There’s almost nothing as fun as putting the right talented people together with a goal, and when these people understand the importance of community, the experience goes above and beyond. We needed a video for our Beast Mode, and had a Beast that was going to be in Moab, Utah, so we seized the opportunity, got a few very talented people together, and made it happen within a week. Here’s the story.
Meet the team.
The vision for the trip was to climb an iconic tower in Moab called “Ancient Art” in Fisher Towers. We needed experienced climbers and a media team to accomplish this.
The first person I asked was Arthur, a super talented videographer (and colorist) from Los Angeles with a particular eye for aesthetics. We had hired him before, for a film in San Fransisco about our Stealth Mode, and not only was he easy to work with, it was beautifully done, and it proved to be a huge success in projecting the type of experience we expect the vans to support.
Then I reached out to a couple of climbers I knew from my guiding days in Colorado. Dusty Davis, a long time life coach, climbing guide and competitive cyclist, with a particularly special attention to detail, was incredibly strong and not only had tons of experience guiding climbs, but also had actually done this climb with his son several years before. I knew that would prove to be a huge asset to us in completing it. On top of that, his daughter was also an experienced climbing guide, as well as a world traveler and artist, with an energy and smile hard to match. The father/daughter duo was a rarity in the guiding world, and the two of them shared a very unique, close relationship. I knew they’d be perfect for the job.
And finally, of course, was the creative team—those of us coming directly from headquarters here in Birmingham, putting the whole trip together. Thor, our new Director of Marketing and Digital Assets, came along skilled as a drone pilot and photographer and brought structure and organization to the entire trip. Then of course I came, and my experience in Colorado as a mountain guide connected the vision of the company to the culture of the outdoor world particularly well. I enjoyed casting the vision for the whole video, building the storyline, but even more so connecting the right people and resources and building community through the whole process.
Climbing the Ancient Art tower.
The tower is actually predicted to fall over within the next 10 years, and a total of 400 feet high. The difficulty is not necessarily in the climbing grade, but in the level of exposure and head game. It is also an iconic climb and we happened to be out there in peak season, so some of us slept at the trailhead the night before and the rest of the party met super early so that we could be the first on the rock and not waiting behind other climbing parties.
We all started out at 7 am, but not before chatting with a guy named Michael in the parking lot who said the headlamps we had seen ascending the rock face at 5 am were his buddies, a couple of base jumpers. He said they’d be jumping around 8:30 am and to keep an eye out.
“Oh for sure!” We got excited to see one of the most common sights in the Moab area.
It was an easy 30 min hike in.
Once there, we started climbing immediately. Thor and Arthur set up drones at the base, I strapped in my camera, and we got going almost immediately. The route was three pitches long. The first pitch being a chimney climb—where it feels as if you’re inside a chimney with one foot on either opposing wall. Dusty led, I followed with all my camera equipment, and Honey followed, cleaning the route as she went. We topped the first pitch out on a ledge, pulled the rope up, and reset for the second pitch to the top ledge. By now two other parties had arrived, and one started climbing up behind us. We also barely got to see the base jumpers fly behind us.
We topped the second pitch out onto a narrow tiny ledge, just big enough for the three of us to sit on. The final push was across a narrow bridge, then a sketchy “beached whale” jump up to the next perch. From there, you made your way around to the back and slowly up. If you fell, it was way less protected than a regular climb, and you’d most likely swing a great deal and end up hitting a rock anyway.
By now another group had come up to the second pitch ledge, for a total of four climbers on it. As they conversed below us, we found out one of them was the base jumper we had seen climbing at 5 am this morning. One of them kept asking Dusty for beta the whole way through, and he was happy to share.
We rappelled the first pitch down to the ledge, and was it a giant crowded party on that ledge for a hot minute. We navigated our ropes quickly and rappelled two pitches down in one sitting.
Afterward we made lunch in the parking lot and chatted with a host of people around the area. Moab is quite a melting pot of wild people, all intent on participating in the great outdoors in their own way. I haven’t seen as many uniquely individual and down to earth people in one spot, and it was truly special to be able to participate. The land surrounding Moab is almost entirely BLM land, and so the number of off-grid, independent vehicles was phenomenal as well. It was truly a sense of wild freedom I hadn’t experienced before.
The next couple days we spent transitioning to different sites. We made it to the overlook to make breakfast and coffee and then moved to Wallstreet, or Potash Road, to get unique shots of belaying off the top of the van. We ate local sushi and incredible local Thai food. We found an arch known as Looking Glass Rock and attempted rappelling off the top of it over the arch and found out it was the only night of the year that the full moon lined up perfectly with the keyhole.
Every day was a sunup to sundown kind of day and we came back to our hotel rooms, downloaded all the footage and crashed hard, only to get up and repeat the next day.
The last day we woke up, Arthur had flown out, all the filming was complete, and the Dusty had a married son who lived in Durango, only three hours away, who drove down in order to be able to mountain bike with us just for fun before heading out of Moab. We piled the 6 bikes in his truck, and headed off to the famous Captain Ahab trail.
After mountain biking, Thor and I left Dusty and Honey to one more day of fun in Moab, jumped in the Beast, filled it with water, attempted to clean it up a little and took off for Denver. The end goal was to leave the Beast MODE with Dan the Storyteller Man, who would then take it to St. Helens, Oregon for the show.