Rocks, Ripped Climbers, and Renegades. Yosemite’s Rock Climbing Revolution: Valley Uprising

Valley Uprising Title

“The primary vibration in the air, was one of High Adventure”

-Tom Frost

Valley Uprising will inspire you to drop what you are doing and go climb. Yosemite’s Rocks are amazing and I hope to one day see them in person. Imagine a smooth vertical ocean of rock the size of 3 Eiffel Tower’s stacked and you have El Capitan (El Cap as they call it).  I had no idea before I watched this documentary. But being a geologist and an adventurer myself, I instantly loved learning about the Titans of climbing. Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, Lynn Hill, John Bachar, Dean Potter and Alex Honnold. All drawn to the 2,000ft Northwest face of Half Dome and the 3,000ft Nose of El Capitan.

“We have a purpose. Climb Hard. Put up good routes. Only through climbing can you find yourself. Bullshit like that

-Steve Roper


I’ve only rock climbed once and it was terrifying and awesome. That feeling of being high up and hanging by your sore fingertips unsure whether you can make it is intoxicating. I am not at the weight I want to be currently, but once I get below 200 lbs I will go more. I go to climbing gyms when my friends are around, but I want to become more serious. I already dropped my gym account to save money, and I think I will continue to go to the local rock gym. It helps that I love to bike and it is 1 mile away.

I have talked endlessly about this movie to friends and made each of them watch it. Besides introducing me to some amazing alternative music, I’ve been inspired from this documentary.

This movie is the latest from the Reel Rock Series, and made by Sender Films.

A lot of the fun of the movie occurs in the middle, with the story introducing the Aquarian Age, psychedelics, and a cocaine filled airplane crashing into Lower Merced Pass.


After trying to boulder I see the difficulty and level of fitness it requires. Some of these climbers were world class athletes and they do a good job showing the training of these climbers. Pullups, running, and climbing was the way they got better. The perspective of rock climbers looking back enriches the black and white photos.


This movie is a cool look back on the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. They are really good at telling a story through black and white photos. Thanks to graphic designer Barry Thompson who make the first photos appear to be a comic book animation. Thompson takes climbing’s clash of titans between personality opposites Robbins and Harding explode off the screen similar ala Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.

climbing-valley-uprising-6Royal and Harding

“The gear had evolved. The techniques were in place. The rock climbers had matured to the point where they are up to tackling the great challenges of the sport, but the great challenges remain undone.”

-Dan Duane


“The face of Half Dome stood there and said, “Try me if you dare”.

-Royal Robbins

The way one generation bleeds into another is a strong point of this Documentary. They highlight the Apprentice Master relationship just like in Robert Greene’s Mastery. Examples abound but my favorite was the Jim Bridwell to Royal Robbins relationship; first he is seen next to Royal Robbins as a wide eyed teenager, then 15 years later he is a scruffy journeyman doing acid teaching the the up and coming Stone Masters such as Ron Kauk and Lynn Hill. Teaching and pushing the standards higher and higher.

7-Lynn-Hill-on-Half-Dome-ph-Charlie-Row-1977Ron Kauk

Interesting to note the timing on this movie. It was released in September 2014. In the past 12 months Police shootings and Riots have occurred across the US. While the public at large has called for less militarization in the police, new rules and regulations have led to a mindset shift away from environmental protection and toward aggressive enforcement. This is nothing new to Yosemite Rock Climbers who have clashed with police since the 70’s.

“The Rangers have gone from having a degree in Biology to having a degree in Marksmanship”

-Yvon Chouinard

The tribal and happy go lucky mentality of the Golden Age and the Stone Masters is replaced by the somber rugged independence of the Stone Monkeys.