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The Long Hope
First Free Ascent Documentary
|A beautiful film about an amazing place; marred by two things: not enough
rock climbing & an unbearable high-land fiddle soundtrack that makes you
think you're watching Deliverance.
The First Ascentionist Ed Drummond is described by his belayer, Oliver
Hill, as "A poet, not good with details". You can imagine how it went: "How
would you like to come on a big adventure by the sea? It'll involved hard
climbing, terrifying aiding, vomiting birds, sleeping 5 nights 650m above the
ocean, and I'll eat all your food?"
40 years later, Dave Mcleod, Scotland's balding answer to Tommy
Caldwell, abseils down with a wire brush and begins working on what will
soon be one of his hardest projects ever - an E11 7a crux; after many
hours of hard climbing (and vomiting birds) in the cold rainy Orkney Islands.
The poetry both visual and spoken is haunting.
The poignance of the first Ascentionist with Parkinsons Disease visiting this
place that once inspired such terror, grasping a rock and calling it an old
friend is simply beautiful.
I only wish we had more of a glimpse of how hard it actually was? Unlike
Tommy Caldwell's week long sieges, all you have here is a few moments of
Dave falling on top rope working out the moves; then he climbs it.
There's probably only really 10 minutes of rock climbing stretched across
an hour of documentary. And while it's obviously difficult, it's not particularly
impressive. His E11 was jam-packed with attempts on the UK's hardest
climb. Here climbing is clearly second (or third) to the poetry and the
And then there's the bloody music.
Rather than provide a range of examples of Scotland's finest new
musicians, the same ridiculous fiddler screeches over every scene making
it seem like Benny Hill is going to run out and pull down Dave's pants.
But watch it to see an old climber revisit his youth. Watch it to see someone
climb nails hard spacing his cams 8m apart. Watch it for something
different and just ignore the music.
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