Shooter Jeff Cunningham
We just got back from three weeks of filming on the most legendary piece of rock in the world – Yosemite Valley’s 3,000-foot El Capitan. This is where big wall climbing was born half a century ago, and where the cutting edge of climbing remains to this day. We were shooting with some of El Cap’s titans – granite masters Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden, daredevil Dean Potter, speed demon Hans Florine, and vertical entertainer Timmy O’Neill (www.timmyoneill.com), who was climbing the Salathe Wall with his brother Sean, a T-12 parapalegic badass.
We were shooting for our big documentary feature project on Yosemite climbing (more on that later) as well as for The Weather Channel show Epic Conditions, for which we are doing an episode about big wall climbing on El Cap that will air in October.
The production was epic in itself: we lugged over 600 pounds of gear to the top of El Cap (including a 20 foot crane), set up a super-leave-no-trace campsite at the summit (we packed out over 50 pounds of human waste –peeyuw), and rapped down from above to shoot all the action. Shooting was interrupted by a nasty, unpredicted storm on the wall (the Weather Channel folks will be psyched) but we still got some great hi-def video and Super 16mm film footage, and a taste for more shooting to come. We saw drunken old timers rattling on about lug boot ascents, simmering ethics battles in the parking lot, bears carjacking tourists for a half-eaten cookie – the full Valley experience.
Thanks to Jeff Cunningham (his site), Lincoln Else, Chris MacNamara (supertopo.com), Brad Lynch, Ivo Ninov (stonemonkeys.com), the YOSAR boys, Shi-poo-poi and all the other monkeys who helped make it happen!
Timmy and Ivo