A few weeks back, we ran a report setting up the big-screen debut of Mason Earle’s Bartlett Project in the Chuck Fryberger Film Exposure Vol. 1. Mason Earle was indeed on hand and we asked him for a quick recap of his experience seeing himself, and his project, on the big screen in the People’s Republic of Boulder. His first recap was written in climbing guidebook style with a route description that read, “Wednesday night we head to the theater. Good turnout–over 600 folks show up for the show. Lots of familiar faces, and climbing acquaintances. We find some seats. The film begins.”
The efficiency of effort was completely on point for a climber who spends his time immersed in big wall missions from the Northwest Territories and French Polynesia to Yosemite. But we asked Mason to dig a bit deeper about his rise to climbing flick stardom, his obsession with The One, and the genesis of the Bartlett Project, which some have dubbed the hardest crack climb on Earth. He delivered with this backstory recap and a few great snapshots from his trip to the premiere at the Boulder Theater and family climbing side trip to the Flatirons. For those who haven’t seen the flick, the official teaser is posted below. —LYA Editor
Words by Mason Earle, Images courtesy of Kevin Ziechmann
This past November I traveled to Boulder, Colorado, to attend the premiere of Exposure Vol. 1, a new climbing film in which I had the opening segment. It was my big-screen debut. My segment chronicles my efforts to establish hard new routes in southern Utah, focusing on a route I’ve dubbed the Bartlett Wash Project. The Bartlett Proj is basically the ultimate crack climb, and it lies in a realm of difficulty that I have never been up against.
I found the route last year, by accident. I was out exploring in Canyonlands, and took a wrong turn. A beautiful streaked wall in the distance caught my eye, and I went to investigate. As I hiked up the dunes at the base of the cliff, a thin crack on the wildest part of the wall became visible. It is…The One, I thought. I had recently finished up a first ascent project, and the crack I stood under exceeded all my dreams of what I wanted to find. I immediately began work on the route–figuring out moves and cleaning thousand-year-old silt out of the untouched fissure. When I told my friend and filmmaker Kyle Berkompas about the route, he set out to document the process. A year later, and I have still not finished the route. This time frame is not uncommon for hard, new routes, but I want more than anything to finish it.
Ally and I arrive in Boulder with enough time to get in some rock climbing before the premiere. Boulder is a climber’s playground. Wednesday night we head to the theater. Good turnout–over 600 folks show up for the show, and there are plenty of familiar faces. We find some seats. The film begins. My apprehension abates as my segment plays, and I’m relieved to hear the audience laughing and getting psyched. It was a lot of fun to see our hard work up on the big screen, and truly rewarding to see people getting psyched on climbs I have put so much work into.
Over the following week, I was approached by various strangers. One guy proclaimed, “That was the sickest $#!% I’ve ever seen!” But the question they all asked was: “Have you done it yet?” Normally this question annoys me, but it’s so rad to see other climbers getting fired up for this project, and wanting to see me succeed. Hopefully this collective stoke can get me to the top!
Top: Top billing over Leftover Salmon in the Republic of Boulder.
Above: 600 fans waiting for the show at the Boulder Theatre, Exposure, Volume 1 Premiere.
L to R: 5.10 Wide, they heard Mason Earle was coming to town. 2. Star Power in the Flatirons, Family Rope-less Climbing. 3. “Keep Crushing It”, Mason Earle.
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