“Well, we didn’t”

Emily Harrington with a very honest look back on a trip she took to Morocco to climb with Hazel Findlay for the 2013 Reel Rock Film Tour:

I had never climbed a big wall like that before, with such difficult and engaging climbing, daring and dangerous runouts, and for such a long period of time. The entire experience was utterly exhausting. The film crew seemed stressed at first at our hesitation to go back and try again, as if the story wouldn’t be complete without another try, but what if we didn’t want to try again? Well, we didn’t.

Posted In: Asides, Traditional Climbing
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26 Responses to “Well, we didn’t”

  1. Garret June 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Okay… Just tell me this… Why are major companies paying their athletes to “learn on the job”… I just don’t get it… Emily’s story is honest and heartfelt and I appreciate that, but it’s hard to find compassion when sponsored athletes are supposed to be the best of the best… What other sport would this be happening in…? I know so many incredibly talented climbers with so much experience that could easily fill the shoes of many of the “second tier” sponsored climbers… I just don’t understand why this is acceptable behavior… Will someone please enlighten me… Thanks…

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    • Dan June 13, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Try googling “Emily Harrington”.

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    • Reality check June 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      Second tier?

      http://emilyaharrington.com/about/bio-2/

      Do you only get into the first tier if you have been a national champion at least 7 times?

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    • Garret June 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      I guess what I meant by “second tier” is that in today’s elite environment of athletes someone like Emily just isn’t that relavent anymore… When it comes to performance she is not even close to being at the top of the game… So I guess it only seems right to wonder why are they still given the golden key… I do know of all of her past accomplishments but I also know that at that time there was so much less competition that things were different. I just can’t help but feel that many athletes that have coasted by for many years are starting to realize that some actual hard work must be done in order to stay at the front of the pack… It’s a privileged life that should be given to those who truly deserve it…

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      • Grubb June 13, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

        Because Garret, being a brand ambassador like Emily has to do with so much more than just her climbing ability. Remember, she isn’t paid to “just climb’… she’s a representative (in all facets) of a brand. She has to be eloquent and interesting in her speaking engagements, thoughtful and articulate in her writing, she has to possess high level interpersonal communication skills, etc… Do you really think a multi, multi-billion dollar company like Vanity Fair would allow any hard crankin’ dope to be the face of their organization? Give me a break.

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    • Michael June 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

      It doesn’t really sound like she was learning on the job. It was a multi-pitch sport route, and she’s a sport climber. She and Hazel set an ambitious goal that they didn’t hit, had a long day, and decided it wasn’t worth the effort to take another shot at it. No harm in that.

      And to dispute the point you actually made, Daniel Woods went on a paid-for trip out to the Green River with a few established names and learned how to trad climb- as in, he had never placed gear before, and by the end of the trip, he was climbing 5.13 on gear. I don’t really see what the issue is here.

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      • David June 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

        Does anyone really believe in all Daniel Wood’s years of climbing he’s never placed gear before?

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        • Michael June 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

          Sure, why not? He’s primarily a boulderer that dabbles in sport climbing. And even if he had, 5.13 trad is still extremely respectable.

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  2. David June 13, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Oh yeah, cry me a river about having to spend a day outside cleaning gear on a big wall…I’m sitting at a desk.

    “We spent the last week of the trip as I said before – reshooting sequences for close-ups and cleaning the route of all the fixed lines used for filming. It was less far less motivating and enjoyable than going climbing, but again, that is part of why we were there. We were tired and ready to be home, but we stayed and did what we had to do, and then we went home.”

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  3. D June 13, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    If ya don’t like it, get a real job and pay your own way like everyone else–then you get the freedom to do whatever you want

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    • pipo June 14, 2013 at 2:57 am #

      I think she was just explaining in her post that climbing is her real job, and that it also has less exciting sides to it like any job.
      People always seem to be bitching about other people making something out of themselves and not setteling for mediocrity and the security of a “real job”. I’m happy to read about someone living their dream and the hard work that comes with it in reality.

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  4. Anthony June 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Gotta be honest, it’s hard to get psyched to watch someone climb something they aren’t psyched to be on in the first place. If your heart isn’t in it, why should mine? My guess is when the reel rock comes out, this will be a segment I never watch twice.

