ABYSS – North America’s Highest Bouldering

The Abyss 1

Release: Fall 2012


I love rock climbing; it’s been a part of me since I was eight years old, scrambling up trees and rocks, freaking out parents standing nearby who were wondering what in the heck this kid was doing 30 feet above the deck. So, I have to apologize that this is a rave review of sorts….not because the video was amazing (it was) but because the subject matter definitely was. More importantly, the issues tackled involving the sport of climbing were very important and often times culminate as THE point of mass discussion amongst climbers — young and old. Without further ado, I want to discuss Louder Than Eleven’s latest video project, ABYSS: North America’s Highest Bouldering.

When you rock climb, you kind of belong to a minority of sports enthusiasts. Maybe that’s what makes climbers so passionate — they know the risks involved, physical and otherwise. In the same way climbers appreciate and value how innocent it may be to have fun climbing on rock, they know it’s not a muse without its complications. As beautiful as climbing is, it more often than not comes into contact with other’s interests: landowners, property owners, golfers.

Louder Than Eleven, a company founded by several enthusiastic and youthful boulderers, has decided to take on the burden of providing unlimited media for today’s climbing community. I say ‘burden’ because really — let’s call it what it is. The implications of taking an Instagram-ready iPhone (let alone a badass $4,000 videocamera and the support behind lugging that stuff) into unspoiled territory can be far-reaching. Case in point, Joey Kinder discusses some of the pitfalls of being up there in the rocks during bad weather. Cut to a scene where he’s hunkered down under  some rocks and a bolt of lightning strikes within 100 yards of their spot. The camera nearly went deaf. Christ.

Although I don’t boast a ‘COLORADO NATIVE’ license plate or bumper sticker or what-have-you, my few pilgrimages out west can confirm that above a certain elevation, it is truly another world. It needs protection. With the development of such amazing lines as those featured in this 45-minute short, time will only tell how fast the wave of excitement arises around the global climbing community about how absolutely wonderful it would be to climb there (never mind the fact it could have possibly been visited before in the past…..) The discovery process in climbing is like finding a soulmate: finding potential in new rocks and getting to choose exactly what rocks you want to climb….Damn, that’s pretty much perfection. The Abyss is perfection.

Unfortunately, this potential and development can also imply destruction, as well. In the high-alpine world, this easily can translate to stepping on the wrong flower, or scaring away native billy goats. May sound funny, but that’s what gives climbers the stigma that bureaucracies love to cling to.

With that said ABYSS NAHB tows a nice line between showing you these areas while respecting and abiding all laws set forth by park officials. The high-altitude populaces of goat and wild grass won’t necessarily take kindly to you’re plunking down of a massive Revolution boulder pad…but its respectful what these guys do. With a healthy dose of input from several high-profilers in the climbing world, the guys at LT11 provide quite a comprehensive narrative on the relationship between climber obsession and the complication of the world and the beauty of all of its environs.

Features interviews with world-renowned climbers like Chris Sharma, Peter Beal, Matt Wilder, and many more. Packed with boulders resembling anything from peanuts to razor blade aretes, to puffy marshmallow sloperfests, it hosts the gamut of beautiful camerawork, attention to detail and the maintaining of correct, mature perspective with a good backstory.

And, it contains more bouldering action and first ascending than one could ever hope for. Some routes that particularly stood out: Iron Lung (V10); Rule of Thirds (V3); Death to Traitors (V12); All Hands On Deck (V13) — each one a classic due to their premier location, their complex beta (path-of-least-resistance through), and/or exposure. The film does an excellent job of convincing one to do the work and get there, because as Glassberg and friends prove, there’s simply no end to the climbing up there.

“[The] Abyss is a climber’s playground, and the most impressive line out there wasn’t a boulder at all. It was a route. It seemed fitting that the coolest thing to come out of all this, was on the tower that [we] saw at the very beginning. Putting up a sport climb at 13,000 feet was the ultimate way to end the season and to leave a lasting contribution to our climbing community.”

ABYSS is surely LT11’s best work. It undoubtedly will stand as one of the most informative, pervasive (or is that, persuasive?) and visually attractive climbing-video projects to be released thus far. And trust me, there have been scores out there vying for such accolades. If you’re an avid climber, you’ll start realizing the truth behind what it takes to establish what could become future, and ultimately, well-worn climbing areas. No worries if you’re not so much a climber, much less an high-alpinist/boulderer; simply, you’ll learn much, much more.

Click here to watch full video!

Jon Glassberg on 'Do Or Die, V8'

4-0Recommendation:  If you want to find out for yourself where the sport of climbing is going, it would be a good idea to check out this film, along with a few others, including King Lines, Rampage, and the Dosage series. Get outdoors and discover the world, one pristine rock scar at a time.

Rated: Awesome.

Running Time: 47 mins, 32 secs.

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