You’ve been anticipating it for quite a while. He’s been posting on Instagram to build up the hype. It’s finally here. Your best friend Kevin just released his uncut GoPro climbing film on YouTube.
After much deliberation Kevin titled his work Trad Climbing in North Carolina, a name he said encapsulated the full experience of his film without straying into the mundane. “I wanted a title that could appeal to the average climber,” he said. “But also one that would make sure that my footage gets a lot of views. Something just exotic enough to make people think, ‘Hey, I wanna watch this,’ but that kept it relevant, of course.”
Documenting his ascent of Rumbling Bald’s Frosted Flake (5.9) on gear, the film sits at 36:17 in length, and has already racked up two-dozen views on YouTube (half of which can be attributed to Kevin pulling up the video on various devices throughout the day to show climbers at the gym, his mom, and a girl he met at the dry cleaners).
Shot in classic first-person style, via a GoPro attached to Kevin’s helmet, the film documents all the trials and tribulations of his ascent of the classic 80-foot flake, from the protein bar he devoured prior to the climb, to the five foot fall he took after placing a #3, to the colossal fart he let out moments after lowering to the ground.
“Trad Climbing in North Carolina” contains minimal dialogue, although some muttering of “Jesus Christ” and various swear words can be heard as Kevin attempts to find solid hand jams, along with someone down below yelling, “Have you seen my car keys?” around the six minute mark, and his belayer shrieking, “Yeahhhhh man!” each time he successfully clipped a placement. This absence of regular narration was apparently a deliberate artistic decision on Kevin’s part, to attempt to draw the viewer into the narrative. “I’d say it’s something that brings you into the moment. You can hear the grunts, hear the sound of my gear on the rock, hear that pure grit. There’s no joker just talking over everyone. It’s like you’re really there. That’s what’s engaging about [‘Trad Climbing in North Carolina’].”
Kevin added that the first-person camera angle was also deliberate, and not simply a matter of necessity given his limited budget (and the fact that his camera gear consisted of a single second-edition GoPro that he bought on Craigslist when he was 16). “The first person footage just lends this gnarly, raw element to the whole film. You feel like you’re on the wall with me. You see the sweat on my arms, you can almost feel the pump coursing through ‘em. It’s all a part of bringing that visceral experience of hard trad to the digital viewer.”
“With big-name films like ‘Free Solo,’ you have this far-out climbing,” Kevin added. “It’s incredible, sure, but it’s very inaccessible. High production value, HD cameras, tons of cameramen swinging around, top-notch climbing all that. It’s cool to watch but it’s so far removed from the average climber’s life. The best climbing content is down to earth. Organic. It’s stuff that climbers can watch and say, ‘Hell, that could be me!’”
In addition to the film’s sixteen likes on YouTube, three commenters have also left their thoughts. “This is what happens when you don’t wear a helmet, moron,” wrote TradStoneMaster11, timestamping the moment Kevin took a five footer. Given that the footage is first-person, it’s unclear how TradStoneMaster11 ascertained that Kevin wasn’t wearing a helmet (he was), but the individual went on to reply to their own comment thirty-five minutes later and add, “Gumbies like you are what’s wrong with climbing!”
Another commenter, FoxyFoxLuvverXXX, wrote: “Cum Play with me only FREE naked pics link below,” while a third viewer, TomRLawrence213, wrote: “I just made $1,000,000 using CryptoMaster and YOU Can Too!”
It’s hard to deny that this is sparse engagement for a digital film debut, but Kevin appears optimistic. “This is just the beginning,” he said. “It’s like search engine optimization stuff. The meta hasn’t been processed yet so Google isn’t tracking it or whatever. Give it time. Mellow wasn’t built in a day.”