Looming 700 m (2,297 feet) above the cool Pacific waters of Howe Sound and the town of Squamish British Columbia, the Stawamus Chief is a renowned rock climbing area that attracts climbers from all around the world. The crags typically come alive from early spring to late fall, when the rock is dry and weather is fair. This January a select group of climbers took advantage of the cold temperatures and completed the first full length ice climb up the Chief in 30 years. The route established was likely a first ascent according to Arc’teryx climber and rock guide Paul McSorley who led the charge and documented the adventure for ChopShop to edit. We caught up with Paul to find out more about the adventure and production of his short adventure piece: “The Ultimate Ultimate Everything”.
ChopShop: First of all, what’s the story behind the name “The Ultimate Ultimate Everything”?
McSorley: The name stems from a summer rock climb put up by Chris Wild called the Ultimate Everything. Our line shares some terrain in common with this route but the addition of ice takes it to the next level. Ice climbing in Squamish is the Ultimate!
What is special about Ice climbing the Chief?
McSorley: Ice climbing on the Chief is so special because it almost never happens! There are the occasional single pitch routes that come into condition but never in the last 30 years has a full length ice climb been done up the Chief.
Has this been done before?
McSorley: A technical ice/mixed climb of the Chief might have been done in the 80’s by the legendary Scott Flavelle but details are vague. The route we established was more than likely a first ascent.
Was it what you expected?
McSorley: We didn’t expect the quality of the climbing to be so good! Canada’s West Coast has very fickle conditions so ice climbs come and go very quickly.
What inspired you to film this adventure?
McSorley: I was inspired to capture this adventure because I knew it was a rare moment in time. I kept asking the boys to turn on video mode because I thought we could share this special day with others. I love to stoke the crowd!
Have you produced your own videos in the past?
McSorley: I have produced some of my own videos (Check them on Vimeo) in the past but the quality of the editing has always been a bit regrettable.
What are the challenges you face in producing your own adventure films (for your sponsors, or just for fun)?
McSorley: Challenges that come up producing adventure films are many: It’s tough to shoot when the team is small, two people is really hard because having a free set of hands to shoot rarely happens (in climbing). The same goes for setting up a shot, it’s not that practical when you’re racing a storm or nightfall…
Sponsorship is a tough one too: With all the content out there today, it’s hard to define what monetary value a video has anymore. The work and the risk involved in getting authentic footage can almost never be fairly compensated.
How did using ChopShop benefit the production of The Ultimate Ultimate Everything?
McSorley: It was so sweet that ChopShop could take such a large volume of footage and quickly buff it out into a fun, short film.
Do you have any tips for climbers/ adventurers who want to start using film to share their stories?
McSorley: My biggest advice to other climbers who want to start filming their own stories is this: Don’t worry about having all the fancy camera gear, just go to that place where nobody else goes and bring back the goods!
Anything else you would like to add?
McSorley: Massive thanks to the ChopShop crew they make the most technical part of the production go smoothly.