Fall Temps, Stiff Drinks and Andrew Kornylak’s “The Tribe”

The season, thankfully, is quickly approaching. The Weather Channel predicts a high of 70 degrees in Chattanooga by the end of the week, which after a summer of 90 degree heat is a miracle. While in the spring 70 degrees was the sign of the end, in the fall it’s the sign of a beginning. Excitement stirs in the air and any hint of cooler breezes sends Southern climbers spinning. But one thing that seems to say fall more than temps in the building excitement for the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. The series started by partnering with the Hound Ears comp that allowed climbers to access a bouldering field one day a year on private property. The series, which added two additional events — one at Stone Fort or Little Rock City and the other at Horsepens 40 — as a way to raise a little money but has evolved into a large, three-part bouldering series that celebrates the quality climbing on killer sandstone in the southeast while simultaneously raising large funds for the Southeastern Climbers’ Coalition and The Carolina Climbers’ Coalition, two organizations that are both dedicated to the delicate access issues we have here. It is one of the country’s best events, and arguably the best outdoor bouldering event. I have written about the event before for Rock and Ice, but this year is particularly special as the 10th annual anniversary.

To highlight the event, earlier in the week Atlanta-based photographer Andrew Kornylak release a video about the event called “The Tribe.” It follows Utah’s Carrie Cooper as she returns to her roots in North Carolina, where the first of the three Triple Crown events will take place the first weekend in October. Cooper, along with Chattanooga’s climbing strongman Jimmy Webb, and North Carolina climbing fixtures Paul and Kim Fuelling, take to the boulders to climb some hyper classics and also some first ascents. The video is done in Kornylak’s stylistic manner with the emphasis of the story through words and images — as always, a very pleasing cut to watch — but the video also gives a little history of the event: how it started, where it’s been, and where it’s going. The founders, two people who have been the backbone of the event — Chad Wykle and Jim Horton —  get a chance to talk about Triple Crown and give a candid look at its history. They largely go unnoticed for how much time and effort they put into the series each year. As the event gets ready to kick off in a month, it’s a good time to reflect and congratulate those that made it possible, those that keep it going and those that move it forward every year.

So, get yourself a stiff, tall whiskey drink and check out the video below or click here to check out more in the Triple Crown Bouldering Series.

Dog Dayzzzzzzz of Summer

Last September I wrote about the debut of “A Fine Line,” a climbing film by Andrew Kornylak and Josh Fowler.  The film is beautifully styled, with no grades, no pretension and loads of surreal images. It follows a group of boulders, two of which are Chattanooga locals — Jimmy Webb and Brion Voges.

Tonight, Chattanooga locals will be able to see it on at Rock/Creek Outfitters for the Dog Days of Summer Pint Night. It’s going to be a great event with beer, live bluegrass music, and then the showing. So all you climbers and those interested in climbing, come out for the showing. Bluegrass and beer start at 6 p.m. and the showing starts at 7:30 p.m. Did I mention there was going to be beer?

A Fine Line – Film Trailer from Andrew Kornylak on Vimeo.

A movie review of “A Fine Line”

The Verdon Gorge in France is a magical place. I’ve written about it before in Rock and Ice issue 172, but didn’t do its beauty justice. The huge expanse of rock, a sea of blue limestone that extends out from you snaking into the horizon, holds some of the most awe-inspiring sport climbs I have done. Not just because of the exposure, but the rock and the way you move across it makes it feel as if the canyon were made for climbing.

While there I attempted a short single-pitch climb that gently arced through an alcove on the upper 30 meters of the cliffline. The moves trended right through thin crimps and technical sequences: there were long lock-offs, high feet and a desperate stab out left. I came back to it many days in a row trying to dial in the beta.  As much as I wanted to do this route, and as much as I thought about it and tried to redpoint it, it was the middle pitch of another route I climbed one time that I remember the best. The route was roughly 10 pitches long, and I don’t remember the name but locals called it The Kiwi Route because some climbers from New Zealand put it up. But that doesn’t matter much in my mind. It’s the last dying light that splayed across the rock behind us and the feeling of the light breeze that I remember. The movement felt so natural up there that I felt like that moment was the only thing in the universe that existed. It made perfect sense.

I search for moments like these often, but rarely do them justice. However, the upcoming climbing film, “A Fine Line,” touched that vein for me. “A Fine Line,” the climbing film by Andrew Kornylak and Josh Fowler scheduled to debut  October 2011, is a full-length film starring the Southeastern bouldering brawns Jimmy Webb and Brion Voges and featuring Dave Graham, Daniel Woods and Peter Beal. The film explores the motivation and drive behind these boulderers’ quest to find new lines and exposes a raw passion behind climbing. It is a job well done by all. I’m not just high-fiving my fellow climbers and creative artist from the South, but congratulating the well-told story and images that gave stagnating climbing films a power spot.

After seeing a series of climbing films at the Summer Outdoor Retailers Show back in August, it seems the climbing industry is moving away from pure climbing porn, and shifting towards meaningful stories that capture us in a way we all can identify. “A Fine Line” does this, and illuminates, just for a moment, a puzzle piece in the human quest. It is filled with success and failures and captures a spectrum of emotion behind the sport that transcends the over-played and flattening characteristic of climbers being just plain psyched. It distills climbing into a journey to find “something beautiful and meaningful.” The movie, filled with stellar boulders and beautiful landscapes from Chattanooga, Tenn., Castle Rocks, Idaho, and alpine bouldering areas in Colorado gives us a peek not just into the minds of these boulderers on their quest to establish beautiful lines but into what we all search for in the topout.

Atlanta-based Kornylak and Folwer are two very talented photographers and video artists less known in the climbing film world than those like Peter Mortimer, but their  fresh view and subtle, tailored eye gives a new perspective into the bouldering community from a sometimes overlooked part of the country. The videography was worth the movie alone, and spoke just as loud as the voices behind the film.  The sometimes subdued, muted colors, expansive shots and unique framing glowed as the filmmakers own aesthetic quest came through the film. The images’ mood mirrored, in my mind, the tone of what was said on screen as if Kornylak and Fowler were on their own aesthetic quests. It takes climbing into the world of art and gives meaning to what can seem like a senseless chase. Why do climbers go through (as Beal says) the misery and torture to climb little rocks? Check out the film to find out.

A Fine Line – Film Trailer from Andrew Kornylak on Vimeo.