Gripped: Climbing the Killer Pillar, a Review


Sorry peeps, I know it’s been a minute since the old Rexster chimed in with a movie review. To be honest, I couldn’t even use a keyboard there for a while—I was doing this whole gym bouldering, Crossfit, P90X thing and taking lots of HGH (hey, it’s totally legal…if you lie to your doctor), and I got so swole I could barely move my arms. When I saw my bro-ldering performance tank from V0 back down to V0-, and I started slipping off some of the more undercut freehands on the upper Gunks, I knew it was time to slow things down. So yeah, you might see me in the weight room wearing $190 Italian rock shoes and busting out hammer curls, but right now it’s all about aesthetics, not bulk. That’s why the weights are smaller than usual, OK?

Watch the full film:

Anyway, in my down time I had a chance to watch the excellent new climbing film Gripped: Climbing the Killer Pillar. Unlike Free Solo, which is a documentary about something that probably happened (just like “Sleepy Joe” won the election, LOL, #stopthesteal, or there’s a “coronavirus” that somehow killed 400,000 Americans #coronahoax #scamdemic #billgatesilluminati #5Gmindcontrolvaccine), Gripped is a core climbing film that also weaves in a love story. The two main characters are Bret and Rose, and let me tell you, they really “fall” for each other on a rope-running mission in the “Yosemite Mountains.”

The movie starts out with Rose and her friend Jade heading to the Buttercream Boulders from Los Angeles. It’s Rose’s first time clomping non-artificial rock, and she runs around touching the limestone screaming “Whoo, whoo, whoo!”, which is exactly how you should behave at the cliffs. Thankfully—because it’s never safe for two ladies to climb alone without a man there to put the rope up first or “spot” the crashmats—they run into the hunky, shirtless Bret, who saves the day with a muscular catch just in time when Rose falls off The Mandalorian, a 5.16 undergrapple. Bret is pretty swole, which is accurate from what I know of real climbers and adds a nice true-to-life touch, but as we also say down at Fat Tony’s gym in the Bowery, “Bro, I think you skipped leg day.” (This will matter later in the movie, when he needs to pröösick an over-crimp.)

Anyway, the ladies soon fall in with Bret, his little putz friend Jeremy, and their merry band of “scumbags,” which is a term of endearment for the jobless, homeless climbers who travel around the country chasing “epic condies” and living off handouts, libtard stimulus checks, and their parents’ money. Bret, a real Renaissance “scumbagger,” tells Rose about putting sage in your coffee to flavor it and using it to wipe your butt, then he takes her up a multi-prong rock-slope above camp. On the wall, Bret makes Rose carry a giant, floppy blue backpack and says encouraging things like “It’s not like a boulder problem. You can’t just jump down from 300 feet,” when she backs off a freehand. Rose is very pretty and could have her pick of all the scumbaggers, but she’s chosen Bret because he’s so obviously a quality dude and the undisputed alpha-bro. (Hey, Bret, bro, I can totally relate, bro…let’s hang sometime.) I mean, the dude’s so diesel he doesn’t even need a helmet, but just wears a hella-tight blue-bandanna headband to protect his noggin.

Things really crank up that night when Rose picks the next day’s climb out of the guidebook, the Killer Pillar. Encouraging as ever, Bret says, “Killer Pillar. It’s the real deal. It’s not a couple of pitches…It’s a grade V.” In fact, “It’s a whole other level of shredding.” He knows he’ll have his hands full because Rose, as she admits while surveying the night sky after they share a lusty kiss, is “not used to camping. Or getting up 800-foot cliffs. Or looking up at all these stars.” (I mean, women, ammirite?)

I don’t want to give too much away since Gripped is such a tightly plotted movie, but suffice it to say that things go wrong on the climb, especially after Rose drops the No. 4 Cramalot and Bret, rightfully, yells at her. The action is breakneck from here on out, with jammin’ tunes and epic footage of “trad leads,” “whoppers,” “punjis,” and “pröösiks,” and with a reversal of roles that had me scratching my head then reaching for another Red Bull to make sure of what I’d just seen. (A lady, leading a rock climb—I mean, really? Was this CGI?) There were some great lines in here, too, that I’m sure I’ll quote to myself next time I’m short-roping the Trapps: “The only way down is up!” “Rose, you climb or we die!” “There’s nothing up there; it’s completely blank.” And the classic: “We’re kinda fucked.”

The film also does a great job showcasing the gnarly exposure on the Killer Pillar, which for some reason has a view straight down to El Cap Meadow. Five stars.


When he’s not busy writing about the latest trends in extreme sporting, Rex Dangerman, sports and fitness editor at New York Extreme Men’s Fitness Magazine, can be found surfing the Jersey Shore, ultra-running in Central Park, or freehanding the Shawangunks.