten different parties strung out along its thirty rope lengths to the top. Today The Nose attracts climbers of a wide range of experience and ability. With a success rate of around 60%, it typically takes fit climbers 2-3 full days of climbing to complete. Also popular is speed climbing The Nose. Teams of two well-trained climbers produce the fastest times, and there is an unofficial competition to produce the best time. Speed climbing is a mix of aid and free-climbing.) In this film director Pepe Danquart does a phenomenal job of capturing the Huber brothers’ rigorous training and magnificent attempts on The Nose in Yosemite. The film mixes candid interviews with the brothers discuss their hopes, dreams, and internal conflicts – along with very impressive camera work on the rock itself. You can see that the Hubers are absolute masters of their craft. The camera-work is excellent, especially while “on the rock”. The beauty of Yosemite Valley is captured from locations that we “flatlanders” could never see. The climbing sequences are amazing, as they prepare for, and attempt, a speed record up El Capitan. These guys illustrate that the apparently impossible can be done. The comments by them and a couple of other climbers were thoughtful and gave a flow to the documentary. The climbing sections had my stomach in knots — vicarious vertigo —  and made me feel like I was there, on the rock. An excellent German documentary about a couple of world-class rock-climbers. This is one of the best climbing documentaries I’ve ever seen. The climbing kept me on the edge of my seat (and amazed). If you’ve ever been to Yosemite, up close to the rocks, this film will be even more dramatic. I love watching people take on crazy, death-defying challenges (she says as she sits in her recliner sipping a daiquiri). I’m in awe of these Huber brothers, the conditioning, both mental and physical it takes to climb vertical rock. This film shows magnificent scenery and heart-in-throat images of Thomas and Alexander speed climbing El Capitan. If you like to experience danger vicariously as I do, this is the film for you. These brothers are great climbers no doubt, but for sheer audacity once I saw somebody FREE SPEED CLIMB El Capitan. (In “free climbing” ropes may be used for safety, but not used for making upward progress. The West Face route was free climbed in 1979; but despite numerous efforts, the Nose resisted free attempts for another fourteen years. In 1993 a female climber Lynn Hill was the first person to free climb the Nose, reaching the summit after 4 days of climbing. A year later, Hill returned to free climb The Nose in a day, this time reaching the summit in just 23 hours and setting a new standard for free climbing on El Cap. Free solo climbing, also known as “free soloing”, is a form of free climbing where the climber (the free soloist) forgoes ropes, harnesses and other protective gear while ascending, and relies only on his or her physical strength and climbing ability.) Documentary 2007 NR 1hr 36m. See also the films North Face and Man on Wire.

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