There’s almost nothing as fun as putting talented people together with an active goal. When these people understand the importance of community, that experience goes above and beyond. We needed a video for our Beast Mode, happened to have a Beast MODE in Moab, Utah, and so we seized the opportunity, planned an epic climb, brought a creative team together, and made this very fun film happen within a week. Here’s the story.
Meet The Team.
The vision for the trip was to climb an iconic tower in Moab called “Ancient Art” in Fisher Towers. We needed experienced climbers and a media team to accomplish this.
The first person I asked was Arthur Parra, a talented videographer (and colorist) from Los Angeles with an easy-going personality and a particularly aesthetic eye. We had hired him before, for a film in San Fransisco about our Stealth Mode, and besides being a ton of fun to film, it proved to be a huge success in projecting the type of experience we expected the vans to support.
Then I reached out to a couple of climbers I knew from my guiding days in Colorado. Dusty Davis, a long time life coach, climbing guide and competitive cyclist, with a particularly special attention to detail, was incredibly strong and not only had tons of experience guiding climbs, but also had actually done this climb with his son several years before. I knew that would prove to be a huge asset to us in completing it. His daughter, Honey Davis, was also an experienced climbing guide, as well as a world traveler and artist, with an energy and smile hard to match. The father/daughter duo was a rarity in the guiding world, and the two of them shared a very unique, close relationship. I knew they’d be perfect for the job.
And finally, of course, was the creative team—those of us coming directly from headquarters here in Birmingham, putting the whole trip together. Thor, our new Director of Marketing and Digital Assets, came along skilled as a drone pilot and photographer and brought structure and organization to the entire trip. Then of course I came, and my experience in Colorado as a mountain guide connected the vision of the company to the culture of the outdoor world particularly well. I enjoyed casting the vision for the whole video, building the storyline, but even more so connecting the right people and resources and building community through the whole process.
Climbing The Ancient Art Tower.
The interesting part of this climbing expedition is that this 400 foot tower tower is actually predicted to fall over within the next 10 years. The difficulty is not necessarily in the climbing grade, but in the level of exposure and head game. It’s an iconic climb and we happened to be out in peak season, so we had to start super early in order to be the first on the rock.
It was an easy 30 min hike in.
Once there, we started immediately. Thor and Arthur set up drones at the base, I wrapped my camera with a jacket, strapped it around my neck and into the harness, and we got going almost immediately. The route was three pitches long. Pitch one was a chimney climb—where it feels as if you’re inside a chimney with one foot on either opposing wall. Dusty led, I followed, trying to not bang the camera on any rocks, and Honey cleaned the route coming up the rear. We topped the first pitch out onto a ledge, pulled the rope up, and reset for the second pitch to the top ledge. By now two other parties had arrived, and one started climbing up behind us. Behind us, we barely got to see the base jumpers fly behind us.
We topped the second pitch out onto a narrow tiny ledge, just big enough for the three of us to sit on. The final push was across a narrow stone bridge, followed by a sketchy “beached whale” jump up to the next perch. From there, the climber picked his way around to the back and slowly up the corkscrew. If you fell, it was far less protected than a regular climb, and you’d most likely swing a great deal and end up hitting a rock anyway.
By now another group had come up to the second pitch ledge, for a total of four climbers on it (yes, it was a party). One of them was the base jumper we had seen climbing at 5 am this morning and said he had previously free solo-ed the entire route. Another one of them kept shouting back and forth with Dusty about route beta the whole way. The energy levels were high.
After the epic finish and many photos standing on the top, we rappelled the first pitch down to the party ledge. We navigated our ropes quickly and carefully to with the mess of others that were set up and finally rappelled two pitches down the entire face in one sitting.
A short hike back and lunch in the parking lot was heavily welcomed. We chatted with a host of people milling around in the parking lot, and in fact were loving how Moab was such a melting pot of wild people, all intent on participating in the great outdoors in their own way. The land surrounding Moab is almost entirely BLM land, so the number of off-grid, independent vehicles was phenomenal. I hadn’t seen as many uniquely individual and down-to-earth people in one spot, and it was truly special to be able to participate in such a great sense of wild freedom.
The next couple days we spent transitioning to different sites. We made it to the overlook to make breakfast and coffee and then moved to Wallstreet, or Potash Road, to get unique shots of belaying off the top of the van. We ate local sushi and incredible local Thai food. We found an arch known as Looking Glass Rock and attempted rappelling off the top of it over the arch and found out it was the only night of the year that the full moon lined up perfectly with the keyhole.
Every day was a sunup to sundown kind of day and we came back to our hotel rooms, downloaded all the footage and crashed hard, only to get up and repeat the next day.
The last day we woke up, Arthur had flown out, all the filming was complete, and the Dusty had a married son who lived in Durango, only three hours away, who drove down in order to be able to mountain bike with us just for fun before heading out of Moab. We piled the 6 bikes in his truck, and headed off to the famous Captain Ahab trail.
What a week! Thor and I jumped in the Beast, filled it with water, attempted to clean it up a little and took off for Denver. The end goal was to leave the Beast MODE with Dan the Storyteller Man, who would then take it to St. Helens, Oregon for the show.
Utah, we’ll be back. In the mean time, stay tuned for the final video–it’s release is coming so soon.