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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Best of the West DVD

Review by planetFear
Tuesday 3rd October 2006

At £21.95 this may seem a little steep to some, but when compared to other climbing DVD’s this 50 minute film represents good value for money. Hueco Tanks, situated in a State Park in southern Texas, is widely regarded as America’s premiere bouldering spot, and indeed, one of the top destinations throughout the world – topped only by the legendary Fontainebleau of course.

Not only does it feature America’s top bouldering destination but it also stars arguably their top rock star, Chris Sharma. Whilst the likes of Boone Speed, Jason Kehl and others also feature, this really is mainly about the one man climbing machine that is Chris Sharma.
Having actually been out there, climbing at Hueco, when they were making this film almost two years ago, it’s interesting to see the finished product. The superb quality climbing in the Park, as well as the personalities of the climbers, are both well-captured.

For anyone who’s been there, or is planning a trip, or who just likes to see good quality hard climbing being done then this DVD is a must. Whilst they do have a few easier graded highball ascents, and a couple of impressive problems climbed by Anna Burgess, the ‘token female’ of the DVD, for those wanting a range of easier climbing to inspire them then this is definitely not for you.

Not only have they captured a staggeringly large amount of hard ascents on camera, including Sharma’s repeat of the Fred Nicole V14 ‘Esperanza’, but they’ve also captured some fantastic first ascent footage, once again by, yes you’ve guessed it –Sharma!
The camera work and editing is slick, yet still simple enough so as not to spoil the climbing in an attempt to over-glamourise the camera technology – a trap commonly fallen into by climbing film makers these days.

As with all good DVD’s these days there’s some ‘special features’, including the not particularly special sponsors adverts, and the more interesting ‘cut scenes’, featuring another dozen short climbing clips.

As this film only came about due to the postponement of a planned trip to Castle Hill, the world class boulder field in the mountains of New Zealand, the original trip has now taken place, and a film been made. I have climbed in Castle Hill, and now regard it as my personal favourite bouldering area in the world – so I am eagerly anticipating the next DVD.

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