work journal

Cirque of the Unclimbables film

December 6, 2019

In summer 2010, Lorna Illingworth, Madaleine Sorkin and I spent 25 days living at the base of the southeast face of Proboscis, a sheer 2000’ granite wall in Northern Canada’s Cirque of the Unclimbables. Supported by grants from the American Alpine Club, our goal was to free the original 1963 route.

Our story, as told through Women at Work, is “rough, raw and real,” according to Boulder, Colorado filmmaker Brad Clement:

In 25 minutes, this two-part film includes pov footage of dripping-wet technical rock climbing 1000’ off the deck, our hard work cleaning and hand-drilling bolts, and Madaleine sending 5.12 high above the clouds. Also, a dance party and a snowstorm. Interviews with first ascentionists Royal Robbins and Jim McCarthy led to inclusion of historic images.

We freed four new pitches while there, and although we had some confusion about where the first ascent party went, we believe they went to the summit directly where we traversed left about two-thirds of the way up, which means there are still several more pitches remaining before the entire route goes free.

I think back at that trip in awe of the place, the other climbers who'd been there before us, and the enduring friendships we created in our hard work together as a team.

Years later, many things about this film still represent my approach to work: big vision, full commitment, close partners, hard work and an appreciation for beauty.

Watch part 1 of the film

Watch part 2 of the film

All the musicians are climbers. Artists include Jessica Kilroy and her folk/electronica band, Pterodactyl Plains; badass climbing rapper Odub; guitar-pickin’ Tim Johnson; and Bozeman, Montana’s Holler N’ Pine, whose lead singer, Yogesh Simpson, made this website.

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