A Wales Tale

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Nowadays, any youngster with a camcorder can play filmmaker, which, sadly, keeps me away from many a climbing flick. This changed when I heard one of my heroes, George Smith, was starring in Upside Down Wales (£20, alhughes.tv). The film starts with a few obsessives trying an overhanging boulder in the rain. One reveals he’s been working its micro crimps for 12 years. As the film bounces from one overhanging venue to the next, Smith, a middle-aged hardman with three daughters, interviews his fellow climbers. Smith new-routes his way out outrageous sea caverns at Gogarth — the epicenter of Welsh climbing. One baffling climb, which navigates a hanging arch, starts and ends at the same belay. Watching Smith and friends battle with nary a bolt in sight, you realize Welsh climbing has nothing to do with grades, and everything to do with camaraderie and adventure.

—Mark Synnott