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    • VB June 14, 2013 at 12:06 am #

      If you actually read Emily’s post … you would read that she said this was one of her proudest climbs, most challenging and meaningful climbs… and one that she is never going to forget.

      Maybe you should actually read the source instead of just reading an out of context quote from climbing narc.

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      • Anthony June 14, 2013 at 12:28 am #

        Actually I did read Emily’s post in its entirety… Before the narc evn linked it on his site, by the way. My point isn’t that she wasn’t proud of her effort, or that it wasn’t meaningful in some way, but rather, that having to go back for a photo shoot was something she likened to a chore, therefore what the viewers will be witnessing I not the proud initial effort that she endured, but the tedious aftermath.. And I’m sorry, but if she isn’t psyched to get back up there to “perform” for the camera, then the end result is probably not likely to be worth watching many times.

        Though I may be wrong, we’ll just have to wait until reel rock to make any final decisions on the quality of the video.

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        • Randall June 14, 2013 at 8:58 am #

          Oh I see…. climbers that are actors for the camera, who are psyched to perform for people are better than genuine climbers who are psyched on……..what they want to climb.

          Oh and… when “getting back and doing it again for the camera” involves a 3,000 foot run out route, and they were already proud and psyched on their first effort, why are you so bummed that they didn’t force it for some movie…

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          • Anthony June 14, 2013 at 9:18 am #

            I personally don’t care that they didn’t get up there and give it another go. There Are plenty of instances in climbing where the video you are watching is not in fact the uncut send footage, but rather what isomer akin to “posing”. Now you don’t have to be a great actor that likes to perform for the camera, but if you are going to make a video that you expect people to get psyched to watch/buy, then I think it certainly helps to have a deeper reason for wanting to share the route than “ky sponsor made me”.

            Here’s an example: sharma struggles to make the first ascent if jumbo love through the movie Progression. Obviously he is feeling an enormous amount of pressure from sponsors and the video to make the ascent while they are still there. Projecting that climb is visibly taking its toll on Chris, but you never doubt his internal drive to send. His psyche to see the project to completion sucks you in and has you pulling for him.

            By contrast, Emily seems only to have gotten back in that climb because her sponsors said so, and that, for me, is not a good enough reason to buy a climbing movie.

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          • Randall June 14, 2013 at 10:10 am #

            Anthony… to your response about climbing movies worth buying….

            You do realize that the climbers don’t go to the film makers and say “Hey, I want to make a climbing movie”… right? It’s the film makers that follow the climbers on their climbs that they have decided to go on regardless.

            Emily and Hazel would have been in Morocco with or without the camera crew. It’s the loss for the film makers if they don’t get the story they “wanted”. It’s their job to make it into a badass film regardless.

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          • Anthony June 14, 2013 at 10:48 am #

            I disagree about your assertion that Emily would hav me been out there without the filmmaker. She said her trip was completely paid for by her sponsors, which are sending her out there for the media exposure that undoubtedly comes from being in the reel rock film tour. So in my mind the filmmaker, the sponsors, and the trip itself are inseparable entities. Without the one there would not have been the other. That’s not to say that non sponsored climbers don’t go on trips and pay for it out of pocket, but from how it is explained in Emily’s post, this does not seem to be something Emily was prepared to seek out and pay for on her own dime.

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  5. VB June 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    Here’s another reality check for you people – even sponsored athletes are real people who have long days and get tired. In fact, if you even read the entire blog post you would see that Emily is someone who is incredibly psyched on climbing – and never complained about it. She is just describing (in honesty) some of the aspects of the job that can be challenging.

    I guess you would all just rather read some bullshit about how PSYCHED ON EVERYTHING someone is… which is great if they really are. But everyone has climbs that are hard, and things that are challenging.

    Plus… Garret… are you only interested in climbers that send every single thing they climb? Should sponsored climbers not be sponsored because they don’t send everything? Or should they be forced to be motivated on every climb, (even if in reality they are proud of their efforts). Besides… what they did is pretty rad, and if you can’t see that without a send … well, that’s pretty sad.

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  6. zotch June 14, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    the route looks amazing!! lets go climb it!!!

