I can’t quite believe another year has come to an end already. The last 12 months have been a bit of a whirlwind and it’s only when looking back at all the different projects I realise how busy 2016 has been for Dark Sky Media. I’ve chosen the top ten highlights of the year below (in no particular order!). Here’s to a busy and adventure filled 2017!
-- Chris Prescott 31/12/2016
1. Shifting Dreams
Shifting Dreams was the biggest Dark Sky Media project of the year and followed French climber Caroline Ciavaldini as she attempted to climb the classic ‘Voie Petit’ on the Grand Capucin. The film quickly grew into a bit of monster both in terms of scale and scope as time progressed and most of the summer and autumn was taken up shooting and editing the film. Jumping out of a helicopter onto the tiny metre wide summit of the Grand Capucin was definitely a highlight and not something any of us will forget for a while! A massive thank you to The North Face for making the project possible, as well as La Sportiva, Wild Country and DJI for their support.
2. The Unknown
Back in March we headed to Mull with Dave MacLeod without too much of a plan other than to shoot some climbing on the sea cliff granite in the south of the island. Dave being Dave he quickly jumped on a line he’d looked at the previous year and after a bit of a battle with conditions he climbed the route ‘Ice Burn’, a pretty gnarly overhanging E8 finger crack. After doing the route Dave chatted about his passion for new routing and it quickly became obvious this would be the theme for the film. After an ‘interesting’ trip to shoot in some rough parts of inner city Glasgow where Dave grew up we came out with The Unknown, supported by Black Diamond.
3. Wide Boyz Minions
You can always rely on Wide Boyz Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall to provide some entertainment in front of the camera and this year’s birthday ascent of Master’s Edge was no exception. Previous years have seen the first banana suit, drag and fat suit ascent of the iconic route and this year was something different again. Turning up in the car park to see two giant inflatable Minions running around provided a lot of entertainment. Unfortunately with it being January the wind was pretty strong and being inside a large kite like outfit without being be able to see anything made it pretty tough to climb the route. After a few attempts we all headed to the Climbing Works for the yearly Beastmaker Footless Festival. Thanks to Wild Country.
4. Dear Alison
Dear Alison was part of a collaboration with UKClimbing.com about the Derbyshire poet Helen Mort. Helen is a keen climber and recently wrote a collection of poems ‘No Map Could Show Them’ about female climbing pioneers. ‘Dear Alison’ is a personal tribute to Alison Hargreaves who was killed on K2 in 1995. Using the poem we created a visual representation of Helen’s words, centering around the route Namenlos at Stanage.
5. New England Fall
In late September we stopped off on the east coast of the USA en-route to the Banff Mountain Film Festival to check out the climbing and the famous fall colours. We weren’t disappointed and over three days visited The Gunks, Rumney and the White Mountains of New England. As well as some great climbing the colours were indescribable. A short film is on the way in the new year so keep a look at for that one.
This year was the first time we made it to Canada for the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival, probably the biggest and most respected on the adventure film circuit. Between the jam-packed festival programme we squeezed in some night shoots in the National Park, the highlight of which was the night at Vermillion Lakes. The combination of the crystal clear skies and the turquoise of the lake made for some great shots.
7. Wide Boyz Staffordshire Nose
Back in mid-August I got a call one morning from Tom Randall asking if I fancied shooting him and Pete attempting to break the ‘Staffordshire Nose’ record later that day. For the uninitiated, this involves climbing every Joe Brown and Don Whillans route in Staffordshire (split between The Roaches, Hen Cloud and Ramshaw) in the quickest time possible. Without fully appreciating what I was getting myself into we headed over to Staffordshire in the late afternoon in perfect weather. What followed was 2 hours and 44 minutes of utter mayhem as we struggled to keep up with the Wide Boyz who were climbing at lightning speed. After quickly finishing the routes at the Roaches and Ramshaw we managed to make it to Ramshaw just in time to see them climb the final route ‘Ramshaw Crack’, a burly E4 off-width. Despite feeling completely broken (never mind Pete and Tom!) it was great to see them smash the record by over 2 hours, a seriously impressive feat which probably won’t be beaten any time soon.
8. Chamonix World Cup
The Chamonix World Cup is always a highlight on the World Cup circuit and this year was no exception. The location of the wall in the centre of Chamonix always gives lots of good opportunities for shooting with the mountains of the Mont Blanc massif being. Despite the apocalyptic weather that stuck around for most of the competition there was still the opportunity to get some good shots, including this one of South Korean climber Jain Kim.
In March we headed to Malham Cove with Hot Aches Productions to film 17 year old William Bosi trying to climb Rainshadow. Despite the poor conditions it was seriously impressive to see someone so young come so close to climbing one of the hardest routes in the UK. Although he didn’t get it that trip (falling on one of the last moves) he climbed it shortly afterwards. Definitely a good motivator for my own climbing, even if the grade is a little lower!
10. Practice of the Wild
After a whistle-stop trip back to the UK in May after climbing in Chulilla. Spain with UKClimbing we headed to Magic Wood in Switzerland to film with Dave MacLeod. This has always been somewhere I’ve wanted to go and it certainly didn’t disappoint with Dave managing to achieve his 20-year goal of bouldering 8C with his ascent of Practice of the Wild, a route put up by Chris Sharma in 2004. Thanks to Mountain Equipment for making the film possible.
Happy New Year!