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Ohio State Mountaineers club hosts climbing film festival at the Gateway


Reel Rock 13 will bring its tour to the Gateway Film Center on Monday at 7 p.m. | Credit: Courtesy of Sender Films

With films ranging from professional climber documentaries to a look at the newly announced Olympic event speed climbing, Mountaineers at Ohio State will host Reel Rock 13 at the Gateway Film Center on Monday.

Jaime Ray, tour director of Reel Rock at Sender Films and a producer of climbing and outdoor adventure films, said the festival is an annual tour of the “greatest climbing films of the year.” These films features athletes that have accomplished extraordinary climbing feats, as well as personal stories that producers at Sender Films have been following.

Mountaineers at Ohio State is a student-run adventure organization that focuses on a variety of outdoor pursuits, including rock climbing, as well as teaching the community about safe climbing and outdoor practices

The festival will feature four films that will be shown throughout the night. The tour starts with “Age of Ondra,” a 40-minute short film that follows Czech professional rock climber Adam Ondra on his journey to climb a 5.15d — the hardest difficulty of free climbing, where climbers don’t use climbing equipment.

After an intermission, the audience will watch the final three films.

“Valley of the Moon” follows American climber Madeline Sorkin’s journey climbing the sandstone walls of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. “Up to Speed” goes in-depth on speed climbing as a future Olympic sport and “Queen Maud Land” follows a team of six elite climbers on their expedition to climb the remote frozen towers of Antarctica.

“Queen Maud Land” is one of four films that will be shown at Reel Rock 13, a film festival showing the best climbing films of the year. | Credit: Courtesy of Cedar Wright

“It’s pretty exciting for climbers”, said Alexandra Boyadzhiev, a third-year in chemical engineering and clinics coordinator of Mountaineers.  “We have people from Columbus who aren’t even affiliated with the university that go, a lot of outdoors people in the Columbus community typically show up, [and] it’s typically pretty exciting.”

Miles Van Blarcum, Mountaineers president and a fifth-year in environment, economy, development and sustainability, said the the Mountaineers and Sender Films had been working together to bring Reel Rock to Columbus for over 13 years, around when Reel Rock first started.

“Last year’s president, he remembers going to this event when he was in like elementary or middle school, so it’s been a tradition for our club to be working with Sender Films and quite a while,” Van Blarcum said.

Van Blarcum said while their student organization works with Sender Films and the film center to bring the tour to Columbus, the organization doesn’t make any profit. During the event, sponsors provide items that are raffled off.

“The raffle [is] kind of a way that we can cover the rest of our costs, and we donate the rest to charity,” Van Blarcum said. “Last year, we donated to the Mad River [which is a] new climbing area being developed … we will be continuing that tradition this year.”

Besides the film screenings, Boyadzhiev said previous Reel Rocks festivals have also had organizations come and speak with the audience, such as Adaptive Ascents, a local group that helps with and provides opportunities for adaptive climbing — climbing for people with disabilities.

“[Reel Rock is] basically a place where that community can come and express their ideas, share it with other people, and typically feel pretty welcome,” Boyadzhiev said.

Van Blarcum said he hopes even after this year, the tradition of bringing Reel Rock to Columbus can continue, and that hopefully the Mountaineers can bring more film festivals to campus.

“We appreciate when people come to this event because it financially supports our ability to host the event for future years, but also it gives people a chance to have an evening with the fairly small but tight-knit Columbus outdoor community,” Van Blarcum said.

Tickets for Reel Rock 13 can be purchased at the Gateway Film Center Website for $12. The festival begins at 7 p.m.

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