Home Garden & Outdoor The Best Climbing Movies and Where to Watch Them

The Best Climbing Movies and Where to Watch Them

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Adventure sports don’t always translate well to the big screen (see: nearly every Hollywood film ever made about surfing), but when climbing is captured accurately, the results can be transcendent. What’s more, almost all of the greatest climbing movies ever made are available right now on popular streaming services. This list will be updated monthly as new films are added and removed.

Note: Each of these services requires its own paid subscription.


Amazon Prime

Prime Video has the largest selection of climbing movies to stream of the services listed here—by far. The list below is not conclusive. Find even more options by searching “climbing” on Amazon Prime.

Photo: Courtesy Little Monster Films

Meru

Description: Three elite climbers struggle to find their way through obsession and loss as they attempt to climb Mount Meru, one of the most coveted prizes in the high stakes game of Himalayan big wall climbing. Meru is the story of that journey, an expedition through nature’s harshest elements and one’s complicated inner demons, and ultimately on to impossible new heights.

Editor’s Note: Meru is a recent classic. It’s not to be missed.

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Photo: Courtesy Big UP Productions

Valley Uprising

Description: In the shady campgrounds of Yosemite valley, climbers carved out a counterculture lifestyle of dumpster-diving and wild parties that clashed with the conservative values of the National Park Service. And up on the walls, generation after generation has pushed the limits of climbing, vying amongst each other for supremacy on Yosemite’s cliffs. Valley Uprising is the riveting, unforgettable tale of this bold rock climbing tradition in Yosemite National Park: half a century of struggle against the laws of gravity and society.

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Photo: Courtesy 2R Productions

Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey

Description: Hailed as one of the most prolific, influential climbers of all time, Fred Beckey’s adventures began in Washington’s North Cascade range with his brother Helmy in the 1930s. In 1942, the Beckey brothers cemented their place in alpine lore when the teenagers survived an incredible second ascent of Mount Waddington—considered the most difficult climb in North America at the time. This success marked the beginning of Fred’s epic tear of first ascents around the world, during which he became the consummate “Dirtbag” climber: defined as one who forgoes material comforts and defies societal norms in pursuit of a nomadic mountaineering lifestyle. Director Dave O’Leske spent the past decade filming Fred Beckey with unprecedented access, getting to know the mythical man in the mountains of China, across North America and in his Pacific Northwest home.

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Photo: Courtesy Drifting Dunes Productions

Fine Lines

Description: It’s not about adrenaline or thrill seeking. There is something far deeper that drives the world’s most elite group of mountain adventurers to take life threatening risks. For nearly three years, director Dina Khreino interviewed these world-class athletes, listening to what compels them to leave behind families, friends, and everyday comforts, to risk everything for a fleeting glimpse into the unknown.

Editor’s note: While Fine Lines does not contain new climbing footage, it’s an interesting look into the philosophies of some of the top names in our sport.

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Photo: Courtesy Oceanic Productions

Gripped: Climbing the Killer Pillar

Description: Bret takes an inexperienced climber, Rose, on a big route in the High Sierras, but then Bret falls and gets injured. With no way to retreat off the wall, the only way down is up and their fate is in Rose’s hands. It’s climb or die.

Editor’s note: Gripped garnered attention from the climbing community for it’s so-bad-it’s-good trailer prior to release. It’s best enjoyed in a watch party or with a group of friends who are looking to laugh.

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Photo: Courtesy Hot Aches Productions

Committed (Volume 2)

Description: Committed follows some of the world’s best rock climbers and tells their story. Committed digs deep into the psyche of climbers like Dave MacLeod, James Pearson, Sonnie Trotter, Hazel Findlay, Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker. With a strong focus on the scary British Trad ethic, consistent is one theme: Committed!

