If you’re like me, you think about rock climbing most of the day – even on your downtime.
When I climb, I feel centered, focused, balanced, and strong. I am also inspired by watching others on the rocks, especially when they have more experience than I do. While climbers and non-climbers alike get anxious by watching others’ on the rocks, I learn from their belay technique to the way they balance their entire weight on nonexistent foot holds.
This is the same reason I like to spend my downtime watching movies about rock climbing or with breathtaking rock climbing scenes in them. I like to pay attention to their detailed movements on the rocks and imagine I am there with them. There are so many facets to contemplate, from the sheer physical impossibility of the task and also the mental fortitude it takes to push through on the greatest of stakes.
Whether you are looking for the best rock climbing movies for inspiration, excitement, or relaxation, I have the perfect movie lineup for you.
Dawn Wall (Netflix, 2017)
The Dawn Wall is a documentary based on the true story of Tommy Caldwell and Kevn Jorgenson who made the effort to climb the Dawn Wall, a 3,000 foot rock face in Yosemite National Park in California. To do so, they lived on the vertical wall for weeks.
For Caldwell, who was taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan years before and whose marriage just fell apart, achieving the feat would be just another difficult obstacle overcome. He practices and plans with his partner Caldwell, and they finally make an attempt while facing close media attention. Will Caldwell and Jorgenson make it?
The whole movie is so enthralling, you’ll even forget you are watching a documentary.
Dawn Wall is a documentary, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson play themselves.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Watch This Movie If:
You are feeling unmotivated, looking for inspiration, or simply want to see what the human body is capable of achieving.
Free Solo (National Geographic Films, 2018)
Free Solo, from the award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin is a portrait documentary about Alex Honnold who prepares to be the first person to free-climb Yosemite National Park’s 3000-feet-high El Capitan “El Cap” rock. It is, without a doubt, a film that documents, unflinchingly, one of the most incredible athletic feats of all time.
No rope, no harness – just Honnold and El Cap.
The documentary won an Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature and a BAFTA award for Best Documentary and countless other awards. It is easily the most renowned and arguably the best rock climbing movie to date.
Alex Honnold takes center stage in this documentary about his feat to climb El Cap. Others who are in the film are Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe, Mikey Schaefer, and Sanni McCandless.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
IMDB – 8.2/10
Watch This Movie If:
You want to stay on the edge of your seat while having a greater understanding of human potential – both mental and physical – through rock climbing. I recommend you chalk up for this one, it is absolutely gripping.
Everest (Cross Creek Pictures, 2015)
This film is based on the true story of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer who lead an expidition to climb Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, during the disastrous 1996 season. As they climbed, they experienced fierce blizzards and abrupt and violent storm strikes. Suddenly, the goal was no longer to reach the top, but rather to keep their company and themselves alive.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Scott Fischer, Jason Clarke plays Rob Hall, Ang Phula Sherpa plays Ang Dorjee, Thomas M. Wright plays Michael Groom, and Martin Henderson plays Andy ‘Harold’ Harris.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Watch This Move If:
You don’t feel like watching a documentary, or if you want to remind yourself about the potential risks associated with mountaineering.
Three of the world’s best professional climbers, Conrad Aker, Grace Chin, and Jimmy Chin, come together to embark on one of the most difficult climbs of their lives, and it was all caught on film. The viewer is taken along on their physical and mental journey where they have so much to live for, but know that there is a big probability of dying.
All three climbers face complicated pasts and they aim to overcome them by confronting the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru in the Himalayas, one of the most dangerous and technically complicated peaks in the world. Up to the filming of this documentary, the Shark’s Fin had never been scaled to completion.
Will they make history in this film?
The climbers and stars of this documentary are Conrad Aker, Grace Chin, and Jimmy Chin.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Watch This Movie If:
You are with your forever climbing buddies. This movie, like other documentaries about rock climbing, are a testament to human ambition, perseverance, and strength, but this one also shows the true trust that builds in true friendships.
Valley Uprising (The North Face in association with Clif Bar, 2014)
Before rock climbing was a seriously respected sport, hobby, lifestyle, or whatever it may be to you, it was a revolution born of the counterculture of outdoor sports. Some of the leaders of that revolution were rock climbing pioneers Yvon Chouinard, Royal Robbins, Lynn hill, and John Long. This documentary tells the story of climbers who challenged convention, tested the limits of humanity, and opened endless opportunities for future climbers.
The historic documentary includes a series of digitally animated archival photography, spectacular historic climbing footage, and interviews with some of the first to dedicate their lives to climb Yosemite rocks.
Peter Sarsgaard narrates the film, and the film features interviews with and footage of pioneer climbers Yvon Chouinard, Royal, Robbins, Lynn Hill, John Long, and current top climbing athletes Dean Potter and Alex Honnorld.
IMDB – 8.1/19
Watch This Movie If:
You want to brush up on your rock climbing history or you simply want to pay homage to the greats that came before you.