Valley Uprising Tells the Tale of Climbing's Rogue Heroes -- and its Conflicts

Glen Denny
Royal Robbins on El Capitan's North American Wall, 1964.
Sender Films took seven years to make Valley Uprising, its joyful, wistful history of the climbing counterculture of Yosemite. And as filmmaker Peter Mortimer told the audience at the feature's premiere in Boulder last night, they used every last hour of that time.

"[Partner Nick Rosen] and I haven't seen the final cut of this," he said. "Actually, no one has seen the final, final cut."

Valley Uprising, which comes to the Oriental Theater this Saturday, September 13, has no pretensions of being a comprehensive history of the sport; the credits begin with a long list of influential climbers who don't appear in the film. Instead, it separates Yosemite's history into three broad swaths, the Golden Age of the 1950s and '60s, the Stonemasters' free-climbing revolution in the 1970s, and the Stone Monkeys' reign from 1998 until the present day.

See also: In Valley Uprising, a Boulder Filmmaker Explores Yosemite's Climbing Counterculture

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In Valley Uprising, a Boulder Filmmaker Explores Yosemite's Climbing Counterculture

George Meyers
Dave Diegelman climbing Separate Reality.
In 2007, Sender Films began shooting interviews with rock climbers for a then-unnamed documentary about Yosemite National Park. At the time, the Boulder-based production house was already well-established as climbing filmmakers go, with four full-length movies and innumerable shorts to its credit. (It's since added two more features and a well-received TV series to that count, and helped shoot a 60 Minutes special on renowned ropeless climber Alex Honnold.) But its new project is its longest and most involved yet, encompassing seven years of work, multiple trips to Yosemite, and numerous delays.

On September 11, Sender will premiere the final product at Boulder's Chautauqua Auditorium at Reel Rock 9, the latest iteration of the annual climbing film show put on jointly with New York's Big UP Productions. Titled Valley Uprising, the film tells the story of the counterculture of climbers who helped make Yosemite the cradle of the sport in America.

See also: Reel Rock 8's Climbing Films Leave Audiences With a Lot to Digest

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Support legendary climber Jeff Lowe's medical care tonight at Boulder High School

Courtesy of the Boulder Climbing Community
From the 1970s through the late 1990s, Utah's Jeff Lowe was one of climbing's guiding lights, setting new standards for light-and-fast alpinism with ascents in the Himalayas and Alps and helping to establish the sport of modern mixed climbing with his efforts in the mountains of Colorado.. Now 63, Lowe suffers from an ALS-like neurodegenerative disease that confines him to a wheelchair, and relies on round-the-clock care to help him eat, communicate, and perform most other functions of daily life.

On Tuesday, June 24, climbers and adventure-philes will give back with A Tribute to Jeff Lowe, an evening of climbing film and presentations at the Boulder High School auditorium aimed at raising funds for Lowe's ongoing medical care.

See also: Paddlers, bikers and climbers at the 2014 GoPro Mountain Games

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Lake Steam Baths, gnomes on the range, and more drops in the 2014 bucket list

Bucket lists, by their very nature, are a celebration of the ephemeral -- a wish list of fleeting activities to experience before the mortal coil goes into a death spiral. The following experiences, however, are united by a sense of enduring history, of continuing traditions that will persist past the expiration dates of our own lives.

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Cruising Colfax, Casa Bonita and more drops in the 2014 bucket list

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Reel Rock 8's climbing films leave audiences with a lot to digest

Scott Lentz
Hirayama, Woods, Findlay and company take the stage.
Sender Films had the story of the year fall into its lap through pure chance. The Boulder-based climbing filmmakers had sent a cameraman to follow the mountain-scaling superteam of Ueli Steck and Simone Moro as they attempted to climb a new route across Everest and its neighboring peak, Lhotse, when the pair became involved in a physical confrontation with a group of sherpas that left both climbers bruised and shaken, ending their expedition and vaulting them into magazine and newspaper headlines around the world.

See also: Reel Rock 8 returns to Boulder with its most controversial film ever

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Reel Rock 8 returns to Boulder with its most controversial film ever

Boulder-based climber Daniel Woods in "The Sensei"
Photo courtesy Sender Films
The eighth annual Reel Rock tour, the traveling climbing film show that has become the gold standard in its field over the past decade, launches in Boulder tonight at the Chautauqua Auditorium. On the menu are four new flicks from Sender Films and Big UP productions, including the controversial and much-anticipated film High Tension: Ueli Steck and the Clash on Everest about this spring's brawl between Sherpas and western climbers on the world's highest peak.

See also: Reel Rock 7 Tour: Hottest ticket in town?

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Reel Rock 7 Tour: Hottest ticket in town?

Sender Films
Alex Honnold's free solo climbs of Yosemite's Triple Crown star in Honnold 3.0.
File under you know you're in Boulder when....Promoters of the Reel Rock Tour announced last night that tickets for the kickoff of their package tour of the year's best climbing films on Thursday at Chautauqua Auditorium have already sold out, and that there are only about 100 tickets left out of a total of 1,326 created when a second night of screenings was added on Friday. (get 'em while they're hot for $17 at

See also:
- Was the IFSC World Cup Lead Climbing competition an Olympic sneak peek?
- Ski porn! Westword's guide to this season's biggest ski & snowboard video premieres
- Paul Ryan returns to Colorado as group questions whether he climbed nearly40 14ers

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Mountaineering legend Fred Beckey, 89, signing books tonight at Patagonia Boulder

Fred Beckey's 100 Favorite North American Climbs.jpg
Fred Beckey, author of more than a dozen mountaineering guides, has made more first ascents than any other North American climber -- and possibly more than any climber anywhere. And that's not just because he's been at it the longest, though the fact that he just turned 89 and is still bagging first ascents is going to make his records awfully tough to top. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., Beckey will be talking about his latest book, Fred Beckey's 100 Favorite North American Climbs, to Patagonia Boulder, 1425 Pearl Street, where he'll be introduced by Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan.

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Was the IFSC World Cup Lead Climbing competition an Olympic sneak peek?

2011 IFSC World Cup.jpg
Austrian climbers dominated both the men's and women's competition this past weekend, before a sold-out crowd at Movement Climbing + Fitness in Boulder for the 2011 International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Lead Climbing World Cup. Many climbers -- and climbing fans -- hope this event was a preview of the 2020 Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, since sport climbing has been short-listed by the International Olympic Committee for possible inclusion as a medal event.

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Q&A: Director Anson Fogel brings Cold to the Reel Rock Film Tour

"What the fuck am I doing here?" asks mountain climber Cory Richards, in the opening seconds of Cold, one of six climbing films featured in the 2011 Reel Rock Film Tour that kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. at the Boulder Theater. It's a poignant question: Richards is at 21,959' and freezing his ass off at -51 degrees on February 2, 2011 when he asks it, taking a moment to speak to the camera for posterity just in case he doesn't make it through the ascent of Gasherbrum II, a 26,362' peak in the Himalayas that had foiled all previous winter attempts.

We caught up with Anson Fogel, the Carbondale-based filmmaker responsible for shaping Richards' footage from the trip into one of the year's most chilling documentaries, to see if he came away from the project with any answers.

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