“Up To Speed”

Is speed climbing just a fringe activity whose glory days (the X Games) are long behind it? Reel Rock filmmaker Zachary Barr takes an in-depth look.

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Speed Climbing is literally a vertical race, a 15-meter dash to the top of an internationally standardized route. And it has a great many detractors, many of whom are top professionals who “don’t think it’s real climbing.” But Reel Rock producer Zachary Barr set aside his inner curmudgeon to dive into the sport’s weird and wild past.

He traces its lineage through early adopters like “Hollywood” Hans Florine, best known for holding multiple speed records on The Nose, and Jacky Godoffe, the route setter who designed the globally-standardized route in the early 2000s. Along the way, you’ll learn about the sport’s campy X Games era and meet international characters with nicknames like “the Persian Cheetah.”

In the end you might conclude, as Barr does, that the climbing is real, it’s difficult, and it’s unlike anything else in the sport, with competitors devoting years of training and discipline just to shave off tenths of a second off their time. Repetitive, yes. Easy, no.