It’s hard to believe, but there once was a time when you didn’t have to queue up for a route at the crag, or get up at 3a.m. – not to beat the weather, but to beat the other party to the climb. I recently heard that Discovery Channel was going to kickoff their Elevation Weekend (this weekend) with Valley Uprising, a film that explores the stories of those pushed the limits and pioneered our sport in Yosemite, and I couldn’t help but think of the few bold women who helped champion the sport at a time when there was no crag crowd.
I was discussing climbing during this era with Chicks Guide, Kitty Calhoun, who began climbing in the late 70’s and quickly became an inspiration for many women with a multitude of radical ascents including the first American female ascent of Dhaulagiri, the first female ascent of Makalu, new Grade VI rock routes in Kyrgyzstan, a new Grade VI new route on Middle Triple Peak in Alaska, and a rare ascent of the Diamond Couloir on Mt Kenya.
We actually didn’t talk much about her accomplishments, because when you talk about bold women and Yosemite, one woman came to Kitty’s mind….you guessed it, Lynn Hill.
“Lynn Hill and I grew up in the same generation and each of us faced the same challenges – we were trying to find our way in climbing which was, at the time, dominated by men,” said Kitty. “I met Lynn for the first time in the early 90’s and at that time, she was a World Cup sport climber and most of those women were primarily concerned about their strength to weight ratio. Not Lynn – she ate as much as any man at the table. Since then, we became fellow ambassadors for Patagonia and I have grown to appreciate her appetite for knowledge (she is always asking questions) and her analytical style. I am very excited to see her highlighted in Elevation Weekend.”
Set the DVR, VCR, or maybe even stay home to check out some of Discovery Channel’s Elevation Weekend this weekend. This event takes viewers to rarely seen, striking destinations, following men and women on their journey to conquer the elements. A weekend of epic documentaries, Elevation Weekend documents new conflicts and obstacles as well as reflects on the history of heroic expeditions and how they inform modern explorations.
Elevation Weekend commences with the premiere of the award-winning documentary, VALLEY UPRISING, on Saturday, April 25 at 8 PM ET/PT. VALLEY UPRISING explores the stories of those who pushed the limits of what’s possible at Yosemite Valley, CA, going beyond the risk and commitment over the span of 50 years as rock climbing evolved from a group of self-reliant, bold mountain men who took months and years to scale the peaks of Half Dome and El Capitan into the sports of aid climbing, free climbing, speed climbing and freebase climbing, where both legendary peaks could be scaled in a single day, leading to today’s extreme sports that include BASE jumping.