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Reel Rock returns to Steamboat, virtually, this weekend

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — During this particularly tough holiday season, stories about rock climbing might seem low on the scale of importance, but the stories told in the Reel Rock 15 lineup are more significant than ever.

Typically, the film festival goes on tour and comes to the Bud Werner Memorial Library. This year, the four-film lineup is premiering virtually at 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets can be purchased at steamboatlibrary.org/events/reelrock for $20 for one viewer or $40 for a group showing. The festival is available for viewing until 7 p.m. on Dec. 14.

Reel Rock partner and filmmaker Nick Rosen said the 2020 lineup is one of the best and features stories of climbers from diverse backgrounds.



“We tell stories about rock climbing ever year, rain or shine,” Rosen said. “Reel Rock has been coming out every year. We weren’t going to stop because of the pandemic.”

Thankfully, all the filming was done before the thick of the pandemic in March, leaving the spring and summer to edit and perfect the films.



The lineup closes out with “Black Ice,” a film about a group from what Rosen calls an “improbable” climbing gym, Memphis Rox, in south Memphis, Tennessee.

Mentors Conrad Anker, Manoah Ainuu and Fred Campbell take climbers from the gym to ice climb in Montana.

“It’s really following the story of this one guy who comes from a pretty tough background, has been shot and pretty severely injured,” Rosen said. “He’s along for the ride, and through that trip — these trips don’t change everything — but he has a real cathartic experience. Just the sense of community and culture and camaraderie and the mission of trying to bring more people of color into the world of climbing, it’s a really inspiring story.”

“Deep Roots” follows Lonnie Kauk, a Yosemite Valley native and son of famous climber Ron Kauk. Lonnie sets out to conquer some of his dad’s most difficult routes, some that haven’t been repeated in decades.

“Action Directe” follows the more-than six-year journey that Melissa Le Neve endures to complete the “most revered sport route on earth.” And “First Ascent/Last Ascent” captures friends Hazel Findlay and Maddy Cope on a trip to Mongolia where they bag first ascents so challenging they will likely be last ascents as well.

The festival is hosted by climbing legend Alex Honnold, known for his daring ropeless climb of El Capitan, documented in the movie “Free Solo.” Honnold will chat with stars of the films from his van in between each film, which are each about 30 minutes long.

“Obviously, there are people suffering out there, and it’s not a fun situation,” Rosen said. “But for our climbers out there, people who love these stories, and even not climbers, for anyone who’s interested in inspirational, real human stories, I think it’s helpful to be able to lose yourself in a story about camaraderie, inspiration and adventure.”

Bud Werner Memorial Library is also hosting a virtual watch party for “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” that runs from Dec. 11 to Dec. 21.

The movie, an official Sundance Film Festival selection and nominee for Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival, explores the massive scale on which humans have altered the planet.

Scientists paired up with filmmakers to document evidence that the Holocene Epoch ended in the mid-20th century and the Anthropocene Epoch began.

The movie is available for free at steamboatlibrary.org/events/anthropocene, but viewers must log in to Kanopy using a library card number.


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