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Photo: Courtesy Accidental Productions

Assault on El Capitan

Description: In July of 2011 42 year old Ammon and Kait his 22 year old his girlfriend set out to climb the never repeated route of Wings of Steel on Yosemite’s El Capitan. Wings sat unclimbed since the first ascent in 1982. Shrouded in controversy and with a bounty waiting for the second ascent team there seemed to be no better person to climb it than Ammon. But was Kait the best choice for a partner? This climb would test of their ability and their relationship. The story of Wings of Steel is part legend and part myth. The first ascent team spent 39 days climbing the controversial route. The result: death threats, physical assaults, and a slander campaign that polarized the Yosemite climbing community for over 30 years. Combined with footage shot during their ascent and told through interviews with the first ascent team, their detractors, climbing historians, and Ammon and Kait, the truth about the most controversial climb in Yosemite history is finally told.

Editor’s note: The story behind the first ascent of Wings of Steel is crazy, and the story of Ammon McNeely’s repeat of the route is crazy for completely different reasons. This film, covering a lesser known—and even shameful—piece of Yosemite climbing history is well worth a watch.

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Photo: Courtesy Lifted Films

The Rapture of Free Soloing on Acid

Description: This film follows the legendary climbing photographer and Stone Master, Dean Fidelman. Fidelman was at the forefront of the free climbing revolution in Yosemite Valley and Joshua Tree during the 1970s, making photographs with John Bachar, Lynn Hill, Ron Kauk, John Long, and many other talented climbers. Over the past four decades, Fidelman has continued to document the evolution of rock climbing as a sport and culture. This documentary takes a look at his impact and influence as a photographer and climber.

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Photo: Courtesy Little Sure Shot Films

Wild New Brave

Description: In 1970s America, the legends of free climbing start out as young outcasts who didn’t want any part of a respectable American dream. They wanted to create a world for themselves where the ultimate self-expression was a climb to nowhere. Up was down, poor was rich, and what everyone else found meaningless was worth dying for.

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Photo: Courtesy Jeremy Collins

Drawn

Description: What does it mean to “see?” Shapes and shadows? Lines and color? When his friend dies in an avalanche, artist, rock-climber and dad Jeremy Collins goes to the ends of the earth to find closure and “see” his way up four new climbs. Drawn follows the journey from death to life while Collins goes North, South, East and West enduring challenge after challenge told in his trademark hybrid style of hand crafted animation meets on the fly live action.

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Photo: Courtesy Downward Bound

Warren Harding: Recollections of the Wall of the Early Morning Light-1970

Description: Straight talk from Batso. His ascent of the Wall of the Early Morning Light in 1970 was doubtless the high water mark of his rock climbing career. The notoriety surrounding this climb originated partly from the 27 days Warren and his partner, Dean Caldwell, spent completing the climb. At the time it was the longest period anyone had ever spent on a rock wall.

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Photo: Courtesy Wilkinson Visual

Gone Tomorrow: The Story of Kentucky Ice Climbing

Description: Ice climbing in Kentucky?! This adventure documentary takes the audience for a bourbon-fueled ride deep into the bushy hollers of Appalachia with a crew of harmless misfits as they race to search out and climb new ice routes before they’re gone, with a few surprises along the way. When most folks think of Kentucky, horses and bourbon are probably the first two things that come to mind.

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Photo: Courtesy Sierra Club Productions and Peloton Productions

Vertical Frontier

Description: The character-driven history of the art, the sport and the philosophy of rock climbing in Yosemite.

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Photo: Courtesy Wildland Media

On the Verge

Description: In the mountains behind the sleepy coastal town of Powell River, BC, a small group of rock climbers has spent decades quietly pioneering routes on some of the largest granite walls in Canada. As the last stands of old-growth trees harbored in these valleys come under threat of logging, the climbing community faces the uncertain future of a place that has come to define their lives and legacies.

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Photo: Courtesy ZDF

The Huber Brothers: Life On The Edge

Description: In June 2011, free-climbing legends Alexander and Thomas Huber set their sights on a treacherously steep route in the Tyrolean Alps: the south wall of the Loferer Alm on the fabled Karma route. A new project was born.

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Photo: Courtesy Jacques Productions

Wampler’s Ascent

Description: Stephen J. Wampler scales El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Stephen has a severe form of Cerebral Palsy and overcomes adversity and physical challenges by doing 20,000 pull ups over 6 days to summit El Capitan.

