Category: Movie Reviews

“Meru”: A Visually Astonishing Documentary

“Meru”: A Visually Astonishing Documentary

In summer nearly fifty years ago, I climbed to up the snow-clad slopes of 14,410-foot high Mount Rainier south of my hometown of Seattle.

(NPS Photo)
(NPS Photo)

The plan: Reach 10,000 feet above sea level, then in the company of one of my college fraternity brothers, ski back down over 4,500 feet to Paradise Inn where we had started out that morning.

Reality: Climbing steep, slushy slopes carrying skis over your shoulder is no easy feat. Long before we attained that nearly two-mile high elevation, fatigue, and discretion (the better part of valor), forced us to give up the climb and schuss back down-slope.

But how does that experience relate to one of the most visually astonishing documentary films that I have ever seen and which could be awarded a coveted gold “Oscar” statuette at the upcoming academy awards.

Plenty, as it turns out.

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Go Climb A Rock: In Yosemite

Go Climb A Rock: In Yosemite

Back in November of 1970, living on an Air Force Base in central Indiana that was flat earth surrounded by cornfields, I watched on TV as two men did something that had never been accomplished before: They scaled the sheer rock face of El Capitan’s “Wall of Early Morning Light” in Yosemite National Park.


(Click here if the video player does not appear)

I’d been to Yosemite twice in 1968, seen El Capitan, and had a strong sense of what effort it had taken to make that ascent.

El Cap 2

But last month, nearly 45 years after Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell made their historic climb, two of the newer generation of Yosemite “mountain men” did something even more unbelievable: They went up El Capitan, from top to bottom, free-climbing.

What makes people engage such death-defying endeavors?

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