I saw this video a couple months ago, and boy, does it get me pumped up about climbing. This piece was done by a National Geographic photographer who was given an assignment to cover a bunch of climbers on a trip to the famous El Capitan cliff in Yosemite. Being a climber (I’ve finally gotten back into it and I’ve never made a better decision), I automatically feel the intense, wonderful mood of the video as it moves from sweeping shots of the beautiful greater Yosemite area to shots of steaming coffee and sleeping bags. It’s hard to describe the life of a climber. It’s certainly different from other sports or activities. That’s not to say that other sports are less exciting or beneficial, because I always have a soft spot for athletics. But climbing is an all-encompassing experience: mind, body and soul. That’s what struck me about this video: it portrays this experience so incredibly well. You can see the daring actions that the journalist takes alongside the climbers, and you can almost smell the mountain air and feel the gritty rock wall. It’ll almost make you want to go and climb El Capitan right here and now.
The flow of the the video contributes to the overall impact. It moves from morning to day to night so flawlessly, that you feel, as a viewer, as if you are there with them. The close-up shots of the range and climbing rope are so visceral and necessary to tell a story that is otherwise unattainable to and separated from the average person. The video demonstrates the communal aspect of a climbing community so well, and having the ambient noise over the beautiful shots contributes even more to the multimedia experience. Having the journalist speak himself as the voiceover to the piece is interesting, because that’s usually a big no-no with pieces like this. But it’s such a raw piece that breaks so many rules that his narration becomes likable if not necessary to the whole video. It’s almost a self-reflection of a piece than an outsider’s look in. Having the personal narration over these intimate shots draws in the viewer in a warm embrace.
Getting into climbing has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I’m not afraid to say it. Finding something so real is fantastic, and having a piece like this to show and illustrate the magic of the community is exciting.
Maybe I’ll go to El Capitan sooner than expected after all.