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Photo: Courtesy Arcadia Motion Pictures

Kilian Jornet: Path to Everest

Description: When he was a child Kilian Jornet, the world’s greatest ever mountain runner, made a list of all the races he wanted to win and all the mountains he dreamt of climbing. The documentary tells the story of how Kilian Jornet, the world’s greatest ever mountain runner, succeeded in completing the historic double ascent of Everest in one week, alone and without oxygen in May 2017. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy Zen Again Films and KRCB

El Cap Report

Description: Inspiring stories of the men and women who climb El Cap in Yosemite National Park.

Editor’s note: Read an article in Climbing by the filmmakers, What Two Filmmakers Learned Documenting Climbers on El Cap.

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Photo: Courtesy Climb.Journey.Live

High and Hallowed

Description: High and Hallowed is the story of the greatest American Himalayan climb, Everest’s West Ridge in 1963; the film examines the lasting impact of this climb and asks if anything can, or will, ever compare in terms of sheer boldness, commitment, and adventure.

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Photo: Courtesy Posing Productions

Autana

Description: Leo Houlding, Jason Pickles, and Sean “Stanley” Leary go deep into the Amazon to attempt a first ascent on the magnificent Cerro Autana.

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Photo: Courtesy Rainier Films

Adaptive

Description: Jim Ewing is a veteran rock climber and senior rope engineer at a rock climbing rope company. On Christmas Day in 2014, Jim fell over 50 feet to the ground in a climbing accident, a near-death experience that led to the subsequent below-the-knee amputation of his left leg. Before walking on a prosthetic, Jim was already climbing again, and before long, he began dreaming about his bucket list.

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Photo: Courtesy Posing Productions

Blocheads

Description: Never before have there been so many indoor walls; so many climbers obsessed with training; so many beasts of superhuman strength. That talent is not going to waste. We follow the fearsomely strong “Blocheads” as they quest for new lines and push the limits of human ability. It’s a story of adventure, rocky passions and mutant fingers. It’s the story of a search for bouldering gold.

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Photo: Courtesy Ajay Devgn FFilms

Shivaay

Description: Shivaay, the father of a young girl who went missing from the streets of Bulgaria, defies all odds and exposes the child trafficking mafia. But will his efforts help him find his own daughter who is being forced into the horrific trade? How will a mountaineer from the foothills of the Himalayas fight against the powerful Russian mafia, in the quest to rescue his beloved daughter?

Editor’s note: Shivaay’s opening scene, in which the protagonist jumps off a cliff, only to catch himself on a pair of ice tools—in jeans, no less—went viral among the climbing community in 2017, joining the pantheon of Vertical Limit and Cliffhanger in the pantheon of ridiculous climbing movies. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy Storyteller Labs

Kunyang Chhish East First Ascent

Description: A story of chopped fingers, fun, friendship and the first ascent of Kunyang Chhish East (7,400m). Following the rules of true alpine style Hansjörg Auer, Matthias Auer and Simon Anthamatten embark on an adventure for the summit and for survival on Kunyang Chhish East. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy The North Face

Shifting Dreams

Description: Shifting Dreams is the story of Caroline Ciavaldini’s move from world class competition climber to trad climber and alpinist. The film takes a look at Caroline’s early years and her intense commitment to competition climbing, her all consuming focus on winning and how the death of her mother led to her seeking changes in her life.

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Photo: Courtesy Red Bull Media House

Into the Light

Description: Majlis al Jinn is a huge cave located in Oman and it’s an epic challenge for the climbers Stefan Glowacz and Chris Sharma. After a 170-meter, free-hanging descent, they climb back into the light together from the deepest point of the cave.

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Photo: Courtesy Posing Productions

Blood Moon

Description: Follows Robbie Phillips, Calum Cunningham, and Alan Carne as they attempt to open a new climb, ground up, on a 700-meter big wall called Tsaranoro Atsimo in Madagascar. The walls of Tsaranoro are as wild and bold as the country, the rock beautifully carved as if by providential hand, and the story is that of a real adventure—friends taking the risks that come hand in hand with pushing boundaries.

