When I was a sophomore in college in 2000, the Internet still had a bit of a wild west feel to it. I used Napster to cop all my music, and I relied on Climb X Media to supply me with all of my climbing porn. Mostly those videos were just clips of dope-looking boulders or footage from PCA climbing comps set to good hip-hop or reggae tracks. As this was before streaming was invented, I had to actually download all the files and store them on my hard drive. It’s no exaggeration to say that I watched those films thousands of times, and I can still recall the moves, the yells and the soundtracks to each of those videos.

In 2008 Nikon released the world’s first video-enabled DSLR camera, the D90. Around the same time, Facebook was just beginning to get popular, and Vimeo had just launched their premier accounts.  Suddenly, still photographers had an affordable and familiar way to transition into the world of professional filmmaking. Most importantly, those high-res films could now easily be distributed through the growth of social-media networks. The result was an explosion of new films, small production companies, and guys running around the Happy boulders with cameras on sticks.

But soon it wasn’t just enough to capture sick-looking climbing footage with a camera. Anyone could that—and it seemed that everyone was doing that. The premier filmmakers began to differentiate themselves, and they started by calling themselves not only filmmakers but “storytellers.” They used their cameras as their tools to spin their epic tales, turning climbers into protagonists, and using the world of rock as the milieu against which this protagonist would grow for the better. You can trace this evolution from Dosage 1 to King Lines, which is probably the best example of a classic three-act story/film.

The quality of climbing media was getting better and better … All thanks to that transition away from just simple climbing porn to well-crafted story. People and personalities rose to the surface, while the actual routes/boulders became the backdrops. Yet it was precisely in this growing preference for story over action that we actually began to lose one of our best genres: climbing porn.

For the last several years, there’s been an absence of good climbing porn available to us. Most videos are either great stories—or they try to be great stories and come off instead as bad cliches. This happens when the filmmaker tries to mold a situation to fit a prefabricated story structure that doesn’t apply to that reality, most often by coaxing the star climber to inflate the significance of their experience or exaggerate the quality/difficulty of the route/boulder.  The result is something that’s  almost unbearable to watch as the featured climber sounds like a puppet on screen, spouting off their own truisms that they are subconsciously borrowing from other climbing films.

The reality is, not every route or boulder we climb is a life-changing experience that demands a Coppola-length narrative. Sometimes, pro climbers just need to get on screen wearing their sponsors’ gear and apparel, and look damn good doing it. And sometimes, all we as viewers really want is just some good old fashioned sloper-slappin’, crimp-pippin’ hardcore climbing porn.

No interviews. No need to know anything beyond the climber’s name, grade of the problem/route, and its location. No fast-forwarding over sequences. No need to see someone grabbing the same crimp three times in super slow mo. No story at all.

My good friend and badass climbing filmmaker/photographer Keith Ladzinski is paving the way for the triumphant return of Climbing Porn with his new “Aesthetic Series” of climbing films. The first one features Matty Hong climbing Gutless Wonder (5.14b) at the Puoux, outside of Glenwood Springs.

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“Here’s the vid, the first in a freebie mini series on beautiful routes I’m calling the “Aesthetic” series,” Keith wrote on his Facebook post. “No in depth stories, just beautiful climbs and a little shenanigans, more coming soon. Hope you enjoy!”

True to Keith’s word, there is no real in-depth story here. It’s just badass footage of a badass climber taking down a short, little route at a road-cut crag next to I-70.

The real story is that Keith simply wanted an excuse to play with some new continuous LED lights. His idea was to shoot this route at dusk and try to make some interesting visuals and play with his new toys. He assembled a team that included Matty Hong as the talent, Bear Cam and Jim Tharp on B-roll, and me as the belayer.

The other real story is that Matty had never climbed at the Puoux before. He didn’t warm up. He just got right on Gutless Wonder, which opens up with a V10 boulder problem and a bunch of athletic campus moves between in-cut finger locks. He dogged his way up the route. Rested for 30 minutes. Then one-hung it. Then finally redpointed it on his third try, which is the footage in the video. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. Though we were joking about how Alex Megos once passed through here and flashed this climb, which is also baller.

