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Film Review // Dawn Wall

Located in Yosemite National Park , a towering granite monolith looms up, magnificent and terrifying. This is El Capitan, an absolute haven for some of the best climbers in the world, with a sheer rock face that seems almost unconquerable.

The ‘Dawn Wall’ is a particular route on the rock face where the light first hits at sunrise and was singled out by Tommy Caldwell, a renowned American rock climber as the route he wanted to take up. The film documents Tommy Caldwell meticulously studying El Capitan and breaking the wall into 32 individual pitches. His partner, Kevin Jorgensen, who comes from a bouldering background before this adventure, had to embrace a new style of climbing to ascend the ‘Dawn Wall’.

The film tracks their journey to free climb this area of El Capitan that had previously been seen as too smooth, and devoid of holds to grip. To achieve the climb the pair had to sleep, eat and bear out brutal weather conditions on the wall itself to complete their ascent. It tracks the highs and lows of the team dynamic and their personal physical and mental struggles, showing that half the battle is endurance and the power to push the body to the extreme.

As well as the beauty of being able to watch the climbers complete the climb on the wall itself, ‘Dawn Wall’ documents their lives before the climb, their personal struggles and the experiences it took for them to reach this point in their lives, where they were willing to take on the weight of this adventure.

The film is a beautiful blend of scenery, comments from the climbers and their families and many close ups of the rock’s smooth face, which puts to shame any problems you may have been having at the climbing wall. For a truly inspiring adventure of human spirit, the Dawn Wall is a film not to be missed.

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