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Photo: Courtesy Henna Taylor Films

Wadi Rum

Description: Set in the expansive landscape of Jordan’s distinctive national park, Wadi Rum documents the unlikely story of two Israeli climbers, an affable Bedouin Muslim, and a professional American climber as they work together to complete a climbing route up Wadi Rums’ largest rock formation.

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Photo: Courtesy Ananda Media

A Passion for New Routing

Description: Michel Piola discovered rock climbing at the Salève, a huge cliff outside Geneva that has been a training ground for a number of leading mountaineers. After 30 years of route development, he is without doubt one of the great new routers and has left a lasting impression on the world of climbing. The choice and style of his lines has made his routes extremely popular among large numbers of climbers.

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Photo: Courtesy Media Ventures

To Be First: The Quest for Yangmolong

Description: Among the last unclimbed peaks on earth there stands a little-known mountain in a remote region of China. A climbing expedition makes three attempts over the span of three years to summit the 6060-meter Yangmolong Mountain. Threatened by local villagers and challenged by unpredictable weather and dangerous rock and ice falls, the climbers must decide whether to give up or commit fully to the quest.

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Photo: Courtesy K2 Studio

Footprints on the Ridge

Description: Tales of the Tatras Peaks. An extreme climbing adventure on the ridge of the Slovakian Tatra Mountains. Western, High, and Belianske Tatras. They are connected by a gorgeous, logical and long ridge line formed by more than 130 peaks and towers. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy FilmIT

New Dimension

Description: A climbing documentary about a young Slovenian climber, Natalija Gros, discovering new dimensions in climbing. From the urban and temperamental streets of Buenos Aires and vast pampas to extraordinary landscapes of Patagonia you find variety of objects and shapes to climb.

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Photo: Courtesy Javier Valero Productions

The Other End of the Rope (Al Otro Lado de la Cuerda)

Description: Nine of the outstanding climbers come together in this striking documentary about the ethics, values and the very nature of climbing. The brothers Ravier, Christian Ravier, Ekaitz Maiz, Mikel Zabalza, Arkaitz Yurrita, Eneko César, and Unai Mendia will show the unknown side of climbing in the Pyrenees. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy MagicLine Films

Solo: Climbing to Live (Solo: Escalada a La Vida)

Description: This climbing documentary analyzes the concepts of fear, death, and life. Jordi Salas (Pelón) is a free solo climber. He performs alone without using any ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment, relying entirely on his ability instead. His mind controls everything. He continues to learn throughout his progression while getting up close with life, even though it may seem paradoxical. Featuring Chris Sharma and Dani Andrada. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy Xavier Coll Mountain Films

Solo BASE

Description: Solo BASE Follows the path of David Fusté along with his friend Turko. The pair are not just BASE Jumpers. Instead they climb without ropes, using the parachutes in their backpacks as their only form of protection. David also has much respect for nature and the animals, being vegan and living his life as part of the environment itself. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy Crawley Films

The Man Who Skied Down Everest

Description: This Oscar-winning documentary tells the story behind Japanese daredevil Yuichiro Miura’s 1970 effort to ski down the world’s tallest mountain.

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Photo: Courtesy TVN

Art of Freedom: The Himalayas

Description: Jerzy Kukuczka was the first Pole to conquer the crown of the Himalayas—all the 8,000-meter peaks. Reinhold Messner beat him only by a few days by climbing the jewels of Himalayan mountains. Poles reigned the highest mountaintops of the world for more than 20 years. Watch the legendary climbers in this fascinating feature about extreme winter climbing during the early ’80s. (English subtitles)

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Photo: Courtesy Darlow Smithson Productions

The Beckoning Silence

Description: The climber Joe Simpson was 25 when he had an accident that nearly killed him. He wrote a book—Touching the Void—about his extraordinary battle to survive. Now he is going back to the mountain that first inspired him to climb. To tell a story that has haunted him since he was a boy.

