Whether you’re like me and have seen the Reel Rock 8 trailer at least 15 times or you’re someone who has never tied a figure eight knot, this block’s First Monday was not to be missed.

Climbers and non-climbers alike pilled into Armstrong Theater on Monday, unsure of what to expect of the morning lecture. They were soon captivated by the presentation that gave an interesting and inspiring look into the passion-filled lives of two CC alums.  Peter Mortimer, class of 1996, and Josh Lowell, class of 1994, were both Geology majors and advisees of current Colorado College professor and First Monday coordinator Christine Siddoway.

After graduating Colorado College and working as a Paraprof for a year, Josh Lowell became a self-proclaimed “Climbing bum.” This lifestyle included moving from one crag to the next and making money along the way by route-setting in indoor climbing gyms.  However, Josh soon realized he wanted to do something more.  Combining his passion for climbing and his family’s history in the film industry, Josh started making climbing movies, which quickly turned into the production company, Big Up Productions.

Meanwhile, Josh’s current counterpart, Peter Mortimer, was off studying film at the University of Southern California.  Shortly after receiving his MFA in film, Peter started his own business located in Boulder called Senderfilms.

With Josh’s intense focus on rock climbing and Peter’s ability to “make your mom like it”, the two set out to put together what are now the premier climbing movies, the Reel Rock Film Tour.  The two have now produced many movies together, some of the highlights being Front Range, King Lines, Reel Rock 2011, Reel Rock 7, and now, Reel Rock 8.

The Reel Rock 8 film played later Monday evening in Armstrong Theater.  The psych was contagious as CC students forgot about “CC Time” and started filling Armstrong as early as 6:20 p.m. for the 7 o’clock movie.  The movie was broken into four segments with an intermission in the middle.

The first segment was called The Sensei and stared Yuji Hirayama and Daniel Woods.  Yuji was on a quest for the perfect climbing partner for his longtime project Mount Kinabalu in Borneo.  After putting Colorado native Daniel Woods through numerous tests, the two headed out to Borneo. Each having what the other lacked, the two became perfect climbing partners.  Learning from each other, Yuji gained the raw ambition needed to complete his project, and Daniel learned critical technique from Japanese ledged to bolt and send his own route.

The next segment, appropriately titled Spice Girl, took us to Great Britain where some of the sketchiest traditional climbing in the world is being done.  This part of the film follow badass climber Hazel Findley as she fearlessly sends questionably safe routes through out the UK.  The sweet, small, blond girl is puts the guys to shame with her bold climbing and becomes the first women to climb the British grade E9.  She then teams up with hardcore American sport climber Emily Harrington to conquer the massive walls of Morocco.

After a short intermission, the film tour showed a short preview for a feature film they are producing called Valley Uprising, about the counterculture climbing scene in Yosemite Valley.  The movie will cover the past 50 years in Yosemite, but will focus on the Stone Masters.  The preview showed big name Yosemite climbing legends such as Royal Robbins, John Long, and Lynn Hill.  The film is set to come out soon and it will not be one to miss.

Lastly, the movie concluded with a segment titled High Tensions: Ueli Steck and The Clash on Everest.  This part described in detail the fight involving Ueli Steck, Simone Moro, and a group of sherpas that occurred at Camp 2 in April.  It also broadened out to the current issues surrounding the commercialism on Mt. Everest.

It was evident though the film and morning lecture that Peter Mortimer and Josh Lowell were meant to work together. Like most students, the two had no clue exactly what they wanted to pursue in life, and when they began making climbing films, they faced the uncertainty of whether they would be successful.

However, the two chose to follow their passions, and they were rewarded for it.  The biggest lesson to take away from their story is that rather than success leading to happiness, doing what makes you happy will lead you to success.  Follow your passions, and life will reward you in the long run.

Emelie Frojen

1 Comment

  1. Great account of the background of Big Up and Sender, I wasn’t aware of that. These Reel Rock flicks are sooo good, definitely among the best climbing movies. Period. And every year no less.

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