11 amazing climbing films you can watch any time you like
© Shawn Reeder/Red Bull Content Pool
Check out our selection of the best climbing movies that you could be watching right now online, on Red Bull TV or via download.
There are lots of good films about climbing out there, but the ones on this list will blow your mind. Most climbing movies combine spectacular scenery with amazing feats and genuine drama – but these focus on the human side, getting right to the heart of some of climbing’s greatest legends and stories.
Every one is worth a couple of hours of your attention, whether you’re into climbing or not.
Be sure to download the free Red Bull TV app and catch the climbing action on all your devices! Get the app here.
1. The Dawn Wall (2018)
The Dawn Wall
- Director: Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer
- Length: 1h 55m
- In a nutshell: Ultimate determination on Yosemite’s toughest route
Climbing legend Tommy Caldwell is the focus of this emotional tale, which follows his rollercoaster ride from escaping kidnappers in Kyrgyzstan to taking on his ultimate dream of free climbing El Capitan’s toughest (and newest) route: The Dawn Wall.
But the real drama comes from the struggles of his partner Kevin Jorgeson as the pair pick a complicated path up the Dawn Wall. For the pair to even attempt it, having never climbed together before, was one thing. But Caldwell’s personal journey, especially while on the rock, offers incredible insight into the mind of one of the greatest climbers in the world.
2. Beneath the Ice (2019)
Beneath the Ice
- Director: Will Gadd
- Length: 0hr 17m
- In a nutshell: Experience the extreme depths of the Greenland ice sheet.
"I’ve been to some of the craziest places on earth, and climbed some pretty insane stuff. But this is another level."
With temperatures plunging down to -30C it is an inhospitable environment for Gadd and his partner on the trip, glaciologist Jason Gulley, to do their work but through their efforts new information is gleaned about the Greenland ice cap and how it melts.
3. Blood on the Crack (2019)
Blood on the Crack
- Director: Heather Mosher
- Length: 0hr 10m
- In a nutshell: Making the impossible look possible on an incipient crack
Climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Jacob Cook take on one of the most excruciating crack climbs in the world.
Jorgeson and Cook head to the Bugaboos to attempt the second ascent of the Tom Egan Memorial Route, which contains one of the hardest, most excruciating crack climbs in the world, renowned for reducing fingertips to shreds.
4. Cerro Torre: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell (2013)
- Director: Thomy Dirnhofer
- Length: 1h 41m
- In a nutshell: Documenting first free climb attempt of Cerro Torre
When the late David Lama first saw Cerro Torre in a climbing magazine, he spotted his route up it right away. “I was immediately excited,” he said, “and I wanted to free climb it.”
But Cerro Torre is one of the most formidable mountain faces on the planet. Its 3,128m tower pierces the peaks of Patagonia and near its summit the rock crumbles like flaky pastry. On top is a giant mushroom of ice. And its disputed first ascent ended with one climber falling to his death.
When Lama announced his plans to go up unaided, big wall legend Jim Bridwell, who climbed it in 1979, offered one simple piece of advice: “You haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell.” Lama didn’t listen. And what unfolds is a dramatic and ultimately emotional film following his story as he tries, and tries, and tries to get to the top.
5. The Alex Megos Formula (2018)
The Alex Megos Formula
- Director: Franz Walter
- Length: 5-6 minutes per episode
- In a nutshell: Learn about a climber's secret of success
Physical forces like momentum, friction and the force of gravity make the difference when taking on high-grade climbing routes. But Alex Megos knows that it’s how you combine all of them at once that makes the difference.
This is a collection of short films rather than a full-length movie so watch one after the other to get to know about Megos the athlete and his climbing abilities.
6. Free Solo (2018)
- Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
- Length: 1h 40m
- In a nutshell: Jaw-dropping doc about Alex Honnold’s El Cap climb
This film not only captures Alex Honnold knocking off the ultimate prize in Yosemite – a ropeless solo ascent higher than the world’s tallest building – but shows what really makes him tick.
Vasarhelyi’s husband and filmmaker, Jimmy Chin, is one of Honnold’s long-time climbing partners, and together they used dramatic cinematography to deliver seat-of-the-harness action. Vasarhelyi also captured the private moments, to show the “incredible and sometimes stressful journey” they all took to get there.
“It was mind bending to see how relaxed he was in the final days leading up to the climb and of course during the climb itself,” Chin said on his twitter feed after the climb.
7. Lunag Ri (2018)
Lunag Ri 2nd Attempt
- Directors: Michael Ginthoer and Martin Hanslmayr
- Length: 0hr 35m
- In a nutshell: A drive to climbing the unclimbed
David Lama and Conrad Anker make a second attempt to climb the 6,907m Himalayan peak, Lunag Ri. Weather capers, technical challenges and health problems are just a few of the challenges Lama and Anker face as they attempt to make it to the summit.
Of the climb, Lama said: "There are still plenty of unclimbed mountains, but in contrast to Lunag Ri, many of them are not very attractive from a mountaineering point of view”
Ultimately this second attempt failed but Lama was able to make a third solo attempt in 2018 and did make it to the summit.
8. Roraima (2012)
- Director: Philipp Manderla
- Length: 1hr 38m
- In a nutshell: Climbing in a lost world
A trio of climbers launch an expedition to Mount Roraima, a South American peak that is shrouded in legend.
Kurt Albert and Holger Heuber don't know what they're in for when they join competitive climbing superstar Stefan Glowacz for an expedition to Mount Roraima, a steep-walled South American peak that sits in deep rainforest in the northern Brazil.
“There are walls where there’s a nigh-on 100 percent probability that you’re going to die, just because there’s basically always something crashing around you: falling rock, falling ice, everything," Glowacz said of the Mount Roraima climb.
9. Frozen Falls (2014)
- Director: Reel Water Productions
- Length: 0hr 12m
- In a nutshell: Scaling a world famous landmark with all its dangers
Will Gadd takes ice climbing to new heights as the first person to ascend North America’s Niagara Falls.
Gadd of course waited until the depths of winter to climb Niagara, choosing the most optimum spot to do the climb. Basically where the water had frozen enough for climbable ice to form.
One of the biggest challenges for Gadd was avoiding getting wet: "I was so close to the water, I could reach out and stick my ice tool in the Niagara Falls. At one point I was behind the water, climbing on ice that froze behind the falls. I got a whole lot of Niagara down my neck!"
10. Reel Rock (2010-Present)
Age of Ondra part 1
- Director: Various
- Length: 15-30 minutes each
- In a nutshell: Short stories of the world’s most amazing climbs
Reel Rock is a collection of short films rather than a full-length movie, but once you start on the Reel Rock series, you won’t be able to stop.
Released periodically, Reel Rock covers the best climbing stories around and the latest edition available for download.
Seasons 1-5 are available to watch on Red Bull TV and includes a profile of Adam Ondra, an introduction to the discipline of Speed Climbing and Leo Houlding's expedition take on Antarctica's Mount Spectre.
11. Claim Freedom
- Director: Various
- Length: 0hr 52m
- In a nutshell: A climber gets to explore the far reaches of his imagination
In Claim Freedom, four adventurers are given the opportunity to take on once-in-a-lifetime challenges. In the climbing segment big-wall climber Gareth Leah's search for 'supervillain lairs' leads him on an odyssey to São Tomé, an island off the west coast of Africa, to climb the towering Pico Cão Grandé.