Sold out Reel Rock 11 attracts Vancouver’s climbing community

Ashima Shiraishi bouldering in Japan. (Rock and Ice Magazine Photo)

A sea of plaid flannel shirts, black toques and beards filled the Rio Theatre for the sold out screening of Reel Rock 11 last Tuesday.

The rock climbers of the Lower Mainland were out in full force for the final week of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. The Reel Rock Film Tour, founded in 2006 by two filmmakers and shown in collaboration with VIMFF, is an annual film series that showcases the best outdoor adventure films of the year.

Sandra Warren has been attending screenings of Reel Rock at the Rio Theatre In East Vancouver and Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver for the past five years.

“The festival is a really great way for a bunch of like-minded people to get together and just be inspired,” she said. “I definitely get a lot out of them.”

Warren and her boyfriend began attending the festival when they moved from Montreal and became immersed in climbing culture in Vancouver. For them, it was a once-a-year opportunity to reconnect with their friends outside of the climbing gym and off of the mountain.

Out of the five short films chosen for Reel Rock 11, Warren was most impressed with Boys in the Buggs. This is the story of a four-year attempt by two world-class crack climbers to complete a route (with an imposing 5.14 grading) in The Bugaboos of the B.C. wilderness.

“[Boys in the Buggs] was really inspiring because they went back year after year after year and didn’t give up,” said Warren.

For Jens Ouram, host of the Reel Rock series since its inception, he continues to be awestruck by the accomplishments of the climbers depicted on the big screen.

“It’s the 11th consecutive year I’ve been coming to these shows and thinking [that] next year I’m gonna be in one of those films,” he told the audience.

“I want to make history and become the best climber in the world.” – Ashima Shiraishi

For Ouram, a highlight of this year’s picks was the opening film, Young Guns, which depicts the journeys of young rock climbers Ashima Shiraishi, 15, and Kai Lightner, 16.

Shiraishi, who since age 9 has set world records for being the first female and youngest climber to complete the toughest routes around the world, was truly inspirational.

“I want to make history and become the best climber in the world,” said Shiraishi in the film.

Climbers were also treated to the films Brette, about a young female free-climber (rock climbing alone, without ropes) living in Squamish, B.C.; Rad Dad, which lovingly displayed the balance between fatherhood and passion; and Dodo’s Delight, a hilarious adventure about a group of climbers travelling by sailboat seeking out unique climbing opportunities.

While Reel Rock will return for its twelfth year in 2017, VIMFF will resume its Fall Series from Nov. 22 to 25.

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