Cold Genius
September 11, 2011 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Loved the video, thank you for posting that!
posted by TheBones at 7:17 PM on September 11, 2011

Aw, Ben Nevis is not some dude. Oh but—

What a great little film! I've wondered this before while watching climbing videos, but what about the folks who lugged camera equipment up there? No really, how does that work? Are they dropped off at some point by helicopter? Do they climb up before the guy who's name is in the title?

Anyway, pretty much everything was perfect about that film. Especially the sound editing was fantastic, and the skill exhibited breathtaking.
posted by carsonb at 7:20 PM on September 11, 2011

Skip to four minutes in if you don't want to sit through a bunch of him riding a motorcycle and trudging through snow.
posted by winna at 7:23 PM on September 11, 2011

I had the same thought... The camera guy should get the credit for the climb....
posted by tomswift at 7:24 PM on September 11, 2011

The camera guy, not so incidentally, is Yvon Chouinard, founder of Chouinard Equipment (now Black Diamond), and the Patagonia clothing company. He was one of the best climbers of his generation.
posted by Flashman at 7:31 PM on September 11, 2011 [8 favorites]

In case, like me, you watched it inline, there's a bit of backstory on the youtube page.
"part of the film was supposed to be fictional," says Chouinard, with John playing a hard case from a rundown part of Glasgow. He rides on his motorbike across Rannoch moor, solos something and then slips and falls but no-one knows if it is real or imagined, it was kinda surreal. The film never got to be seen because in another section, filmed in China , half the film crew were caught in a terrible avalanche. The director was killed and I broke a couple of ribs."
The ferry crossing is actually the Corran ferry, but probably made to look like the Bally one. The Bally ferry closed in 75 as the bridge opened, so I guess it was a substitute to make the movie look like it was set in an earlier time.
So the strange sight (to me anyway) of him not wearing a helmet* in 1976 was probably also part of aiming for the retro look.

Cunningham was a well known hard man, an innovative climber, and a wrestler. In 1953 he was beaten to the top of Everest by some Kiwi bloke. In 1980 he was swept out to sea to his death at the age of 52 while climbing in Angelsea. Bio here which thinks it's behind a registration wall, but doesn't seem to be, and here.

* I meant on the motorcycle, but now that I think about it...
posted by GeckoDundee at 8:28 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

The whistling part was pure joy:-)
posted by Meatafoecure at 9:18 PM on September 11, 2011

Caveat: There are a number of decidedly easy ways to ascend Ben Nevis. If you're ever in the area, and the weather permits it, I highly recommend making the hike.

(Oh, and If it's springtime, be prepared for snow at the top, no matter how improbable that might seem at the bottom.)
posted by schmod at 9:49 PM on September 11, 2011

The whistling part was pure joy:-)

No. The Glencoe Malt Whisky was pure joy.
posted by kneecapped at 9:51 PM on September 11, 2011

Great film.

I still see people (usually looking well into their 70s) high in the Lake District hills wearing clothes like that, which they bought back in '76 and don't see any reason to change. There's something admirable about that.
posted by dowcrag at 12:17 AM on September 12, 2011

Caveat2: Getting up Ben Nevis is indeed easy. However, if the clouds close in getting off the top again is an exercise in precise navigation that carries a potentially lethal penalty for failure: Five Finger Gully will eat you for breakfast if you mess it up.

If you're going to ascend Ben Nevis, regardless of how clear the weather looks from the bottom a map & compass (and the knowledge of how to use them) is essential. A good GPS might do the job, but only if the maps are sufficiently high quality that you can avoid the danger areas or if you remember you mark the waypoints on the summit plateau on the way up and understand the limitations of your GPS. (Particularly that whilst it can show position to about 20m accuracy, it can't give accurate direction information over short distances and on the summit plateau that can be enough to send you over the edge if you go the wrong way.)

The MCOFS states that the route is as follows:
From the summit cairn follow a Grid bearing of 231 degrees for 150 metres. Beware of the steep drop into Gardyloo Gully on your right. Remember to make the correct adjustment for the magnetic variation (in 2011 add 2 degrees so that the bearing becomes 233 degrees). You will also need to confidently pace the distance. Practice pacing on lower and less serious terrain before using it on Ben Nevis. If you have a rope of known length, you can use this to measure the distance. Once you have completed this leg and passed the top of Gardyloo Gully, turn onto the second Grid bearing of 282 degrees. Remember the magnetic variation (in 2011 add 2 degrees so that the bearing becomes 284 degrees). It is often this next section that goes awry. After travelling 300 metres on fairly flat terrain there is a steeper section for about 100 metres (McLean’s Steep) before the angle eases again. There is a natural tendency to steer very slightly to the left of the bearing in order to keep away from the north face. This is entirely understandable and may even be a wise precaution under certain conditions. The effect that this slight deviation can have is to put you onto the steep and potentially fatal ground at the top of Five Finger Gully. Being forewarned is to be forearmed and the knowledge that Five Finger Gully lurks below you to the south-west is an important piece of information to keep in mind. The edge of Five Finger Gully is about 800 metres from the top of Gardyloo Gully from where the 282 degree Grid bearing begins. Careful attention to pacing and timing will keep you informed about how far you have travelled. If, after about 800 metres from the top of Gardyloo Gully, you reach steep ground dropping away to the west, southwest or south then you have strayed into the top of Five Finger Gully (see c, d & e on the map extract). If you find yourself travelling south downhill with a cliff edge on your right (west) you have veered off the bearing significantly………
If you are unable to do this kind of navigation in zero visibility, then think very carefully about whether to go onto the Nevis plateau if the weather has any chance of closing in on you.
posted by pharm at 3:11 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think anyone interested in this would love seeing "Weir's Way", presented by the late Tom Weir, a noted mountaineer.

He just walks around 1970s Scotland countryside, talking to locals. It's very addictive.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 3:18 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Great video!

If you are unable to do this kind of navigation in zero visibility...

This reminds of me when a friend and I were up in the northern Presidentials in New Hampshire in early October and got caught in a surprise snowstorm, almost a whiteout, at the top of Mt. Adams. It was getting late so we decided to bushwhack to catch a trail below treeline.

I stood with map and compass and used made hand gestures to direct my friend to stand as a marker in the right direction a few dozen feet away, just at the limit of visibility. I'd catch up with him and repeat - it took about three of these maneuvers before we could see well enough to walk together.

Victims of our own over-ambition and hubris, we made it back to our tent well after dark and too tired to fire up the stove for dinner. Our dinner consisted primarily of about a liter each of rich homebrewed beer I'd left at camp.
posted by exogenous at 5:11 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is awesome, thanks!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:51 AM on September 12, 2011

Ah, the '70s. When men were men, and Tom Baker climbed mountains.
posted by TheCoug at 10:10 AM on September 12, 2011

Lovely. And I wondered what he was doing on the Corran Ferry!

The whistled song is the The road and the miles to Dundee.
posted by johnny novak at 1:12 PM on September 12, 2011

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