You don’t have to be a die-hard rock climber with elite athletic abilities to appreciate a good climbing movie. Hollywood has given us no shortage of climbing flicks. Some are absolutely stellar, and some can only be described as “so bad they’re good,” but they’re all entertaining. Keep in mind; the following list doesn’t contain any climbing documentaries—that will come in a later article. What follows is a list of the best fictional movies about climbing.
Touching the Void
Touching the Void is actually based on a true story. It follows the harrowing survival experience of mountaineer Joe Simpson. Simpson was climbing in the Peruvian Andes when he broke his leg, and the film shows to what extremes he had to go in order to survive. The film is based on the book of the same name, and it’s an equally good read.
Nordwand (The North Face)
This German film is a fantastic representation of the true story of climbers Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser, two climbers who made an attempt to climb the famous North Face of the Eiger (not the last time you’ll hear about this mountain…). The acting, footage, and storyline are really fantastic in this movie, and you don’t have to be a climber to enjoy it.
K2 is my personal favorite climbing film (it’s actually the film that got me into the sport when I was younger). The story follows two Seattle climbers as they attack K2, the second highest peak in the world. The climbing footage is fantastic, as is the soundtrack. The movie was based on a stage play of the same name, and if you ever get the chance to see it live, don’t pass it up!
The Eiger Sanction
The Eiger Sanction is one of the best Clint Eastwood action films, in my opinion. Clint plays an assassin who is hired for a mission that’s to take place on the Eiger in the Swiss Alps. He trains on rock formations in Southern Utah, and then the film moves to the Alps, where you see some really amazing footage.
Cliffhanger is a guilty pleasure if ever there was one. Sylvester Stallone stars as a Rocky Mountain rescue climber who finds himself wrapped up in a high altitude heist with a bunch of sophisticated bank robbers. There’s plenty of action throughout, and the story is loosely based on a true plane crash event that took place in Yosemite.