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Stewart Watson the fourth ascent of Voyager V13

Stewart Watson the fourth ascent of Voyager V13

There is nothing better than putting on a coat you haven't worn for a while and finding a wad of dollars in your pocket. The perfect victory - something from nothing. Well I experienced the same this week when I finally worked out the log in details for my Increasing The Calibre Vimeo account after many years out of climbing.  Stashed amongst my limited number of published videos were 5 rough cut sections of a climbing film I had made for fun while at Sheffield University. 

A decade ago I was studying Broadcast Journalism at the uni and borrowed their cameras once in a while for trips to the peak and Yorkshire with friends. I trained my housemate Andy Hutchison in how to shoot and we proceeded to capture some great climbing, including the fourth ascent of the Peak District classic Voyager V13 by Stewart Watson.  We'd originally wanted to put out a longer form film for free, heavily influenced by the skate films of old we wanted something which would be a 30 min watch, come to a crescendo and leave you ready to go out and crush.  But I was offered a job in London and the footage sat on a hard drive which I eventually lost somewhere between London and New York.  

The footage I found on Vimeo was parts of a film, the draft segments - I downloaded them and set about turning it into a short. Their age is given away by the fact they were shot in 4:3 actually on tape, long before DSLRs allowed for amazing quality HD footage to be captured by anyone who could point and shoot. The cameras were the best the broadcast department had, yet nothing compared to the iPhone of today for quality.   The music attached to the rushes also betrays their age, but I think it has a certain charm. 

The time spent filming our friends had a huge impact on my life, because it was great practice in learning to shoot, edit and produce which led to a career in the media, the chance to travel the world and ultimately the life I have in NYC. I learnt the importance of timing from the skate films I had spent many hours watching and tried to bring them to the way we edited these sections, a skill I have since utilized a lot in my career. As I watched the Psycho section I remembered the time I spent meticulously trying to match Nigel Poustie's feet movements to the music - the details, it's all about the details...

Sure it's an amature student film and as well as the camera quality, the level of climbing has improved since then and many of those in it have gone on to much greater things - but I think that even a decade after we made it, as a short film it shows just a small glimpse of the great climbing the UK has to offer.   

If you watch it I hope it ultimately achieved what we set out to do - I hope it got you psyched to get outside and go crush a project.


Neal Mann

New York City

Editor