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Sanctity of Space Climbing Movie Trailer – Rock Climbing

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The sanctity of space premieres in US theaters on May 13. More information can be found here.


Bradford Washburn was the greatest aerial mountain photographer of all time. Hanging from the open door of an airplane, he flew over uncharted mountain ranges, capturing iconic images with which he could make maps, pursue scientific research, discover first ascents and inspire people.

So begins the synopsis of The sanctity of spacea spectacular new film that follows the arc of life of Washburn, a true legend, and a first ascent in Alaska by Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson, two professional climbers, documentarians and authors. Eighty years after Washburn first photographed Denali, a young Wilkinson was drawn to an image of the massive Mooses Tooth massif and hired Ozturk and Zack Smith, another US-based mountaineer, to attempt the first crossing of the horizon line…the tooth crossing.

“There are so many different types of climbing these days, but we’re really adventure and landscape-oriented people,” Ozturk tells me. “And it’s clearly one of the most beautiful skylines in the world.”

Ozturk and Wilkinson on the tooth crossing. (Photo: film The Sacredness of Space)

Indeed, the tooth crossing (5.10R M5 A2+; 26,200 feet) is a monstrous link of new and existing roads through Ruth’s Gorge in Alaska, which Ozturk and Wilkinson completed in 2012, after several seasons of effort. But those numbers betray the experience of their ascent, and certainly betray the meaning of the film, which is as much about badass alpine climbing as it is about exploration, documentation and the life of Bradford Washburn. In fact, that’s why the movie is set to be released now, a decade after the Ascension, but it still remains so relevant.

Wilkinson came across Washburn’s image of the Tooth Massif in 2006, an image that sparked a decade-and-a-half investigation into Washburn’s life and work. (Washburn died in 2007, aged 96, of heart failure.) As the trio prepared for the tooth crossing, made several solid attempts and climbed elsewhere in the Alaska Range, they began to learn more about Washburn’s life and his many skills. “Washburn has been accomplished in so many [areas] it was almost hard to define it,” says Ozturk. “He could have been super famous, [as] cartographer, or because he founded the Boston Museum of Science – and never even promoted his own art. And he was one of the greatest aerial mountain photographers of all time.

Bradford Washburn with his Fairchild K-6 aerial camera. (Photo: film The Sacredness of Space)

Ozturk and Wilkinson choose wisely do not to define Washburn, and they certainly don’t come close to creating an exhaustive biography of the man. Which is a good thing. The 90-minute film is equal parts climbing action, mountain scenery and a curious look at Washburn’s life, climbs and impact, told through digitized archival footage and interviews with Alaskan legends like David Robert and Jack Tackle. There are parallels between Washburn’s first ascent of Mount Lucania (Canada’s third-highest mountain at 16,644 feet) and contemporary attempts at new routes over rocky crags and steep, unstable snow. Washburn creates new ways to photograph mountains from the sky while Ozturk and Wilkinson do the same with video. “Brad showed us that you used the best tools possible in a given situation, which is why we went broke with some of these aerial shots, even though we didn’t know if it was going to work,” says Ozturk. “Ninety percent of [climbing] movies you see [with] those kind of aerial sequences… it’s pretty put together. But we were doing it on a first ascent where you don’t even know if you’re going to get where you say you’re going to get there.

Spoiler alert: the plane (and pilot Paul Roderick) flies over Ozturk and Wilkinson at the perfect moment – golden hour over a fluted snow ridge – and the results are spectacular. The footage is not just the result of their relentless filmmaking during this specific ascent, but of a lifetime of priority documentation, just as Washburn did.

This is where the film’s main source of tension lies. Ozturk and Wilkinson are professional climbers, paid by big companies to climb, document and report on their climbs around the world. Zack Smith, who initially joins them for the tooth crossing, is not. He’s happy to be interviewed and sometimes holds a camera, but he uses more traditional means to fund his climbing expeditions (stringing Christmas lights in the suburbs, among other gigs). Ozturk remembers a first crossing attempt, in a group of three, when Smith found a microphone at the bottom of his bag. Smith is the archetypal fast and light mountaineer – “he weighs the grams of every carabiner”, says Ozturk – and that extra weight was seen as an unnecessary burden. “He gave me that stinky eye and I knew it was the beginning of the end of his falling in love with the documentation process. But for Freddy and myself, we always wanted it. Shooting was just as important as climbing.

Smith (left) and Wilkinson during a first attempt at the tooth crossing. (Photo: Renan Ozturk / The Sacredness of Space)

This idea, that filming can have the same importance as a peak ascent, is surely foreign to most climbers, yet one can immediately appreciate the results. And the images go far beyond aesthetics: in the five years it took to film The sanctity of spaceOzturk and Wilkinson have created an extensive library of aerial footage of Denali National Park, captured in never-before-seen ways, which will serve to inspire, educate and excite future generations.

In a statement from the directors, Ozturk and Wilkinson write, “The danger of trying to merge genres in a film is that if you miss it, you end up losing two stories instead of one. In this vein, we knew early on that our project could not be a full biography of Washburn’s life. But by remembering his words and his spirit, we hope to celebrate his essential message: exploration is sharing. »

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