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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

The Bat

Review by planetFear
Friday 15th September 2006

The BAT – A Scottish Climbing Epic DVD
By Jim Curran and Tony Riley

According to the blurb on the back of the DVD:

 “This awarding winning film…tells the story of an epic first ascent by Robin Smith and Dougal Haston on Ben Nevis in 1959.  Based on Smith’s famous tale, ‘The Bat and The Wicked’ and interwoven with extracts from Haston’s autobiography ‘In High Places’….it gives a rare insight into the world of extreme rock climbing.”

This climbing film comes from an era when men were men and bouldering pads were from some Orwellian nightmare.  The protagonists drank till late and dosed in a garden shed before the ascent - Smith and Haston clearly were characters of their generation.  Rab Carrington and Brian Hall re-enact the ascent of the route ‘The Bat’ twenty years after the two tenacious climbers Smith and Haston grappled with body belays and dubious protection such as knots, pitons, slings and hammered in wooden wedges.  Clad in woolly jumpers, thick socks and a single pair of borrowed PA’s (early stickies) that they swapped for leads it clearly shows how times have changed.  With big falls and talk of body abseils with nylon to bare flesh for 70 foot the pair clearly knew how to push themselves to the limit to gain the ascent of this most converted of lines.  Next time I get scared a few feet above a shiny cam I may think back to this film and try to obtain some perspective – we have it easy!

With a disappointing run time of only 29 minutes, no menu system or extras and definitely no pumping sound track, the format is pretty limited.  This is definitely a climbing film for the ‘old skool’ climber and not the MTV generation.  Compared to a modern action sports DVD this film is poor and not recommended however taken as a piece of climbing history it is quite interesting.

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