Vertical Limit: The Guide to Climbing

2:14 p.m. on November 20, 2009 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Vertical Limit: The Guide to Climbing"

If you watched the 2000 "climbing" movie Vertical Limit and wondered — like me, and every other viewer with at least a basic understanding of climbing, physics, or common sense —why the characters kept doing inane things (like climbing K2 with nitroglycerin or that crazy chasm leap by Chris O'Donnell) then this video is for you.

Full article at

4:37 p.m. on November 20, 2009 (EST)
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At the Philmont Climbing Directors Conference back in 2001, we spent one whole evening rolling around the gym floor laughing at this film.

There was a member of the original rec.climbing.useful in the VFTT days (Scott Billups, if I recall corrrectly) whose wife did the rotoscoping of VL. If you look at the video and go through "The Leap" slowly, you will see that his trajectory is a U-shaped curved circular arc, rather than the downward bending parabola that the real trajectory would have been. The "Special Edition" DVD has a "filming of" extra that shows the framework and suspension cable that were rotoscoped out (the "Special Edition" of Cliffhanger has some sections showing the apparatus of Sly's maneuvers as well).

But what I want to know is why did she not know how to dynamically place a cam in Utah sandstone, but did for K2 ice?

9:58 p.m. on November 26, 2009 (EST)
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Having no experiance at mt climbing, I thought it was very entertaining.I have since then become curious and watched the movie " into thin air' and was amazed of what happend on EVEREST and in 1996. I keep up with everest news and have read and watched videos and books and learned about Ed Viesters who is one of or the best climbers there is. although I am a hiker i really admire those people who climb all the 14-8000ers. I know hollywood becomes hollywierd somtimes, nonetheless i liked VL despite its flaws.

Thank you and never stop hiking!

3:52 a.m. on November 27, 2009 (EST)
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Then there was the Sylvester Stallone climbing movie -- Cliffhanger? -- where in the beginning he uses one of those explosive drills to set a bolt. I thought "Before this movie is over somebody's gonna get one of those right between the eyes." I was sooo disappointed when it didn't happen...

For a little more verite, try the movie "Touching the Void", a gripping retelling/reenactment of Joe Brown's incredible survival story based on his book of the same name.

And for any big mountain ski fans out there, don't miss "Steep", a documentary on extreme skiing that starts with Bill Briggs' descent of the Grand Teton and works its way up the the present ca. 2007. (Alternative title: "Dead Men Skiing").

7:44 p.m. on November 27, 2009 (EST)
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Touching the Void and Steep are two favorite movies here. We own both, though we're not big movie collectors.

Touching the Void is a rare case where I enjoyed the movie nearly as much as the excellent book. It's right at the top of my list of favorite outdoor books.

Because of Steep I learned that Bill Briggs grew up just down the road from our Maine town.

8:13 p.m. on November 27, 2009 (EST)
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Now we're watching Steep. Does this count as preparing for ski season?

8:34 a.m. on November 28, 2009 (EST)
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415 forum posts has over 40 pages of comments ragging/riffing on Vertical Limit.

Consensus: it's better if you think of it as comedy.

May 26, 2018
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