Front Range Freaks by Peter MortimerReview by David Schmidt courtesy Climbing Magazine
As a non-Coloradan, I was skeptical at first; is Front Range Freaks, a film by Peter Mortimer, another self-glorifying climbing flick that holds no appeal to anyone living outside the Boulder zip code? No. This movie is for anyone who loves sketchy bouldering, illegal buildering, terrifying solos, and cutting-edge trad routes ù zip codes not withstanding.
The film's emotional arch rests upon the 25-minute retrospective footage of the late free soloist Derek Hersey, and accompanying interviews with his family and friends. Most of this footage has never been publicly released, and it serves as a warm tribute to one of climbing's greats. ôI'm not an anarchist, but I don't like people telling me what to do ù climbing suits me well,ö Hersey says. Front Range Freaks may not preach anarchy, but it does embody the freedom that was Hersey's life.
Other highlights include: Timmy O'Neill soloing the city of Boulder and Denver (literally); an explanation of the art of headpointing; and plenty of big whips and exciting (read: scary) trad climbing. Filming over several months, Mortimer captured some of Colorado's best climbers, including Paul Glover, Naomi Guy, Heidi Wirtz, Eric Johnson, Vera Schultze-Pelkhum, Topher Donahue, and Climbing's own Matt Samet, on the Front Range's finest rock.
Though Front Range Freaks also documents some interesting non-climbing aspects of the Boulder scene, including BASE jumping, slacklining, and Biscuit the climbing canine, the film's real action is the climbing, and the personalities behind each ascent.