Hope you enjoy this video. And I for one am looking forward to seeing more good climbing porn in 2015.

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  • Javi Behr Fernandez

    YES!! Im getting tired of watching videos trying to squeeze a narrative that simply isn’t there. Its always some botched attempt at man vs himself/=tantrum & man vs. nature=”the conditions”Sometimes its cool to just see a top athlete performing at his/her best. Theres alot to learn about pacing, tension, and climbing technique that gets lost in over edited, slo motion climbing videos.

    heres my feeble attempt at climbing porn:

    • disqus_ijVyxFa2V2

      Agreed, climbing porn is awesome. I’m a little frustrated with the way its
      disseminated though. What made the
      golden age of climbing media…well…GOLDEN, was the fact that you had to wait for
      these feats of hair-blowing-in-the-wind-deep-water-soloing-screaming-from-the-top-of-your-lungs-just-to-stay-on-goodness. It was the anticipation of seeing something
      that had yet to be reported on/or shown that inflated the ascents meaning and
      added to the myth’s of these great climbing legends (for me at the time it was
      obviously the dynamic duo of Sharma and Graham, but got enlarged quickly to
      envelope the timeless talents of Beth Rodden, Tommy Caldwell, Jason Kehl, James
      Litz, and countless others whose names have been lost in the anals of climbing
      minutia history). Now instead of getting
      something polished and anticipatory documenting the truly worthwhile ascents of
      the season or year, its meaningless soundbites, or poorly shot-on-my-iphone
      productions of mind blowing ascents that are now reduced to pixelated garbage. Some of these are shot so poorly you can’t
      even tell what the climber is grabbing and makes it more anticlimactic than a
      narcoleptic hooker. YES I want to see
      the most recent ascents and I want to see them now goddamnit, but I also want
      to wait for that dosage, that well produced, high quality, ego-inflating
      documentary of climbing porn. I guess
      what I’m saying here is bring back the DOSAGE’s!! I would gladly go without logging onto DPM or
      getting spoon fed Vimeo clips for a few months if it meant I got to go to the
      gear store and pick up an actual copy of Dosage 6, or whatever it is the kids
      want to call it these days.

      • Dan_Neufeld

        “Yes!” to every point you made.

        • Sash Hughes

          Yeah, especially your point about things getting lost in the ‘anals’ of climbing history :)

  • BidBidBid

    “And sometimes, all we as viewers really want is just some good old fashioned sloper-slappin’, crimp-pippin’ hardcore climbing porn.” Honestly I just really don’t like the term climbing porn. I’ve had multiple women who are into climbing mention that they get uncomfortable by the climbing bros who host video sessions and describe certain videos with that term so I’ve stopped using it as a whole. I hope that isn’t what aesthetically pleasing raw climbing videos end up being dubbed.

    • Pete

      Sorry I’m offended by you using the term climbing bros! As a man I’m uncomfortable with that name!!

      • BidBidBid

        Not even worth it anymore. Have a blessed day.

  • Dan_Neufeld

    As somebody that straddles two worlds, climbing and skateboarding, I am happy to say that skate videos are still mostly void of story lines. This makes the few videos that do include a deeper story special. I am getting tired of waiting for the next large production climbing video, only to have to sit though gratuitous slow-mo and interviews. I want to see climbing!

  • Mill Creek North Rim

    Great to see Climb X Media referenced. Equally fond memories of watching those videos! Ladzinski is amazing. This is gonna be gooooood.

  • David Anderson

    Climbing P.O.R.N

    Plotless

    Obvious

    Real

    Narcissistic

    To me this “genre” involves some type of connection, it could be the problem/route, the location/environment, the person or all three.

    Here’s my latest

  • fitz cahall

    “No fuckhead you aren’t a storyteller. You’re a roller coaster designer.”

    This is high design’s version of the post above. Equally as amusing.