Films are often discussed in terms of the escapism that they provide, or their unique ability to relay emotive stories that may be fictional or historical by nature.
However, there’s another dimension to films and the world’s cinema, which can actually have a far greater impact on those who watch them and the world around them. Certainly, films have been known to influence culture, laws and politics, while also having a highly positive and inspirational impact on individuals.
This even applies to mountaineering, which has been the subject of numerous films and inspired an entire generation of hikers. Here are the best such cinematic titles to keep in mind:
#1. 14 Peaks
Sometimes, walking is the best way to see the world, and most people would head online if they wanted to seek inspiration and choose from an array of hiking trips.
Such simple searches were far too mundane for Nirmal Purja, however, who instead spent much of 2019 attempting to scale the 14 highest peaks in the world (all of which stand 8,000m or higher).
This was chartered by the Netflix documentary 14 Peaks, which followed Purja on his incredible adventure and as he sought to break one of mountaineering’s toughest records. Incredibly, Purja achieved his goal in just seven months, providing inspiration to hikers from across the globe.
#2. Free Solo
For genuine edge-of-your-seat adventures, few mountaineering titles are as worthy as ‘Free Solo’.
From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer Jimmy Chin, this documentary portrays free soloist climber Alex Honnold as he prepares to achieve a lifelong dream.
More specifically, Honnold attempted to climb the face of the world’s most famous rock (the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park) without a rope, with this considered to be one of the single greatest athletic feats of all-time.
Often referred to as the pursuit of ‘perfection or death’, the documentary follows Honnold as he achieves his aim, proving that anything is possible with the right mindset and training.
A truly inspirational tale, Wild tells the fascinating story of 22-year old Cheryl Strayed, who at that time in her life has lost everything. More specifically, her mother had died and her family was scattered across the globe, while her own marriage was on the brink of failure.
Four years on, and with nothing more to lose, Strayed took the immense and impulsive decision to hike more than one thousand miles of challenging Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State.
Bereft of training and company and driven solely by blind will, Strayed’s incredible journey was captured on film, providing an incredible inspiration for anyone who finds themselves down in life and lacking in purpose.
Told with a unique blend of suspense and humour, the story is definitely one that every hiker or mountaineer should watch, especially if they’re looking to get started on their journey in the great outdoors.