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  7. Dave June 14, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Sport Climber goes on trip dreamed up and planned by someone else and lack of depth is revealed on route. Shoulda stayed in rifle with the rest of Boulder.

    It must be tough for yesterday’s sport climbing pros who have to make way for the 13 year old phenoms and find another way to stay relevant in climbing.

    Professional. It means more than getting paid. If I don’t feel like working in my profession, the work goes to someone else.

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    • Jasin June 14, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      for real.
      I feel like the next time North Face/ Patagonia/ La Sportiva/ Petzl has $100,000 to spend on a trip I doubt Emily Harrington is on top of their list to give it to. Honesty is fun to read and this has probably got more hits than an article about her actually doing the route, but bad career move Emily.

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  8. douglashunter June 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Having been a sponsored climber for many years (second teir or lower), and having worked with many other sponsored climbers to get stills and video I think many climbers don’t really understand what it means to be a professional. First, being sponsored is a job and it means creating marketing content. If we are not creating good marketing content there is no reason for a company to sponsor us ( content can take many forms not just video) Second, creating content means that there are a few basic requirements that an athlete needs to meet. When we agree to step in front of the camera we are saying that we are athletically and emotionally prepared for the challenge to come and we are going to keep a professional mindset throughout the entire project no matter if it lasts a few hours or a few weeks. Athletes need to really understand what the expectations are, and what might go wrong, BEFORE they agree to a shoot. In my experience it’s more common than not for an athlete to show up unfit and unprepared for the challenge to come. I’m not making an accusation against Emily, I wan’t there and I don’t know her or the situation, but I did cringe a few times when reading the blog post and it reminds me that it’s pretty difficult to find an athlete who is really ready to shine when the cameras roll.

    Emily’s blog places great emphasis on herself: what she was feeling, and what she wanted, (it is personal blog after all) but when we are out shooting its never about what we as individuals want or what we are feeling, its about the job we are all there to do. The guys on the crew don’t have the luxury of complaining to the world about their jobs, the absurd amount of gear they need to hump around, the thousands of feet of fixed line the have to jug, the 17 hour days, etc. Its good to keep in mind that the people behind the cameras usually have a far more demanding job that the people infront of the cameras.

    I think that all sponsored climbers, and the people who shoot them should have to spend a year working on professional film and TV sets. If they did that, they would realize that what is asked of them in the climbing world is so little there is no reason to complain. But that is part of the problem, a lot of people in the climbing world have never worked in demanding professional situations so they don’t necessairly relaize how much pressure people in other jobs face, and how much more is demanded of a post PA on a TV show than is asked of a professional climber. I also think it would be good for productions to fire a couple of pro climers now and then. Actors and crew members get fired all the time, it would hlep sponsored climbers to get an understanding of their place in the big picutre if they knew they could get booted off of a shoot.

    If professional climbers are uncomfortable with aspects of being in professionally demanding situations or they want to choose for themselves the challenges they face, that is OK but they should also remember that there is no mandate to be a professional climber, and they might find climbing more rewarding if they do it as amateurs, keeping in mind the true meaning of the word amateur, as someone who engages in a pursuit out of love for it.

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    • Jonathan P Williams June 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      Nice post, Doug. I really enjoyed the perspective. Thanks. I see similar attitudes at my workplace, but that is a different story for a different website. JW

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    • Denis Wilson June 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      You are right on many points except that only a sponsor can fire a climber, not the production. Productions are tied to the climbers because their involvement is the reason why the production got a budget in the first place.

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    • chris June 14, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      I disagree with your idea that climbers/film makers should work on professional sets, in order to learn a life lesson…I think it’s both great and appropriate that the climbing film industry has largely grown more organically from people invested in the subject. And it’s probably a mistake to assume that none of these people have been involved with more main-stream commercial operations…Look at LT11 making their climbing shorts for free, and making money of other work.

      Just going back 10 years will illustrate how far they’ve come. I think the genre is evolving rapidly in direction that, at the very least, is producing some really professional product, shorts or feature length.

      Should EH suck it up and climb something big and scary that she already fought for an accomplished? Don’t know. And I don’t really care. She writes well, I’m happy to pick up the story that way. Hopefully there are pictures.

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