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Photo: Courtesy PBS

Sir Edmund Hillary: Everest and Beyond

Description: Sir Edmund Hillary was a bee-keeper, mountaineer, war veteran, explorer, philanthropist, husband, father, and the first person to ever reach the summit of Mount Everest. From his childhood in South Auckland, New Zealand, to the plane crash that killed his wife and daughter, this intriguing drama portrays the life, loves, and losses of one of the most famous explorers of all time. (Note: This is a multi-part drama series, not a documentary.)

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Photo: Courtesy JAM Films and Orana Films

The Fatal Game

Description: When mountaineer, Mark Whetu, summited Mt. Everest with climbing partner and friend Mike Reinberger it was late in the day and after a freezing night camping on the summit of the worlds highest mountain, Whetu was faced with a terrible decision: to leave Reinberger or stay with him on the mountain forever.

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Photo: Courtesy Dean River Productions

The Climb

Description: Two men. Two goals. On mountain. Hotshot mountain climbers forge an uneasy friendship. A daring rescue just earned flamboyant Derrick Williams (Jason George) the climb of a lifetime, but safety man Michael Harris (Ned Vaughn) doesn’t blaze trails and rarely takes life to the edge. The climb in the Chilean Andes escalates into a test of wills, character and sacrifice that pushes both men beyond limits.

Editor’s note: This is a Christian movie aimed at teenagers. If you’re looking for a great climbing movie, this is not it. If you’re looking for a climbing movie that isn’t great, it might be for you.

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Updates 2/8/2021

Added: Committed (Volume 2), Wampler’s Ascent, Vertical Frontier, and The Man Who Skied Down Everest

Removed: Chalk and Chocolate.


The 2 Climbing Movies on Netflix

Netflix, unfortunately, doesn’t have many climbing movies right now. They do have The Dawn Wall, though. The Dawn Wall is great. You should definitely watch it if you have a Netflix subscription.

Photo: Courtesy Red Bull Media House

The Dawn Wall

Description: In January 2015, American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, California.

The pair lived on the sheer vertical cliff for weeks, igniting a frenzy of global media attention.

But for Tommy Caldwell, The Dawn Wall was much more than just a climb. It was the culmination of a lifetime defined by overcoming obstacles. At the age of 22, the climbing prodigy was taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after, he lost his index finger in an accident but resolved to come back stronger. When his marriage fell apart, he escaped the pain by fixating on the extraordinary goal of free climbing The Dawn Wall.

Blurring the line between dedication and obsession, Caldwell and his partner Jorgeson spend six years meticulously plotting and practicing their route. On the final attempt, with the world watching, Caldwell is faced with a moment of truth. Should he abandon his partner to fulfill his ultimate dream, or risk his own success for the sake of their friendship?

Editor’s note: The Dawn Wall ascent was likely the biggest mainstream climbing news story until Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Capitan. We loved the film for portraying Caldwell and Jorgeson’s story honestly and accurately, and without sensationalizing the climbing for a mainstream audience.

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Photo: Courtesy France 2 Cinéma

The Climb (L’Ascension)

Description: (Comedy/adventure) A young Senegalese-French man from humble roots sets out to climb Mount Everest to impress the woman he loves—and slowly becomes a media sensation. This film is based on the real-life story of Nadir Dendoune. (English subtitles)

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Disney+

If you have a Disney+ subscription so you can stay current on The Mandalorian, be sure to check out Free Solo. It’s the only climbing film on the service.

Photo: Little Monster Films

Free Solo

Description: Free solo climber Alex Honnold prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: scaling the 3,200-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without a rope.

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Hulu

Like Disney+, Hulu only has one climbing film to speak of at the moment. If you already have a Hulu account so that you can watch The Handmaid’s Tale, be sure to check out Fine Lines.

Photo: Courtesy Drifting Dunes Productions

Fine Lines

Description: It’s not about adrenaline or thrill seeking. There is something far deeper that drives the world’s most elite group of mountain adventurers to take life threatening risks. For nearly three years, director Dina Khreino interviewed these world-class athletes, listening to what compels them to leave behind families, friends, and everyday comforts, to risk everything for a fleeting glimpse into the unknown.

Editor’s note: While Fine Lines does not contain new climbing footage, it’s an interesting look into the philosophies of some of the top names in our sport.

Watch Now