Nov 082011
Authors: Allison Sylte

Peter Mortimer says that hands down, climbing is like no other sport on Earth.

“I ski, I surf, but those sports are all about the vibe, you know?” Mortimer said. “Climbing is a real universal thing. It’s the act of finding this goal, this dream, this giant wall and meeting the challenge of that wall.”

Mortimer, a former Boulder resident who has been climbing since middle school, began his filmmaking career in New York, where he worked on independent films and TV shows.

He said he had always wanted to capitalize on his passion for rock climbing, which eventually led him and fellow filmmaker Josh Lowell to found the “Reel Rock Film Tour” in 2006.

“There are so many amazing stories and people involved with climbing, and it was an opportunity to find those stories,” Mortimer said.

“Reel Rock” is a series of climbing and adventure films that Mortimer said aim to shed light on the people involved with climbing and hopefully motivate people to get out there and try it themselves.

The tour will make a stop in Fort Collins at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Lincoln Center.

Among other shorts, this year’s tour features Dean Potter and Sean Leary’s quest to break an El Capitan speed record, a winter ascent of a fearsome Himalayan peak, a nine-year-old bouldering prodigy and slackline whiz Andy Lewis.

“Climbing, slacklining and BASE jumping are all valuable for me for different reasons, most of them very personal,” Lewis said in an email to the Collegian. “…being able to fly is awesome, and to walk the horizon is a dream of many.”

Lewis, who recently won the Slacklining World Championships, said one of his coolest adventures involved breaking a “surfing” slacklining record in China.

“I basically had to shake a slackline back and forth wider than a meter, as many times as I could in 60 seconds,” Lewis said. “… in China they set a highline 80 feet long, 50 feet high in front of a waterfall, and in a crowd of more than 5,000 people I got one attempt on live TV to try to break my record.”

To put the tour together, and find athletes and locations to film, Mortimer says he and the other filmmakers stay in touch with climbing’s top athletes, and try to combine heart-racing climbing action with more personal stories.

“There are a select few doing cutting edge objectives, and those are the people we’re trying to find,” Mortimer said.

But shooting people pushing the boundaries of the sport comes with a unique set of challenges.

“We were filming on El Capitan, and we had nine different cameras rigged up, and the climbers were just going so fast that we had about 30 seconds to get our shots,” Mortimer said. “We got them, but it was tough.”

“Filming with the crew is fun,” Lewis added. “Being able to visualize scenes, shoot them and then see them on the big screen was a long process, with an awesome result. Figuring how to tell a story is harder than you think.”

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at

Want to see the tour?

When: 7 p.m.
Where: The Lincoln Center
How much: $10

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