Gregory’s Best Rock Climbing Films

Best Rock Climbing Films - a list by Gregory Roberts

Herewith we present my collection of what I consider to be the Best Rock Climbing Films, and general mountaineering / fitness / wilderness / life inspiration. Got something you think I should see? Let me know!

the Best Rock Climbing Films

I list these in rough order of my preference. In truth, the ones at the bottom both confuse and anger me. I place them here as part of the Climbing Movie Canon… but they involve climbers dying on the mountain. And I don’t like that. Death on the mountain makes me question the entire reason that I climb in the first place.

But watch the top ones, for sure. They rock!

14 Peaks : Nothing is Impossible (2021)

the awe-inspiring tale of Nepali Alpinist Nirmal “Nimsdai” Purja, and his quest to summit all fourteen 8,000m mountains in the world inside of 7 months

Free Solo (2018)

Alex Honnold’s epic free solo (no ropes, no belay, no bolts, no protection, all alone) of El Cap

Mountain (2017)

this isn’t so much a documentary as it is a visual poem. Literally. And it’s actually perhaps my favorite of all. The script is so powerful, that I’ve posted a complete transcript for your reading pleasure. Also, watch it.

Valley Uprising (2014)

a summary history of rock climbing in Yosemite, from 1960 to present. Good to know. Amazing cast of characters: Jim Bridwell! John Bachar! Lynn Hill! Dean Potter!

The Dawn Wall (2017)

Tommy Caldwell’s personal history and his partner Kevin Jorgeson’s first ascent 15.x sport climb of El Cap’s Dawn Wall

Race to the Summit (2023)

the harrowing story of the speed free solo alpine competition (yes, that is as insane as it sounds) between world-class climbers Ueli Steck and Dani Arnold

warning : DEATH

Touching the Void (2003)

This is another one that is miraculous — the dude survives what would have killed most — but again has me thinking: “What were they thinking?” Of course, I (and many) fell into the identical trap: overestimating our own skills / competence, and underestimating the mountain / nature. One day, we each learn our lesson (or not.)


The Alpinist (2021)

This was my informal education in how to use an ice axe. My brother had me watch it with him over Thanksgiving holiday. It pissed me off… the dude Marc-André Leclerc is hella reckless… but the skills he demonstrated might have just saved my life. So there’s that.

warning : DEATH

Meru (2021)

This is my rock-climbing friend’s favorite of the bunch. Not so mine. Watching it, I felt that the egos were too big, the equipment too cumbersome (see Myth of Gear), and the decisions… mmm, errant? Fascinatingly, the weakest climber of this trio (Ozturk, who is still a total badass, don’t get me wrong!) ended up being the cinematographer for my favorite mountaineering movie, Mountain.


the Best Inspiration Films

  1. World Record (the Animatrix) (2003) — how to free your mind through athletic determination
  2. The Matrix (1999) — how to free your mind through questions
  3. Gattaca (1997) —how to exceed limits via hard work, fierce willpower and determination
  4. Wind (1992) — a fictitious account of a rebel American team competing in the legendary America’s Cup sailboat race
  5. Dead Poet’s Society (1989) — how to free your mind through poetry
  6. VisionQuest (1985) — a movie ostensibly about wrestling; really about motivation and overcoming adversity
  7. Rocky (1976) — a movie about winning


G R E G O R Y ‘ S . M O U N T A I N S

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